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How Many Hours a Day Do Dogs Sleep?

Reader's Digest logo Reader's Digest 7/26/2019 Isabelle Tavares
a brown and white dog: shutterstock_564110677 © Tanyastock/Shutterstock shutterstock_564110677

You look admiringly at your fur baby after a long morning walk, and they are conked out on the floor: tongue out, legs twitching, a slight snore escapes their snout. A few hours pass and it's lunchtime. Besides a lap around the house, your puppy is still sleeping. You wake them for another walk, and after, they curl up in bed again, leading you, we're sure, to ask the question, how much do dogs sleep?

How many hours a day do dogs sleep?

So, how many hours a day do dogs sleep, and why so doggone much? On average, dogs sleep anywhere from ten to 12 hours a day, says Dr. Rachel Barrack, DVM. And, there are factors to consider when thinking about just how long they're on the snooze cruise. Just as intriguing of a question: why dogs "run" in their sleep, too.

How does age affect how much dogs sleep?

When puppies aren't zipping around in constant play mode, they're typically sleeping from sheer exhaustion. It can be normal for puppies to sleep up to 20 hours a day, says Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM. Developing bodies need to burn a lot of calories, and they do so during playtime when the energy is used to help them grow, Dr. Ochoa explains. A lot of replenishing needs to happen in order for the puppy to function at optimal levels, she added. Although they are on the opposite end of the age spectrum, older dogs sleep almost as much as puppies. "Older dogs will take long naps followed by periods of slowly moving around the house, then another nap," Dr. Ochoa notes.

How do size and breed affect how much dogs sleep?

The larger the dog, the more energy it requires to move. Thus, larger dogs seem to sleep more than little dogs. "Very large breed dogs such as Mastiffs and St. Bernards tend to sleep a lot more than other breeds. This is likely due to their massive size. Mastiffs and St. Bernards can weigh in excess of 200+ pounds," Dr. Ochoa says.

Smaller dogs may sleep less, but they are also less active—and spend a lot of their time relaxing around the house. "Even for a small dog that is very active, they still do not burn near the calories or need the amount of energy it takes to move a Mastiff around. So they tend to not have to sleep as much," explains Dr. Ochoa.

Does a dog's environment affect how much dogs sleep?

The debate of nature vs. nurture applies to dogs, too. A dog's breed influences their tendencies to be more athletic or sluggish, but it's their environment that reinforces their behavior. "Dogs that have a job, like police dogs and guide dogs, are trained to be at attention. [They] will spend less time sleeping than dogs who lead a more sedentary existence," says Dr. Barrack.

How much do dogs sleep if they're sick?

Besides being covered in fur and having a tail, dogs are more similar to humans then we think—including the immune system. Pay attention to their tail, too, because these are the secrets your dog's tail is trying to tell you.

"If your pet is sick, rest is very crucial to their recovery. Your dog needs to sleep a lot when they are recovering from an illness. During sleep, your dog's immune system can use precious energy to fight off illness or disease rather than divert energy to moving around or playing," says Dr. Ochoa.

What if a dog sleeps too much?

If you find yourself constantly wondering, "how many hours a day do dogs sleep?" then there might be an issue. Too much sleep is a way to recognize that your pet may not be feeling good. A dog should be tuckered out from an active run, but if they sleep too much, that's cause for concern. "Some conditions associated with increased sleep could be changes in normal routines, changes in food or water intake, [having an under-active thyroid gland], depression and health problems like Lyme's disease, diabetes, valley fever, internal parasites, and heartworm disease," says Dr. Randy D. Aronson, VMD. Now, if only your pup could talk... here are more things your dog wishes you knew

Related video: Wedding Cakes For Dogs Exist so Fido Can be Part of Your Big Day (Provided by Buzz60)

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