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April 26, 2024

Your Guide to Dogs and Sleep




Categories: Blogs, Crate, Dog Care and Health

Your Guide to Dogs and Sleep

Your Guide to Dogs and Sleep

Anyone who has ever raised one can agree – puppies are a force of nature. They have seemingly boundless energy to explore the world and play, play, play! Given this, it may be difficult to believe that puppies spend most of their time snoozing away. In fact, all dogs sleep for approximately half of the day! Why do dogs need so much sleep? How much sleep is too much or too little? We’re here to help answer some of your most pressing questions!

Get comfortable! Let’s start learning!

Why do dogs need so much sleep?

Sleep is extremely important for dogs. It is not only a time to recharge, but it is also essential to their immune system, brain development, and their memory.

Sleep is especially essential for dogs that are very young and very old. Puppies grow quickly within their first year of life, especially within the first couple of months. As their joints, muscles, and bones grow, their body is producing new cells at a rapid rate.  This burns a lot of energy, and they need a lot of rest to make up for it.

Senior dogs, on the other hand, are long past their growing stages. However, their body has a harder time producing new cells than a younger dog, and they just have less energy in general. It’s not unusual to see dogs slow down and sleep more when they get older.

Unlike humans who tend to sleep for one long stretch, dogs are polyphasic sleepers. This means they have multiple sleep cycles throughout the day and night. Another difference is that while humans spend about 25% of their sleep cycle in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, dogs only spend 10% of their sleep in this phase. They therefore need to sleep more hours in a day to get the same amount of REM sleep.


How much should my dog sleep?

There are a couple of factors that inform how much sleep your dogs needs. This includes their age, their breed, and their lifestyle.


Puppies need rest to grow up strong!

Puppies need a ton of sleep! As newborns, puppies pretty much exclusively eat or sleep during this first period of growth. As they get older, they can stay awake for longer periods of time, but still require anywhere from 16 to 20 hours of sleep per day. You may even see a puppy go from playing to sleeping in a matter of a few seconds!

It’s important to bear in mind that while they may need a lot of sleep, their bladders cannot necessarily accommodate longer periods of sleep and will need to be taken out to use the bathroom in the night. A general rule of thumb for how long a puppy can hold their bladder is their age in months plus one. For instance, a five-month-old puppy can hold their bladder for no longer than six hours.

Adult dogs spend approximately 50% of every day asleep. Of the remaining 50% of the day, they spend an average of 30% of this time relaxing. This is an evolutionary trait from back when dogs were wolves and needed to hunt for their food; when the next meal is not guaranteed, conserving energy when not hunting, playing, or socializing is advantageous. Expect for your dog to sleep anywhere from 9 to 14 hours per day, depending on the breed of the dog.

As previously discussed, senior dogs (those seven years or older) also need more sleep than their adult counterparts. On average, you can expect senior dogs to sleep anywhere from 12 to 15 hours every day.



Being this big is exhausting!

Big dogs, such as St. Bernards, Great Pyrenees, Great Danes, or Mastiffs may spend more time than not doing their best impression of a very large, furry rug. This is no surprise, as their bodies are so large that they take up more energy simply by existing. (Want to know more about big dogs? Check out our guide to owning the biggest dog breeds.) Greyhounds and their smaller counterpart Italian Greyhounds were bred to be sprinters. While they may run the Indy 500 around your home when the zoomies set in, they’re also quick to poop out. Moderately sized dogs, such as Labrador Retrievers, Australian Shepherds, and Weimaraners tend to sleep the least.






German Shepherds are full of energy!

Dogs that were bred to work, such as Huskies or German Shepherds, may sleep less during the day than other dog breeds. After all, they can hardly be expected to pull a sled across the arctic or keep an eye on sheep when they’re fighting off the need to doze off! Even if your dog in particular is not out working on a farm, their genetics will keep them awake and full of energy during the day. (Psst, does your puppy have a little too much energy? Check out our blog on how to tire out your puppy.)






Is my dog sleeping too much/not enough?

Dogs need a lot of sleep, and as the saying goes, let sleeping dogs lie! However, if all your dog seems to do is sleep, there may be cause for concern.

First of all, make sure that your dog has sufficient nutrition. Small dogs especially are prone to hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and one of the first warning signs is lethargy. Be sure that your dog is eating regularly and that their food provides their bodies with the ingredients they need to thrive. (Looking for a quality dog food? Consider Earthblend Super Premium Natural Dog Food.)

Dogs may also sleep too much because they are bored. Dogs are highly intelligent and sensitive creatures, and may become depressed if they do not have enough stimulation in their environment. Make sure that your dog is getting plenty of exercise, enrichment, and attention. That way, when they go to sleep at the end of the day, you’ll know it’s because they’re tuckered out from having such a great time!

Finally, sleeping too much could be indicative of a medical condition. Be alert to any abrupt changes in sleeping habits. Additionally, pay attention to their behavior upon waking up. If you dog appears to shake off sleep and jump into the next activity, then you probably do not need to worry. On the other hand, if they have difficulty waking up or are behaving lethargically, it may be time to reach out to your veterinarian.

Sleeping too little can also have a negative impact on your dog. Just like people, they tend to get a bit grumpy when they haven’t had enough rest, and their memory and cognitive ability decreases when fatigued. Older dogs in particular may suffer from sleeping too little because of conditions like arthritis that may prevent them from getting restful sleep.

Older dogs can also suffer from canine cognitive dysfunction, known colloquially as “doggy dementia”. This may cause them to feel disoriented and restless at night. You may notice pacing or other signs of agitation. Placing a night light next to their favorite sleeping spots or playing the TV on a low volume can help to ease these symptoms. You can also talk to your veterinarian about medications that can help an anxious dog settle at night. If you’re ever worried about your dog’s sleeping behavior, contact your vet.

Sleep Tips

Make your dog’s sleeping place welcoming!

Now you know all about how important sleep is for your dog and how much they need. What can you do to help your dog sleep well?

The most important thing that you can do for your dog is stick to a routine. While disruptions are a part of any life, having a regular schedule that they can count on is very soothing for dogs. Limit food and water intake in the hours before bed, and make sure that they get out to use the bathroom they go to bed. Nothing is worse than waking in the middle of the night needing to pee!

Create a relaxing environment for your dog. Place their crate or dog bed in an area without too much foot traffic or noise, and make sure that they have comfortable bedding. (Not sure where to start with crate training? See our blog on crate training and housebreaking.) If you need to take them out during the night, try to use a low, calm voice and not get them too excited so that they can get back to sleep.

Sweet dreams!!

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