Every time you look at your dog, he is sleeping. It doesn’t matter what time of day – morning, noon, or night – your dog is passed out, snoring and drooling. At first you thought it was cute, but now you are thinking your dog is just plain lazy. You just keep asking, how many hours a day do dogs sleep?
Dogs will sleep anywhere from 12 to 18 hours per day. This is normal. But how much your dog sleeps will depend on a large number of variables.
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When and why do dogs sleep so much?
Sleep has been well-studied in mammals for years (Siegel; Nature, 2005). Researchers have even attempted to understand the difference between sleep patterns in humans and other mammalian species, including domestic dogs (Tobler, 1995). While in general, sleep still remains a mystery in any species including humans, there are a few things we know.
It’s completely fine for dogs to spend a great deal of time sleeping. Age, size, health conditions, character, breed, time of day and time of year, activity levels, dietary changes, environment and more will all impact how many hours a day do dogs sleep, and why so.
Older dogs will sleep more, as they tend to tire out easily with the medical conditions that come with old age, like arthritis and diabetes (Takeuchi et al. 2002). Puppies, like newborn babies, need more sleep. They do not have large reserves of energy but they use a lot of it when exploring their surroundings and all the energy they use to grow.
Dog’s health condition is very important to consider no matter the age. Things like epilepsy will have a big impact on why do dogs sleep so much (Akos et al. 2012). Chronic sleep disorders like narcolepsy are also possible for dogs to have and will impact how many hours a day do dogs sleep, and their overall health (Milter et al. 1977).
The type of dog breed will also be a factor. There are certain couch potato lazy breedsthat are well-known for sleeping all day. There’s a correlation in size, and it’s been observed that larger breeds do tend to sleep a little more than small dogs. Their health condition and hormone balance will impact this behavior too. For example, studies show that bored, depressed and apathetic canines are likely to sleep more.
Even seasons can impact your dog’s sleeping habits. Dogs sleep more in winter time due to lack of sunlight and increased production of melatonin. Overall, there could be a number of different reasons why your dog is sleeping all day. The number one reason – it’s a dog. That said, there’s been research on how many hours a day do dogs sleep, and there are certain average numbers to go by. Let’s take a look at the numbers.
How Many Hours a Day Do Dogs Sleep?
What’s the Average?
Statistically, the average amount of time a dog can spend sleeping is about 12 – 14 hours. Puppies and older dogs can sleep as much as 18 – 20 hours a day.
While some dogs are generally predisposed to sleep more due to them being inactive, working breeds, on the other hand, will spend most of their day active if given a variety of tasks and demands that will hold the dog’s attention. In this case, the amount of sleep the dog needs is dependent on what the dog is bred to do.
Theoretically, dogs that are not working breeds or bred for certain purposes, will tend to spend their days a little more sedentary, lazing around and doing nothing. As you get to know your dog, you will get to know your dog’s sleep patterns and what is “normal” for your dog.
There can be things that disrupt your dog’s sleep cycle such as moving or interruptions. While sleeping for 12 – 18 hours a day is normal, occasionally this could be an indication of something wrong. If you notice anything unusual on how many hours a day do dogs sleep and outside of the normal for your dog, you should get your dog a vet check-up.
How Do Dogs Sleep?
You may be surprised, but scientists have long been fascinated by how dogs sleep, their sleep cycles, why do dogs sleep so much, their brain activity levels and impact on their learning habits, how many hours a day do dogs sleep and more. With this in mind, researchers have developed a special non-invasive canine polysomnography method, a type of sleep study for dogs (Kis et al. 2014).
So what do we know now about why do dogs sleep so much? It turns out that unlike humans, dogs do not have a regular sleeping pattern. They can be fast asleep one minute, and ready for a hike the next. There are two stages of sleep cycle in dogs:
- Slow-wave sleep (SWS) – low brain activity, light “nap” type of sleep
- Rapid eye movement (REM) – deep sleep, high brain activity levels
The REM sleep mode is the one that allows for the most “active” sleep where dogs will dream and their brain will process information. This is also what allows for the most rest.
On average, canines spend anything between 8 to 12 percent in the REM sleep cycle. For comparison, humans spend anywhere from 20 to 25 percent in REM sleep. Because of the less hours in REM sleep stages, dogs ten to rest less and thus require more sleep time overall than we humans do.
Allowing for your dog to sleep as much as he needs is important, especially since they get so little REM sleep cycle. A new study in 2017 using canine brain scans observed that dogs are learning while they’re sleeping. Researchers tested 15 dogs and discovered that sleeping impacts how well these pets are able to absorb new information, such as training practice (Kis, et al. 2017).
When Is It too Much?
As we’ve established, your dog can sleep a lot based on our own standards. You may notice that when you are more active with your dog, your pooch will participate in any activities with you and spend more time alert. A bored dog will simply choose sleep.
You should still be on the look-out for any out of character signs about your dog sleeping too much. If your pet is usually active and suddenly is drooling on the couch all day, there may be a problem. Or it could even be the reverse: your dog would normally sleep all day and night, but is suddenly restless at all hours of the day.
The question here isn’t how many hours a day do dogs sleep and when is it too much, but rather what is out of the normal range for your Fido. When your dog’s sleeping habits suddenly change, you should take him in to see a veterinarian. There are several serious health problems associated with sleep disorders, such as heart problems or thyroid issues.
Sleeping with Your Dog
Your dog may be jumping right up in the middle of your bed. This may or may not be OK with you. Some people are fine with sleeping with their dogs and some are not. Your dog loves the idea of sleeping in your bed; most dogs do. The reasoning behind it is that dogs are pack animals. Dogs want to sleep with their owners. Sometimes it is difficult to even get them out of your bed.
For many years researchers have frowned upon having a dog sleep in your bed. They said it disrupts your sleep among other issues. Today, those same researchers are still cautioning against sleeping together; however, new studies show that you both may rest easier in the same bed. In fact, there even may be benefits to this.
In the most recent discovery, the Mayo Clinic study revealed that those who let their dogs sleep with them, no matter the size of the dog, had an easier time sleeping than those who did not. The study showed that many pet owners felt that they spent a lot of time away from their pets during the day, so they wanted to spend as much quality time with their animals as they could and sleeping them is an easy way to accomplish that goal.
The study concluded that your dog is happy to sleep anywhere and is happy to spend time with you. The main recommendation is to decide for yourself if sleeping together really works for the two of you, or even three of you, if you have a partner.
Do not allow your love and loyalty to your pet to blind you to what would happen to your current relationship if your dog interfered with sleeping together, or getting enough sleep at all. If you and your dog sleep well and comfortably together, then by all means, it makes sense. As the Mayo Clinic study shows, you will get better sleep and your dog will sleep well regardless.
Laziest Dog Breeds
Just in case you were wondering if your dog was lazy compared to other breeds, there are some dogs that are labeled the laziest of dog breeds. These dogs will definitely sleep all day and night if you let them. They love to cuddle and snore as much as they can.
If you are looking for a specific breed to sleep in your bed at night, this would be a great list to start with. When you want lazy, here is a list of the top 15 breeds of dogs that love to sleep:
- Shih Tzu
- Bassett Hound
- French Bulldog
- Lhasa Apso
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Saint Bernard
- Chow Chow
- Great Dane
- Cocker Spaniel
- Great Pyrenees
Dogs need to sleep to gain all that energy they use to protect and love us unconditionally the way that they do. No matter how many hours a day do dogs sleep, it is sure to be dreaming of having fun times with you.
The Bottom Line
So why do dogs sleep so much? The reason is because unlike humans, they don’t have a regular sleeping pattern. They have less deep REM sleep time, which means they get to rest less, thus will require more time to sleep and allow their brains to recharge.
How many hours a day do dogs sleep? Scientists have noted that on average, a healthy dog may sleep anywhere from 12 to 18 hours a day. This is completely normal. Many factors will impact the number of sleep hours, such as dog’s age, breed, size, activity levels, diet and environment.
You should not worry about your dog sleeping so much unless it’s out of his character. If your pooch was usually sleeping 12 hours a day, and is suddenly sleeping 18 hours daily, you may need to consult with a veterinarian.