For a species filled with so much energy, dogs sure can sleep a lot. They typically spend an average of 12 hours asleep each day, but a number of factors can drive that number even higher. A dog’s age, health, size, and even its breed type can determine how much time will be spent snoozing outside or around the house.
But, as it is with people, dogs that don’t get the right amount of rest each day may not function at their best, and their immune systems may become compromised. Similarly, if dogs are sleeping too much, it can be a symptom of larger health problems.
As anyone who has owned multiple dogs knows, there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all sleep schedule for canines. Some have nearly limitless energy, bouncing off the walls and ready to go at a moment's notice. Others are more inclined to do their best impression of a floor mat for as many hours as possible.
Whatever the case, owners should understand that it's natural for dogs to sleep half of a 24 hour cycle—sometimes even longer. Mastiffs, for example, are known to spend an incredible 16 to 18 hours a day napping around the house or yard. Other large breeds, such as Newfoundlands and St. Bernards, spend around the same amount of their days dreaming about bigger bones, slower mailmen, and the like, so there appears to be a connection between larger dogs and greater sleep requirements.
But dogs are always full of surprises, and many of the smaller types prove that Sleeping Beauty Syndrome isn't exclusive to the big guys. Shih tzus, bulldogs, basset hounds, and Chihuahuas can lounge around with the biggest (and drowsiest) breeds.
Although it's likely bigger dogs rest longer to conserve the considerable amount of energy that's collected from their food and distributed throughout their large bodies (kind of like the sleep mode your iPad goes into when it isn't charging or being used), it doesn't explain why certain smaller or medium breeds spend similar chunks of their days and nights asleep.
There's no scientific consensus to explain why some smaller breeds spend as much time resting as the larger types, but possible reasons include breeds adapting their lifestyles over time to suit their roles in the home and outdoors (a lapdog won't need much energy for its tasks) or dogs feeling bored due to a lack of stimulating daily activities.
It's a good idea for owners to know the average amount of sleep required for their breed. This will prevent unnecessary trips to the vet for breeds that naturally sleep most of the day, while also giving owners a way to determine if their dogs may be oversleeping or undersleeping.
Age Isn’t Just a Number
What do puppies and senior dogs have in common?
They both need lots of sleep!
A dog's age can greatly affect the time he spends resting every day. Like humans, dogs in their younger months and older years tend to sleep the most. Babies need ample amounts of rest for their bodies to grow, and puppies are no different. That's why we see so many disgustingly adorable posts of babies and puppies suddenly falling asleep in or around their food on social media.
It may not have quite the same effect when granddad does it, but older dogs and elderly folks are also likely to take impromptu naps. Active senior dogs may tire more quickly than they did in previous years. Also, even though canines sleep less deeply than humans for most of their lives, dogs will take deeper naps as they get older. Owners should understand that this is a normal part of the aging process.
Dogs of all ages may sleep longer if their bodies are fighting off an illness. And some breeds, like the Newfoundland, stand a greater risk of developing narcolepsy, a neurological disorder that forces the dog to fall asleep at random. Owners who notice that their dogs are sleeping longer or more often than usual without any apparent cause should consult a veterinarian.
Put Your Pup to Bed
Owners can take a few steps to help their dogs get the right amount of sleep. Here are two ways to make sure your prized pups get the rest they deserve.
Exercise is incredibly important for dogs of all ages. If they aren't engaging in mentally and physically stimulating activities often enough, the excess energy may cause them to remain active at times when they should be sleeping. Alternately, if a dog becomes used to the lack of exercise, she may become lazy and sleep too much.
Owners should take their dogs on walks daily and play games as often as possible. For owners who are tired themselves or just plain lazy, there are plenty of creative ways to give your dog a good workout without working out yourself. With the right amount of physical exercise, your dog will be able to expend energy in a healthy way that promotes good rest and sleeping habits.
Buy a Bed
With the wealth of options available in stores and online, there's really no excuse for dogs to go without their own beds these days. A soft bed is the perfect way to ensure restful sleep for your pet. There are plenty of affordable, basic beds on the market. But for owners who truly want to spoil their dogs and have the cash to do it, there are much fancier (and absurdly expensive) options as well. Regardless of whether you’re on a budget or have lots of money to burn, your dog will sleep more comfortably on a bed than the hard floor.
How much does your dog sleep? Tell us in the comments.