Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much? We Take an A to Zzz Look at the Issue

We asked dog owners* how many hours a day they think their adult dog sleeps. The answers averaged around 9.7 hours. Truth is, dogs normally sleep around 12-14 hours a day. (Cats sleep 12-16 hours, which is why it’s called a “catnap,” we presume.) “Normal” can depend on lots of things. Bigger breeds definitely need more z’s. Older dogs tire quicker and sleep more. Growing puppies need up to 20 hours a day. Being cute must really be tiresome.

But why do they sleep so much? We’re not going to let sleeping dogs lie; we’re getting to the answers.

Sleep_fr-1

Always on alert

Dogs spend less time in deep REM sleep, so they’re able to wake quickly and be ready to go — whether it’s responding to danger or the opening of a bag of chips. It also means they need to doze more often to make up for that lack of truly restful sleep.

Sleep_fr-2

A dog’s diet plays a role in their sleep

In general, carnivores need more rest. “In their wild dog and wolf days, it was a hunt for food, bringing down large prey, then feasting,” says Dr. Jo Gale, BVetMed CertLAS MRCVS, Senior Manager, Global Science Advocacy at Waltham Petcare Science Institute. “They’d spend a long time digesting and may not eat for a few days. There’s a tendency to conserve energy.” Just think about how you feel after eating a huge steak. Incoming meat coma. Goodbye, belt. Hello, sofa.

Dogs sleep because they are bored

Yawn. When owners are out of the house, dogs often sleep simply because they’re bored. They’re not into books and haven’t quite figured out how to turn on the TV, so why not catch a few extra winks? Plus, they want to be super refreshed when you come back home in the evening.

Can dogs sleep too much?

Some dogs like to sleep longer and some dogs are just lazier than others. According to Dr. Tammie King, Applied Behavior Technical Leader at Waltham Petcare Science Institute, “You might see more sleeping after intense exercise or they’ve gone to a pet sitter or boarding center due to high stimulation.” There’s usually no cause for concern unless they seem lethargic and lose interest in playing or eating, or begin listening to a lot of emo music.

Losing sleep over your dog’s sleep schedule?

Their wild days long gone, dogs have adapted their sleep schedules to match humans’ sleep schedules. Sort of. They still might get you up in the night or early morning before your alarm goes off. It’s best to exercise them in the morning and evening so they’re more tired — and have used the facilities — right before everyone else goes to sleep.

Now, the only question remaining is, what do you think your dog dreams about?

*Surveyed U.S. dog owners, age 18+ 

Sample Size: n=201 

Fielded May 8-10, 2020