Coton de Tulear vs. Bolognese: Which Breed to Get?

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Coton de Tulear vs. BologneseThe Coton de Tulear and the Bolognese look very similar – after all, they are both parts of the bichon family of dogs.

They are gorgeous small dog breeds with light fur and black noses, and as such, are often considered alongside one another when it comes to owners looking at getting a new dog. But how similar are they? It is important that potential owners know exactly what they’re getting into with a new pet.

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Coton de Tulear and Bolognese History

The Coton de Tulear is a breed thought to have originated on the island of Madagascar, just off the coast of Africa. It is believed that the breed is a descendant of the Bichon (or at least a breed in the Bichon family) and that it developed on the island from Bichon breeds that were used as ratters on ships and companion dogs for ladies.

The breed became incredibly popular in Madagascar. In fact, it was so popular that even the royal court owned Coton de Tulears. They could be found in households across the country, wealthy and poor, where they were kept as beloved pets. Then, in the 1970s, the breed made its international debut when a Frenchman took a Coton de Tulear back home with him. Soon afterward, the breed made its way to other countries like the United States.

The Bolognese is an Italian dog breed, originally from Bologna in Italy. The breed developed from Bichons Frises around the 11th century. As soon as the breed developed, it became a favorite among the nobles. This dog became a popular pet among the aristocratic classes and was often given and received as a gift.

The breed began to dwindle in popularity over time, however, and in the 1980s an Italian breeder decided efforts needed to be made to boost the breed’s popularity. The breed was taken to England and it quickly gained more and more fans, eventually leading to its spread across the globe. Since the 2000s, the breed has been competing in competitions like Crufts, but it is yet to be officially recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Coton de Tulear vs. Bolognese: What Are the Breeds Like?

Below, we’ll look at what these two breeds are like.


The Coton de Tulear and the Bolognese are similar-looking dogs, and so they often appeal to the same people. The Coton de Tulear has dropped ears and a fluffy, cloud-like coat that is usually white with a few shadings of other colors such as gray. The breed will usually measure between 8” and 12” tall and will weigh between 8 to 13 lbs.

The Bolognese has a completely white fluffy coat, dropped ears, and a black nose. It will usually measure between 9” to 12”  tall and will weigh anywhere between 8 and 14 lbs. We wrote in more detail about how large a Bolognese gets here.

Life Expectancy and Aging Profile

The Coton de Tulear and the Bolognese both benefit from their size regarding their life expectancies. Smaller breeds tend to have longer life expectancies due to their inherently slower metabolisms. A slower metabolism allows them to age and mature slower, causing fewer skeletal injuries or disorders and a tendency to develop any terminal conditions much later in life than larger breeds.

For example, the Coton has a life expectancy of at least 14 years, and the Bolognese has one of 12 to 14 years. As puppies, both breeds will grow pretty quickly, reaching their full size at about 6 to 12 months old. After this, their metabolisms will slow down.


The Coton de Tulear is a fun dog breed. It is full of energy and is known for its happy, energetic personality, but also for its boisterous side. The breed loves people, and will always want to be around you and please you. It forms strong bonds with those in its family and is incredibly friendly, so those looking for a guard dog are unfortunately out of luck!

The Bolognese is also very much a people-oriented breed. It loves people more than anything and is known for being docile and calm. The breed is excessively laid back and just loves to spend time with people, whether that’s cuddled up on the couch or playing in the garden.


Intelligence is a very important factor to consider when looking at getting a new dog, especially if you’re looking to train your dog in any way. When it comes to these two breeds, the Coton de Tulear is the more intelligent of the two, but both breeds have brains.

The Coton should be able to pick up the vast majority of tricks and demands thrown its way, and is often used in dog sports for this exact reason. The Bolognese, on the other hand, is perfectly intelligent but can be a little bit stubborn. Positive reinforcement and patience will go a long way.

Coton de Tulear vs. Bolognese: Which One Is Easier to Keep?

Next, we’ll look at which breed is easier to keep.

Required Living Space

Since both breeds are relatively small in stature, they are unsurprisingly great options for those who do not live in a house or do not have a yard. The breeds are adaptable and compact, meaning that they can get on well in most types of homes and do not take up a whole lot of space. Where larger breeds require more space simply to exist, these breeds can manage with much smaller spaces; so long as they have enough space to lay and relax, eat, drink, and play, they are perfectly content.

Owners should, however, be sure to provide both breeds with sufficient mental and physical stimulation. Failing to do so can result in the breeds becoming restless, anxious, and developing low mood. These can then manifest as bad behavior, destructive tendencies, barking, and even a loss of appetite.


It is essential that every owner knows exactly what grooming they should be doing for their pet. Failing to provide the right amount or type of grooming can result in discomfort for the animal, and could potentially lead to unpleasantness such as infections.

The Coton de Tulear is a high-maintenance breed when it comes to grooming. The coat requires a lot of attention. It will need to be brushed three or four times a week in order to prevent knotting, and this should be done with a metal pin brush. The more you brush a Coton de Tulear, the less the breed should need bathing.

They will need bathing when dirty, or every couple of weeks. When doing this, owners should keep an eye on the hair behind the ears, legs, and elbows, and should use a dog-safe conditioner to prevent breakage of the coat.

In addition to brushing and bathing, the Coton de Tulear will need its teeth cleaned on a regular basis, as well as its nails trimmed if it does not wear them down naturally.

The Bolognese is also relatively high maintenance. It will need its coat wiped after eating or going outdoors and will need brushing every other day. The breed will require bathing every couple of weeks or so, or if visibly dirty, and will need its eyes wiped at least daily to prevent tear stains from forming.

Owners will also need to be sure to provide the Bolognese with dental care by brushing its teeth on a regular basis, as well as nail care if the breed has not worn its nails down naturally.

Walking and Exercise

In order to keep a dog happy and healthy, it will need to be taken on regular walks or provided with regular exercise in another way. Without this, the breed will gain weight, develop other health conditions, and develop low mood and anxiety.

To prevent these things, a Coton de Tulear should be provided with 30 to 40 minutes of exercise each day. A Bolognese will require around the same, with 30 minutes being the recommended amount.

Coton de Tulear vs. Bolognese: How Much Do They Cost?

Buying a dog is not a cheap thing, and it should not be taken lightly. Owners should ensure that they consider all of the costs and not just the cost of buying the puppy. There are a number of regular costs when it comes to owning a dog, including vet insurance, food, treats, toys, veterinary treatments, as well as flea and worming tablets/spot ons. Plus, when your puppy is young you will likely need to get things like puppy pads, leads, and different sizes of beds as they grow.

Then, of course, there is the upfront cost. For a Coton de Tulear, owners should expect to pay between $2,000 and $3,000. For a Bolognese, owners will need to pay between $1,000 and $2,000. The cost of a dog is largely dependent on things like your location, the breeder, the breeder’s reputation, the dog’s lineage, the breed’s popularity, and even the time of year. If the cost is a barrier, consider looking at shelters, as you may find either breed there for a lower price and you’ll be providing a dog with a well-needed home.

Coton de Tulear vs. Bolognese: Which Should You Get as a Pet?

In addition to all of these factors, those looking at welcoming a new breed into their home should be sure to check whether or not the breed fits into their routine and lifestyle. This is just as important as checking everything else and can make bringing a new puppy home so much easier.

Things like whether or not a household has any other pets, for example, should be something that is considered. Not all dog breeds can be housed with other dogs or with small animals, so owners should ensure the safety of all their pets by checking. With these two breeds, both are fine with small animals or other dogs, so there’s nothing to worry about.

Anyone who has children will also need to be sure they are safe with a new dog in the house. Not all dogs are happy to live with children and can get jealous and snappy. Luckily, neither the Coton de Tulear nor the Bolognese is like this, so family households should be fine. However, owners will need to make sure that small children in particular are taught the correct way to act around dogs to ensure that the dogs do not get frustrated or feel threatened by the child.

Finally, those who need to leave their dog alone a lot should ensure their chosen breed is capable of handling that. In this case, neither breed likes being left alone. Both are susceptible to separation anxiety if left too long.


The Coton de Tulear and the Bolognese are gorgeous dogs that can make great pets. The Coton de Tulear is better for first-time owners as the breed is easier to train, but aside from that, they are very similar in many ways.

For more information, you might also want to read about the pros and cons of Bolognese dogs.

Whether you are looking for food for your dog or other pet supplies, has them all. Right now, they are even running a promotion where you get 40% OFF your first Instinct Raw Frozen autoship order.