As humans, we have regular diurnal sleeping habits – we are awake during the day but sleep at night. However, dog sleeping schedules are less predictable and much more flexible! You will often see your dog sleeping at night and taking regular naps during the day. This sparks curiosity for most owners: Why do dogs sleep so much?
If your dog sleeps all day long and has no energy, there is a sign your furry friend is sick or perhaps getting old. With that said, it is normal for your dog to nap and snooze during the day a little. In this article we answer all your sleep-related questions and let you know what is normal for your pooch.
Dog sleeping habits vary depending on multiple factors that we delve into below. However, most healthy adult dogs sleep 12 to 14 hours per day on average. This is at least 50% of their day asleep! On top of this, dogs laze around for around 30% of the time, not asleep but not doing much else either. So why do dogs sleep so much compared to humans?
To understand the answer to this question, we need to understand how dogs sleep. Like humans, dogs enter REM sleep shortly after falling asleep. This part of sleep is essential for memory and learning. You can tell when your dog is in REM sleep as its muscles will twitch and legs start to kick. Soft barks or grunts are also common, and this is the stage of sleep in which dreaming happens.
Sleeping dogs then cycle between REM sleep and non-REM or “deep sleep”. Deep sleep is important for the growth and repair of the body and the mind, helping to keep the immune system functioning and strengthening muscles, bones, and tissue. However, since dogs have irregular sleeping patterns, they have far less REM sleep and deep sleep than humans. Therefore, they need more total sleep to compensate for lost time.
The question “How much do dogs sleep?” doesn’t have a standard answer that applies to all dogs. Like people, all dogs are unique and some naturally require more shut-eye than others. Their sleep requirements are impacted by four main factors:
Different breeds of dogs have wildly different sleep requirements. Firstly, the size of your dog impacts how many hours dogs sleep each day. Generally, bigger breeds sleep more than smaller breeds. This is because large dogs require more energy to keep their bodies going, so regular naps are needed to allow their bodies to recover.
With that said, high-energy breeds such as the Border Collie, Australian Shepherd, and Siberian Husky spend less of the day napping. They naturally have more energy to expel. Therefore, they love going on long walks or running around playing fetch, so their sleep schedules generally match their owners. In fact, daytime napping is pretty far down their priority list. Instead, they sleep deeply at night to regain their energy for the next day.
On the other hand, lap dogs love the snooze! Breeds such as the Bichon Frise or Pug will gladly spend more time snuggling and sleeping than their high-energy counterparts. The lazy Bernese mountain dog is also prone to spending more time kipping than their active dog relatives, as are other low-energy breeds including English Bulldogs, Basset Hounds, and Italian Greyhounds.
Age also determines how many hours a day dogs sleep. While young puppies, dogs are highly active and have lots of energy to expel. This often causes puppies to become worn out and take daytime naps. Additionally, puppies are also growing and developing into adult dogs. Sleep is essential for this and facilitates growth and so they take plenty of shut-eye each day.
As your dog enters adulthood, their need for sleep decreases. You often still see a sleeping dog during the day, but their naps will be less frequent. Adult dogs are in their physical prime and need less sleep to maintain their energy levels. That said, your dog’s energy levels will start to drop again as they age. The metabolism of senior dogs decreases, meaning your dog gets tired more easily.
The number of hours a dog sleeps per day, therefore, changes throughout its life. During the puppy stage, most dogs sleep for 16 to 18 hours every day. This is split between a deeper sleep at night and several naps during the day. This drops to between 12 and 14 hours during adulthood but rises to as many as 18 hours again for seniors.
Health conditions greatly impact how much dogs sleep. Lethargy is a symptom of many canine illnesses, including minor injuries to more major conditions such as kidney disease or cancer. This also partially explains why older dogs tend to require more sleep – the older your dog, the more prone they are to developing an illness.
It isn’t just physical conditions that impact dog sleeping habits either. Mental health conditions such as anxiety, stress, and depression can cause dogs to sleep more than usual. They often become more withdrawn and would rather sleep all day than do much else. Their sleeping patterns at night are generally more interrupted and your furry friend might struggle to sleep through the dark hours.
Say you and a friend both have the same breed and age dog. Both are also in great health. However, your dog sleeps more hours each day than your friends. Why does your dog sleep so much when your friend’s dog doesn’t? This is usually attributed to training.
Dogs are intelligent creatures and you can easily train them to adapt to a sleep schedule of your choosing with a little work. Are dogs nocturnal or diurnal? They’re technically diurnal like us! Yet they take their sleeping cues from their owners, which means it is easy to manipulate your dog’s sleep schedule to correspond with yours. You should take their needs and considerations into account, too.
For example, anyone potty training a puppy will likely benefit from waking their pup up at night to let them do their business. This will result in fewer accidents and help your dog learn it needs to pee outside only. The same applies to senior dogs with less bladder control. Adapting a sleeping schedule that suits not only your needs, but also the dog’s is paramount to the quality of their life.
So how long do dogs sleep? As you’ve learned, it is common for adult dogs to sleep up to 14 hours every single day! They require much more sleep than people as their shorter sleep cycles mean they need more hours overall to get all the benefits of sleep.
However, the precise amount of sleep depends on your dog’s age, breed, size, health, and training. Large low-energy breeds require much more sleep than smaller high-energy dogs. Moreover, if your dog sleeps all day, it is worthwhile contacting your vet. Daytime snoozing is perfectly normal, but constant tiredness and lethargy are a sign something is wrong.
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