dog sleeping

How Much Do Dogs Sleep?

dog sleepingDoes it appear that your dog sleeps all day and night, barely waking for food and a potty break? Dogs sleep very differently to people and not just in the way they physically sprawl out. Their frequency and duration elements are very different so let’s look at these in detail.

How much sleep does a dog get?

The short version is “it depends.” People have a general pattern of being awake for 10-12 hours and then sleep for 8+ hours during the night. Dogs don’t have a standard routine of sleep. They nap numerous times through the day. Your dog will wake up anytime food is available, and this includes snacks and treats as well as his main meal. He’ll wake up to go for a walk, to bark at people at the door, to scare the postman, and so the list goes on, and then he’ll inevitably have another nap.

Research suggests that when a dog sleeps, as little as 10% is spent in REM sleep. This is the active period when he also dreams. People spend 20-25% of their sleep time in REM sleep. The reason for the big difference is that dogs sleep in shorter bursts so there’s less chance of them achieving REM sleep. Dogs don’t need the same amount of deep sleep that people do. This means they need to nap more often to ensure they have sufficient rest.

If you add it all together, a dog can sleep anywhere between 12 and 18 hours each day. The range is big because certain elements will affect how much sleep they get and at what end of the range they’ll generally be in.

These elements include:

Age.

Puppies sleep more than adult dogs. They have shorter battery lives and when they’re awake, they run around a lot and literally end up exhausted so they need to sleep to recharge themselves.

Senior dogs also sleep more. Because they’re older, they need extra energy to do the things that they could easily do when they were younger. As with puppies, they have to recharge more frequently.

Level of activity.

Active dogs don’t sleep as much as sedentary dogs. One reason is that they have extra energy and are more active for a larger part of the day than the dogs who lead lazy, sedentary lifestyles. Working dogs, such as search and rescue, police and service dogs, work for a large part of each day and sleep less.

Companion dogs and dogs that are home on their own for most of the day may sleep more often because they’re bored. If this is your dog, learn how to keep him mentally and physically active.

A poor diet.

If your dog’s diet is lacking in quality, it will slow him down in two ways. Firstly, he doesn’t receive enough nutrients to make him energised so he becomes quite lethargic. Secondly, low quality food has fillers and some hard to digest ingredients. Compare this to yourself after a big meal. You feel like a nap because your body is pushing extra energy into your digestive system because of the additional workload.

Your dog’s systems have to focus on digesting the tough foods and that leaves less energy for playtime. It’s crucial to learn about what goes into the food you choose for your dog.

Dog sizes.

Larger breeds sleep more than smaller dog breeds. For example, Newfoundlands and St. Bernards will sleep up to 18 hours per day. These dogs are great for apartments because their energy is low and they can live in the smaller spaces, providing you walk them regularly.

Learn how much sleep is regarded as normal for your particular dog. Then you’ll notice if he sleeps too much or too little and can work out what is wrong. It may be a dietary change, lack of exercise, sickness or something else. If necessary, contact your vet for advice or an examination of your dog.

It’s a good idea to get a sense for how much sleep is normal for your dog. Then if you notice a sudden change in his sleeping habits, you’ll know something is going on. A change may be as a result of a food alteration, 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.

So the answer to how much sleep a dog will get varies enormously according to size, age, diet and exercise regime, but it will usually be 12-18 hours per day.

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