Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much & How Many Hours a Day Do Dogs Sleep

Every time you look at your dog, he is sleeping. It doesn't matter what time of day – morning, noon, or night – your dog is passed out, snoring and drooling. 

At first, you thought it was cute, but now you think your dog is just lazy. 

You keep asking how many hours a day dogs sleep.

Dogs will sleep anywhere from 12 to 18 hours per day

This is normal. 

However, how much your dog sleeps will depend on many variables.

When and why do dogs sleep so much?

Sleep has been well-studied in mammals for years (Siegel; Nature, 2005). 

Researchers have even attempted to understand the difference between human sleep patterns and other mammalian species, including domestic dogs (Tobler, 1995). 

While sleep still remains a mystery in any species, including humans, there are a few things we know.

It's completely fine for dogs to spend a great deal of time sleeping

Age, size, health conditions, character, breed, time of day and time of year, activity levels, dietary changes, environment, and more will all impact how many hours dogs sleep and why.

Older dogs will sleep more, as they tend to tire out quickly with the medical conditions that come with old age, like arthritis and diabetes (Takeuchi et al. 2002). 

Puppies, like newborn babies, need more sleep. 

They do not have enormous energy reserves, but they use them when exploring their surroundings and all the energy they use to grow.

Dog's health condition is critical to consider, no matter the age. 

Things like epilepsy will significantly impact why dogs sleep so much (Akos et al. 2012). 

Chronic sleep disorders like narcolepsy are also possible for dogs to have and will impact how many hours a day dogs sleep and their overall health (Milter et al. 1977).

The type of dog breed will also be a factor. 

Certain couch potato lazy breeds are well-known for sleeping all day. 

There's a correlation in size, and it's been observed that larger breeds sleep a little more than small dogs. 

Their health condition and hormone balance will impact this behavior too. 

For example, studies show that bored, depressed, and apathetic canines are likely to sleep more.

Even seasons can impact your dog's sleeping habits. 

Dogs slept more in winter due to a lack of sunlight and increased melatonin production. 

Overall, your dog sleeping all day could be for several different reasons. 

The number one reason – it's a dog. 

That said, there's been research on how many hours a day dogs sleep, and there are specific average numbers to go by. 

Let's take a look at the numbers.

NEW STUDY: Like Humans, Dogs Don't Sleep Well After Stressful Experiences

How Much Do Dogs Sleep?

How Many Hours a Day Do Dogs Sleep

What's the Average?

Statistically, the average time a dog can spend sleeping is about 12 – 14 hours. Puppies and older dogs can sleep as much as 18 – 20 hours daily.

While some dogs are generally predisposed to sleep more due to inactive, working breeds, on the other hand, aren't. 

Working breeds will spend most of their daily activities if given various tasks and demands holding the dog's attention. 

In this case, the amount of sleep the dog needs depends on what the dog is bred to do.

Theoretically, dogs that are not working breeds or bred for specific purposes tend to spend their days a little more sedentary, lazing around and doing nothing. 

As you get to know your dog, you will know your dog's sleep patterns and what is “normal” for your dog.

There can be things that disrupt your dog's sleep cycle, such as moving or interruptions. 

While sleeping for 12 – 18 hours a day is normal, occasionally, this could indicate something wrong. 

If you notice anything unusual about how many hours a day dogs sleep and outside of the normal for your dog, you should get a vet check-up.

How Do Dogs Sleep?

You may be surprised, but scientists have long been fascinated by how dogs sleep, their sleep cycles, and why dogs sleep so much.

They are also interested in their brain activity levels and their impact on their learning habits, how many hours a day dogs sleep, and more. 

With this in mind, researchers have developed a unique non-invasive canine polysomnography method, a type of sleep study for dogs (Kis et al. 2014).

How much do dogs sleep and why

A good number of studies have been carried out with sleeping dogs and their sleep-related health conditions (thisthisthisthisthisthis, and this).

So what do we know now about why dogs sleep so much? 

It turns out that, unlike humans, dogs do not have a regular sleeping pattern. 

They can be fast asleep and ready for a hike the next. 

There are two stages of the sleep cycle in dogs:

  • Slow-wave sleep (SWS) – low brain activity, light “nap” type of sleep
  • Rapid eye movement (REM) – deep sleep, high brain activity levels

The REM sleep mode is the one that allows for the most “active” sleep, where dogs will dream, and their brain will process information. 

This is also what allows for the most rest.

On average, canines spend anything between 8 to 12 

percent in the REM sleep cycle. 

Humans spend anywhere from 20 to 25 percent in REM sleep. 

Because of the fewer hours in REM sleep stages, dogs tend to rest less and thus require more sleep time overall than we humans do.

Allowing your dog to sleep as much as he needs is essential, especially since they get so little REM sleep cycle. 

new study in 2017 using canine brain scans observed that dogs learn while sleeping. 

Researchers tested 15 dogs and discovered that sleeping impacts how well these pets can absorb new information, such as training practice (Kis, et al. 2017).

When Is It Too Much?

As we've established, your dog can sleep much based on our standards. 

You may notice that when you are more active with your dog, your pup will participate in any activities with you and spend more time alert. 

A bored dog will choose sleep.

Be on the lookout for any out-of-character signs about your dog sleeping too much. 

If your pet is usually active and suddenly drooling on the couch all day, there may be a problem. 

Or it could even be the reverse: your dog usually sleeps all day and night but is suddenly restless at all hours of the day.

The question here isn't how many hours a day dogs sleep and when it is too much, but rather what is out of the normal range for your Fido. 

When your dog's sleeping habits suddenly change, you should take him to a veterinarian. 

Several serious health problems are associated with sleep disorders, such as heart problems or thyroid issues.

MORE RESEARCH: New Study Proves We're Making Dogs Lazy

Sleeping with Your Dog

Sleeping with your dog

Your dog may be jumping right up in the middle of your bed. This may or may not be okay with you. Some people are fine with sleeping with their dogs, and some are not.  Your dog loves sleeping in your bed; most dogs do.  The reasoning behind it is that dogs are pack animals. Dogs want to sleep with their owners. 

Sometimes, it isn't easy to even get them out of your bed.

Researchers have frowned upon having a dog sleep in your bed for years. 

They said it disrupts your sleep, among other issues. 

Those same researchers are still cautioning against sleeping together; however, new studies show that you both may rest more quickly in the same bed. 

In fact, there may even be benefits to this.

Mayo Clinic study revealed that those who let their dogs sleep with them, no matter the size of the dog, had an easier time sleeping than those who did not. 

The study showed that many pet owners felt they spent much time away from their pets during the day.  

They wanted to spend as much quality time with their animals as possible, and sleeping with them was an easy way to accomplish that goal.

The study concluded that your dog is happy to sleep anywhere and spend time with you. 

The main recommendation is to decide if sleeping together works for the two of you, or even the three of you if you have a partner.

Do not allow your love and loyalty to your pet to blind you to what would happen to your current relationship.

If you and your dog sleep well and comfortably together, then, by all means, it makes sense. 

As the Mayo Clinic study shows, you will get better sleep, and your dog will sleep well regardless.

Laziest Dog Breeds

If you were wondering if your dog was lazy compared to other breeds, some dogs are labeled the laziest of dog breeds.

These dogs will definitely sleep all day and night if you let them. They love to cuddle and snore as much as they can.

This will be a great list if you want a specific breed to sleep in your bed at night. 

When you want lazy, here is a list of the top 15 breeds of dogs that love to sleep:

  • Bulldog
  • Shih Tzu
  • Mastiff
  • Bassett Hound
  • French Bulldog
  • Pekingese
  • Greyhound
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Saint Bernard
  • Chow Chow
  • Great Dane
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Pug
  • Great Pyrenees

Dogs need to sleep to gain all that energy they use to protect and love us unconditionally the way that they do. 

No matter how many hours a day dogs sleep, it is sure to be dreaming of having fun times with you.

How Much Do Dogs Sleep: The Bottom Line

So why do dogs sleep so much? The reason is that, unlike humans, they don't have a regular sleeping pattern. 

They have less deep REM sleep time, which means they get to rest less, thus requiring more sleep time and allowing their brains to recharge.

How many hours a day do dogs sleep? 

Scientists have noted that, on average, a healthy dog may sleep anywhere from 12 to 18 hours daily. 

This is entirely normal. 

Many factors will impact the number of sleep hours, such as the dog's age, breed, size, activity levels, diet, and environment.

You should not worry about your dog sleeping so much unless it's out of his character. 

If your pup is usually sleeping 12 hours a day and is suddenly sleeping 18 hours daily, you may need to consult with a veterinarian.

READ NEXT: The 15 Best Dog Beds for Large Dogs

How Many Hours a Day Do Dogs Sleep

Kristina has graduated with a Master's degree in Psychology over five years ago, and since been researching and writing about animal sciences and dog training. Her main goal is to present the most truthful science-based information to as many pet owners out there as possible.