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Why Are Some Dogs “Lap Dogs” & Others Are Not? Facts & FAQ

Written by: Adam Mann

Last Updated on April 9, 2024 by Dogster Team

cavalier dog sleeping on owners lap

Why Are Some Dogs “Lap Dogs” & Others Are Not? Facts & FAQ


Dr. Luqman Javed Photo


Dr. Luqman Javed

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Let’s face it, some dogs just love to cuddle up all day while others prefer a little space between themselves and their owner. But why are some dogs lap dogs while others prefer a little extra space?

The truth is that three main things affect how much a dog wants to cuddle: their temperament, size, and training. We’ve highlighted what goes into each one for you here, and we’ve even highlighted some great breed suggestions if you’re looking for a lap dog!


The 3 Reasons Why Some Dogs Might Make Better Lap Dogs

Some dogs simply don’t make great lap dogs and there’s nothing you can do about it. But if you know what you’re looking for and what makes a lap dog a good lap dog, you’ll greatly increase your chances of finding one.

With that in mind, we’ve highlighted three of the most important traits that go into any lap dog.

1. Temperament

Some dogs simply don’t like to cuddle and there’s nothing you can do about it. While you can usually figure out if a dog is going to like to cuddle by checking out their breed, each dog will have their own personality. If they don’t like to cuddle, there’s not much you can do about it.

young woman working on laptop at home, cute small dog besides.
Image By: eva_blanco, Shutterstock

2. Size

Some large dogs love being lap dogs. The problem is it’s not as easy, or as enjoyable, to have a 100-pound dog climbing on your lap as it is for a 10- to 15-pound dog. Like it or not, the best lap dogs are small dogs.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean a larger dog won’t want to be a lap dog, you just might need to get a little creative to get it to work!

3. Training

Part of getting a dog to stay in your lap is forming a bond with them and getting them to listen to you and trust you. The best way you can do this is with training. You don’t need to train them to stay in your lap whenever you want, but by building that bond and obedience with them, they’re far more likely to cuddle with you throughout the rest of the day.

labrador dog resting its head on its owners lap
Image Credit: Erickson Stock, Shutterstock

divider-dog paw

What Are Some of the Best Lap Dog Breeds?

While we can’t guarantee that any dog will make an outstanding lap dog for sure, you can certainly increase your chances by getting the right breed. Below, we’ve highlighted five different breeds that have everything it takes to become great lap dogs.

1. Bichon Frise

bichon frise on thee grass
Image Credit: Ieva Tvaronavicute, Shutterstock

If you’re looking at lists of the best lap dogs out there, the Bichon Frise is near the top of every list. These dogs are notorious cuddlers, and since they’re considered hypoallergenic, they’re not leaving you covered from head to toe in hair when they get up.

They have quite a bit of energy in their puppy years, but it doesn’t take too much or too long for them to calm down enough to enjoy some long cuddle sessions.

2. French Bulldog

close up of a brindle french bulldog
Image Credit: Irit, Shutterstock

French Bulldogs are outstanding companion dogs that happily curl up into their owner’s laps whatever chance they get. They’re extremely loyal too, and their smaller size means you don’t have to worry about them in smaller living spaces.

3. Pug

pug dog wants to sneeze
Image Credit: Lemalisa, Shutterstock

Pugs are among the best lap dogs in the world because of their small size, loving temperament, and low energy levels. However, they do shed quite a bit, so keep that in mind because you’ll likely find yourself covered in short hairs after they get up.

4. Maltese

maltese dog in meadow
Image Credit: TaniaVdB, Pixabay

The Maltese are another small hypoallergenic dog that loves to cuddle. This means plenty of time with a loving dog in your lap and no pet hair when you get up! They also have a rich and long history that makes them an even more interesting breed.

5. Pekingese

Image Credit: T.Den Team, Shutterstock

The Pekingese is another extremely small dog that will happily sit on your lap and rest for the day if you let them. They’re not hypoallergenic, but they are extremely loyal and do a great job of listening to their owners.


Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a dog to cuddle up on your lap, you’re not alone. Now that you know what to look for, you can greatly increase the likelihood of getting a lap dog. But keep in mind that you can never guarantee that any dog will turn into the lap dog you want. If you get the right breed, cuddle them, and train them, there’s a good chance they’ll want to curl up in your lap quite a bit!

Featured Image Credit: bane.m, Shutterstock

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