Does it ever feel like every time you look at your dog, he's sleeping? Dogs sleep more than humans do, at least it seems like it. The truth is dogs sleep very differently than humans do (and not just in the way they sprawl out). Everything from duration to frequency is different. So let's examine:
How much do dogs sleep?
The short answer: it depends. Unlike humans, who typically are awake for 10-12 hours or more straight, then sleep for 8 or so hours at night, dogs don’t have such a regular pattern. They typically take a series of short naps throughout the day. They’ll wake up for food, exercise, to scare off the mailman, etc., then fall right back asleep for another nap.
Research estimates that dogs spend as little as 10% of their sleeping time in REM sleep, the active sleep stage where dreaming occurs. To compare, humans spend 20-25% of their sleep time in REM sleep. Why the difference? Dogs sleep in shorter bursts, so they’re less likely to reach that stage. Because they don't get as much deep sleep as humans do, dogs may need more sleep overall to get enough rest.
Once you total it all up, dogs typically sleep anywhere from 12 to 18 hours a day. The “normal” amount of sleep for a dog varies greatly, but certain factors predict if a dog will be at the higher or lower end of that range. These factors include:
Puppies tend to sleep more than adults do. Their batteries have shorter charges, so they wake up bouncy, run around until they’re exhausted, then fall asleep to recharge.
Senior dogs tend to sleep more as well. As they age, it takes more effort for them to do the things that came easily in their younger years. Much like puppies, they need to recharge their batteries more often.
Active dogs sleep less than inactive dogs do. Part of this is they tend to have more energy and are doing things for a greater percentage of the day than inactive dogs are. Working dogs, like service dogs and search and rescue dogs, are working for more of the day and sleep less.
Less active dogs, such as companion pets and dogs who are home alone during the day, are likely to sleep more out of boredom. If this sounds like your dog, see our post How Do I Keep My Dog Mentally Stimulated? for ideas on keeping them mentally and physically active.
Low quality diets slow down your dog in two ways. First, they don’t provide your dog enough of the right nutrients to give your dog the energy he needs to be more active. This leads to a lethargic dog. Secondly, poor quality foods contain fillers and ingredients that are difficult to digest. Think about how you feel after a big meal: you just want to sleep because your body is diverting your energy towards your digestive system. It has a lot of work to do. Likewise, when your dog’s food contains ingredients that are tough to digest, your dog’s body has to spend more energy digesting and less energy playing.
Many giant breed dogs, like Saint Bernards and Newfoundlands, tend to sleep more than smaller dogs, sometimes as much as 18 hours a day. This is why those breeds make excellent apartment dogs: their energy level is low enough that they do well in small spaces so long as they get daily exercise.
It’s a good idea to get a sense for how much sleep is normal for your dog. That way, if you notice a sudden change in his sleeping habits, you'll know something is going on. A change in sleeping habits may be as a result of a change in diet, needing more exercise, a change in life cycle, or something wrong internally. If you notice a sudden change, take a look at what may be causing it and call your vet if needed.
How much do dogs sleep? It varies greatly, anywhere from 12 to 18 hours a day. It will vary based on your dog’s size, energy level, and age.
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