Most people would love to sleep all day. While it’s seldom possible to do so and maintain a healthy lifestyle, it’s normal for dogs. That’s right – 14 to 16 hours a day is the average time adult dogs spend sleeping. Sleep patterns vary between dogs, depending on several factors.
Just like people, the young ‘uns and the seniors need more sleep than the rest of the population. Up to the age of 12 weeks, puppies average between 18 and 20 hours of sleep each day. Senior dogs commonly need more sleep once they reach the age of 7 to 10 years, particularly when their tummies are full after a meal. They’re also generally ready for a snooze after their daily walk. For all other adult dogs, the sleep they need relates to how busy their owners keep them.
Different dog breeds seem to need specific quantities of sleep, according to Vet Info. Small or “pocket” breeds such as Chihuahuas and Yorkshire terriers tend to slumber more but will adapt to their environment if they are healthy. The giant dog breeds, such as Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards and various mastiff breeds, all enjoy more sleep, causing them to be known as “mat dogs” in days gone by because they looked just like big hairy mats in front of the fireplaces. These dogs can sleep for up to 18 hours a day.
You may be grumpy if you don’t get enough sleep, so don’t be surprised if your dog is, too. Healthy adult dogs need enough sleep, which is typically 14 to 16 hours. If a dog of 3 to 7 years old sleeps noticeably more, it could indicate an undetected health issue. Dogs with underlying medical conditions such as arthritis or heart murmur tire more quickly, as do dogs that are obese and carrying a lot of excess weight. And if your dog is an insecure bundle of nerves, she might experience restless sleep. You can solve this by giving her a safe, comfortable bed in a secluded spot with an ideal temperature.
Boredom can make the best of us sleepy, and your dog is no different. The environment in which she spends her days affects both the quality and quantity of her sleep. A bored dog will sleep for longer periods but is likely to be restless. A working dog, however, such as a cattle dog or sheepdog, adjusts to her environment and learns to manage with much less sleep. Hyperactive working dogs such as border collies and Siberian huskies sleep in short bursts that resemble power naps, because they are bred to be alert and work tirelessly for long periods between rests.
Dogs have similar sleep patterns to humans, starting with a deep slumber and gradually moving into three stages of rapid eye movement sleep. During the first stage, while the dog falls asleep she may still move her legs, leading you to think she is dreaming about chasing bunnies. The second stage is restful and calm, and lasts for around 45 percent of her total sleeping time. In the third stage, she sleeps deeply for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, before moving back into the rapid eye movement phase, which is actually when dreaming happens. Puppies spend longer in this phase, while adult dogs spend 10 to 15 percent of their total sleep time there.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Tracey Sandilands has written professionally since 1990, covering business, home ownership and pets. She holds a professional business management qualification, a bachelor's degree in communications and a diploma in public relations and journalism. Sandilands is the former editor of an international property news portal and an experienced dog breeder and trainer.