Why Does My Dog Sleep So Much? What's Normal, What's Not

Every dog is different, and their breed makes a difference, but all dogs need more sleep than people.

Published February 4, 2023
English bulldog sleeping on sofa

If you have a dog, you know they just love to sleep. It's probably one of the best things about having a pup in your home. They're always ready to cuddle up on the couch with you at any given time of day. But why do dogs sleep so much? Some breeds of dogs are more prone to napping than others, and certain habits can affect their sleeping patterns. Age also affects canine slumber habits. In most cases, you don't have anything to worry about, but there are some conditions that are cause for concern.

How Much Sleep Do Dogs Need?

Dogs sleep more than humans. Like, A LOT more. They need to sleep around 12 to 14 hours a day, while your average human only needs seven to eight hours of sleep.

Also, dogs actually get more out of their shut-eye than we do. That's why it's so important for them to get the proper amount of sleep every night. If your pup doesn't get enough rest and relaxation, it can cause a wide array of health issues, including poor mental health or joint pain from lying down too long, and nobody wants that.

They Spend a Lot of Energy

You may be thinking that 12 hours of sleep is a crazy amount for your dog. But it makes sense if you think about what your dog does during their waking hours. Dogs are MUCH more active than people. We're mostly limited to sitting at desks all day long, while our dogs are running around outside, playing with each other, or chasing after squirrels.

Dogs spend more energy during the day than humans do. They require even more time spent resting up as compensation for this higher level of activity and energy expenditure compared with our own comparatively sedentary lifestyles. This means that despite being less active overall as adults compared with puppies who burn energy like there's no tomorrow, adult dogs still need plenty of time to rest up between these bursts of activity. So let your pupper nap. They've earned it.

Every Dog Is an Individual

You now know how much the average dog sleeps. However, this is a general guideline. There are some circumstances that may cause your dog to sleep more than the average pooch, including:

Different Breeds, Different Needs

Some dog breeds are more active than others. Also, some breeds of dogs are more intelligent than others. Some breeds have health problems that make them less inclined to sleep. But if you're wondering why your dog sleeps so much, keep in mind that not all dogs sleep the same amount of time per day.

For example, a Labrador Retriever may need about 10 hours per day, while a Toy Poodle may need 13 hours per night. Furthermore, every dog is different, so you're really only looking at tendencies within a breed. Depending on what breed your pup is, the amount of sleep they get may vary wildly from their peers and family members alike.

There are some breeds that are known as "sleepers," snoozing more than others. The following dog breeds are known to sleep the most:

Puppies are Growing

One reason puppies sleep more than their adult counterparts is because they need it. Puppies require a lot of sleep to grow into the large, healthy dogs we know and love. A typical puppy will spend 18 hours a day sleeping, which is significantly more than that of an adult dog.

The reason for this is that puppies' bodies are growing rapidly and also developing cognitively at an incredibly fast rate. If they did not get adequate rest, they could not develop properly into full-grown dogs!

Senior Dogs Sleep More

An elderly labrador is dozing in his bed

You might be surprised to learn that senior dogs sleep even more often than puppies and young adult dogs. Older pooches generally don't have the energy to play long games of fetch or chase their tails all day, so they're more likely to crash out when they've had enough excitement.

It's not just because they're tired. Older dogs also need more sleep than younger ones. This is because, as your dog ages, their body produces less melatonin. Melatonin is responsible for regulating sleep. This means that even if your senior dog isn't in pain or has any other issues with sleeping, there's still a good chance they'll spend most of their days snoozing away!

After all, about 15% to 30% of older dogs will develop some sort of joint problem, such as arthritis. This can make it difficult for them to get comfortable while sleeping on hard surfaces like hardwood floors or concrete sidewalks. Also, their quality of sleep isn't as good as it once was to top it off.

Pregnant Dogs Need Extra Rest

It's normal for dogs to sleep more than usual when they're pregnant. A pregnant dog will typically sleep a few hours more than normal. Some pregnant dogs also appear to be more tired, and rest more during the day. If your dog hasn't always been an active sleeper, it's likely that her increased rest will be even more noticeable.

Some pregnant or nursing dogs also require more rest than usual because energy is diverted from other activities needed for survival, such as eating, into caring for their pups. If you're a parent, think about how much sleep you needed, or wanted, when you were pregnant and even afterward while caring for your newborn baby.

When to Be Concerned

Most of the time, your dog is probably sleeping a normal amount. However, if you notice a change in their sleep pattern, or they're suddenly sleeping a lot more than usual, pay attention. If your dog is noticeably sleeping more than they usually do, it's important to consult with your veterinarian.

Sometimes, there are simple explanations for why a dog is sleeping more than usual. But other times, there are health conditions that require treatment and monitoring, especially if you have noticed any of the following symptoms accompanying excessive sleep:

  • Abnormal sleeping pattern: Is your dog sleeping all day and staying up all night? Are they sleeping all day and all night?
  • Sleeping hard: Is your dog more difficult than normal to wake up?
  • Problems walking: Is your dog limping or struggling to walk on any of their legs?
  • Illness: Does your dog have diarrhea? Have they been vomiting? Do they appear to be sick with a cold or flu?
  • Pain: Is there anywhere that you touch that's sensitive? Has your dog suddenly become aggressive while they are sleeping or waking up? Do you hear your dog panting excessively or whining?
  • Mental health: Is your dog pacing back and forth when they are awake? Have you noticed them staring blankly into space?

If you notice anything out of the ordinary accompanying your dog's excessive sleep, let your veterinarian know. Your vet will probably have a set of questions they ask to determine what the potential problem is. If you already have answers to the questions above, this could help your vet narrow down what to look for.

Be Observant

The bottom line is that dogs sleep a lot, and they do it in a variety of ways. They also tend to be more active during the day, when humans are awake and active. That means it's important for dog owners to pay attention to their pets' behavior patterns and make sure they get enough rest. Keep note of your dog's sleeping habits. If you notice your pup is sleeping less or more than normal, keep a journal of your dog's sleep and jot it down just in case it becomes a cause for concern later on.

Why Does My Dog Sleep So Much? What's Normal, What's Not