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

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Maltese vs. Coton de TulearMany people think that the Coton de Tulear and the Maltese look alike, and that’s for good reason. The two breeds are related, and as such, they often get considered alongside one another.

It can be hard to determine which one best suits you, but it is down to your specific lifestyle and routine. All you can do is make sure you know plenty about both breeds before you decide.

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Maltese and Coton de Tulear History

The Maltese and the Coton de Tulear have extensive histories, although the Maltese has a much longer one. The Maltese’s history is actually rather heavily debated among experts.

Some believe it to be a breed that originated in Malta, from spitz-types around the Mediterranean, others believe that the breed comes from Italy, and some have traced its roots to East Asia.

Nobody is entirely sure which one of these theories is true, but what they do know is that the Maltese is a very old breed. So old it is often dubbed the “ancient toy breed”.

Experts have found evidence of the ancient toy breed throughout history, in the homes of 16th-century British royals, 18th-century French aristocrats, and many many more.

The breed was incredibly well-loved, and even though it was almost bred to extinction, people stepped in to save it and bring it back to the Maltese we know and love today.

The Coton de Tulear on the other hand is thought to have originated in Madagascar, a small island off the coast of Africa.

The dog is believed to have developed on the island from another member of the Bichon family. Some experts believe that the breed got to Madagascar after being used as a ratter on ships and as companion dogs for women who had to sail long distances.

Whatever the story, the breed then became very popular in Madagascar. The royal court and many wealthy families owned Coton de Tulears, and soon even more common households took the breed in.

Then, in the 1970s, a Frenchman took a Coton de Tulear back to France to breed, and not long after, the breed arrived in the United States.

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

Below, we’ll discuss some of the common traits of these two breeds.


The Maltese is a small, regal-looking dog. The breed has a rounded skull, dropped ears, and a perfect black nose which contrasts its incredibly white, long, silky straight hair that covers the whole body.

The breed measures between 8” and 10” tall and will usually only weigh about 7 lbs.

The Coton de Tulear, on the other hand, is a breed with dropped ears and a fluffy, cloud-like coat that comes in white with a few shadings of other colors.

The breed is slightly bigger than the Maltese, measuring between 8” and 12” tall and weighing around 8 to 13 lbs.

Life Expectancy and Aging Profile

The Maltese and the Coton de Tulear benefit hugely from being smaller breeds when it comes to their life expectancies. Smaller breeds, typically, have a much slower metabolism.

This means that they grow and mature at a slower rate, therefore developing fewer structural and skeletal injuries and developing fatal disorders much later in life than larger breeds.

As such, the Maltese has an average life expectancy of 12 to 15 years, and the Coton de Tulear’s life expectancy is at least 14 years.

The breeds will grow quickly as puppies, though, reaching their full size at around 12 months old, and then their growth will slow down for the rest of their lives.


The Maltese is a fun-loving pet that has a strong affectionate nature. The breed will form strong bonds with anyone it lives with pretty quickly and loves to cuddle just as much as it loves to play.

The Maltese is excitable and sweet, and often ends up being quite a spoiled dog as many owners report not being able to say no, no matter how hard they try!

The Coton de Tulear is also a fun breed. It is excitable, happy, and a little bit boisterous. Above all, though, the breed is a people-pleaser and just wants to spend all of its time with its family.

The breed loves people and will form incredibly strong bonds. The Coton is also incredibly friendly, and will often make friends with every new person that they meet.


The Maltese and the Coton de Tulear are intelligent breeds, and will both be able to learn most things thrown at them. The Coton, however, is by far the most intelligent.

Where the Maltese will require positive reinforcement and may need reminding of your latest command training, the Coton is likely to be able to pick up commands quickly, without much reinforcement needed.

In fact, the breed is often used in dog-sport activities for this exact reason. They are quick learners, and, like the Maltese, are eager to please.

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

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

Required Living Space

The majority of people, especially those in cities, do not live in houses anymore. This can often make searching for a suitable dog breed difficult.

Luckily, both the Maltese and the Coton de Tulear are more than suitable for most kinds of living arrangements.

The Maltese is a small, not particularly high-energy dog that simply requires enough space to sleep, eat, and play.

So long as it is given enough mental and physical stimulation on a daily basis, the breed is more than happy to live in an apartment or a studio.

Likewise, the Coton de Tulear is a calm-natured, happy dog that is more than able to adapt to any living space. After all, the breed started on boats!

Once again, so long as the breed is well-exercised and entertained, it’ll be absolutely fine in an apartment or studio.


The Maltese and the Coton de Tulear are both breeds that require a reasonable amount of grooming. The breeds are both white and can stain easily, and have quite high-maintenance coats.

The Maltese needs brushing daily and will need wiping with a wet cloth after eating. Owners will also likely need to wipe the breed’s eyes regularly to prevent tear stains.

The Maltese will need bathing every week or so, will need its ears checked weekly, and its teeth cleaned two to three times a week. On top of that, owners may need to trim the breed’s hair and nails to keep the Maltese comfortable.

The Coton de Tulear has a very different coat, but it still requires a lot of attention. To prevent knots, owners will need to brush the coat three or four times a week with a metal pin brush.

Brushing more often will reduce the frequency of bathing required. Keep an eye on the hair behind the ears, legs, and elbows in particular when brushing, and use a conditioner to reduce breakage.

Owners should bathe the breed when dirty, and make sure that they keep up with dental hygiene, ear checking, nail clipping, and trimming the hair when needed.

Walking and Exercise

Providing a dog with enough exercise is the key to keeping it happy, and healthy, and preventing things like poor toilet training and destructive behavior.

Exercise can be provided in the form of walking, running, jogging, swimming, agility training, and even purpose-led play!

For these two breeds, there is not a whole lot of exercise required; the Maltese needs only an hour each day, and the Coton de Tulear needs around 30 to 40 minutes each day.

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

When choosing a dog breed, the cost is often an important consideration. Owners need to ensure that not only can they afford the upfront cost, but that they can also afford to maintain the monthly, long-term costs like food, treats, toys, vet insurance, and grooming.

To get quotes for these sorts of expenses, owners should enquire with their local dog groomer and vet.

When it comes to buying, the average cost of a Maltese is anywhere between $600 and $2,200, and the average cost of a Coton de Tulear is between $2,000 and $3,000, as it is a rarer breed.

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

In addition to everything above, owners should make sure that they know that their new dog will fit into their lifestyle and routine. Many dogs, for example, do not get on well with cats or small animals and may even try to hunt them due to leftover prey drive.

In this case, luckily, both breeds are fine with small animals. Likewise, both breeds should be happy to live in a multi-dog home, so long as they are socialized young.

Those with children also need to ensure the safety of their children and their new dog. Some dogs can be snappy and dangerous around small children.

Fortunately, neither the Maltese nor the Coton de Tulear are – both are absolutely fine to have around children.

Anyone who works during the day should be aware, however, that neither the Maltese nor the Coton du Tulear are breeds that are suitable to be left at home alone for very long.


Both the Maltese and the Coton de Tulear are smart, exciting breeds. The Coton is slightly easier to train and manage, but both will give you plenty of entertainment and even more love!

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