Why do dogs sleep so much?
It’s easy for pet parents to be jealous of their dogs. They spend their days being cuddled, playing, going for long walks, eating yummy food, and – of course – sleeping. But why do dogs sleep so much? Is there anything you should be worried about? Here’s what you need to know about your dog’s sleep pattern.
How many hours a day do dogs spend sleeping?
What’s your dog doing right now? Unless you’re reading this whilst on a walk, in all likelihood they’re probably sleeping. Or at least dozing in the corner. That’s because dogs sleep roughly 12 hours a day, which is a lot more than us humans. They can also spend many more hours resting and relaxing.
Whilst we normally sleep when it’s dark outside, dogs tend to sleep when their bodies tell them to. Quick nap after a long hike? Fine. Little snooze after a particularly exciting game of fetch? OK. They can spend much of the day and night resting. Dogs also like to sleep when there’s nothing else to do or they’re a bit bored. It’s a good way for them to pass the time until you’re around to entertain them again.
Are all dogs the same?
Large breed dogs, such as Mastiffs, Newfoundlands, and St Bernards tend to sleep more than other breeds because their big bodies use up more energy. Working dogs quite often sleep fewer hours as they’re bred and trained to be alert for long periods of the day. If they’re actively working, they’ll also have less time to sleep as they’ll be busy guarding, herding, or hunting.
Just like human babies, puppies spend more hours sleeping than adult dogs. The awake time tends to be very active, full of new lessons, games, fun smells, and developing new skills. All of which takes little legs a long time to recover from.
Older dogs also like to snooze more. At their age, they naturally have less energy than younger pups and are less inclined to spend their days chasing balls or exploring. They’re quite happy to curl up and sleep! So, the reason your dog sleeps so much could depend on your dog's age or dog breed.
Why do dogs sleep so much?
Dogs are flexible sleepers, meaning they can fall asleep nearly anywhere at any time of day just because they feel like it. Dogs only spend roughly 10% of their sleeping time in REM sleep so they need to make up the rest of that by sleeping much more during the day.
When should you worry about how much your dog sleeps?
Dogs sleep for many hours of the day and that’s perfectly normal (like many other carnivores). But there are a few instances where you might want to take them to a vet just to be sure.
Change in sleeping habits
Is your dog sleeping all day or much more often than before? Or perhaps at a different time? A distinctive change in their sleeping patterns could be a sign of an illness or disease (such as diabetes or kidney disease). Take them to the vet for a check-up if you notice a change in your dog's sleeping habits.
Can you wake your dog up?
Most active and healthy dogs are fairly easy to wake up (especially if they hear you wandering around or approaching the treat cupboard). If it’s hard to stir your pup after a nap, take them to the vet as this could be a sign of illness.
Is your dog bored?
If you suddenly find yourself asking “why does my dog sleep so much?”, the answer might just be that there’s nothing better for them to do. Many dogs get easily bored if they don’t have enough things to occupy themselves with. Try getting them puzzle toys – they’re a great way for them to keep their brains engaged for hours at a time. You also need to make sure that they’re getting enough exercise, have space to play in, and that you're giving them enough attention.
Big life changes
If your pup is grieving the loss of a loved human or animal you may find that how much sleep they need changes. Likewise, if there’s a big change in the house (such as an extension or new baby) they may process it by sleeping more. This is perfectly normal and should pass fairly quickly. If it doesn’t, seek help from a doggie behaviorist or health expert.
Signs of anxiety or stress
Dogs that suffer from anxiety or stress (such as separation anxiety) like to sleep for many hours during the day. When they’re awake, they may pace, be aggressive, bark more, or seem uninterested in toys. Make sure you’re spending enough time with them, that they’re entertained and aren’t alone for long periods of time.
It’s important that you feed your dog a balanced diet so that they get all the vital nutrients they need to live a full and active life. Pups that have an unhealthy diet may need more sleep and will be less inclined to exercise or play. Fresh food diets can be a great alternative that is nutritionally balanced.
The answer to why dogs sleep so much is probably that’s it’s completely normal behavior. They’re very active when they’re awake and don’t get as much deep sleep as we do. If your dog’s normal sleep patterns change, it’s best to consult a professional just to be sure.
How much does your dog sleep during the day?
I’m Charlotte, a content and copywriter from the North of England and currently living in Berlin. Animals have always been a huge part of my life, so writing about dogs is a total pleasure! I love all kinds of dogs and their cheeky personalities, but I’d have to say Weimaraners are my favourite!