The ancestors of the dog known today as the Coton de Tuléar are generally thought to have been small white dogs of the Bichon group.
From the 15th century, when Europeans began to sail around Africa and up the Mozambique Channel to explore the East, genial and useful dogs accompanied them. When Madagascar was discovered en route natives, there and on smaller nearby islands, adopted some.
During the period of French control (roughly a century before Madagascar declared independence around 1960) the breeding of the dog probably became more stable.
By the early 1970’s the first repatriated specimens had established bloodlines in Europe that have led to today’s European Coton de Tuléar.