How Much Do Dogs Sleep and in What PositionsOur pets love to sleep. But how much do dogs sleep and in what positions?

To understand the sleeping habits of your dog, we must first understand that their snoozing patterns are much different to those of humans.

Not only that, but canine’s sleep requirements vary depending on their breed and size as well. Naturally, small breeds sleep much less than larger breeds.

This short article will give you information on how much do dogs sleep, what their sleeping position mean, and some of the most common sleep problems that dogs have.


So, how much do dogs sleep anyway?

The average amount of time for a dog to sleep in a 24 hour period is between 12 and 18 hours.

However, there are some different factors listed below that could affect your dog’s sleeping patterns, making them sleep slightly more or less than the average.

Even though every breed and even every dog is different, the following is very common among many of our loyal friends.

Have you ever noticed that when you are home, your dog may only be awake a few hours a day, but then when you bring them on a hike or to the lake, they can run and play all day without stopping?

The reason for such an unusual behavior is because unlike humans, dogs don’t have a regular sleeping pattern.

There are two stages of sleep in dogs:

  1. Slow-wave sleep (SWS), which is a lighter type of sleep with less brain activity
  2. Rapid eye movement (REM), which is a deeper type of sleep with higher brain activity

Dogs spend between 8 and 12 percent of their sleep time in the so called REM “mode”.

While comparably, humans spend between 20 and 25 percent of their sleep time in REM.

Now the difference between humans’ and canines’ sleep is that our pets’ sleep journeys are in much shorter bursts than humans, so they are less likely to get into the REM sleep stage.

Since dogs don’t get as much deep sleep, they end up needing more rest in general, thus they are napping whenever there’s an opportunity.

There are many factors that can help you determine the average time that your dog should spend sleeping every day. Those include:

  • Age: puppies and senior dogs typically need more sleep than middle-aged dogs.
  • Activity level: generally, dogs that are less active are more likely to nap out of boredom than active dogs or working dogs.
  • Diet: poor quality dog foods have added fillers and lack of necessary dog vitamins, and they don’t give your dog the nutrition and energy it needs to keep up an active lifestyle. The fillers in poor quality dog food are harder for your dog’s body to digest which can make them feel sluggish and affect their sleeping patterns.
  • Breed and size: larger dogs need more sleep than smaller dogs.

Remember to check with our page on what proper canine nutrition looks like.

If you’re trying to optimize your dog’s diet, see our dog food ratings for a more accurate, objective assessment on what’s best for your canine.

Different sleeping positions of your dog

How Much Do Dogs Sleep and in What Positions
Occasionally, they’ll get creative. Photo: Rick Burtzel

Like people, most dogs have a favorite sleeping position that they are most comfortable in.

There are four typical sleeping positions for most dogs, and each position can demonstrate different characteristics of your pet.

The four sleeping positions include:

  • Side sleeping
  • Back sleeping
  • Curled in a ball
  • Back to back

Let’s start with the most popular one.

Side sleeping. When a dog is sleeping on his/her side or belly with all four paws stuck out.

Usually, this position is only for napping, but occasionally they will sleep like this for longer periods of time. This is the most common and comfortable position for a dog when they are very relaxed.

Back sleeping. Possibly one of the funniest and cutest positions to see your dog sleeping in.

This is when they are stretched out on their back with all four paws in the air. There could be two reasons for back sleeping.

The first possible reason dogs do this is to expose their belly. The belly is one of the few places on a dog with little to no hair, and exposing it is one of the fastest ways to cool off. The second reason is because in back sleeping position all of the dog’s muscles are able to relax completely, and it’s a sure sign of comfort and submission.

Curled in a ball. Another very common napping position in canines.

In order to hold this position, your dog must use multiple of his/her muscles. This is not a relaxed position by any means.

Dogs can get up and begin move very quickly when sleeping in this position, and you will see a lot of abused dogs sleep like this. They will also sleep curled in a ball when in a new environment or surrounded by new people as they are always trying to stay alert.

Back to back (or touching). Either their owner or another dog – while sleeping shows attachment and affection.

Wild dogs tend to sleep next to each other in their packs, and this is your dog’s instinctual way of showing you, or another dog, that you are part of their pack.

Sleeping disorders in dogs

How Much Do Dogs Sleep and in What Positions and Why

Sleep disorders are very uncommon in dogs, but they do exist.

Remember that while it’s okay for people to have problems with sleep, in canines this can possibly be a red flag for another, more or less serious, condition.

The five main causes for sleeplessness in dogs are:

  • Physical discomfort, including but not limited to, arthritis in dogs, hip dysplasia or other hip injury, parasite or flea infestation, allergies, or urinary incontinence.
  • Emotional disorders including stress, anxiety and depression.
  • Side effects of medication.
  • Old age, which is also associated with many different painful conditions.
  • Lack of activity during the day, making them still feel energetic when they should be resting.

Consulting with your vet is the best method for diagnosing and treating your dog if you believe they have a sleep disorder.

One last thing to mention is the environment where your dog sleeps in.

You may think that dogs are fine sleeping anywhere – and they usually will without complaining – but just like us, they want a comfortable place to sleep, which they normally start considering their own.

Some dogs like to sleep in a more sheltered place like under a table, under your bed or various corners. Other dogs like to nest in blankets or other soft material before lying down.

Giving your dog a place to sleep where they feel most comfortable and at home is the best way to ensure a good night’s rest for your pooch.

Whether your dog is large or small, it likely that they will spend a significant amount of time sleeping.

You should find the sleeping arrangement that works best for both you and your pet. Thinking about such an arrangement before getting a pet is never a bad idea.

Also, try not to wake your dog unless absolutely necessary because you never know how they could react if you disturb and/or scare them.

Dogs deserve to have their rest. Making sure that your pet has the right balance of activity and sleep is one of the keys to a healthy and happy doggy life.

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