How Long Do Dogs Sleep – Find Out In This Guide To Canine Sleeping Habits

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how long do dogs sleep

Just how many hours dogs sleep for each day? And why do dogs sleep so much?  In “how long do dogs sleep” we look at the curious sleeping habits of our dogs and puppies

We humans tend to sleep in long stretches, usually at night. This is known as monophasic sleep and it is a sleeping arrangement that we share in common with other apes and some monkeys.

Dogs follow a sleep pattern known as polyphasic. This means that they have multiple periods of sleep scattered throughout the day and night. A feature that they share in common with many other mammals.

The reasons for these differences may be partly due to our different lifestyles.

Our human ancestors were hunter gatherers and were heavily dependent on their excellent visual acuity. Therefore it made sense to hunt in daylight.

And of course, if you need to be awake during the day,  sleeping at night is a pretty good plan.

Your dog’s sleep patterns

Dogs on the other hand though less dependent on their eyes, have better night vision than we do. So their ancestors could hunt both by day and by night, if necessary.

In fact hunting at night may have given them some advantages.

It is easier to creep up on your victim under the cover of darkness.

Sleeping all night had no advantage to your dog, and dogs have not evolved a natural tendency to sleep for a single long stretch of time like we do.

Instead, they have acquired the useful ability to get as much sleep as possible.

Often in short stretches, whenever there is nothing much going on.

How dogs adapt to different patterns of sleep

Dogs are very adaptable creatures. Although your dog’s ancestors may have hunted at night, modern dogs have learned to live by our clocks.

And living with humans means that most dogs do learn to sleep the night away without disturbing their human family. Though they may wake and move around briefly during this period of time.

How long to dogs sleep? Find out in this guide to canine sleeping habitsDogs have still retained their ability to sleep whenever life gets dull. And studies of guard dogs have shown that dogs are not disadvantaged by being woken up frequently or working in changing shifts. They simply sleep when they get the chance.

But how many hours sleep does a dog need overall, during the course of each 24 hour period?

How many hours a day do dogs sleep for?

Dogs naturally sleep for far longer periods of time each day, than people do.

Many adult Labradors will sleep for well over half of every 24 hours,  and puppies under four months old may sleep as much as 20 hours a day.

The reason for this sleeping may be to do with a special type of sleep called REM sleep, during which dreaming takes place.

Do dogs dream?

Dogs certainly appear to dream in the same way that we do. And their brains behave in a similar way to ours.

A study published in 2008 showed that REM or dreaming sleep decreases as dogs get older.

So it looks as though puppies dream more than adult dogs.

Sometimes when fast asleep,  your dog will make twitching and running movements with his paws, and some dogs will give little yips and barks.

This is a normal part of deep REM or ‘dreaming’ sleep.

Studies have also shown that if the part of the brain that de-activates movement during sleep in humans, is removed from a dog, the sleeping dog will actually carry out the behaviors that he is dreaming about.

So while we can’t say for certain that dogs dream just like we do, it seems quite likely.

Let sleeping dogs lie!

We know that in humans, REM sleep is important.

Being deprived of REM sleep can cause unpleasant effects, and there is no reason to think that dogs are any different.

So it is important to make sure your dog is permitted to sleep deeply when he wants to and not repeatedly interrupted whenever he starts dreaming.

Should I worry about changes in sleeping?

If you are worried that your dog may be ill because he is sleeping so much,  ask yourself what has changed.sleep

Is he sleeping a lot more than he was last week?  Or is has he always slept this much?

Is he bright and bouncy when he is awake?  With a good appetite?   Or does he seem lethargic?

Excessive sleeping in a dog that is eating well, and full of energy when he is awake, is unlikely to have any significance at all.  It’s just what dogs do.

And some elderly dogs will tend to sleep more than  they did when they were young.

But if your dog’s sleeping patterns have changed recently, and especially if he seems lacking in energy or his appetite is poor,  do pop in to your vet and get him checked over.

Making a special sleeping space

Your Labrador, like all dogs, is able to awaken quickly from sleep and be ready for action,  whenever an opportunity presents itself.

However,  constantly interrupting his sleep is not a good idea.

Whilst many confident dogs will sleep pretty much anywhere,  it is important that every dog has his own sleeping space. A place where he can go and relax when he wants to.

Even if your dog shares your bed at night, he should still have a bed somewhere in the house, that he can call his own.

It needs to be free of draughts and comfortable, and preferably lined with a cosy mat or blanket.

Elderly Labradors may need thicker padding to support their joints and you can buy orthopaedic beds for extra comfort.

It is here, in his special space, that your dog can relax fully and sleep deeply.

How Long Do Dogs Sleep – A Summary

Dogs naturally sleep for long periods of time, and sleeping a lot is nothing to worry about in a dog that is active, enjoying his food and living life to the full.

Just like people,  dogs need deep REM sleep, and constantly interrupted sleep can be harmful.

So keep your dog’s sleeping space free from disturbance

Placing your dog’s bed inside a crate is good idea in families where there is a lot going on.

This helps to prevent toddlers climbing on the dog when he is trying to sleep, and makes sure older children don’t trip over him.

You can check out crate  information here:  The benefits of a dog crate

How about your Labrador?

How many hours a day do you think your dog sleeps?  And where is his favourite sleeping spot!

Let us know in the comments box below

More information

The Labrador Handbook is packed with facts and information about Labradors.

Pippa’s book will guide you on every aspect of Labrador health, care and training.

From puppy to old age.

The Labrador HandbookThe Labrador Handbook is available worldwide.

 

Further reading and references

Y Takahashi et al. “A Model of Human Sleep-Related Growth Hormone Secretion in Dogs: Effects of 3, 6, and 12 Hours of Forced Wakefulness on Plasma Growth Hormone, Cortisol, and Sleep Stages” Journal of Endocrinology 1981

E.A.Lucas et al. “Sleep cycle organization in narcoleptic and normal dogs” Journal of Physiology and Behavior 1979. LINK 

Scott S. Campbell, Irene Tobler “Animal sleep: A review of sleep duration across phylogeny”
Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 1984

G.J.Adams, K.G.Johnson “Sleep, work, and the effects of shift work in drug detector dogs Canis familiaris” Applied Animal Behavior Science 1984

M. W. Fox,G. Stanton”A Developmental Study of Sleep and Wakefulness in the Dog”
Journal of Small Animal Practice 1967

 

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Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of several books on dogs. She is the founder of the Labrador Site and a regular contributor. She is passionate about helping people enjoy their Labradors and lives in Hampshire with her husband and four dogs.

47 COMMENTS

  1. My 1 year old lab likes to sleep in the end of the sofa with a little pillow under her head, if the pillow is not there… then she sits in the sofa and stares me down until I go put the little pillow there. If I happen to fall asleep on the sofa I usually have her sleeping next to my legs and she uses my butt as a pillow instead.
    She sleeps a lot on and off during the day (my toddler and her play fetch a lot so they both tire each other out, along with that they have tea parties etc).
    The funniest I hear is when my toddler do obidience training, i can be doing dishes and I can hear my toddler say: sit! Good. Lay down! Good. Etc, so that my 1 year old lab loves to hug the pillow a lot I always had a understanding for (I got a crate for her to hide in from my toddler).

  2. Thanks so much for this information, I thought my lab was getting lazy because she was sleeping a lot but now i know this is not the case. She has two nice dog beds and a choice of a double bed if she wants to look out a window, I notice REM sleep in all beds. During the night she prefers the dog bed in the room my husband and I sleep in.

  3. Hi, I have a 10 yr old rescue black Lab mix. He sleeps right by me at night on the floor, and btw he loves small places. he puts his head under the bed, and has always been like that since we go him. he will move around during the nite in the bedroom, but is always close. in the morning, after going outside, he comes in and eats his breakfast, and knowingly goes into my bedroom and lays down because he knows I will be leaving soon for work. He knows I come home for lunch and he is waiting by the door. I ask if he wants to go out, which 90% of the time he doesn’t, he just lays down and watches me. When I come home after work, he is waiting because he knows its time to go out and play a little ball. when I tell him its time to cook dinner, he puts the ball down and in we go. I believe he made his schedule according to mine.

  4. My chocolate boy sleeps through the night right on my bed with me. The thing I feel awful about is while at work 8+ hours he likes to have either my bed, or my daughters, but he has ripped sheets, blankets, and mattress covers so many times he’s been banished from the bedrooms when we are not home. He has an L.L.Bean bed, but prefers “his” love seat with one side reclined, and that’s where he begrudgingly spends my work hours. I always leave the t.v. on for him and if it’s hot a fan – but I still feel absolutely awful when he asks to go in on the bed and I have to tell him no. Wish I knew how to break him of ripping at the bedding – we assume he’s trying to bunch the covers into a “nest-like” spot, but we can’t have him tearing the bedding up, and he’s proven time and time again that he can’t be trusted! 🙁

  5. My Maggie is a three and a half yr old yellow lab. She loves playing football and we usually take her to the playground in the evenings when it’s not raining. She has become our clock and sharp at 7 am and 5 pm she is ready with her leash in her mouth. Even though she has her own space to sleep, she rarely sleeps there except when she has received a scolding. Usually she sleep close to wherever I am. If I am at my desk or dining table, she will be under it. If I am in the bedroom she sleeps either at the foot of the bed or under it. She sleeps when she has nothing better to do but keeps following me every where throughout the day.

  6. It’s great to read all these comments on here. I have a rescue lab cross beagle around 10-11 months old. I think her sleeping patterns are normal, though I work for myself so every day is different for us. She sleeps on my bed and has started to sleep in more in the mornings with me, wakes up around 8 for wee wee then comes back to snooze until I’m up. In the daytime, we’ll either walk then she’ll rest or go in and out whilst I work, or I take her to doggie daycare to play whilst I’m busy. In the evening, she eats (a lot) and then snoozes or goes out to bark at the cows in the field for a bit.

    I have been worrying lately as she had food poisoning twice a few weeks ago (something she picked up in the woods, where I haven’t taken her since) so just tonight I was worried as she is so sleepy. She has been on my bed since around 7:30pm and it’s now 11pm. However, she’s responsive when I call her name so I’ve stopped interrupting her and worrying that I’ve either fed her too much or she’s somehow poisoned herself again by snorting something up on the walk (she’s such a scavenger!)

    Anyway, reading all of your posts is great as I’ve realised that today she was probably active for around 10 hours with the doggie daycare, then a walk, then barking excitedly in the garden. No wonder she is tired! I’m going to let her snooze and try not to worry!

  7. My Maggie girl is about 6 or 7 years old. Im not sure because she is a rescue form a kill shelter. I can’t believe someone was ready to let her leave. Anyway she is part of my family nowandIm not sure howled she really is, but when i got her the shelter said she ws 10 months old and a different vet said she was 1&1/2 yrs old in 2010. when i want to take her with or out to play or on a ride…she is ready an running! We play fetch everyday, but other than outings and playing she pretty much sleeps on her planet onthecouch or her fluffy bed! Im guessing thats normal.
    Feel free to share your input. !!
    thanks T

  8. My 5 month Labrador sleeps almost the entire day (about 1.5 hours of excercise per a day) but when she is wide awake she still doesn’t seem very playful. Should I be worried?

  9. Hemi, chocolate adorable, has a den in the space under the stairs which we still choose at this time (she is 7 months old) to secure shut with a mesh door so it acts as a crate. We have recently extended it into the under stairs cupboard so she has ample room as she grows to stand, curl up, stretch out ..and everything in between. Although she dozes on the sofa, I know the den provides her with quality downtime and deep sleep. I am not sure she would have had so much of this otherwise as she is pretty keen to be part of everything most of the time 😉

  10. Our three Labs seem to sleep a lot but I think they just enjoy sleeping! Our 8 year old choccy boy take every opportunity to fall asleep, usually on the sofa or a pile of dogs beds (the comfier the better!). Our 5 1/2 year old yellow girl loves following you about, but if you stop in one place for more than a few mins, she’s asleep on your feet 🙂 Our 3 1/2 year old black girl is the most active, loving to poke the other two and try to get them to play with her. She often sleeps with her head on the back of the sofa, so that when she wakes, she can look out of the window 🙂 And at night, all three of them curl up on the bed with us! They get more room than we do 🙂

  11. My lab is 1&1/2 years old, and until last week was quite active and bouncy. He used to sleep during the day a lot, which was fine, since he would always, wake up at around 5 in the evening. We would play fetch with his favorite ball, but now he just sleeps all the time, except for when I call him. We used to play fetch for about 15 mins everyday, but now, all of a sudden, after the first two throws, he just picks up the ball , and goes to his favorite spot and sleeps…
    Also, now he doesn’t finish his food( he never used to leave a crumb in his bowl!)
    Is he ill? Or is this normal?

  12. my almost 8 yr old lab has not moved off my bed in about 36 yrs. not to eat , drink or go outside. What shall I do?

  13. hi
    I bought luffy yesterday 24april 2015.m new regarding pets.can u suggest me the things to be done initially to protect luffy frm diseases.

  14. Hey my Dog Snoopy is about 48 todaysdaysand i have given him vaccine canigen L amd canigen DHPPi.and he is having some cough, but most important thing is that is sleeping more than 20 hours is there is any problem with more sleep?

  15. My family adopted a 3 yr old chocolate lab. He wont do anything unless its eat or go outside. He is used to being an outside dog and we have brought him in our home. Is he pouting? Upset, or may need time to adjust?

  16. Why does my black lab, onyx, like to sleep under our bed? Whenever he is in our bedroom goes under the bed. There is nothing under there….

    • Debra it is his homing/feeling safe instinct. Our dog sleeps in his travel box with a lambs wool carpet and rugs over the top, so it is like a little dark cave, of all the places he likes to sleep in our house, that is the one he retreats to most, when tired, when it is too noisy because of guests or just to chill. We are not strict on sleeping places, he’ll roam has a few favorite spots, but always end up back there. When he was a puppy he liked to snuggle under the living room coffee table as it was enclosed, until he got too big for it.

  17. My Leroy sleeps at least 14 hours daily. He’s 7 1/2 years old. I just bought him an awesome bed that ‘s 8 inches thick & made of memory foam & shearling!!!!! He loves it!!!!:)

  18. Sam, now three and a half years old , has two speeds , comatose and flat out with enthusiasm ! I used to worry about the amount of time he spent asleep, even had him examined by our Vet who declared him to be in fine fettle ! Whilst out walking or training, he is always on the run , would go all day for sure , we often walk for several miles so Sam must do at least twice as much as me . I now believe that whilst resting, he is secretly building his energy and stamina up for round two ! What amuses me is that he can be fast asleep and snoring, until he hears me get his lead ,instantly awake and ready x

  19. annie is 24 months and relaxes for at least ten hours a day! She has a run with her friends each day from 7-30 till 9-00 breakfast then sits on me until 10-30. While I do housework she is found on the couch in the bay window watching the world. 12-00 playing ball in the park for 30 mins, back to sit on mummy! Small little naps, playtime with her blankets interspersed with more naps, if dad is hone she demands more walks! Until 6-00 when its tea time, more naps until 8-00 when she sneaks upstairs to warm my bed up, 11-00 she’s called to go to bed which she responds immediately going to her place under the stairs. She snores, dreams, snorts, appears to suck whilst dreaming, and looks generally adorable

  20. Hi, i have a 1.5 year old male choc Labrador Opie. He loves his sleep i reckon he could sleep on a bed of nails. If he’s not in his bed (or mine) on hot days he will first dunk his head fully into his water and gets on the outside table to catch any breeze about. Oh and he has his own pillow that he carts with him and uses it like we do, i often remind him that he’s not human like he thinks he is. 🙂

  21. I have just adopted a lovely 3 year old castrated male called Bailey. He’s well trained but out on a walk he seems to have no get up and go. He lazily walks behind me if we walked slower we would literally stop. Also he’s taking or leaving his food. Is this normal or could it be he’s a bit homesick if that’s possible

  22. I just got a lab puppy 7.5 weeks old, and was told to not let the puppy sleep on the floor ever. I was also told to not turn on the ceiling fan in the monsoon and winter. I tried putting her in her crate but she keeps shouting and i even tried covering the entire floor of my room with blankets but she just pushes them aside and sleeps on the marble floor. So, my question is…. can i allow her to sleep on the floor? And can i switch on the fan?, i live in navi mumbai and its above 25 degrees celsius here even at night time. Please advise.

    • Labs feel the heat – they prefer cooler weather. We also live in a hot climate but usually only about 20 deg at night and I always sleep with the ceiling fan on and even then they get too hot. I would say you should definitely have the fan on!

  23. HELLO
    I have a yellow lab named Jimmy. He is 6 months old.. Sleeping pattern of my dog is quite abnormal.
    He sleeps whole day and wakes up for peeing and goes back to sleep again.
    And at evening he goes for a 25-30 min walk and comes home and sleeps..
    At night after taking his dinner he becomes active for about 1 hour and goes back to sleep again..
    And he sleeps all night from 9-5 am..
    how do i prevent this problem??
    i am frustrated seeing my dog sleeping for a long period of time…
    does this habit of my dog affects his health?
    does this affect his growth rate??
    HELP ME GUYS..!!
    PLEASE

  24. The other thing to ask yourself is: How much exercise if my Lab getting? These are energetic dogs and require much exercise. Mine NEEDS at least 2 miles of running twice a day, plus frequent sessions of tennis ball retrieval. Luckily, I have a treadmill, so I can exercise him (I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia – my Lab is my Mobility Service Dog). On nice days, I can take him for runs while I ride my mobility scooter.

    He takes several naps, and sleeps deeply at night.

    Cheerio!

  25. When we got Dexter in March at 7 weeks old, he was very, very active at all hours, and his sleep pattern totally unpredictable, but what’s amazed me is how he’s settled into our routine within the last 6 months. None of us (except my husband) are really morning people, so he likes to take it easy in the mornings, happy to jump on anyone’s bed and get an extra few “Zs”. However, late in the evening – that’s when the “puppy crazies” hit, and he’s super-active from about 8 – 10 pm before settling down for his nighttime sleep.

  26. Our lifestyle means that we’re often out and about and we like to take our lab with us much as possible. This means she often doesn’t really get chance for much good sleep during the day. We do worry that she perhaps needs to nap more regularly and is missing out a bit but we’re loathe to leave her at home when she seems to love being with us. In fact we can always tell if she is a bit overtired as she does turn into a difficult and beligerant child again. We had a full day out yesterday at corfe castle and walked quite a few miles and she probably did not sleep for more than 10 mins all day until we got home, and today she does seem to be catching up – having some good dreams too it seems! Hopefully we’re not depriving of sleep too much as she always gets her 8 – 10 hours each night.

  27. I have a 34 days old Lab Puppy. He is sleeping pretty much the whole day. Wakes up at times to pee plays for 10 minutes at the most and goes back to sleep.
    After each meal he will pass stool and play for another 10 minutes, and sleep off again.

    Is this normal ?

  28. My chocalate lab is 3 1/2 years old. I am home most of the time right now. He is everywhere I am and he sleeps on the floor most of the time during the day when i’m inside. During the night if he hears something, he is out the doggy door fast and then comes right back in and goes to sleep. He seems very energetic when he is awake though. He licks his front paws alot, is this normal.

  29. My 17 month old Lab now refuses to walk outside. He was great up until a week or so ago. Nothing seems to get him going. I have two dogs, Zeus my Lab and Athena, my Pit Bull. Athena loves being outside and Zeus used to but now I can rarely get him out the door and when I do he lies down on the ground and doesn’t want to move. It’s driving me crazy and he’s missing out. PLEASE HELP!

  30. Hi i have got a 10 month old female black retriever labrador called skye & i have found all your information really very helpful.
    Skye had her 1st season when she was 2 months ago when she was 8 months old & i always check her over every week & when i was checking her over this week she has a yellow dicharge coming from her virgina & i have made an appointment with the vet 2moro the 25th march so should i be worried or is this a normal thing that happens when their this age & after their 1st heat season.
    Ty
    anne-marie

  31. My 10 month old Labrador wakes at 4 am and cries for attention even though she is with her 6year old brother …any ideas how to encourage her to have an extra hour .could you also advise on how much exercise she should be having as I think three times a day out with her brother is to much .
    Kind Regards
    Sylvia

  32. I have an 11 week old puppy Kairo and being retired I am home all day with him and has he hasn’t had all his shots yet he doesn’t get to go out and socialise although we went along to pre-school.Kairo sleeps a lot which is good as it gives me time to myself for around 2 of every 4 hours but I do tend to try and wear him out with fetch about a 1/2 hour after each meal which I am giving him 4 small meals a day.He sleeps in his crate in my bedroom and sleeps through the night for 8+ hours which is good but if I try to contain him in a crate in my lounge during the day he howls and barks so I have not persevered,any suggestions on this Pippa although it doesn’t worry me too much although he is a wee bit destructive at times.He seems to like sleeping behind the wood burner as it is Summer here in New Zealand and he seems to like the coolness of the tiles but he is in for a shock when Winter arrives.I love this web page and as been a good source of information.

  33. Max wakes up in the middle of most nights ( usually between 2.30am and 3.30am). We have to get up and let him out but on his return he will go back to bed (yes, ok I admit it! It’s the bed I share with him) and will go straight back to sleep. He’s snoring and I wide awake.
    He worked for a few months as a drug detection dog in the night clubs before we took him on and we wonder if this has brought about his nocturnal activities!

  34. I’m not sure about the total hours asleep, but Lady’s favourite spot during the day is on the sofa in the drawing room where she can keep a watch on the street. Her self appointed day job is head watchdog letting us know if anyone moves outside. She naps during the morning and is completley out of it for the whole afternoon.

    Evening is more active until around 9 o’clock when she’s out of it again usually somewhere on the drawing room floor. Lots of REM and running in her sleep plus occasional vocals.

    At night her bed is under the kitchen table, but she alternates beteen that and an old sofa we let her sleep on in a family room adjoining the kitchen.

    In the summer her day spot is often the conervatory where she cn keep an eye on the garden, or if sunny and warm, under a favourite apple tree in the garden.

    What amazes me is how quickly she can go from awake to asleep and back again. She seems to put her head down and immediately her eyes roll up and she’s out! She’s got her head on my knee now as I type this and she’s just slipped off straight into REM with much twitching!

    • Hi David,
      Thanks for that info, I too was thinking my 19 month Lexi Honey girl was sleeping too much but having read your post I see all is fine as her mannerism appear identical to your Lady. Thank you for the input.
      While I am here, may I ask you if you have had any ear problems with your gal such as yeast infection or such like? Has been the bain of my life this past couple of months and has cost me considerably too. No swimming for a while.
      Cheers, Alex.

      • Hi Alexander
        My little girl Sasha loves swimming in the lake of our local park. She has had a yeast infection but my vet has now put her on ear cleaner drops called Sancerum. You put 7-8 drops once a day for the first week and once a week thereafter to hopefully stop infections.

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