Dogs have it pretty easy if you ask me. I think of my own dog, who, after sleeping all night, wakes up and has breakfast and then takes a nap after the kids leave for school. What a tough life, huh?
She’s an older dog, and she sleeps a lot, but I’m not concerned because, at her age, she needs more sleep. But I often ask myself, how much do dogs sleep? Is all this sleep really necessary?
While it depends on age and activity level, the average dog will spend about fifty percent of the day sleeping. That’s 12 hours out of 24!
This article will go over how much sleep dogs need, why they need it, and is there anything to be concerned about regarding their sleep. Large breed dogs, small breed dogs, puppies, and older dogs will require a different amount of sleep for various reasons.
How Much Do Dogs Sleep?
Sleeping or lying around doing nothing? Along with spending those 12 hours in dreamland, some dogs can spend another 30% of their day doing something that resembles sleep. Maybe lying in that warm sunny spot on the floor or sprawled out on the sofa with their eyes rolled back in their head.
I personally call it being incredibly lazy for about ¾ of the day. Now, of course, this isn’t all dogs, and it certainly differs with their age, breed, and activity level.
Like most newborns, the younger they are, the more they sleep. Eight-week-old puppies will sleep about 20 hours a day! That’s 90%!
A ten to the sixteen-week-old puppy will sleep about 18-20 hours a day.
The first 18 weeks of a puppy’s life are when she is learning about basic training, being socialized, and her feeding routine. So it’s understandable to see why they need so much sleep.
Puppies will usually spread their nap times out to a few snoozes between a half-hour to over two hours.
Puppies and young dogs will sleep for shorter periods throughout the day and have more wakeful time during the night.
But is there anything cuter than a sleeping puppy? I think not.
As dogs grow, the number of naps they take will decrease. As they tend to be more active, they use up more energy at a furious pace. And when it’s time to finally sleep, they usually sleep hard so they can recover for another round of romping.
My neighbor has two young dogs, and they are either racing back and forth across the yard, or they are out cold.
Adult dogs will instead sleep for longer periods of time, with the longest period being at night. But of course, they still nap during the daylight hours.
While the age that one may consider a dog a senior is different for every breed, older dogs will increase their sleeping quite a bit. But it’s completely normal.
Just like people, when dogs get older, they require more sleep to help them fully recover from any daily activities. Most senior dogs will spend about 14-15 hours a day sleeping, but there are some (like my dog) who are more than happy to sleep 18-20 hours a day.
Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much?
We already know that dogs sleep way more than humans. But why? We have a much busier schedule than most dogs, if you ask me.
It’s because dogs listen to their bodies, something humans don’t do enough of. Dogs sleep when they feel tired because they listen to that signal that tells them to sleep.
Sleep is extremely important for dogs. It helps their brain development, learning capacity, memory, and their immune system.
And very much like us, if dogs don’t get enough sleep, they are more prone to getting sick. Maybe that is why my dog is never sick?
Why Do Larger Breeds Sleep More?
There is evidence out there that suggests larger dog breeds sleep more, and I can believe it. My best friend has an Old English Bulldog that weighs about 90lbs and is the laziest dog I’ve ever seen!
Larger dogs require more metabolic energy to keep going and, therefore, require more sleep to recover.
Especially large breeds like St. Bernards and Great Danes tend to sleep a lot more than the others and are great at making 150lb couch potatoes.
Should I Be Concerned if My Dog Sleeps a lot?
If your dog has always been a heavy sleeper and nothing has changed, then there is no need for concern. But if you notice a major change in her sleeping habits, it may be time to reach out to your veterinarian.
There are several factors other than age that can cause a dog to sleep more than normal.
- Heart disease
Diabetes can be scary in pets as it can often come on quickly. When your dog’s body isn’t producing the right amount of insulin or not breaking down insulin as it should, diabetes is a likely factor.
The reason diabetes causes your dog to sleep more is because it zaps your dog’s energy, causing her to become lethargic.
Other symptoms of diabetes are peeing more, weight loss, and a decrease in appetite. The condition is seen more in older dogs, and genetics also play a factor. Smaller dogs, such as pugs, dachshunds, mini poodles, and beagles, are more susceptible to diabetes.
Hypothyroidism will cause your dog’s behavior to change quite a bit. In addition to becoming unnaturally sleepy, they may seem more anxious than usual. You may also begin to notice weight gain.
Some dogs can become aggressive and have trouble in different situations. You may also notice that their face looks slightly different with a furrowed brow.
Heart disease can cause your dogs to not only sleep more than usual but tire out more quickly after walks or play. Other symptoms of heart disease include coughing, fainting, behavioral changes, and breathing issues.
Arthritis is seen more in older dogs and will often cause your dog to sleep more and become inactive. She may seem to have trouble walking or climbing stairs. She may have other behaviors such as irritability and urination in the house.
Unfortunately, dogs can suffer from narcolepsy just as humans can. Caused by a disorder of the nervous system, narcolepsy can cause excessive sleepiness in dogs during the day. It can even cause loss of consciousness. However, this usually only lasts a few seconds.
You may notice that your dog has suddenly gone into a very deep sleep and their muscles completely relax. This can be hard to watch as pet owners, and symptoms like this are a definite cause for a trip to the vet.
If you notice your female unspayed dog sleeping more, there is a possibility she could be pregnant. Especially in very active dogs, an increase in napping should be taken seriously.
Pregnant dogs can also have a change in behavior, changed appetite, discolored or enlarged nipples, and weight gain.
What If My Dog Suddenly Stops Sleeping at Night?
As much as concern is warranted for too much sleep, too little sleep can also make us wonder if everything is okay.
Sometimes when dogs get older, they begin to suffer from a condition similar to Alzheimer’s, called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. This can cause dogs to be confused by nightfall and become restless. You may notice they are pacing a lot and can’t seem to settle down.
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction is usually controlled with medication. Your vet may also suggest a sound machine for nighttime or tv at low volume to calm your dogs.
Another problem older dogs may experience is having to pee more frequently, which can cause them to start getting up during the night or become restless.
When is Sleepiness an Emergency?
In some cases, excessive sleepiness in dogs can be an emergency.
A dog with lethargy that is mild may not need to see a vet, but it’s important to understand what mild lethargy looks like.
Sometimes when dogs overexert themselves, they can get lethargic. This can happen in hot weather, so make sure your dog gets plenty of water. Lethargy from hot weather can cause your dog to sleep soundly, but when they do wake, they are usually back to normal.
If your dog appears to be fairly lethargic but still acts interested if you offer him a treat or makes an effort to get up, he still probably needs to see a vet. Even if you think something just isn’t right, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Lethargy is a concern when it seems moderate to severe. If your dog is so lethargic that you are unable to rouse her or get her attention, it could be an emergency. This will require a trip to the vet right away.
We’ve learned that dogs sleep a lot! Their ages, breeds, and activity levels can affect how much they sleep. We’ve also learned when too much sleep could mean a trip to the vet.