Differences Between the Faces of a Coton de Tulear Dog & a Maltese

Both the coton de Tulear and the Maltese are small dogs with long white coats. These breeds share some facial similarities. The much larger, sturdier coton is a member of the American Kennel Club’s Non-sporting Group. The Maltese is a member of the AKC’s Toy Group. A much smaller dog than the coton, the Maltese has been bred to be a companion for about two millennia.

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Two coton de Tulear's at a dog show
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Coton de Tulear

Cotton de Tulear 1
A coton de Tulear sitting on a lawn
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The coton de Tulear is a short, rectangular breed. Females should weigh between 8 and 13 pounds and males 9 to 15 pounds. The breed’s dense coat is always white, with a distinctive cottony texture. The American Kennel Club standard permits some light gray or light tan shading on the ears. The breed is known for having a happy, adaptive and sociable temperament.

The Maltese

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Cute close-up of a Maltese
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The Maltese was once known as the Maltese spaniel, a name reflected in its appearance. While small, with a preferred weight of 4 to 6 pounds, the Maltese should compact body with smooth, effortless gait. The Maltese coat is always white, with some light tan or lemon shadings permitted but not preferred. It should have a silky texture and, when long, should be free-flowing. The Maltese should have a gentle and affectionate, yet fearless, temperament.

Head Shape

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A coton de Tulear on a wooded deck
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According to the AKC standard, the coton is supposed to have a head that is “short and triangular in shape when seen from above.” When viewed from the front, the coton’s skull is wide and slightly rounded. His muzzle is straight and rather large, closing in a scissors bite or an even bite. The muzzle rises to a slight break in the plane near the eyes, blending into flat cheeks. The coton’s high-set and triangular ears hang at the side of his head and are well-covered with hair.

The Maltese has a head of medium length, with a slightly rounded skull. She has a fine muzzle of medium length, which closes in an even bite (teeth meeting in the front) or in a scissors bite. In contrast to the coton, the Maltese has a moderate stop, giving it a slightly more pronounced forehead. Like the coton, the Maltese has ears that hang at the side of the head with long, feathered hair; however, they are set low and lie close to her head.

Eyes and Expression

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A Maltese getting a haircut
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The coton de Tulear has wide-set dark eyes that are either brown or black in color, mostly round and that have inner and outer corners that are set on the same plane. The coton should have an intelligent, alert and happy expression that conveys his enjoyment of life.

The Maltese has round, very dark eyes that are set “not too far apart.” She must have black pigmented eye rims, enhancing her expression. She should have a gentle expression, while at the same time appearing alert and eager.