Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much?

If your dog is like most, one of his favorite places to be is at the end of your bed. Or on your pillow. Or under the covers.

You know how these things go – dogs have a way of worming their way into the warmest, softest spot in the house regardless of what sleeping arrangements we humans have in mind.

Dogs love to sleep, and in many cases seem to visibly drag when they miss one of their daily naps. It’s amazing – and to some dog owners, a bit alarming – how a dog can doze for hours in the afternoon and evening and still look forward to that moment when you put your PJs on and turn off the light.

Chinese Sharpei dog sleeping on bright green grass surrounded by flowers
Dogs love to sleep, period.

But, weird as it might seem to us, there are perfectly good reasons why your dog sleeps as much as he does. Here are five of them.

1. Your dog isn’t really sleeping as much as you think

Dogs generally don’t sleep as deeply as humans, or for as long. It’s likely your dog wakes up many times during the night, possibly even jumping down from your bed for a late night drink of water without you ever knowing.

Remember, while 3 a.m. on a Tuesday might seem like a boring time to be awake, your dog probably doesn’t agree. Dogs can see much better in the dark than we can, and have a nigh-uncanny ability to hear and smell, too. Their heightened senses rouse them from sleep often, and allow them to perceive things we can’t.

2. You have a larger dog

The average dog sleeps about 14 hours per day, but there’s a lot of variation between the breeds.

For example, larger dogs like Mastiffs and Great Danes tend to sleep more like 16-18 hours (which is why both made our list of laziest dog breeds). Because of this, these big breeds actually do pretty well as apartment dogs.

3. Your dog is bored

Dogs that have a job to do – whether it’s a bomb-sniffing dog or a little yapper who takes her watch dog duties seriously – stay busier and therefore sleep less than pure companion dogs. If you leave your dog home alone all day while you’re at work, he may sleep simply because there’s nothing else to do.

If this is the case, you can improve your dog’s quality of life by getting him a companion or investing in some high-tech dog entertainment. A couple of newer options include DogTV (a cable television for dogs) and Petzilla (internet-enabled treat dispenser).

4. Your dog is really young or really old

As with human babies, puppies need to sleep more for their bodies to develop properly. Also like humans, dogs tend to doze more often when they get older.

5. Your dog has a health problem

Finally, if none of the other things seem to apply, it’s possible there’s a medical explanation for your dog’s excessive sleeping.

One worrisome sign is if your dog not only sleeps a lot, but seems sluggish when awake. That could mean that your dog is suffering from hyperthyroidism, diabetes, or even depression.

That said, you should never accept veterinary advice from a website (no matter how awesome), so please talk with your vet if you have any concerns.