Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much?
A healthy dog is a dog that's gotten enough sleep. But sometimes, our pals sleep too much (and sometimes not enough). Ever wondered why - and how to spot a change in their sleep patterns early on?
Your dog’s sleeping habits might be a mystery to you. For example, why does your dog sleep in funny positions? Why do they insist on sharing the bed with you? How can they go from zero to nap in seconds anywhere, any time? How much do dogs sleep anyway… and why do dogs sleep so much?
We’re here to answer all your questions – and take a look at how age, breed, exercise, health and other factors can play a role in how much sleep your dog gets. Plus, find out what you need to watch out for when it comes to changes in sleeping patterns – and how you can pick up on those changes early on to prevent a health emergency down the line.
Table of contents
- Why do dogs sleep so much?
- How much do dogs sleep by age?
- Dog sleep requirements by breed
- Other factors that affect dog sleep
- Wrapping up: Why do dogs sleep so much?
Why do dogs sleep so much?
Like us humans, dogs need a good night’s sleep to function, re-energize and stay healthy. Without enough sleep, your dog is more likely to get sick. Or get into a “bad mood”, become disoriented or even aggressive.
(Imagine how you are after 4 hours of sleep and no coffee and you get the picture.)
Making sure your dog gets enough sleep is key to their health and well-being. In addition to helping them recover from the day’s activity, sleep:
- helps puppies grow into strong, healthy adult dogs
- makes it easier for dogs to learn and remember
- keeps our buddies’ immune systems strong
In a nutshell, the reason why dogs sleep so much is because it’s good for them. Which is why a change in your dog’s sleep patterns is a big deal. I.e., it can indicate a health issue, including cognitive dysfunction1. As well as:
But the good news is, you can find out how your dog rests with Tractive GPS. You’ll be able to spot patterns, see how much quality sleep they get, and detect potential issues early.
Keep your dog happy and healthy
Spot sleep patterns. Monitor activity. Detect potential issues early. Follow your buddy’s every step.
How much do dogs sleep by age?
Most adult humans need, on average, about 8 hours of sleep each night1. For babies, children and teens, the number is even higher. But how much sleep do dogs need? It’s important to know how much sleep your dog needs to make sure they’re getting the right amount to stay healthy and happy.
On average, dogs sleep about 12 -14 hours in a 24 hour period2. But puppies and senior dogs sleep even more – they can reach 18 hours a day of zzz time.
If that sounds like a lot to you, keep in mind that cats sleep even more than dogs – up to 20 hours a day!
Also important to keep in mind? 75% of dog sleep happens at night, with the remaining 25% broken up into day naps.
So next time you see your buddy snoozing and think they’re being a bit lazy, remember: Your dog just needs more sleep than you do. The best thing you can do is invest in a cozy sleeping spot of their own where they can enjoy peace and quiet.
Since age is one of the most important factors, let’s next look at how our buddies’ sleep needs change as they get older.
How much sleep do puppies need?
About 18 to 20 hours each day. Puppy sleep – that is, sleep for dogs under 1 year-old – is crucial for development, and sleep deprivation has been shown to negatively impact a puppy’s health3. So make sure your growing pup gets enough rest!
Read more: How To Tire Out A Puppy – And Keep Them Safe
How much sleep do adult dogs need?
Adult dogs between 1-6 years-old generally need less sleep than when they were puppies.
Most adult dogs will be content and well-rested with anywhere from 8-14 hours of sleep a day. Of course other factors, such as exercise and health, play a role in how much sleep an individual dog needs. For example, if you’ve got an active, high-energy dog breed, they might need more shut-eye time than a low-maintenance, chill dog breed.
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Why do older dogs sleep so much?
Similar to puppies, older or senior dogs need more sleep than adult dogs. Senior dogs sleep about 18-20 hours a day. So as your dog grows older, it’s normal for them to start needing more sleep – especially between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. It’s (usually) nothing to be worried about. They just have less energy than they did when they were younger.
⚠️ A change in your dog’s sleep habits, however, can indicate a health issue. (Especially for senior dogs who are vulnerable to cognitive decline and conditions like dog dementia.)
But unless you’ve been meticulously tracking their sleep and activity, it can be easy to miss on a change until it’s too late.
Dog sleep requirements by breed
Another important factor is the breed (and size) of your dog. Many dog parents don’t know this, but the size of the breed affects how much sleep they need. For example:
- Small dog breeds need approximately 14-16 hours of sleep each day.
- Medium dog breeds need only 10-14 hours of sleep per day.
- Large dog breeds, on the other hand, need up to 18 hours of solid rest per day.
Breeds also prioritize sleep differently. For example, if your dog breed was bred for performing important tasks, they might be less sleep-oriented.
As you can see, there are many things to consider when it comes to how much your dog should sleep each day. There is no one-size fits all answer.
Other factors that affect dog sleep
Besides age, breed and size, here are a few other things to watch out for.
A dog’s activity level also affects how much sleep they’ll need.
- Dogs who are very active during the day often fall asleep easily – and enjoy their well-deserved rest.
- On the other hand, dogs who don’t get enough exercise are more likely to be restless and sleepless at night.
Your Tractive device, for example, doubles as a GPS tracker. So you can follow your dog’s every step, no matter where your adventures take you.
Changes in routine & surroundings
If your dog is not sleeping well, it could be because of recent changes on the home front. For example, if you welcomed a new two-legged or four-legged family member, or moved somewhere new, it could be that your dog is having a tough time adjusting.
Noise can also cause fear and anxiety in dogs, which can affect their sleep. Parties or fireworks, in other words, are not ideal for well-rested dogs.
- Noise Anxiety In Dogs: Why Is My Dog Scared Of Loud Noises?
- How To Calm Dogs During Fireworks
- Dogs & Fireworks: How To Keep Your Dog Safe On The 4th Of July
Another thing to consider is your dog’s routines. For example, did their favorite dog walker change jobs recently? Or did you have to move them to new nap spot? Any changes to your dog’s routine can affect how much (or little) they sleep.
We totally get it if you have a lot going on in your life at the moment – for example, if you’re moving with a bunch of toddlers – and feel like you’re always behind schedule. But trust us, finding a bit of time to find your dog a nap nook can do their health wonders.
Read more: Where Should My Dog Sleep At Night Time?
A dog’s health condition(s) will also affect how much they sleep. For example, sick or overweight dogs tend to sleep more than healthy dogs. If your dog seems to be sleeping more than usual, one of the following conditions could be the underlying issue:
- Arthritis (especially in senior dogs)
- Kennel cough
- Kidney, liver, or heart disease
⚠️ If you see big changes in your dog’s usual sleep or activity – and spot potential signs of illness in dogs – it might be worth talking to your vet. A Tractive GPS dog tracker can help you learn their patterns and know when something is off.
You know how miserable sleeping on a sticky summer night can be? Your buddy does too. Dogs can get restless during hot evenings, but might find it just as hard to sleep if it’s too chilly. So set the AC accordingly.
When it’s hot out, your dog may spend more of their time sleeping. Or, you know, just lounging around. Hot, muggy weather can make dogs tired and make them want to siesta. As long as your dog keeps a normal body temperature, a little summer lazing should be no cause for alarm. Especially if you know how to help your dog stay cool in summer.
As in “Rapid Eye Movement”, not the band. Dogs are more “flexible sleepers” than humans, and can generally fall asleep anywhere and any time. Which also means they’re easier to wake up. That’s why experts think dogs need more shut-eye in order to catch up on missed REM sleep.
💡 In REM sleep, which usually happens about 90 minutes after we fall asleep, our eyes move quickly and our brain is more active. It’s during this time that we have our most intense dreams. REM sleep is important for brain development, emotional processing, and processing what we picked up during the day.
Boredom & depression
If a dog is not getting enough healthy physical and mental stimulation during the day, they may sleep more as a result. Likewise, a dog who is depressed may sleep more than normal.
Which is why we’d recommend you pay attention to your dog’s sleep levels – plus their overall state of well-being. This can help you get your dog the attention and care they need to be happy and healthy.
That might mean:
- Scheduling more playdates at the dog park
- Taking another walk each day
- Or adding more cuddles into your daily routine.
Read more: How to Keep Your Dog Mentally Active
⚠️ A bored dog is also more likely to run away from home. Luckily, your Tractive device helps you both monitor their health – and also follow your dog’s every step in real-time with its GPS functionalities. So you never have to worry about losing your dog ever again.
You’ve probably noticed you sleep better or worse depending on what you’ve had to eat that day, and the same goes for your dog’s sleep too. Calories are the main energy source of a dog’s energy, and a low-nutrient diet might lead to them feeling lazy, sluggish and sleepy.
Talk to your vet to find out what to feed your dog to help them get the best sleep. They might even help you find out what kinds of food sensitivities or intolerances your dog might have.
- What Can Dogs Not Eat? 15 Foods Poisonous To Dogs
- Best Cooling Foods For Dogs In Summer
- What Makes Dogs Fat? Getting An Overweight Dog Back In Shape
Sleep disorders in dogs
Just like us, dogs can experience sleep disorders. A dog with a sleep disorder may wake up frequently during the night or appear to be in distress when they should be sleeping.
As a result, a dog that’s sleep deprived might seem more tired and disoriented during the day. Lack of sleep in dogs can even lead to aggression and behavioral problems, or a weakened immune system.
Below are the four most common types of sleep disorders in dogs:
- Canine narcolepsy (suddenly falling asleep)
- Insomnia (not being able to fall asleep)
- Sleep apnea (snoring and breathing issues)
- REM behavior disorder
⚠️ It can be difficult tracking your dog’s sleep when you’ve got to sleep yourself. And left untreated, a sleep disorder can worsen your dog’s health over time.
So stay on the safe side – and track your dog’s sleep to catch on to a sleep disorder early on.
Wrapping up: Why do dogs sleep so much?
As we learned above, sleep is just as essential for dogs as it is for people.
- Sleep helps with brain development, storing memories, learning, emotional processing and maintaining a strong immune system.
- Our canine friends sleep more than us, about 12-14 hours a day on average.
- Out of all dogs, puppies and senior dogs need the most sleep, upwards of 20 hours a day.
- A lot of factors can come into play, such as age, breed, exercise, boredom and even temperature.
But most importantly: too much or too little sleep may be a sign of illness, and that it’s time to talk to the vet. By monitoring your dog’s sleep with a GPS dog tracker, you can spot changes to their sleeping pattern and detect health issues early on.
For more on the topic, here’s a video covering why dogs sleep so much – and what factors affect it:
And if you’re as fascinated with your dog’s snoozing habits as we are, check out these articles that cover this topic in more detail:
- 9 Dog Sleeping Positions And Their Meaning: All About Dog Sleep Behavior
- Dog Sleeping In Bed? Pros And Cons Of Co-Sleeping With Dogs
- Where Should Your Dog Sleep? Pros And Cons Of The Various Dog Sleeping Options
Your furry friend’s health and wellbeing means as much as to us as it does to you. So we’ve made it a priority to only share medically-relevant content on our blog.
This post was checked, double-checked, and medically verified by Georgia-based vet, Dr. Dwight Alleyne.
Dr. Dwight Alleyne, DVM
Dwight Alleyne was born and raised in Long Island, New York where his love of animals began. His career for animals began working for a well-known no-kill animal shelter on Long Island.
He worked his way up the career ladder working as a kennel technician, veterinary assistant, and then becoming a licensed veterinary technician at the shelter.
His passion for veterinary medicine led to him applying to and being accepted at Cornell University Veterinary where he graduated from in 2006. After completing a small animal rotating internship at Purdue University, he eventually made his way to Georgia where he has been practicing ever since.
Dr. Alleyne has practiced at several small animal clinics throughout Georgia. He has a keen interest in soft tissue surgery and has extensive experience in performing ultrasounds including echocardiograms.
When he is not practicing medicine, Dr. Alleyne enjoys writing and editing pet health articles and providing pet advice through telehealth.
Dr. Alleyne also has his own blog called “The Animal Doctor Blog.” Check it out on: www.anmldrblog.com.