Talking With the Coton De Tulear Community

We asked the following questions to various experts involved with the breeding & showing of Cotons De Tulear. Below are their responses.  

Above photo from the article “Coton: A Soft Ball Of Cotton Born From The Sea” by Elisabetta De Luca, ShowSight Dog Show Magazine, August 2015 Issue.

  1. Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs?
  2. How many years in Cotons? Showing? Judging? Breeding?
  3. What, in your opinion, is the secret to a successful breeding program?
  4. Not seen much prior to its AKC entry in 2014, the Coton has quickly captured an avid fan base. Do you think its position as #81 out of 192 is a good spot, or do you hope for that to change? What problems would you anticipate from an upsurge in popularity?
  5. Cotons are sometimes mistaken for another breed by people as yet unfamiliar with it. What is its overarching hallmark that to you shouts “Coton”?
  6. Your opinion of the current quality of purebred dogs in general, and your breed in particular.
  7. The biggest concern you have about your breed, be it medical, structural, temperament-wise, or what.
  8. The biggest problem facing you as a breeder.
  9. Advice to a new breeder? Advice to a new judge of your breed?
  10. What is your favorite dog show memory?
  11. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate.

Adrianne Dering

Adrianne Dering breeds Cotons under the Hopecrest prefix. She is a Bronze Breeder of Merit for the Coton de Tulear with four generations of AKC champions and top ranked Cotons in her breeding program. She resides in Morgantown, West Virginia with her husband, three teenage children, Cotons, a Biewer Terrier and a naughty Mini Dachshund. I own a house remodeling and renovation business called 2 Ladies with Hammers. I have shown Cotons for 12 years and breed one to two litters a year.

The secret to a successful breeding program? Seeing as many representatives of the breed from around the world as you can and training your eye for the qualities that best fit your interpretation of the standard. Then carefully selecting specimens for the strengths you bred the litter for rather than the best “overall” puppy.

Do I think breed’s ranking is a good spot? This breed has always had a loyal following. I think it is sustainable at the level it is now. I would like to see more of the Breeders who have profited from the breed actually take an active part in its exhibition. For the number of litters bred in this country, the number of active exhibitors
is abysmal!

The Coton is named for its coat. The “cotton” texture of The coat is the Hallmark of the breed. A correct coat should be full and “fluffy”, not silky or reminiscent of a traditional drop coated breed.

My favorite memory is watching Harry Bennett exhibit my first AKC special (gCHS Hopecrest’s Monkey Business) to Best of Breed at Crufts. To win against many long term breed experts from Europe was a great privilege and honor for me. To do it again with his granddaughter (GCHB Hopecrest’s Marvelous Night for a Moondance) was an amazing affirmation of my vision for the breed!

The Coton is a very sensitive and empathetic breed. They are very responsive to environment and can be prone to resource guarding or aggression if placed in the wrong home. They should never be flippantly discussed as an “antidepressant dog”. Although they make great therapy dogs, placement should be carefully considered in homes where a family member has a disability or mental health problem. The happy go lucky personality and easy biddability characteristic to the breed can be easily ruined in a
stressful environment.

Patricia Enright

I live on Long Island, New York. My outside interests include writing, music, dance, the arts, and cooking. I am also involved as Secretary for my local post 94 of the American Legion Auxiliary. I have over 23 years in the breed. Lifetime in dogs, Judging: first as a Licensed All Breed Judge by the American Rare Breed Judge Association (ARBA) since 2004, then Approved for my breed as an AKC judge in 2015.

I’ve been in dogs all my life, but did not reach my peak until I became actively involved in the Coton over 23 years ago. I was also active in judging, going to Seminars of over 100 breeds and, taking advantage of the fact that I live in New York, had the opportunity to get to know and be mentored by some of the greatest minds in dogdom over the past 30 years. Thus my thirst for dog knowledge has never been satisfied. I continue to learn and share what I learn. I became an all breed judge for ARBA in 2004 after 5 years of apprenticing. Was President of the Alliance of Purebred Dog Writers, co-founder of theMetropolitan Dog Club in Manhattan, as well as a current member of many dog clubs. I am President of the Westbury Kennel Association, Inc. on Long Island, in my 7th year. I have been a member of the USACTC, Inc. (the breed’s PBC) since the mid nineties, chaired and served in office and in many positions over the years; earned Breeder of Merit and was the first breeder judge, seminar presenter and mentor for the club since 2000. Education is my niche.

The secret to a successful breeding program? Honest dedication that encompasses many components numbered below. Here are what I think are key factors:

  • Breed ONLY for the betterment of the breed, and nothing else!
  • Understand that it is not our goal to breed a genetically perfect specimen of the breed. That is impossible.
  • Know your breed, the drags, the trends, what is out there beyond your own kennel. Be honest with what you have to work with.
  • Do all your required health testing and even some unrequired, depending on your dogs, some tests maybe more than once in their lifetime.
  • Keep notes, document.

To assess and conclude what to work on first is predicated upon a few things:

1) To know and understand the Standard, the history and the forward momentum in what is happening in your breed, the drag of the breed currently, and breed specific weaknesses. To do that properly, a breeder must be involved in the fancy in some way: either exhibiting in conformation, performance, trials, all or in part; active in their breed or all breed club or (as a start) to obtain a knowledgeable mentor to guide them.

2) Learn about Canine anatomy, structure, balance, movement and canine terminology as it relates to understanding how it all comes together. I tell folks to not only observe your breed at shows, etc., but observe other breeds, and pick the brains of other breed experts as you are watching. It’s amazing that what you learn may enlighten a person to a better or clearer understanding of their own breed.

3) Understand basic genetics and how it may relate to your breed

4) be brutally honest in recognizing the deficits and attributes in each of the dogs in your kennel. do not be kennel blind.

5) set a series of short term goals with each pairing, knowing that each of these goals will be modified by each breeding as you assess each litter. Take it a litter at a time, listening to nature, and your individual dogs, (especially your females), breeding only when the time is right. As you move forward, you should be getting a better picture of a long term goal.

6) Knowing your lines and the lines of dogs outside your kennel, paying attention to litter mates of the dogs you select as well, being patient and selective, while being realistic.

7) Respecting that Biology always seems to win, and understanding that the success is working with the knowledge of deleterious genes, deficits and to what degree they can be bred out. It is the knowing of the bad that allows you to make informed decisions in how you will use your dog’s genes. It is not the objective to breed a genetically perfect dog! That is impossible. Those who “throw out” every dog that has a problem only ends up with a bottleneck and a dangerously low gene pool.

8) Learn, learn, learn and be realistic. Do not overbreed. You do not need a gaggle of dogs for a successful breeding program. obtain only what you can rightfully handle in keeping your kennel happy, healthy and balanced.

I, personally, am not concerned about a ranking in a popularity poll. Not every breed is right for everyone. Choosing a breed is about understanding the purpose of that breed, finding the best fit for the family dynamic and making sure that the particular breed they choose receives what it needs to flourish (as its breed) in a family environment. Ranking registrations are wonderful if 100% of those registrations turn out to be forever happy homes for each and every breed registered. But how many end up being re-homed or dumped at a shelter or rescue? Purebred breeds need to be protected more-so today, in light of activists pushing for “adopt, don’t shop”, mixed breeds vs. purebreds, shelters vs. breeders. Inasmuch as we all would never want to see any dog, purebred or mixed breed, in a shelter, or in an abusive situation; for me, it’s about properly educating those desirous of adding a dog to their family (or embarking on a breeding, exhibiting or performance venture) about the breed characteristics,, spelling out their minuses as well as their pluses, and the responsibilities involved to ensure the dog does not fall into it’s particular “black hole” if not properly raised and bonded with. We need to make sure families are not seeing their breed through “rose colored glasses”. It is more important to emphasize the realistic needs of that particular breed, so that no dog ends up in rescue, at a shelter or less than its potential. That is worth more to me than any “ranking” on a popularity scale. So, the ranking as it stands is fine with me. I’d rather have quality in ownership than quantity.

What problems would I anticipate from an upsurge in popularity? For the domestic home situation: the proverbial “little white dog” falls victim to many problems:

a) Impulse acquisition due to its “cuteness”, those who want it may have an unrealistic expectation of their “perfect little dog”, anthropomorphizing, later to realize that they are real dogs.

b) Cross breeding to create a designer breed, (especially because the breed being “hypoallergenic”), or claiming it is a purebred when it is not. (internet casualties).

c) High volume breeding to eat off the backs of these dogs, taking advantage of the breed’s marketability. (we have been seeing that for years, even before AKC recognition)

d) Breeding very poor examples and passing them off as quality for the same end.

e) Higher cases of theft, especially for fight ring bait.

f) Trendy changes in the breed for fashion sake that end up affecting the type and essence of the breed.

For the breeders and the dog fancy:

a) In Conformation: Making it a “Coat” breed rather than a breed with coat.

Coifing the coat in such a manner that the breed looks unrealistic, like a stuffed toy, even though the standard states that the breed is to be shown “as naturally as is consistent with good grooming.” We are seeing it now, especially in the face and head. One wonders if the show dog ever plays, gets dirty or enjoys lapping water from a bowl , and somehow this translates to the judge as the ideal. It becomes all about which dog in the ring is groomed the best. Less coiffed, or might I say, more natural coated exhibits will be passed over and it will be about the aesthetic, rather than what’s underneath that coat, which is so vital to its survival in his native land. We will lose the natural essence of this breed.

b) The deviation from, or choice not to preserve, the antiquity and history of the breed in its native land, not to recognize the purposes of the characteristics that made this breed what it is.

I believe that several small breeds suffer from these types of problems. We see trends with aesthetics, babying and forgetting that every characteristic that is stated in the standard has a purpose from the breed’s history, and those involved must learn it, respect it and preserve it.

What is an overarching hallmark that shouts “Coton”? It’s hard to pick just one thing on this breed. The slightly convex topline, with the low set tail, its proportions and its cottony textured coat are the defining features that sets the breed apart from its group mates: Bichon Frise, Havanese, Bolognese, Maltese and Lowchen. But if I had to pick one, phenotypically, it would be the Cottony textured coat. Genotypically, it would be the dilution of color from puppyhood into adulthood, as no other breed in its grouping possesses those two characteristics. Overall, though, the dilute gene!

My favorite dog show memory? The first time winning a Best In Show. It was in September, many years ago. I was in the ring and the judge pointed to me with the BIS Rosette. I just stood there smiling back at him, not registering that my dog had won. People starting shouting at me (you won! Go!!!) It took the judge two times to motion to me and I finally woke up! My friend’s husband was in the car (facing the ring, getting ready to leave, as I never thought we had a chance) and he got so excited, he smacked his head on the top of the door opening as he was jumping out of the car! But, even better, after that, my dog won continually! It was the start of him reaching #1 for the following year in all systems.

As I mentioned above, this breed has a history that many breeders either do not know, do not internalize, ignores, or embraces. This history and the breed’s natural evolution is what makes the breed what it is and defines the breed as to what it’s not! It is not a dumbed down, fragile little fluffy white dog. It is not a cutesy, yappy little breed with marbles in its head. The breed is a survivalist. It evolved and flourished in one of the most harshest environments in the world, on an island where most of its animal inhabitants remain unchanged since pre-historic times. The breed was preyed upon by Caimen. It had to develop stamina, agility and overly keen senses of sight, smell and hearing. It had to possess intense vocal, bodily and visual communicative abilities within their packs, a body structure that guaranteed swift, strong movements and high endurance in order to survive in the rainforests, beaches, all the terrain and weather conditions that Madagascar threw at them during their time as feral dogs. Their high pitched bark was needed to cut through all of the noises of the rainforest. Pups born with color served as camouflage for protection, later to dilute to white to reflect the hot sun as adults. Their cottony coat trapped insects, and insulated them from the heat and cold. Every characteristic the breed possess has its purpose going back to its survival. Even when they entered into the camps of the locals, it was said by Louis Petit that they earned their keep by taking down the wild razor-back boar and working as a utility farm dog, in addition to providing affection and comfort to the family. It’s history is rich and it needs to be preserved in what their essence is: a smart, highly intelligent thinking member of its pack (human or canine), ready for action and wise enough when to back down.

Sharon Hunkins

I live in Southern California. Dogs used to be what I did outside of my career. I am now retired after 40 years in my career. My time is now spent with my dogs.

After a number of years admiring this breed, I added Cotons here to my existing SHE Bichons in early 2014. Now we are SHE Bichons And Cotons. I had been showing Bichons since 2004, started showing Cotons in July 2014.

How is one to evaluate a successful breeding program? that depends on what your goals are. I would say a combination of several factors including offspring who exhibit the hallmark of the breed, “Joie de Vivre”, good conformation, coat and movement and good health.

There are no secrets to a successful program. It’s a whole bunch of hard work, dedication; accumulated experience and knowledge.

I am not concerned with popularity rankings. All that matters to me is that my dogs are popular with me.

As with all breeds, if one breed becomes particularly popular, there is an upsurge of poor breeding and all that is associated
with it.

I still say the hallmark of the breed is their “Joie de Vivre”. If you can’t produce that, you are lacking. They are strong, beautiful and playful and great companions.

Too many dog show memories, sort of like asking which of dogs is your favorite. Could be when I met one of my best dog friends at my first dog show while hiding behind a trash can near the ring. We were both hiding from our bitch puppies who were in the ring. That was the first show for both of our puppies. Subsequently I travelled with her to the Westminster when her bitch showed in 2005. We have remained friends. She called me a few weeks ago to say her girl had passed away and she wanted me to know because I had been an important part of her life. We met at her first show and we travelled to Westminster together for her last show.

I find it troubling there seems to be a splintering of clubs and registrations and ideas regarding what the standard for the breed should be. It’s troubling that the AKC is not accepted nor supported by these factions.

Dell Ann Kuhn

Dell Ann Kuhn has been married 42 years to Joseph Kuhn. She has four grown, married children with six grandchildren. Outside of dogs, racehorses are in my blood as my parents trained and raced horse all over the country. I’m retired from school bus driving for 28 years. I enjoy the life I have and am living life happy with my family and Cotons.

Maplewood Cotons is located just outside Columbus, Ohio in the small town of Sunbury. We grew up here on a farm and have raised our children here as well a now our four-legged family. I enjoy helping with my teenage grandchildren as a carpool and lunch lady. We travel to Florida for the winter where my most favorite pastime is the beach. I am oldest of six girls so I do a lot of sister stuff as well.

I have been breeding dogs for almost 25 years. I started with Miniature Schnauzers and now have only Cotons. I got my first one in 2007 and now have five total. I became interested in showing when they just been recognized by AKC. I purchased My “Hayden” from a breeder in France and thus my love for the breed began. All of my Cotons are AKC finished champions. Hayden De l” Etoile Procyon has been ranked in the top three for most of his show career. He was awarded Select dog at Westminster in 2017.

I now have another Coton, Rock a Bye Real McCoy @ Maplewood who finished his Championship and was award a RBIS at the IABC Show in Cincinnati. I am now looking forward to Showing another one of our puppies this winter. Every time the car is getting loaded the Cotons get excited to hop right in, they somehow know where we are going.

To have a successful breeding program one must be honest with what you are breeding. It is very easy to become kennel blind. Being diligent with Health Testing is a must. Maplewood Cotons goal is to produce healthy puppies with wonderful loving personalities from our champion health tested Cotons.

Of coarse we would all like to see the Coton move up. The inconsistency of the type according to the standard may be a problem as we don’t have large entries. The hair is another factor that intimidates a lot of show people. It is a not so forgiving hair that requires lots of attention if you want to present the best Coton to the judges.

Cotons are one of the happiest dogs I have been around. Their clownish-like personality comes through loud and clear. They are so very smart as well.

My favorite dog show memory: it would have to be Hayden being shown by his handler Nina Fetter at Westminster. My “official” right hand man pushed him to the ring with Nina. His smile was priceless.

The other favorite memory was that my granddaughter Cecelia showed her Coton to a champion at the age of nine. I was one
proud “Mimi”. Maplewood Cotons is family affair and are very involved with the dogs and regularly take one home for a visit while we are out of town.

The Coton is a very versatile dog in that they can do agility, obedience, therapy and be a lap dog for sure. Cotons are very smart and eager to learn new things. I have to say the Cotons love to be where your are and travel like pros. I truly enjoy the families who get a new furever family member as they keep me updated with news and pictures.

Justine Romano

I live in New Jersey with my husband and my daughter who is in high school, and I own and groom my eight Cotons, which is a full time job. My first career was in the fashion industry. After, I owned a grooming business and met my first Coton in 1998. In 2008, I began to show my dogs as a hobby.

My opinion of the current quality of purebred dogs? I am glad to see in the USA, most breeders are abiding and breeding to the AKC breed standard. As for my breed, I do like the AKC breed standard. However, I believe there is always room for improvement and it needs to be shorter.

The biggest concern I have about the breed? What concerns me most is that some breeders are not doing the health testing we have available for our breed and some of the new breeders are not
being mentored.

As a breeder, I would have liked to create type in our breed while following the breed standard. Due to health testing being my main priority, I will not line breed. Our gene pool is too small and doubling up on outstanding dogs can also double up on health issues. I choose to outcross to avoid the health issues that could occur. Also, I breed for temperament, a Coton de Tulear should be as happy in the show ring as they are at home.

The most important advice I have for a new breeder is to have a great mentor. An experienced breeder that will educate them about our breed and tell the background of dogs in the pedigree.

A new breeder should take it slow and start with one well bred Coton and show the dog to its AKC Championship. This will help the new breeder develop an educated eye regarding strengths and faults of their dog. Also, this will serve them well when choosing a potential mate for their first litter. In my opinion the goal in breeding is to breed dogs better than the parents.

I would like to share with Judges that our breed needs to be felt with their hands, not just looked at. The appearance can be deceiving due to the enormous coat. Judges must feel the dog to find the correct structure. Also, watch for movement as our standard reads, our breed should have free, flowing movement.

Although our present AKC breed standard is very long, please read it. I am the chairperson of the breed education committee now, my goal is to summarize and shorten the breed standard next year.

As I breeder, I have learned to investigate every dog in the pedigree, have a great software program that shows six generations of dogs in a pedigree or more and perform a co-efficiency percentage before breeding.

What I find most interesting about our breed is the presence of the fading color gene. Puppies can have spots of color which should fade by adulthood to white or very light areas of beige or gray.

As an exhibitor, I would advise to be most professional in behavior and appearance, never display negativity and always be positive regardless of the outcome of the Judges decision in the ring. Always show respect toward the Judges. It is not appropriate for any exhibitor to educate a Judge on our breed or ask about another dog while in the show ring. If you have a concern, approach a Judge outside the show ring and ask only about the faults or objections of your particular dog. Lastly, always present the Coton de Tulear in the show ring clean and free of mats.

Most of the funny moments in the show ring are embarrassing. At our first show in Miscellaneous in AKC, I brought three of my dogs. My female was young and frightened at the loud indoor show. As we entered the ring, she crawled on her elbows the entire way around the ring. The exhibitor behind me called her “the Swiffer mop”! Her call name is now Swiffer.

Tiffany Laitner

I live in Norman, Oklahoma. Dogs are my life now, but prior to training and showing dogs, I was a stay at home mom to our son. He now attends Princeton University. It gives me time to pursue my dream of working with dogs.

I showed my first Coton in 2008, but did not have my first litter until 2014.

I started showing in the Coton world in 2008, but I am not new to the world of dog showing and breeding. I began training my first animals at the age of seven. By the age of thirteen, I trained my guinea pigs to roll over, play dead and shake hands. I also taught the family dog to pull a wagon with my baby brother in it.

When I was14, I met a wonderful lady and dog trainer named Ginny Bruce. Ginny taught me AKC obedience and scent hurdling. In 1985, I had the top two 4-H obedience dogs in Arizona and a High in Trial at an ASCA show with a standard poodle. I also became one of six teenagers to train the first Seeing Eye puppies
in Arizona.

Now 30 years later, I have trained and taught in Agility, Obedience, and Conformation. I was a board member of Contact Zonies Agility Club, the largest USDAA agility club in Arizona. I was a member of good standing with the Cavalier Club of Central Arizona, the 2nd largest AKC Cavalier Spaniel Club in the US. I also worked as a private personal dog trainer in the rescue realm. I co-founded AZ Cavalier Rescue, worked as a foster for both Lucky Star Cavalier Rescue and Soft Coated Wheaten Rescue.

In 2008, I purchased my first Coton. At the tender age of twelve weeks, Windsong’s Melody in Motion took a Best In Show in UKC, with good competition, at her first show. Unfortunately Mel’s bite went off, and she was not able to be shown further. I continued to work and show Cotons with my dear friend Livina Day, of Day Dreaming Cotons, until 2010 when a job change brought me and my family from Arizona out to Norman, Oklahoma.

My family and I live on ten acres just east of Norman, Oklahoma. Although I enjoy showing my “little white fluffy” dogs, my passion is performance sports and playing out in out in the fields where my dogs love being dirty little farm dogs.

I believe a successful breeding program begins with a plan. Dr. Stephen Covey famously said “Begin with the end in mind.” What do you want to accomplish by breeding? Are you breeding for the moment or for a lifetime. Years ago, I read an article that talked about German Short Haired Pointers. The point of the article was to say that many breeders even reputable breeders do not have the slightest idea why they are breeding, and if you looked at some of the top kennels, they may be full of winners, but there was no uniformity within the kennel. It was a hodge podge of whatever was winning at the moment. I believe that in order to have a successful program you need to have a vision in your mind as to what your kennel is going to dog to promote the Coton for future generations. For me, I like movement. I select my lines based upon structure and movement. My dogs’ coats may not be as long or thick as some of the other top kennels, but you cannot find fault with the movement of my dogs. I am starting to see the third generation offspring of my breedings go into the ring, and the first thing that is notice is movement.

If you have a specific idea and goal in mind, you will not be swayed by the popularity of different sires or kennels. When the temptation comes to breed to get that ribbon, having a firm goal keeps you from straying too far and taking your kennel off track.

Do I think the breed is ranking in a good spot? Honestly, positioning is not important with me. Being higher or lower has its advantages and disadvantages. My concern is the lack of basic knowledge people have when acquiring and then breeding Cotons. Even in the show ring I am seeing more and more diverse look of the Coton. To me that shows that either there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the standard, or a standard that isn’t defined well enough for people to follow. I believe both are in play. As breeders, we are the guardians of this breed. It is not up to us to pass judgement on other people’s dogs, but it is up to us to educate and to mentor. I hope as its popularity grows, the people who are involved in breeding and selling the dogs will also the time to learn why the Coton acts the way it does, and why it moves the way it does. As we learn more about the breed, we can educate or puppy clients. An educated populace means less dogs that are discarded. We can’t be elitist with this breed. We need to be personable and open with everyone, including those who may be breeding less than desirable dogs. Education is the only way to keep this breed healthy and “Coton like” as it becomes more popular.

Cotons are sometimes mistaken for another breed by people as yet unfamiliar with it. What is its overarching hallmark that to you shouts “Coton”? The most obvious answer is the gradual arch of its back, but to me it is also the Coton’s tail. It is the only breed is which is showed with its tail down when at rest, such as on the table or standing still. I have had Judges penalize my dog because he/she didn’t have “happy tail”. Other Cotons in the ring had tails that stayed up the whole time. Judges who are unfamiliar with the breed could easily think that the Coton with the drop tail is shy
or unhappy.

Another hallmark is the expression of the Coton. Those large eyes against the white face makes allows for the expression to just “pop!” Many of my puppy buyers tell me that their dogs speak to them with their eyes. I have trained dogs for over 30 years, all different breeds, yet this breed to me is the most expressive.

My favorite memory showing dogs was when I was 15 years old. My parents were not involved in the dog world. Everything I did, I had to learn from books or from a very dear friend of mine named Ginny Bruce. At 15, I had a Standard Poodle I was training for both the conformation ring and the obedience ring. I entered an Obedience trial at the Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA Show) with my Poodle. I was the youngest one there. I walked away with High in Trial. The ASCA people were not amused that a teenager with a Poodle won their event.

This breed is more than just a pretty face. Cotons are incredibly smart and empathetic. Many people pick out the dog because of the cuteness and hypoallergenic issues. That is doing this breed a disservice. This breed is incredibly versatile. I have a friend with a Coton puppy who is learning to herd ducks. She may title the Coton in herding! I have a dog who is a working service animal for a trauma victim. I have a puppy who is in training to work full time at a school for high risk children as a therapy dog. Cotons do extremely well as agility dogs, obedience dogs, trick dogs and of course conformation. This breed is one of the few breeds which can do it all, and yet still fit under the seat of an airplane. I hope that as this breed rises in popularity, the amount of owners who want participate in events with their dogs increases as well.

Leslie Machado

I live in the Northern suburbs of Chicago. I am a life-long Chicago area resident and I love the city, despite the weather. My husband, Emilio, and I are both attorneys. What free time we have, we like to spend with our three adult daughters, two of whom are married, and our extended family. Hoping for some grandchildren one day. We have an AKC-registered kennel name, which is “Morninglow Cotons”.

It’s been a little over ten years since we bought our first Coton as a pet, and got convinced by our breeder to show him. Neither she nor I expected we would get bitten by the bug the way we were and be where we are today! I have been showing for a decade, and breeding a little less than that. I received my AKC Breeder of Merit in January. I have not entered the world of judging. Neither of us came from a multi-generational dog family. We came upon the sport in middle age as our kids left home. We had always had multiple dogs and been dog lovers, but really never knew all this even existed prior to buying a Coton.

The secret to a successful breeding program? Breeding thoughtfully and carefully. I didn’t just throw together the first two dogs I got my hands on. I tried to learn as much as I could before actually taking the plunge. I try to be honest in my assessments of the dogs and bitches I have and then try to select mates that enhance their good qualities and breed away from their flaws. I have been extremely fortunate that several people who have been in the breed longer than me have allowed me to use their very fine stud dogs with my foundation bitch and I have gotten some beautiful, healthy and successful offspring from them. I’m very grateful for both these breeders’ kindnesses and their belief in me. They know who they are and I can’t ever thank them enough. They have been wonderful mentors and friends. Having a mentor in dogs, but outside your own breed is also of critical importance in my opinion, and I am extremely lucky to have one of the best. She knows who she is as well and knows how grateful I am to her. It also bears saying that just being kind and pleasant to others, listening to what they have to say and sharing what you yourself have learned with others has a major effect on your success—and it makes you feel better about yourself and about your dogs than any ribbon could. Although nice ribbons are also lots of fun.

Do I think breed’s ranking is a good spot? I think it’s probably alright the way it is. I wouldn’t want the dog to become too popular, as I think it can be hard to fill demand even where we are at now. Cotons generally don’t have large litters and I wouldn’t want to see the quality of the dogs out there diminish. On the other hand, we could certainly use more exhibitors out showing, but I guess that is a problem in most breeds these days.

What is its overarching hallmark that to me shouts “Coton”? Well firstly the coat. The breed is named for it. Secondly the unique silhouette. If you go beyond appearance and into what most affects your life with one, it’s the darling, funny, clownish personality. When we bought our first one as a pet, it was that personality that caused us to fall in love with the breed. I had had many dogs prior to my first Coton, but none that absolutely commands your attention and constantly makes you laugh the way a Coton does. Our first breeder told us that “Cotons are like potato chips, you can’t just have one”. I laughed at her sales pitch at the time, but now I know just how true that statement was!

My favorite dog show memory? I have two that both involve handling dogs on my own. Back when we were still in Miscellaneous, I was too nervous to show my puppy in the Open Show in Orlando that was designated as our National Specialty. I was going to have a friend’s junior handler daughter show him for me. She had a last-minute ring conflict with her own dog, and I just decided to wing it. My puppy won BISS and Group 2 in an Open Show with an entry of over 120 dogs! That BISS puppy ended up being my first stud dog. Second special memory was last December, also in Orlando. I brought two eight month old littermates, a male and a female, hoping maybe to get one major on one of them while there. Showed them both myself each day with my husband’s job being to change my armband for me and toss the right dog my way each time I had to leave the ring with one to fetch the other. In three shows, I managed to get all four of their majors and finish them both myself, getting both WD/BOW and WB in one show from same judge, and then finishing them both with an additional five point major on each in the two shows (one a speciality) held the following day. Each of these times, I literally expected nothing from doing it by myself, and had a big success. Those moments are without question the most fun part of doing this. I’m also very grateful to Laura King and Robin Novack and their team for the great job they have done campaigning two of my dogs over the last two years, including making one of them No. 1 all-systems for 2018, and winning a National Specialty with each of them.

I clearly love Cotons, and think they are a wonderful breed. However I don’t think that they are the perfect breed for everyone and I think there needs to be more education, especially in the popular press, so that people better understand what the dogs’ wonderful attributes are, but also what their specific needs are.
They were bred to be companions and I personally don’t think do well in homes where they spend long periods of time alone. They need their people even more I think than their people need them. If you have the time and are willing to make the emotional commitment to one, it’s an amazing experience to own one.

Luis Ortiz &
Monica De Tuya Ortiz

I’m Luis Ortiz, Breeder, Judge and owner handler and owner of Mi-Toi the most winning Coton breeder in USA and one of the Too around the world. I have over 30 years experience in the Dog World with Cotons, Chows, Beagles, Spanish Water Dogs, Presa Canarios to mention some. Always intelligently breeding for physical and
mental soundness.

I live in Clermont, Florida but also own a property in Puerto Rico. Due to some health issues I can’t do anything that will put my health in jeopardy. I’m a drafter and that’s where my education was.

I had been involve in Cotons now for 24 years and judging for 18 Breeding around 33 since I bred Chows Spanish water dogs beagles to mention some other breeds.

The secret in my opinion for a successful breeding program is knowing the lines your working with in your breed. Everything start with a good gene pool of females. You can always find a good stud from another breeder. Being at the #81 in the AKC ranking is okay. It was a popular breed already before it became AKC for many reason personality, cuteness and Life longevity (durability)they could live for 16 years. Is not known for been a low price breed unless non reputable breeders decide to play with their prices. Breeders who have work hard for so many years to establish their lines will not let them go so easy.

Cotons are known mostly for their Cotonese coat texture. A Coton De Tulear with the right coat texture is easy to tell apart from other similar breeds; the profuse coat is unique and also the funny attitude of the breed is unmistakable.

I have many show memories been the breeder with the most Champions in AKC and International tittles all over the world from USA is hard to pick one specific show but definitely having the first Coton De Tulear to win a AKC Best in Show, Multi CH Mi-Toi’s Icon seal the most important accomplishment as a breeder owner handle. Also the over ten World Champions in FCI shows is another of my great memories. Can’t forget a dog bred by me Multi CH. Mi-Toi’s Burberry winning Westminster for the first time for the breed and three years in a row.

This breed is a very functional one they are so adaptable to any weather or climate they love to interact with other people and some do agility or obedience with them since the are very trainable and very cooperative in top of been an elegant breed. 

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