Coton Tzu

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic
fast facts

About Coton Tzu

7-11 inches
8-16 lbs
13-16 years
Not applicable
Best Suited For
Families with older children, seniors, singles, people who live in an apartment
Sweet, friendly, affectionate, goofy, intelligent, eager to please, loyal
Comparable Breeds
Shih Tzu, Coton de Tulear
Coton Tzu Basics

The Coton Tzu is an adorable little cuddle bug. Everything about them says “pet me and snuggle me”- from their soft and luxurious coats to their sweet, affectionate nature. However, while it’s undeniable that these compact companions are the epitome of a loving lapdog, there’s so much more to these designer dogs than cuteness.

A crossbreed dog, the Coton Tzu descends from two purebreds: Coton de Tulear and the Shih Tzu. Both of his parents are popular pets and companions across the world, mainly for their lovely looks and wonderful personalities. As their mix, the charming Coton Tzu combines their best traits into one unique breed.

Owing to their easy-going attitude, low-maintenance needs, and friendly temperament, these designer dogs fit in various families. People who live in an apartment appreciate their minimal activity requirements and compact size, as well as seniors who want a sweet and undemanding pet. Families with older children can also be a great fit- every kid would be lucky to grow up alongside a Coton Tzu!

Coton Tzu is popular because of its easy-going attitude, low-maintenance needs, and friendly temperament.


The origin of most hybrids remains a mystery. It wasn’t that long ago that mixed breed dogs transitioned from being adorable mutts to becoming coveted designer dogs, so there’s still a good amount of confusion about when and where a particular hybrid was originally developed. The same goes for the Coton Tzu. No one knows which breeder was the first to start intentionally breeding Shih Tzus to Coton de Tulears, but it’s a fair guess that it happened the same way it did for most hybrids. That means that it’s highly likely that the Coton Tzu originates from the United States- and that the breed probably had its start sometime in the last 20 to 30 years.

Despite the fact that the Coton Tzu doesn’t have much of a history to speak of and that his origin is an enigma, it doesn’t mean that these hybrids are a “wild card”. Simply by looking at the puppy’s mom and dad, you’ll know what to expect. Both of his purebred parents have been around for centuries. In fact, Shih Tzu is one of the oldest dog breeds! The fact that these breeds are still immensely popular after all this time should make you confident of their mix’s qualities.


Coton Tzu is developed by crossing a Coton de Tulear dog to a Shih Tzu. It is a 50-50 mix or first generation, meaning that this hybrid is always born to two purebred parents, and that multi-generational crosses are rare. The reason for this is that a lot of breeders believe that first generation mixes are the healthiest ones. However, this also means that Coton Tzu puppies are quite unpredictable in terms of their appearance. You can never know with certainty if a puppy will take up after one parent more than the other or be a perfect blend of both parents’ traits.

In part because of that unpredictability, designer dogs such as the Coton Tzu are not eligible for registration with the American Kennel Club, which doesn’t recognize them as actual breeds. As a result, Coton Tzu puppies don’t have official pedigree papers. Nevertheless, a reputable breeder will offer a health guarantee and offer to meet the parents- more than enough for a pooch whose role is to be a family pet!


Well-balanced, nourishing diet is the foundation of good health. A Coton Tzu won’t need much food to be full, but it will have to be made from high-grade ingredients that ensure that his nutritional needs are met. Most experts recommend high-quality dry food for dogs as the optimal choice. Kibble is easily available, convenient, and most importantly- contains all of the important nutrients in the right ratio. To make sure your choice of dry food suits your designer dog, choose it with their own unique needs in mind. This means it should be suitable for their age -puppy, adult, or senior- as well as their size and activity level. In most cases, dry food for small dog breeds is a good choice for a Coton Tzu.

As a petite dog, the Coton Tzu gains weight easily and is prone to obesity. To prevent this, stick to feeding guide recommendations by the manufacturer- which is usually about 1 cup of kibble per day. Also, you shouldn’t free feed your pet but rather split their daily dose into two meals.

Coton Tzu is a moderately active dog that doesn’t need much exercise to stay healthy and happy.


Coton Tzu is a smart dog who is eager to please his owners. As a result, these hybrids are highly trainable and make a good choice for a beginner owner. However, even though this cute hybrid isn’t difficult, it doesn’t mean that every approach works with them. Harshness, yelling, punishments- all of these aversive techniques will only be counterproductive and damage your relationship with your dog. Instead, rely on positive reinforcement methods. Motivate your puppy to learn with a promise of treats and praise. It works like a charm, every time!

Most pet owners start training with housebreaking and basic obedience, but once your dog masters the essentials, you can move on to more complex stuff. The traits Coton Tzu possesses make him ideal for dog sports such as agility. Their eagerness to please their owners and smarts are the winning combo!

Training and socialization are extremely important, as they ensure your Coton Tzu becomes the loving, friendly, laid-back dog it can be. Start as early as possible and be consistent with it- otherwise, your lovely pet might develop behavior issues, such as small dog syndrome.


A fully mature Coton Tzu will weigh anywhere between 8 to 16 pounds.


The temperament and behavior of the Coton Tzu make it an ideal companion. The always-wagging tail and those big puppy eyes tell you everything you need to know about these mixes! They are a friendly bunch, easy-going and always in the mood for cuddles. Coton Tzu is very loyal to his family and won’t want to spend a moment away from them if possible. Unfortunately, their affectionate nature and closeness to owners can sometimes result in separation anxiety- make sure to crate train them if they display any of the signs.

In addition to being one of the most loving and sweetest hybrids, these Shih Tzu and Coton de Tulear mixes have a goofy, silly side to them. They love putting a smile on their owner’s face, so don’t be surprised if you notice your puppy has a clownish behavior- as long as they realize they amuse, there won’t be an end to silly antics.

The amiable nature of these dogs makes them suitable for life with children, which they tend to love, and other pets. Naturally, training and socialization play a crucial role in their relationship with other people and animals, so make sure to go through the basics with your puppy.

Common Health Problems

Some people believe that mixed breed dogs are healthier than purebreds. This belief stems from the concept of hybrid vigor, which proposes that crossbreeding results in offspring superior to parents, both in terms of health and resiliency. However, the real truth about designer dogs is a bit more complicated than that. While it’s true that some crossbreed dogs do seem to be healthier than their parental breeds, it’s not a rule. Generally, the health of a Coton Tzu, same as any other crossbreed, will depend on the health of his parents. That’s why it is important to get a health guarantee from a breeder and meet the mom and dad- it ensures you’re not buying a sick puppy from a backyard breeder.

As for health problems Coton Tzu is prone to owing to his parentage, there are luckily only a few of them, such as hip dysplasia and patellar luxation. However, if the puppy favors the Shih Tzu parent, there might be more potential issues to worry about. These include canine disk disease, brachycephalic syndrome, and eye issues- most if not all of them are related to the physical traits of the breed (flat face and short legs).

Life Expectancy

Life expectancy for the Coton Tzu is 13 to 16 years.

Exercise Requirements

Coton Tzu is a moderately active dog that doesn’t need much exercise to stay healthy and happy. This is one of the reasons why this particular hybrid is a favorite with apartment dwellers and retirees who want a dog that’s not hard to keep up with. However, this doesn’t mean that the Coton Tzu is a lazy pooch. These dogs are actually very playful and lively, it’s just that it doesn’t take much for them to burn off their energy. On average, 30 minutes of daily walks is enough exercise for the Coton Tzu, coupled with a fun game of fetch or tug of rope to keep him entertained.

These designer dogs are easy-going and always in the mood for cuddles.

Recognized Clubs

Major canine organizations such as the American Kennel Club don’t recognize designer dog breeds, but there are many smaller clubs that do. Those of them that recognize Coton Tzu include American Canine Hybrid Club, Designer Breed Registry, Designer Dogs Kennel Club, Dog Registry of America, and International Designer Canine Registry.


Both the Shih Tzu and Coton de Tulear have long, flowy locks. In fact, their coat one of the most prized things about them. Their offspring will also have soft, velvety hair, medium to long, that give them the appearance of real-life teddy bears. Coton de Tulear comes only in white, with shadings on their ears (fawn or grey). Shih Tzu comes in several different shades, and it’s often tri-colored. The mix of the two is quite unpredictable though, so you can expect anything from white and cream tones to brown and black combo.

Coton Tzu is not overly demanding when it comes to grooming, but you will have to brush him daily to prevent matting and tangling of their fine hair. They are not heavy shedders despite their longish hair, which is only another bonus for these cute dogs.


Coton Tzu puppies fit inside a person’s palm- they’re tiny and insanely cute. However, this also means that they’re very fragile and you’ll have to be very careful around them. You should never leave kids with them unless you are supervising their play, as they could inadvertently hurt them. Even rougher handling could lead to injury in this young age, so make sure to be on alert until they grow up a bit.

Once they’re a few months old, Coton Tzu puppies are ready to start learning their manners. Training and socialization are a must and you should start with both as soon as possible. Teaching these designer puppies where to go potty or to sit when told won’t be an issue, though, as they are highly trainable.

If you are buying a Coton Tzu puppy, make sure you verify the breeder first. There are a lot of dishonest people that care about profit more than the wellbeing of their dogs- puppy mills sell designer dogs that are sick and mistreated. A reputable Coton Tzu breeder will offer a health guarantee and have the necessary papers for the parents- try to meet the bitch or the stud, too, so you could get a clearer picture.

Photo credit: PhotogenicPanda/Shutterstock; PongMoji/Shutterstock; Spiky and I/Shutterstock

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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