Why does my Dog Sleep So Much? – 19 Reasons + Tips

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Have you wondered why your furry friend is always lying down and sleeping? You might think he’s tired or just a little lazy.

That’s not entirely accurate, it could be a sign that your dog is having health problems. But don’t worry, because I’ll show you in detail how much sleep a dog should get and the diseases associated with prolonged sleep.

How much sleep should a dog get? 

Depending on each growth stage, the dog will sleep more or less time. Let’s see how much time is necessary for your furry one to rest well and contribute to his health.

According to their age 


According to Southern California journalist and veterinarian Jeff Werber, puppies require plenty of nap time to grow up healthy. We tend to assume that because puppies are so active, they need little sleep.

Puppies need about 18 to 20 hours of sleep a day. Bedtime not only helps the dog rest after a busy day, but it also helps the dog’s immune system, central nervous system, brain, and muscles to develop for healthy growth.

In addition, in some puppies, that sleep helps them “rest during periods of rapid growth,” according to the American Kennel Club, an organization that promotes the health, welfare, and rights of dogs and their owners.

On the other hand, puppies tend to sleep more hours during the day and less at night, so it’s important to get them on a schedule that allows them to sleep at night.


Adult dogs sleep from 8 to 14 hours approximately, being 11 hours the average.

Adults spend between 60% to 80% of their time sleeping at night between 8 pm and 8 am according to the Sleep Foundation, a corporation focused on sleep health in all areas.

Clearly, this is taken as a standard, as each dog may be accustomed to a different schedule with certain habits, depending on the environment he lives in and the training of his owner.


As dogs grow older, the frequency of activities and habits change, as does their sleep. Seniors sleep approximately 16 to 18 hours a day.

However, Dr. Ashley Rossman, a veterinarian at Glen Oak Dog & Cat Hospital in Illinois, tells us that there is a minimum and a maximum of hours. A dog may only sleep 14 to 15 hours or up to 20 hours, similar to a puppy’s normal sleeping time.

Some of this time is taken more to rest than to sleep, and why do they sleep a little more than adult dogs? When a dog reaches the senior stage, their energy levels drop considerably due to the natural wasting of their bodies, so they prefer to lie down in a cozy place and relax until they fall asleep.

Depending on the breed 

There are several factors to distinguish this category when talking about the breed; breeds are divided by their size, the type of activity they perform, and their own breed traits. Now you’ll look at each case to see how the sleep pattern changes based on these specific aspects.

Breeds by size 

Dogs can sleep longer or shorter depending on their size.

Small, miniature or toy breeds sleep approximately 14 to 16 hours a day.

On the other hand, medium breeds spend less time than small breeds, around 10 to 14 hours a day. And finally, large and giant breeds require more hours of sleep; from 14 to 18 hours.

Breeds that are predisposed to an activity 

What does this mean? There are two lines by which a dog can be chosen and needed: the working line, which is divided into working and assistance dogs, and the companion dog line. That purpose influences the dog’s productivity and will change his sleeping habits.

To know which breeds are part of those lines, I invite you to read the complete guide on working and assistance dogs.

Work and assistance dogs tend to sleep less. This is because they stay much more active for longer due to the physical and mental tasks they perform, such as doing a water rescue, protecting property, and pulling a sled, among other activities.

On the other hand, companion dogs sleep longer since their owners don’t usually spend the whole day with them doing physical or mental activities. So, the dog often chooses to sleep to spend that time.

The exact number of hours is unknown in both cases, but it is determined by the physical effort involved in each activity and the environmental conditions.

Breeds by activity level 

Some dogs have certain attitudes and ways of behaving just because of the breed they belong to. The size of the breed does not play a big role in this case, but the energy level of the breed does. Thus, there are very hyperactive dogs and others that simply enjoy relaxing just by sleeping.

Breeds that love to sleep

  • Shih Tzu
  • Pekingese
  • Bullmastiff
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Saint Bernard
  • Bulldog
  • Basset Hound
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Pug
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Great Dane
  • French Bulldog
  • English Greyhound
  • Chow Chow
  • The great Pyrenees

Breeds that like being active much more than sleeping

  • Lagotto Romagnolo
  • Pomeranian
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Airedale Terrier
  • Australian Terrier
  • Golden Retriever

What is sleeping like for dogs? 

A study called “Baseline sleep-wake patterns in the pointer dog” by Edgar Lucas, Ervin Powell, and Oddist Murphree shows the sleep patterns recorded in 6 dogs.

Two phases were identified in each state of sleep and wakefulness in dogs by using 24-hour electrographic patterns such as EEG (electroencephalogram), EOG (electrooculogram), and EMG (electromyography).

In the sleep state, there are slow waves and rapid eye movements while in the waking state there is a sense of alertness and a drowsiness phase. It’s only in the sleep state that the dog actually sleeps well.

Sleep pattern in dogs 

The sleep of dogs starts with the waking state by being alert and then to drowsiness.

After this, they move into the sleep state where they take about 10 minutes to reach the slow wave. Here their breathing slows down, blood pressure drops and their heart rate decreases.

The dog then enters the rapid eye movement phase called REM (rapid eye movements) phase, where apart from having this appearance, its body starts to make movements that indicate that the dog is reacting to a dream. The REM phase lasts 6 minutes on average.

They then return to the slow wave phase, followed by wakefulness with drowsiness and finally alertness. During a sleep-wake cycle, the dog can present the REM state on average twice.

Dogs have an irregular sleep pattern, which causes them to have polyphasic sleep. This means that they sleep intermittently during the day, unlike us humans who usually sleep 8 hours at a time, which is known as monophasic sleep.

Having such an irregular pattern, the most important REM episodes are short-lived or interrupted, requiring the canine to sleep several times a day to make up for what he missed in the REM phase.

In addition to its short duration, another reason why the dog cannot maintain such a prolonged sleep state is that its instinct causes it to wake up quickly and be alert to different stimuli.

Distribution of the sleep pattern in dogs 

The dog’s 100% sleep cycle is divided as follows:

Waking state = 65%.

  • Alertness phase = 44%.
  • Drowsy phase = 21%.

Sleepy state = 35%.

  • Slow-wave phase = 23% REM phase = 12%.
  • REM phase = 12

19 Reasons why a dog sleeps too long 

There are different reasons why a dog is oversleeping, which fall into three major factors: lifestyle, physical and emotional changes, illnesses and external factors.


Everything that shapes their lifestyle such as their breed, age, diet and activity level directly influences their sleep habits.


As I mentioned at the beginning, there are several breed factors that affect sleep needs. Depending on their size, how fast they age and the daily activities they perform, they may sleep longer.

In this case the so-called “lazy dogs” such as St. Bernards, Chow chow, Bullmastiffs, Newfoundlands, and Greyhounds, among others, sleep up to 18 hours due to their size.


Clearly, depending on the stage of life in which the dog is, sleep will take the time necessary. For example, puppies need it to develop and strengthen their body systems. Whereas, seniors will do it mainly to replenish the energy they spent during the day.

Check above for sleep time standards by age of dog to make sure all is well with your pet.


Diet is very important for a healthy life. Without a balanced diet, the dog doesn’t get the necessary nutrients that help his body have the energy it needs for daily activities.

Not having a sufficient source of energy, he will draw from his reserves and once these are depleted, he will find it too exhausting to stay awake doing anything. Without the necessary energy for his body, the dog opts to rest and fall asleep, which doesn’t cause him to expend any energy.

Activity level 

While some dogs are predisposed by their breed and upbringing to perform certain activities during the day, this alone does not determine a dog’s productivity. Regardless of the activity they perform, such as work, training, play, or walking, the dog will remain active.

On the contrary, if the dog goes out a few times a day, plays little, and its main activity is to keep company, its body will find sleep the best way to pass the time while it returns to these activities.

Physical and emotional changes 

Physical and emotional changes directly affect both the behavior (how the dog is particularly) and the demeanor (develops according to the environment) of the dog. Such changes can be due to the development of stress, anxiety, boredom, and depression.


There are several factors that cause stress in dogs such as separation from their owner, confusion and memory loss associated with aging, fear of the environment such as feeling loud noises, being surrounded by a large group of people, arriving in a new environment, etc.

These types of situations will cause stress to the dog starting with the first signs such as lethargy, which causes the canine to sleep more than usual. Other symptoms of stress include destructive behavior such as biting and destroying objects in the house and acting suddenly aggressive, among others.


As well as stress and anxiety can also arise in the dog through prolonged dreams. Given that, at night he may have anxiety attacks, replace the schedule so that he can sleep all day.

The signs of anxiety are similar to stress, only in this case it will present symptoms such as excessive barking, panting and aggressive behavior can be more dangerous.


Boredom is one of the most common causes of dogs sleeping too much.

Boredom occurs because there is little or no interaction with the owner, the dog is left alone for a long time and there is nothing to distract him. Without an activity to stimulate him mentally and physically, the easiest option is to sleep to pass the time.


Dogs can develop depression because of some sudden changes in their environment, such as living in another place, loss of an important person or loss of another pet. However, it can also occur because of a chemical imbalance in the brain that affects the emotional state of the dog.

Clearly among the signs of depression are low activity and lethargy, leading to sleeping longer than normal. Other symptoms include loss of appetite and even weight loss.

Diseases and medical conditions 

There are several conditions and diseases that affect the dog’s sleep pattern, by their onset and development.


Hypothyroidism is caused because the thyroid gland has a deficient production of thyroxine in the body, specifically T3 and T4. With insufficient thyroxine, the body’s metabolic function will decrease. This causes the body’s functions to slow down, resulting in weight gain, hair loss, slow heart rate, and altered sleep patterns.


Diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t utilize insulin properly or when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin. As a result, it leads to high blood sugar levels, which is very dangerous.

Since the body has no insulin to process the glucose, it begins to eliminate it, causing a significant loss of glucose which is an important source of energy for the body.

As the dog has insufficient energy, it shows signs of lethargy, feeling tired, and showing little activity, even generating problems with prolonged sleep. It also shows signs of polyuria (urinating a lot and frequently), polydipsia (drinking a lot of water), and polyphagia (eating more than normal, but not gaining weight).


Anemia is a condition in which the red blood cells decrease significantly in number, causing the body to not have enough oxygen to keep itself upright. The most common cause of anemia in dogs is a variety of parasites that are located in areas such as the intestine and colon.

  • Intestinal worms
  • Hookworms
  • Whipworms
  • Tapeworms

The main purpose of these parasites inside the body is to suck blood. Given their large numbers reproducing inside the body, the dog can lose too many red blood cells.

Since there is a significant lack of oxygen, it can cause a prolonged state of sleep.


Veterinary neurologist Ricardo Bugarin, part of the Mexican pharmaceutical company MederiLab, says, “Narcolepsy is a rare condition characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness with sudden onset sleep attacks at inappropriate times to do so.”

It’s caused “by an alteration in the brain hypocretin (orexin), an excitatory neurotransmitter that appears to stimulate wakefulness.” Given this, as I mentioned, wakefulness is part of the sleep pattern and one of its phases is drowsiness.

As wakefulness is disturbed by the neurotransmitter, the dog remains drowsy all day and at the time of sleep, they are difficult to wake up.

Cognitive dysfunction 

Also called canine senile dementia, “it’s a degenerative disease that affects mostly older dogs, characterized by a progressive increase in a behavior typical of a senile dog”, according to Leticia Gonzales, a specialist in physiotherapy and rehabilitation and surgeon at the RIOSECO veterinary clinic in Valladolid, Spain.

One of the clearest signs of cognitive dysfunction is a change in the sleep schedule. When the sleep cycle changes, the dog may be awake during the night and then sleep all day.


There are two types of infections that affect the dog’s sleep pattern, bacterial infection and viral infection.

Bacterial Infection


This infection is caused by the bacterium called Leptospira and can seriously affect organs such as the kidneys and liver. In a very advanced case of leptospirosis, the dog shows signs of lethargy associated with sleep cycle problems.

Other symptoms the dog may show are fever, vomiting, loss of appetite, and increased frequency of urination and drinking water.

Viral Infection


Parvovirus is a very dangerous and contagious infection that affects the dog’s gastrointestinal system. When the canine becomes infected, it begins to show fever, loss of appetite, and lethargic behaviors.

Sleep is further affected by dehydration and imbalance of electrolytes, which are vital for absorbing water and nutrients through the intestine.

Infectious tracheobronchitis 

The main symptom of infectious tracheobronchitis is chronic coughing that the canine exhibits for a month or more. When they accumulate excessive mucus that causes airway obstruction, the animal begins to show signs of lethargy and, therefore, sleeps a lot.

External factors 

There are external factors difficult to control, such as daylight, ambient temperature, and substances that dogs may consume without us realizing it.

Hot weather 

Dogs behave differently when the temperature in the environment is high. In some cases, dogs become much less active and also eat less.

Heat exhausts them, so they prefer to relax by lying down on a cold tile. Once there, they may become a prolonged sleeper.

Seasonal affective disorder 

Also called the winter blues, it’s an alteration in a dog’s mood and behavior as winter arrives. The PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) reported: “that dogs had slept longer and their overall activity levels were lower than during the sunny months.”

In addition, “researchers believe that the cause of these changes lies in the effect that light has on melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep cycles. Melatonin has a number of effects and the main ones include making a person relaxed, drowsy, and lethargic. The pineal gland produces and secretes melatonin in the dark and stops when light reaches the retina.”

Winter is characterized by little or little sunlight and when it is mid-day time light levels are low, this is why this disorder occurs.


Dog’s body systems can be affected by poisoning from food or a toxic substance, showing signs of lethargy and long sleeping periods. Foods and beverages such as avocado, spices, and alcohol are highly poisonous to dogs, so it is best to avoid them at all costs.

To know in detail which foods are toxic for your furry one, I invite you to read the blog 35 foods you should never give to your dog.

Can oversleeping interfere with your dog’s health? 

As I already mentioned, the sleep pattern of dogs is irregular, so at every moment of the day, mainly in the morning, they can sleep between 1 and 3 hours with intermittent moments.

However, if suddenly the dog no longer uses that standard time, but now takes between 5 and 6 hours not only in the morning, but also in the afternoon where they are usually more active, there is clearly a problem with their sleep pattern.

So yes, oversleeping will cause problems in their health because it produces different changes in their daily routine.

Effects of oversleeping 

Kayla Fratt, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) and a certified expert in canine behavior, tells us through the website thesprucePets (dedicated to offering expert advice and care for animals) what are the signs of too much sleep being harmful to the dog. These signs can manifest as changes in their behavior and habits.

Behavioral changes 

  • Showing disinterest

When the dog sleeps a lot, he becomes disinterested in activities that he once preferred and attracted his attention. This will cause his body to no longer have both physical and mental stimulation.

  • Lack of willingness

By taking up more time to sleep, the dog will be given the opportunity to have more REM phases. Given this, the dog will no longer waste sleep time and will no longer have the will to do basic activities such as walking, jumping, or running.

  • Behavioral change

Too much sleep will cause an increased level of aggression or fear. That is, by spending more time asleep, he will not be able to do necessary activities such as socialization with both humans and other dogs.

Without such interaction, he will either act aggressively to be left alone so he can continue sleeping or he will react with fear because he doesn’t want to be frightened or he will forget that connection with others.

  • Unusual Behaviours

In the moments when the dog is awake, he will start to act differently. He will look at the corners or walls in a way that he is not aware of because he stays still just to do that.

  • Changes in the way he wakes up

A dog is usually already prepared to wake up in the awake state. But when he sleeps a lot, these sleep patterns no longer work in the same way causing the dog to wake up suddenly in a state of stress or fear.

Habit changes 

  • Interfering with the feeding schedule

Since he spends most of his time sleeping, he disorganizes his eating and drinking schedule which will cause problems due to eating poorly and at times he shouldn’t.

  • Difficult to wake up

Since you don’t know at what point he suddenly wakes up, when you go to wake him up by calling his name or gently touching his body, the dog will not respond to this. His wakefulness is lost and therefore it is more difficult for him to wake up.

  • Interferes with exercise schedule

As the dog loses the will to do physical activities and they are a vital part of his routine to release energy and de-stress, he will become a sedentary dog. He will spend more time lying down without moving his body, thus he will develop joint stiffness and when he stands up he will act as if he were lame.

  • Change in feeding, urination, and defecation.

Two things can happen, the dog may increase the amount of food, urinating and defecating more often, or decrease its frequency.  This happens basically because when he wakes up he is very hungry, therefore he will eat more to be satisfied and with this, the frequency of urinating and defecating will increase.

Otherwise, it may happen that he does not even want to eat, and thus he won’t have anything to excrete, so the frequency of his bowel movements will be sporadic.

  • Development of diseases

As I just mentioned, the frequency of these basic habits may decrease or increase. Not only will he abruptly change the schedules established in his routine, he may also cause weight problems and issues with his urinary system.

In either case, he may develop overweight or anorexia, and holding his urine or stool too long may also create a condition in his kidneys and digestive system.


Your dog must sleep as much as he needs, but also pay attention if his sleep cycle starts to change. It will be time to take him to the vet to make sure it is not something abnormal or maybe it is the beginning of a possible disease.