How Much Do Dogs Sleep?

My dogs love a good nap.  They can also sleep all night and often keep to a schedule, which, as I do my research, is not often the case for many canines.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

In the Newcomb household, we are up early between 5:30-6am for a small snack and then outside for morning business. Breakfast comes around 7:30. Morning is quite active for them; they are very playful. But after breakfast they are ready for a nap until early afternoon. Afternoon is active again, until dinnertime around 5pm. After dinner they love sitting with us and dozing. Bedtime is early, around 9pm. So they do get lots of rest, the younger ones are more active, but in general they enjoy their routine.

Some of our fur babies like to sleep with my husband and myself on the bed. Others prefer their own beds. Gypsy and Yoshi snore. Gypsy barks in her sleep too. Frazier likes to sleep under the covers. And they all have they favorite places to rest. Chihuahuas are a little bit lazy!

But the amount of time a dog sleeps during the day depends on many factors like their age, breed, size, health, life events, and environment.  While there are many similarities between humans and canines, there are also some discernible difference.

HOW MUCH DO DOGS SLEEP?

Puppies sleep far more than adult dogs. And large breeds sleep more than smaller one. Breeds like like Newfoundlands, mastiffs, St. Bernards, and great Pyrenees have earned the nickname “mat dogs” for seemingly endless naps and constant dozing. [source]

The average dog sleeps about 12 hours a day. For puppies, it is between 14-18 hours; for seniors, the number is 14-18; for large breeds it is about 16-18 hours a day.

While humans typically spend a majority of their day awake and maybe 8 hours a night asleep, dogs follow a different, non-binary pattern. They may spend 20% of their time awake and active, 30% of their time awake but inactive, and 50% of their time asleep.

Exercise is also critical to managing sleep activity. In fact, more active dogs like service and working canines, need less sleep than their less active counterparts. While this may seem counterintuitive, it is actually similar to how humans react in this way. Those who remain physically and mentally stimulated during their waking hours usually get to sleep faster, because their bodies are ready to shut down for awhile instead of meandering in an inactive, yet sleepless state. “Insomnia from inactivity is especially common in small breeds or among dogs that live an urban lifestyle, where they don’t get out and run regularly.” [source]

 

HOW DO DOGS SLEEP?

Dogs, like people experience REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is a deeper stage where the eyes move rapidly and dreamss typically occur. For humans, there are typically three stages of non-REM sleep, each lasting from 5-15 minutes. This is followed by REM sleep which occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep.

And yes, dogs do dream. Typically they go through three sleep stages: NREM, non-rapid eye movement; REM, rapid eye movement; and SWS, short-wave sleep. [source ] “It is in the SWS stage that a dog breathes heavily while he is sleeping. Animal experts theorize that dogs dream during the REM stage and act on their dreams by twitching or moving all four paws as if they were chasing a rabbit.”

The main difference between the sleep patterns of humans versus dogs is in how much time they spend at different stages. Dogs also tend to sleep in bursts throughout the day (for example sleep-wake cycles of 16 minutes asleep, 5 minutes awake) versus maybe 7-9 hours asleep and 15-17 hours awake for humans. [source] “When dogs fall asleep, they enter deep sleep. Their breathing and heart rate slow while their blood pressure drops. About 10 minutes in, they enter REM sleep and dream like humans. You can often identify this stage because their eyes roll under their eyelids, and they may start twitching in their sleep as they dream of chasing after squirrels.”

 

WHAT ARE COMMON SLEEP POSITIONS?

Does your pup have a favorite sleeping position? Whether they are all stretched out, on their back with their paws in the air, or curled up in a ball, each position may indicate something about their state of activity or personality. According to tiphero.com, there are seven common sleeping positions for dogs. And here’s what they mean.

  1. Crazy Legs: Dogs that sleep like this are showing a combination of submission and vulnerability. With all four legs in the air, a dog’s stomach and organs are completely exposed, which means they are probably independent, laidback, and feeling very comfortable in their space.
  2. Side Sleeper: The side sleeping position is a relaxed one and again demonstrates complete trust since the pup’s tummy is exposed. Side sleepers are usually very calm, care-free, usually have a strong bond with their families.
  3. The Superman: This position is popular in puppies, mostly because it’s an easy position for a dog to wake up and jump right back into playing. As a result, the Superman position is definitely an indicator of a fun, energetic canine.
  4. Legs Up, Back Down: This position may be a sign that your dog is warm and trying to cool down; since a dog’s paws contain sweat glands, and their belly has the least amount of fur on their body, this is the ideal position for bringing down body temperature.
  5. Belly Curl: This tightly-wound position may indicate your pup is not getting the best quality of sleep. According to Dog’s Best Life, this is because the position does not allow for a dog’s muscles to relax enough to enter the deep, REM stage of sleep.
  6. Curled Up: Because this position allows a dog to protect their belly and share heat in a pack, it is the most common position amongst wolves and wild dogs. If you catch your pup sleeping like this, it likely means they are either a bit cold or apprehensive about something, like a new environment or people.
  7. Back-to-Back: If you have more than one dog in your home, you might notice that they sleep back-to-back. Wild dogs tend to huddle to together for protection and warmth in the wilderness, so back-to-back sleeping is an instinctual way for a dog to show you are one of the pack.

common sleeping positions for dogs

 

Penny napping in the Belly Curl position


Penny napping in the “Curled up” or “Belly curl” position

While I don’t have a picture of each of my beloved in their favorite sleeping position, I have included one of Penny. She prefers the curled up pose, also called the “belly curl.” It is supposedly a good way to keep warm – and incredibly comfortable!

All my dogs do love to sleep and they don’t like to have their routine interrupted. Right now they are all happily napping. I think a healthy balance of rest and activity is best, dogs do well when they have a schedule. What do you think?

 

 


 


 

 

 

 

RESOURCES:

https://www.tuck.com/animals-and-sleep/
https://www.tuck.com/how-much-dogs-sleep/
http://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/general-health/why-do-dogs-sleep-so-much/
https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-long-dogs-sleep-average/
https://www.sleepadvisor.org/how-much-do-dogs-sleep/
https://www.dailydogtag.com/lifestyle/let-sleeping-dogs-lie-but-how-much-sleep-do-dogs-need/
https://www.playbarkrun.com/how-many-hours-a-day-do-dogs-sleep/
https://www.petwave.com/Dogs/Basics/Sleeping-Habits.aspx
https://sleep.org/articles/how-much-do-dogs-sleep/
https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/sleep-101#1-3
http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/why-does-my-dog-twitch-while-sleeping
https://tiphero.com/7-dog-sleeping-positions/

 

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