For the smart and sweet-natured Coton de Tulear (Coton for short), the perfect day consists of nothing more than being with his person, whether it's lying at her feet while she works, following her from room to room — not even the bathroom is sacred. This small, long haired, cottony-coated dog was never bred to be anything but a companion, and to this day, that's what he does best. He cocks his head intently when spoken to and will even try to answer back.
The Coton de Tulear takes his name not only from his cottonlike coat but also from the seaport city of Tulear (now known as Toliara), located on the African island nation of Madagascar, where the breed originated. He's related to the Bichon Frise and Maltese but has his own distinct style. People who love the Coton praise his intelligence, sociability, and easy-care coat. He's an observant dog who quickly learns routines and adapts to his person's needs. He sleeps while you're busy, one eye cracked so he can follow if you leave the room. He's known as a good and flexible traveler, perhaps a remnant of his seafaring days, when he accompanied ladies making long journeys by ship.
When it's playtime, the Coton will grab his favorite toy and bring it to you for a rousing game of fetch. He loves to go on walks, but his exercise needs aren't excessive. Playing inside or in a fenced yard will just as easily satisfy his need for activity, as long as he has plenty of human companionship. Because of his desire to please, he excels in activities such as obedience and agility. The well-socialized Coton loves everyone. When your doorbell rings, the Coton may bark once, then politely accompany you to the door to greet your guest. The only risk a housebreaker faces is being licked to death.
He likes to "talk" to his people, using his own special language of unique vocalizations, including grunts and growls. He'll love it when you talk back to him. His soft, shaggy white coat may look difficult to care for, but once the adult coat has grown in, dirt falls out easily with brushing. Brushing three or four times weekly, plus bathing as needed, will keep your Coton clean. The Coton aims to please, and whatever makes you happy makes him happy — as long as it doesn't involve being apart from you. Consider this breed if you're a stay-at-home parent, empty-nester, or retiree who has lots of time to spend with a canine best friend and will enjoy taking him places.
The Havanese shines his affectionate personality on everyone, including strangers, children, other dogs, and even cats. But his family will get the lion's share of his love; given the choice, he'll stick like glue to his owner's side. His Velcro personality isn't so surprising, considering he was bred to keep the wealthy families of his native island of Cuba company. Since then, however, the Havanese has proven that he's good for much more than warming laps. Havanese dogs are quite trainable, and they've worked as therapy and assistance dogs, sniffed out mold and termites, and shown off their clownish antics as performing dogs. They've also got a surprising amount of energy for their size, and for the family looking to compete, the Havanese will happily tackle such sports as agility, freestyle, obedience, and flybal. The long, silky coat of the Havanese is beautiful, but requires regular brushing and care. Many owners prefer to clip it short, but if you want to show your dog, you'll have to let it grow long and invest a good amount of time in grooming, or money in paying a groomer. Another reason to keep it long: If you live in a warm climate, the long coat helps keep your dog cool. The Havanese does well in all types of housing, from apartments to homes with large yards. But he'll probably bark when he sees someone passing by the house or when he hears a strange noise. The good news is that he doesn't bark just for the sake of hearing his own voice
The Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka (literally "colored lap dog" or "colored Bichon") is a unique Russian toy breed descended from the French Bolonka and a variety of other small breeds combined and refined in Russia. Because of Russia's traditionally utilitarian attitude toward dogs, toy breeds were once scarce in Russia. But in the 1960s, as the Soviet Union loosened restrictions on dog breeding, more toy breeds arose. An affectionate dog that bonds intensely with its human owners, the Tsvetnaya Bolonka has a big dog's protective instinct and deportment, but a little dog's lively animation. The breed gets along well with other dogs and pets, including small animals. The long, wavy, silky, double coat with big, loose curls requires frequent brushing to keep it free of mats. Hair may be left to cover the eyes or tied up in a topknot. About 91/2 to 10 inches tall and sturdy, the Tsvetnaya Bolonka is less fragile than many toy breeds and makes a good playmate for children and a calm, attentive companion for seniors.