As a humorous old saying goes, the only thing that a trio of dog fanciers can agree upon is that one of them is doing or thinking it wrong. This may not hold up, however, if the trio are Coton de Tulear owners, and they’re asked to identify the hallmark of their breed. In reading the opinions of assorted breeders and judges, the consensus about what that hallmark feature seems to be is the breed’s slightly convex topline (if it’s not the coat). It’s smooth sailing, so to speak, from the withers to the dog’s loin, and then it begins a slight, natural arch over the loin, continues over the croup, and ends in a low tail set. The topline should never be flat, nor is the breed is high in the rear: Its tail set is low.
When in doubt, one should put their thumb and index finger in an upside down U-shape over the dog’s last rib. This allows one to determine where the starting point is of the arch over the lumbar vertebrae. The rise shouldn’t start before that vertebrae. The “graceful natural arch” of this slightly convex topline is created, not only by the natural rise & fall of the spires of the lumbar vertebrae over the short, well-muscled loin, but also by the fall away into the oblique croup. The low-set on of the tail completes the curve.
This isn’t to suggest that a Coton mopes around. This happy chappy happily carries his or her tail curved over their back when on the move, but at rest, the tail is down with an upward hook at the tip showing off the breed’s distinguishing outline. In fact, to our knowledge (and at the time of this post), it is the only breed that is shown with its tail down when at rest, i.e., standing on a grooming table for examination by a judge. It is, therefore, an error to penalize a dog in a show ring for shyness or recalcitrance because its tail is down.
Image: Coton de Tulear created from 10 to 20 individually hand cut pieces of paper in a variety of colors and patterns, combined in layers, then mounted on color stock, by Patricia Peters – CanineCutUps