What Makes Bichon Frise Great Lap Dog - Cover Image

What Makes The Bichon Frise A Great Lap Dog?


The Bichon Frise is widely considered to be one of the best lap dogs to own. From its small size to its adorable appearance and sociable temperament, the Bichon Frise is my favorite breed of dog.

Something I started to wonder recently was what exactly does the term lap dog mean and where does it come from?

With that in mind, I set about doing some research into the history of this term and its meaning.

From that research, I was able to put together this article which I hope you’ll find interesting and informative. We’ll look at what the term lap dog means, it’s history, the benefits of a lap dog, and finally, some other examples of lap dogs.

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What Is A Lap Dog?

The term lap dog is commonly used today to describe certain types of dogs.

The term lap dog is used to describe dogs that are:

  1. Small enough to sit comfortably on your lap
  2. Predisposed to do so
  3. Friendly and sociable

Lap Dog Traits

Going into a bit more detail into the term lap dog, there are also a number of traits that these dogs share.

These are:

  • Small Size – to be able to sit comfortably on your lap, lap dogs are pretty small in size.
  • Sociable And Friendly Temperament – dogs with these temperament traits are more likely to enjoy sitting on your lap for long periods of time.
  • Enjoy Sitting On People’s Laps – some dogs just love sitting on your lap. My dog is curled up on my lap as I’m writing this, I’m not even joking!
  • Puppy-like Traits – in a more anatomical sense, lap dogs tend to have folded ears, a high forehead, short muzzle, and relatively large eyes.
  • Belong To The Toy Breed Group – Though it is most commonly the case that lap dogs tend to belong to the toy group, the Bichon Frise is, in fact, one of the exceptions. In the US, the Bichon Frise actually belongs to the Sporting Group.

History Of The Lap Dog

The history of the lap dog is a pretty practical one it has to be said.

The royalty and nobility many years ago made use of lap dogs to provide warmth on long carriage journeys. There were no electric blankets back then!

As well as this, lap dogs were bred to be small in size to be small companions for people that could travel easily.

Take for example one of the oldest known dog breeds, the Pekingese. This breed which originated from ancient China was so small that it would easily fit inside of the sleeves of a man’s robes. How tiny is that!

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Let’s talk about the Bichon Frise as another example here. Originally this breed was a sailing dog that traveled far and wide on ships.

These dogs were sometimes traded by sailors for goods which resulted in there introduction to other parts of the world.

During the Renaissance period, the French developed the Bichon Frise into adorable lap dogs.

Today, of course, we don’t need lap dogs to keep us warm on carriage rides. The term is just used to describe small dogs that like sitting on people’s laps.

With that said, this might be a desirable trait in a dog, which is why the term is used to this day.

5 Benefits Of A Lap Dog

Now that we’ve looked at the term lap dog, it’s meaning, and where it comes from, it’s time to talk about the numerous benefits of a lap dog.

1 Lap Dogs Can Live In Smaller Spaces

As lap dogs are smaller in size, it stands to reason that they can live in smaller spaces than their larger counterparts.

The Bichon Frise, for example, is well suited to living in an apartment as we looked at in this article: Can Bichon Frises Live In Apartments?

This can be a desirable quality for people living in small houses or apartments that still want to own a dog.

With that said, it’s important that your dog gets regular exercise every day to ensure they are happy and healthy.

2 They Are Easier To Carry

We did talk about the Pekingese being so small that it would fit in the sleeve of a man’s robe, so of course, lap dogs are easy to carry.

This is a big advantage for owners with joint problems or those who are older and might not be able to pick up a bigger dog.

Believe me, you lift your dog more than you might realize. For example, into the car, into the bath, onto the vet’s table, the list is pretty endless. With that in mind, this is another benefit of a lap dog.

3 They Cost Less To Feed

Smaller dogs have generally smaller stomachs and therefore require less food. This means fewer trips to the pet store each month.

With that said, it’s a good idea to learn just how much food your dog should eat each day to ensure they don’t become severely overweight or underweight. All breeds of dogs are different and even male and female dogs have different dietary requirements as well as spayed or neutered dogs.

4 They Can Require Less Exercise

Smaller dogs generally tend to require less exercise than their larger counterparts. It is often enough to bring them on a short walk or some play in the house or in the garden.

This is also likely because lap dogs were bred to sit on laps for long periods as opposed to other dogs that were bred for hunting or other strenuous activities.

The Bichon Frise, for example, needs roughly 30 minutes of physical activity a day to keep them fit and healthy. Any less and our Bichon tends to get bored or even destructive at bedtime.

5 On Average Small Dogs Live Longer

Though there is no definitive reason as to why, it is generally accepted that smaller dogs on average tend to live longer than larger dogs.

There are a number of suggestions as to why this might be the case and there have even been medical studies carried out to understand this.

Some speculate that larger dogs are more prone to cancer. Alternatively, some books I have read say that it might be due to the increased workload on the heart.

Though there is no proven reason for this, the fact remains that on average smaller dogs tend to live longer than larger ones.

5 Other Examples Of Lap Dogs

Now that we’ve looked at the benefits of lap dogs, let’s look at some other examples of lap dog breeds.

1 Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

This fabulous breed of dog is well established as being connected to royalty as their name might suggest.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a very affectionate and eager to please dog that loves attention.

They love to curl up on their owner’s lap and they are almost like little hot water bottles.

We used to have one when we were growing up and she lived to be about 17 years old which is quite an age!

2 Pekingese


We’ve already talked about the Pekingese being one of the oldest breeds of dog but that certainly doesn’t make them any less lovable.

Their very loyal temperament and small size makes them a perfect example of a lap dog.

3 Pomeranian


This little teddy bear of a dog is descended from the larger Spitz type of dogs.

Queen Victoria famously owned a little Pomeranian which definitely led to their increased popularity as lap dogs during that time.

4 Pug


The pug has a very distinctive appearance that certainly makes them stand out from the crowd. It is believed that this breed originated from China and later spread to Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The Pug has a sociable personality and they are often described as “shadows” as they stick close to their owners.

5 Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is a loyal and affectionate dog with a lot of personality.

They make for good watchdogs and get on well with other people and with children.


We’ve reached the end of this article and I hope you found this information fun and illuminating.

If you enjoyed reading this article, please consider sharing it on social media. This will help other people like you to find this information.

Also, if you have any questions about any of this information, please leave me a comment below.

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