Is My Dog Happy Sleeping All Day?

Sometimes it feels like dogs have exactly two modes: CRAZY HIGH ENERGY and sleep. As they get older and lose that seemingly-endless puppy energy, a lot of dogs spend more and more time in the second mode. But is that ok? Is your dog sleeping all day and thinking "THIS IS THE LIFE" or thinking "Bleh, my life"? Here's what you need to know about sleeping dogs and when to worry about them.

Is it normal for dogs to sleep all of the time?

First, to answer the root question: Yes, it's perfectly normal for your dog to sleep all the time. In general, big dogs sleep more than small dogs, and all dogs love to break their sleep up into naps throughout the day to reenergize. So, if your dog loves to plop down for several naps throughout the day, know that that is totally normal dog behavior.

How much do dogs sleep?

Dogs sleep so much. Depending on your point of view, they are either living the absolute dream or wasting their lives away, but it's just how they're wired. The average dog sleeps literally half of their life away — 12 hours a day. Some dogs sleep as much as 18 hours a day, and it's totally normal.

Unless trained, dogs will usually have the most energy in the morning and evening and nap a lot throughout the day. Your dog's sleeping habits are adaptable though, so if you set up a routine for regular exercise and play that works with your schedule, your dog will change its sleep schedule accordingly.

Sleepy puppy relaxing on sofa
credit: Christina Reichl Photography/Moment/GettyImages

Reasons dogs sleep so much.

There are several factors that play a role in how much a dog sleeps. The most significant is the dog's age and breed. Older dogs and larger dogs are naturally going to sleep more. While 12-14 hours of sleep is average, dogs (like humans) start to need more rest as they get older. On the opposite end of the age spectrum, puppies also sleep a ton because when they're awake, they're exploring and playing so much that they burn through energy quickly.

The breed matters because some breeds have naturally higher activity levels than others. Working dogs (think Labradors and border collies) have been bred to have more energy because, well, they had jobs to do. Even if your "working dog" isn't herding animals or helping with the hunt, it's still wired to have more stamina than other breeds, and that energy has to go somewhere. Dogs that weren't bred for tasks, however, have mostly adapted to be more sedentary and that means extra sleep.

Environmental changes can also affect the amount of sleep a dog needs. When dogs undergo a big life change (like moving or losing a loved one), they may sleep more as they decompress and adjust to a new situation. Health also plays a role in a dog's sleep-wake cycle. It's important to take note if your dog's sleeping patterns change significantly because it could be a sign of illness or depression.

Sleepy Puppy
credit: Florian Kunde/500Px Plus/GettyImages

How to know if a dog is sleeping too much.

If your dog has started to sleep more than the average dog — around 12 hours per day — and it's abnormal for your dog to sleep more than usual, the excessive sleep could be a sign that something is wrong. The most common causes of excessive sleeping in dogs include diabetes and hypothyroidism, but other diseases could also cause lethargy, including:

  • Parvovirus
  • Distemper
  • Kennel cough
  • Heartworm
  • Leptospirosis
  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease

If you're concerned that your dog might be sleeping too much, keep a record of how much (and when) he is sleeping and consult with your veterinarian.

Signs of a happy dog.

If you're concerned that your dog is sleeping more than usual because it is unhappy, look for these signs of a happy dog:

  • Bright eyes
  • Wagging tail
  • Playful jumping
  • Play pose (leaning down with his butt in the air)
  • Energetic pacing
  • Short, playful barks
  • Offering a belly for rubs
  • Cuddling and snuggling

Signs of a depressed dog.

If you suspect your sleeping dog is depressed, look for these signs:

  • Sudden listlessness or lethargy
  • Acting withdrawn
  • Sudden behavior changes (like becoming aggressive when the dog had not previously been)
  • Changes in appetite
  • Lack of interest in previously beloved activities
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Chronic restlessness
  • An increase in accidents in the house

How to help a depressed dog.

Excessive sleep has been linked to depression in dogs. If you suspect that your dog is depressed, consult your vet, but there are also things you can do at home to address the issue, including:

  • Make more time for doggie socializing.
  • Pay extra attention to your pup.
  • Increasing physical exercise
  • Increasing mental stimulation
  • Give attention and praise in moments when the dog acts happy (or at least less depressed).
  • Give your dog lots of physical contact: petting and cuddles.
  • Play games with your dog.
  • Take him for walks and car rides.

Conclusion

In general, the old adage "let sleeping dogs lie" is pretty appropriate. If you're concerned that your dog is sleeping too much, remember that it's not uncommon for dogs to spend most of their time taking naps. There's nothing abnormal about 12-15 hours of sleep, but if you suspect that your dog is sleeping too much or showing signs of depression, consult your vet right away.