Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
You can always find dogs around the house doing their favorite activity - sleeping. People often ask why do dogs sleep so much and there is a precise answer. Read on to discover.

Does your dog look like he is spending his days on a couch always sleeping? Probably. While it may seem excessive from human nature, your doggy couch potato is just respecting his lifestyle and his needs. Dogs tend to spend the majority of their time snoozing (like 50 percent of their time), 30 percent of their time they tend to spend lying around, and 20 percent being active. However, the hours of dogs sleeping will depend on many factors.

Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much

What’s your dog doing right now? If he is not eating, he is probably sleeping. There is one thing common to every dog alive, and that’s that they sleep a lot. Actually, according to a research that AKC conducter dogs spend 12 to 14 hours of every day sleeping. Long story short, dogs are huge couch potatoes.

The truth is that dogs sleep a lot, more than humans do. However, the truth is that they also wake up more than we do. Humans sleep for hours in one run, while dogs sleep in lots of small bursts during the entire day and night.

When we humans sleep we spend around 25 percent of our sleep in REM sleep, while dogs tend to spend only about 10 percent of their sleep in the REM stage. That’s why they need to get this restorative sleep throughout the day. That being said, dogs are never labeled as ‘deep sleepers’, and they are more known as ‘flexible sleepers’ able to fall asleep whenever and wherever they want. However, they will always be able to wake up at when necessary, like when they hear a doorbell.

Why Dogs Snooze So Much

The amount of sleep in your dog will depend on diverse factors. Every factor has its own purpose and leads to specific sleeping habits and needs. How much sleep your dog needs will depend on the following factors:

  • Your dog’s age and size
  • Your dog’s breed
  • Your dog’s health
  • Life changes

Your Dog’s Age And Size

Dog’s spend around 12-to-14 hours of the day just sleeping. Puppies, just like babies need more sleep because they spend the majority of their time exhausting energy while exploring the world around them and while playing. Therefore, puppies may even sleep 18-20 hours a day. Just like babies.

Also, older dogs and dogs that are overweight may sleep longer. Yes, larger breeds are known for constant dozing.

Your Dog’s Breed

Larger dog breeds, such as Mastiffs, Pyrenees, and Newfoundlands – and even bigger dogs, need more sleep in general than their smaller counterparts. Long story short, how much sleep a dog needs often depends on what that dog was bred to do.

Working breeds are more likely to stay awake or to stay awake for a longer period, because of their job that requires their full attention. On the other hand, dogs that weren’t bred for a specific purpose lead a strong laid-back living style, meaning they sleep more.

Your Dog’s Health

If your dog sleeps more you shouldn’t be worried, because that’s a normal part of a dog’s routine. However, if you notice strong changes in dog’s sleeping habits or something just seems a little off, you might want to consult your veterinarian.

After all, excessive sleep can be connected to conditions such as diabetes, depression, and hypothyroidism. Don’t forget: we tend to sleep more when we don’t feel well, and the same goes for dogs as well.

Your Dog’s Activity Level

Your dog’s tendency to sleep may depend on the dog’s activity level. For example, working dogs spend the majority of their time being active every day. So, they have for a while high physical demands and intense mental challenges that require that they stay awake and alert.

Work gives the dog a focus to do something and to focus on something. Therefore, an active dog won’t sleep all day long. On the other hand, if your dog is an ultimate couch potato, he will probably sleep a lot out of sheer boredom.

So, if you are concerned that your canine sleeps too much, you should try to get him out more to be active. As mentioned earlier, an active dog is not going to sleep all the time. Activity is important for dogs, that’s how they get mentally stimulated.

Life Changes

Just like humans, dogs can experience pain or stress if they experience any sudden changes. They are likely to react. After all, dogs adapt easily, but it doesn’t mean that they won’t feel anxious or under stress if you moved them from one city to another, or if they just lost a human friend.

Your dog will be affected by every change and he will react maybe by sleeping longer. However, once they get custom to their new routine or new family they will get their sleeping habits to normal schedule. Moreover, their energy will level back to normal.

Long story short, dogs sleep more than we do. On the other hand, they tend to wake up more than we do. However, while we tend to sleep in one long and uninterrupted period, dogs prefer to have lots of small burst throughout the day and night.

Sleep Patterns

Interestingly, dogs have the same patterns as humans do. So, when your dog goes to sleep, he enters the quiet phase of sleep. He will lie still and ignorant to his surroundings and the breathing will be slow.

Also, the blood pressure and body temperature will drop and the heart rate will significantly decrease. In just about ten minutes, your canine will enter his rapid eye movement (REM) stage also known as ‘active stage of sleep’.

Simply, his eyes will roll under its closed lids and he may bark or just whine his legs. During this stage, the brain activity is similar to dreaming phase of human sleep, and this is the main reason why pet owners and pets believe and agree that dogs have dreams.

Interestingly, larger dogs tend to sleep much more than smaller ones. This is because smaller dogs tend to always be alert for anything that allows them to start a round of loud and seemingly uncontrollable barking. Also, older senior dogs always sleep more than younger dogs, even 20 hours a day. It doesn’t mean that they are ill, they are just tired out.

Signals that your dog is in REM phase:

  • A dog whimpering while asleep
  • A dog breathing fast while sleeping
  • A dog running while asleep
  • A dog howling while asleep
  • A dog twitching while asleep

Medical Conditions Causing Dogs To Sleep Too Much

Sometimes, excessive sleep is a sign of an underlying medical problem and you should know when to react. So, the main thing to look out for is a big change in a dog’s sleeping habits.

If your dog is active in general and suddenly starts dozing all the time, or he is even awake 24/7, it’s a good idea to call your veterinarian.

Excessive sleeping in dogs has been linked with numerous medical conditions including diabetes, canine depression, and even hypothyroidism. That being said, it’s never a bad idea to contact your veterinarian and check for unusual sleep changes.

Truth is that dogs rest more and slow down as they grow older. But certain medical conditions may cause your furry friend to sleep too much.

1. Depression

Veterinarians believe that dogs can get depressed just as humans can. Therefore, a canine depression can be the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, although its more often caused by a fast change in dog’s routine, such as losing a long-time companion (animal or human), being adopted and so on.

The primary symptoms of depression are:

  • Excessive sleeping
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased activity

2. Hypothyroidism

If your dog is diagnosed with hypothyroidism, it means that his thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough T3 and T4 hormones, leading to a strong decrease in metabolic function.

Hypothyroidism can also be caused by other conditions, such as cancer. The decrease in metabolic function causes the whole body to slow down, which can result in excessive sleepiness and strong lethargy.

Other symptoms of hypothyroidism:

  • Hair loss
  • Anemia
  • Weight gain
  • Skin disorders
  • Coat disorders
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Intolerance to cold weather

3. Diabetes

In general, diabetes affects older dogs and mostly females. Dogs who have diabetes may show symptoms including lethargy, weight loss, frequent urination, sleepiness, increased thirst, and even occasional blindness. Treatment is the same as for humans with diabetes: insulin injections.

Breeds prone to this condition:

  • Poodles
  • Schnauzers
  • Small Terriers

Also, some infectious diseases can cause a dog to sleep more or act lethargic. These diseases include:

Interestingly, the majority of infectious diseases that cause lethargy and sleepiness are followed by a set of other symptoms that are often more easy to diagnose.

Can A Dog Not Get Enough Sleep?

If dogs sleep for the entire day or the majority of the time, can they – not get enough sleep? Simply said, yes. Sometimes a dog might not get enough sleep. If a dog suffers from a respiratory issue like sleep apnea or he is simply too overweight to breathe well, he probably won’t get enough sleep.

In general, this can lead to chronic fatigue and low energy levels, although these cases are extremely rare.

Another case where a dog might not be sleeping so much is seen in senile and older dogs. Their schedule might get easily turned around, and they tend to sleep less because they spend the majority of their time wandering around confused.

Frequently Asked Questions On – Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much

1. How Many Hours Do Dogs Sleep Everyday?

In general, an average dog sleeps for about 12 to 14 hours a day. But, this doesn’t apply to puppies and older dogs. Puppies tend to sleep between 18 and 20 hours. Older dogs are known for sleeping longer also.

2. Why Does My Dog Sleep On His Back?

You have probably noticed that when you pet a dog, that his fur on his back is far thicker than those on his belly. This is because dogs have glands on their paws only, so baring their tummy is a good way for them to cool down – from a scientific point of view. For a more psychological point of view, if your canine sleep on his back while you are around, it means that they feel safe and secure.

3. Why Do Dogs Fall Asleep So Fast?

Because dogs don’t spend so much time as humans do in REM phase, they need more sleep and therefore they fall asleep faster. Simply said, their sleeping time is more divided into naps.

4. How Much Should My Dog Sleep Per Day?

In general, between 12-14 hours a day. So, if your dog sleeps over 15 hours a day you should monitor his behavior while awake. If he seems disconnected or lethargic, you should visit the veterinarian.

5. Why Do Dogs Make Weird Noises When They Dream?

When dogs make noises or weird sounds, it’s a sign that they are in a deep stage of sleep (equal to human REM phase). We can say that those noises are kind of a sleep-talk.