The 16 Best Lap Dogs That Are Basically Blankets with Legs

editor@purewow.com (PureWow)
·8 min read

A lap dog is pretty much what it sounds like: a dog who sits in laps. Big surprise, huh?! But, beyond that obvious definition, lap dogs are not only small enough to fit on laps, but their personalities and genes also make them predisposed to actually prefer lounging in laps to just about everything else (OK, maybe except that T-bone steak). There are many toy breeds who aren’t really considered lap dogs because they are more independent or energetic (you’ll notice Havanese and Papillon pups aren’t on our list). There are also several larger breeds who think they’re lap dogs but are probably too big for that to be comfortable for anyone (we’ll let you be the judge of that). The lap dogs on this list are tiny pooches who will happily spend their afternoon glued to you and your warm legs. Many were bred hundreds of years ago to do just that: sit on their owners and look pretty.

Ideally, lap dogs live in homes where they don’t have to be left alone for long periods of time. Many of these dogs are affectionate and enjoy being close to their people as often as possible. Some may even become destructive if left alone for too long. Since many of them are toy breeds, their size allows them to thrive even in smaller apartments. Be aware, however, that outdoor exercise is healthy for all types of dogs. While some get enough activity playing fetch in the hallway, others need more rigorous cardio or lengthier walks to stay mentally and physically healthy. Talk to your vet about your dog’s particular needs!

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1. Bichon Frise

Average Height: 10 inches

Average Weight: 15 pounds

Personality: Animated, social

Grooming: High-maintenance

Trainability: 9/10

One of the more outgoing dogs on our list is the Bichon Frise. Though these pups can be social butterflies, they are very adaptable and do well in all types of households and locales. Their fluffy white fur does require regular grooming but brushing every day won’t be tricky if your Bichon is always on your lap!

2. Biewer Terrier

Average Height: 9 inches

Average Weight: 6 pounds

Personality: Calm, friendly

Grooming: Regular brushing and trimming

Trainability: 10/10

The Biewer terrier is a rarer breed that has quickly gained popularity since being officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2021. Their coats need to be brushed regularly (keeping them trimmed short makes life easier). Biewers are smart and will enjoy games indoors or long walks outside—whatever you’re in the mood for.

3. Bolognese

Average Height: 11 inches

Average Weight: 7 pounds

Personality: Shy, relaxed

Grooming: Regular brushing and trimming

Trainability: 7/10

Don’t expect a Bolognese to be forgiving if you leave them home alone all day. This is a dog who adores its humans and needs to be around them frequently. Like the Biewer, if their coat is kept short, grooming is a breeze. Another perk? They don’t shed, which makes them ideal for folks with allergies.

4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Average Height: 12.5 inches

Average Weight: 15.5 pounds

Personality: Adaptable, affectionate

Grooming: Low-maintenance

Trainability: 9/10

These are some of the most versatile dogs out there (and are more forgiving than the Bolognese if you’re a 9-to-5er). Cavalier King Charles Spaniels will be by your side whether you want to live on your couch or at the park. Athletic, yet calm. Energetic, yet gentle. Cavs truly make terrific lap dogs.

5. Chihuahua

Average Height: 6.5 inches

Average Weight: 5 pounds

Personality: Charming, independent

Grooming: Low-maintenance

Trainability: 5/10

Chihuahuas are small but mighty dogs. They have opinions and aren’t afraid to make their wishes known. In other words, training is tricky because the chihuahua would love to be the king of the castle. Take them anywhere—they love tagging along—and make sure there’s always time for a lap nap.

6. Dachshund

Average Height: 8.5 inches (Standard), 5.5 inches (Miniature)

Average Weight: 24 pounds (Standard), 10 pounds (Miniature)

Personality: Stubborn, sensitive

Grooming: Low-maintenance

Trainability: 5/10

Whether you have a standard or miniature dachshund, you’ll notice they are curious creatures eager to make themselves known. Their barks are worse than their bites, but they do make good watchdogs because of their wariness of strangers. Though stubborn, dachshunds are sensitive and friendly and love being the apple of your eye.

7. Italian Greyhound

Average Height: 14 inches

Average Weight: 10.5 pounds

Personality: Sensitive, alert

Grooming: Low maintenance

Trainability: 5/10

Though they’re prone to being lazy, cuddly couch potatoes, Italian greyhounds can go zero to 60 at the drop of a hat (aka, if they see potential prey bolting away from them). Generally speaking, these teeny tiny pups are content chilling in your lap and basking in your warmth.

8. Maltese

Average Height: 8 inches

Average Weight: 6 pounds

Personality: Sweet, elegant

Grooming: High maintenance

Trainability: 7/10

Long, elegant white fur lets you know right away the Maltese was bred among royals. For centuries, these dogs have been sweet companions to many different types of people and thrived in a variety of environments. Social and smart, Maltese make excellent companion dogs.

9. Miniature Schnauzer

Average Height: 13 inches

Average Weight: 15.5 pounds

Personality: Outgoing, obedient

Grooming: High maintenance

Trainability: 8/10

A great example of a dog who will just as happily frolic around a country estate as he will a studio apartment. Miniature schnauzers are jovial canines who love to please their families. Though they don’t shed much, their double coat can be burdensome.

10. Pekingese

Average Height: 7 inches

Average Weight: 12 pounds

Personality: Confident, loyal

Grooming: Regular brushing

Trainability: 5/10

Bred as companion dogs to wealthy, powerful families in ancient China, Pekingese pups give off an unmistakable confidence. So confident, in fact, that training them can be a feat. They are, however, incredibly loyal and affectionate and agree there’s nothing better than a comfy lap to lounge in (as long as it’s yours and not anyone else’s).

11. Pomeranian

Average Height: 7 inches

Average Weight: 5 pounds

Personality: Playful, affectionate

Grooming: Regular brushing

Trainability: 9/10

Now, some Pomeranian owners might argue Poms aren’t true lap dogs because they tend to see themselves as big dogs. We’ve added them to this list because at the end of the day, the one thing Poms want is to spend time with their favorite person. Indoor exercise is sufficient, and they learn quickly. Plus, that smiling face!

12. Toy Poodle

Average Height: 10 inches

Average Weight: 5 pounds

Personality: Intelligent, athletic

Grooming: High maintenance

Trainability: 10/10

If you want a lap dog whose alter ego is an athlete, look no further than the toy poodle. These pups love activity but are also incredibly devoted and enjoy ample time in their owner’s company. Part of any exercise regimen for toy poodles should include mental stimulation.

13. Pug

Average Height: 11.5 inches

Average Weight: 16 pounds

Personality: Adaptable, charming

Grooming: Low maintenance

Trainability: 7/10

Like Pekingese, pugs were bred for wealthy Chinese families centuries ago. However, Pugs are goofier, friendlier companions with tons of love to give. They’re game for just about anything, but be sure they don’t overheat from too much activity.

14. Shih Tzu

Average Height: 10 inches

Average Weight: 12.5 pounds

Personality: Cheerful, loving

Grooming: High maintenance

Trainability: 6/10

Possibly the most lap dog of all the lap dogs is the Shih Tzu. They love laps! They also love to play and are great for families with kids. Be sure to either trim the fur around their eyes or tie it up so it doesn’t screw with their vision. Apparently, they’re tricky to train because they’re so darn cute—even when they “forget” commands.

15. Tibetan Spaniel

Average Height: 10 inches

Average Weight: 12 pounds

Personality: Confident, dedicated

Grooming: Regular brushing

Trainability: 6/10

Tibetan Spaniels were bred for hard work, which has made them incredibly proud dogs. It also means they want to make you proud, even if sometimes it seems like they choose not to hear a command. At their best, these pups are devoted beyond belief and would follow you to the ends of the earth - if only you would ask.

16. Yorkshire Terrier

Average Height: 7.5 inches

Average Weight: 6 pounds

Personality: Feisty, doting

Grooming: High maintenance

Trainability: 5/10

Sure, Yorkies have a reputation for being snooty purse dogs, but these terriers were bred to chase rodents on farms and put in long days of work. Training and socializing them early leads to a friendlier, happier pup. Keeping their coats (which are hypoallergenic) trimmed short makes grooming and upkeep a cinch.

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