If you are looking for the quintessential lap dog, you’ll need to look for pooches blessed with specific qualities. Truth is, not all lap dogs are created equal; indeed, some seem to fulfill the lap-warmer role better than others. It’s a common misconception though that lap dogs are lazy dogs that would rather spend all day on a comfy pillow rather than playing outside or going on a brief walk. Even though they are small, fluffy and cute, they still need walks, play time, socialization and training.
The Making of a Lap Dog
Lap dogs aren’t dogs of a specific breed; rather, the term is generally used loosely to depict small dogs with a friendly and affectionate disposition. Historically, many of these pampered pooches were cherished by the aristocrats who used them as lap and feet warmers. Unlike many other dogs, most lap dogs weren’t selectively bred for work, but were mostly utilized as companions, fashion accessories and even status symbols. Nowadays, the great majority of lap dogs fall into the toy breed group.
What do lap dogs have in common? As mentioned, size is a factor since they must be able to fit in your lap. On top of that, most lap dogs were selectively bred for cuteness. If you look at most lap dogs, you’ll recognize how their faces retain puppy-like features such as large heads, big eyes, folded ears and short muzzles. These features stimulated and continue to stimulate unlimited cuddling almost as if these dogs are surrogate babies! These cute, baby-like features are known as “neotenic traits.“
Popular Lap Dog Breeds
Lap dogs make wonderful companions who do what they have been bred to do best: charm their owners with their antics and delight their days. A word of caution: While some larger dog breeds may think they make good lap dogs, you definitively don’t want any dog weighing more than 20 pounds on your lap!
With a history of being carried within the capacious sleeves of members of the Chinese Imperial Household, it comes as no surprise why this breed makes a lap dog par excellence. These pampered pups were considered sacred in ancient China and were to be exclusively owned by royalty. Anybody who stole these precious dogs was punished by death. The coat of these dogs requires at least a brushing session lasting an hour per week, according to the AKC. Approximate weight: less than 14 pounds.
These pooches originate from China where they were appreciated by the royalty members of the Shang Dynasty. Blessed with a clown-like personality, this breed thrives on attention and affection. Unlike many other lap dogs, the coat of these fellows is short and needs very little care. Their pushed-in faces and large eyes seem to demand adoration. Approximate weight: these pooches are a bit on the heavier side weighing in at 14 to 18 pounds.
Originating from Tibet, this breed was cherished for his excellent watch dog capabilities. Blessed with a long, fluent coat you’ll need to invest some time in grooming this pooch. Loving, intelligent and easily trained, this dog makes a wonderful lap dog. Approximate weight: 13 to 15 pounds.
This lap dog is a small version of spaniel-type dogs that were part of the lives of humans for many centuries. Its name derives from King Charles I who was enamored with this breed. A favorite among the aristocrats, this cute dog gets along with almost everyone, included the family cat. Approximate weight: 10 to 18 pounds.
These fluffy dogs are blessed with a thick double coat, pointed ears and curled tails which give them a Nordic look. Indeed, this breed is the smallest specimen of the Spitz family with tough sledding dogs as its ancestors. Believed to have originated in Pomeranian, Germany, these pampered pooches are a favorite among the lap dog breeds because of their teddy-bear looks. Approximate weight: 3 to 7 pounds.
These pooches of Mexican heritage are known for being one the smallest lap dog breeds on earth. This dog’s saucy expression and petite size makes it a favorite for those living in small apartments. These pooches get their daily exercise by just romping from room to room, exploring the yard or going on short walks. Definitively not suitable for the outdoors, these pooches have a hard time tolerating cold and will need a winter coat to stay warm. Approximate weight: not more than 6 pounds.
You’ll often see these pampered pups wear ribbons on their pretty top knots. This is one of the most ancient breeds originating in Tibet where they were much cherished for their lion-like looks. While they make perfect lap dogs, these dogs are vivacious and may have a stubborn streak. Their upbeat attitude makes them fun to train and watch as they romp around and play. If you are considering this breed, keep in mind that this dog’s luxurious coat will need special care and grooming. Approximate weight: 8 to 10 pounds.
This breed couldn’t miss from the list of top lap dog breeds. Despite being feisty, yappy and energetic, the best place to ultimately relax is inevitably on your warm lap, but a comfy pillow will also do. Selectively bred as ratters, these dogs are very cute, but they remain terriers at heart, which means they offer big personalities in a small package. Expect to fulfill some grooming needs, but many owners keep the coat tidy by having their groomers shave them in a cute puppy cut. Approximate weight: 5 to 7 pounds.
These pups are sure to leave a lasting impression when they float on the show ring courtesy of their long, flowing coats that touch the ground. Originating from the island of Malta, these white dogs are very smart and extremely affectionate. Expect to dedicate time and care to their wonderful coats. Approximate weight: 3 to 7 pounds.
Another white dog, the bichon was a favorite among the 16th century French royal families. The best part is that their curly coats make them a good breed for those looking for hypoallergenic dog breeds. These bouncy fellows love and crave attention and can be very affectionate. Approximate weight: 10 to 18 pounds.
The Bottom Line
As cute as these dogs are, it’s important to realize that because of their small size and fragility they may not be ideal companions for young children. Also, consider that they can sometimes be yappy and that their tiny bladders can make them a bit more challenging to housebreak or potty train. Some of these tiny couch potatoes are also making into the top list of lazy dog breeds. Yet, they’re worth all their weight in gold when it comes to investing time and patience as they’ll pay you back with loads of unconditional love.