It’s important to understand why dogs sleep so much and know what excessive sleeping in dogs looks like.
A dog’s life tends to be such a relaxing experience. Get out of bed, go outside to relieve yourself, come back home, get a snack, and return to bed. Then get out of bed, go outdoors again, eat dinner, and return to bed for another snooze.
But dogs aren’t usually deep sleepers. They are referred to as “flexible sleepers.” They can fall asleep anywhere and at any time, but can also wake up at any time if necessary.
It’s important to remember that dogs have short sleep cycles lasting only 45 minutes at a time. At the same time, humans are monophasic sleepers because we sleep in one long 7-9 hour stretch at night.
During that time, we typically spend about 25 percent in rapid-eye-movement or REM sleep. That’s when we dream.
Just like people, dogs experience periods of REM sleep. However, dogs spend only about 10 percent of their sleep in REM.
This is when their mind is active, but the body is relaxed. During the REM cycle, the brain processes daily experiences to make sense of them. And yes, experts believe that dogs do dream.
Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much?
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), if your dog generally sleeps between 12-14 hours a day, you likely have nothing to be concerned about.
The amount of sleep a dog needs depends on several factors, including their age, breed, personality, and activity level.
The Age of Your Dog
Both puppies and senior dogs need more sleep than the average adult dog. Puppies, just like babies, spend much of their time growing, playing, and exploring their new environment. They may require up to 18 to 20 hours of sleep per day.
Older dogs may also require more rest because they fatigue more rapidly and daily life is more challenging for them. So, if you see your older pooch napping for most of the day, it’s probably not a cause for concern.
The Breed of Your Dog
Large breeds and larger dogs in general, such as Newfoundlands, St. Bernards, and mastiffs, require more sleep than their smaller counterparts. So, how much sleep a dog needs depends on what the dog was bred to do.
Working breeds, for example, are more likely to stay alert due to the jobs that require their whole attention. Dogs that weren’t bred for a specific purpose and live less career-oriented lives are more likely to be inactive and sleep more.
The Health of Your Dog
Unfortunately, many health problems can manifest through changes in your dog’s sleeping habits. When we’re not feeling well, we sleep more, and dogs do the same.
When to Worry
When should you start worrying that your dog’s sleep is abnormal?
If your dog is sleeping over 15 hours a day, you should pay close attention to how your dog behaves while awake. If your dog is more lethargic when they’re awake, it’s always worth getting them checked out by your vet.
Excessive sleepiness can be a symptom of medical problems like hypothyroidism, diabetes, or anemia. Also, dogs that are in pain may sleep more as a coping mechanism. So, if your dog is sleeping more, consider whether pain could be the cause.
Remember, you should always be able to rouse your dog. If you can’t, contact a veterinarian right away.
As long as your dog is happy and healthy, and appropriately awake and active when they’re awake, it’s likely their sleep schedule is fine for them.
So, if you notice your dog sleeping a lot, this is probably not cause for alarm. Dogs who don’t get enough sleep can become aggressive, anxious, and stressed.
It’s a good sign if your dog sleeps intermittently during the day and all night. It means they receive lots of exercise, eat well-balanced and healthy food, and are immensely satisfied and secure in their surroundings.
However, changes in the amount of time your dog has been sleeping can be concerning, especially if this is combined with lethargy when awake. If you’re unsure, it’s best to talk to your vet.