As humans, it is common knowledge that we need about 8 hours of sleep per night, give or take an hour or so, to remain healthy, wealthy and wise. And as humans who are also dog owners, we probably don’t give much notice to how long or how often our four-legged friend sleeps. After all, they pretty much sleep when they want to, no harm, no foul.
But just like humans, dogs do need a certain amount of sleep to stay healthy, but their needs and sleep times are far more different than the average human. So, here’s a little rundown on how much sleep your dog should have.
Experts agree that every dog is going to sleep about 50% in their normal daily cycle. Whereas humans sleep about one-third of their daily cycle or about 8 hours, dogs are going to sleep about 12 to 14 hours in a 24 hour cycle. For most dogs, this is about the average that they will sleep, but the difference is that their sleeping times will vary.
For example, dogs will eventually begin to mimic the sleep cycle of their human. When you go to bed and get your 8 hours of sleep, your dog will also sleep about 8 hours during that time as well. But here is where it gets different, because they will need to get an extra 4 to 6 hours of sleep to complete their normal cycle, and this is where doggie naps come in.
Your dog will, most likely, take several naps per day to get those extra hours of sleep time in, and it won’t matter to them when they do this throughout the day. During your work schedule, they’ll be able to sleep whenever they want to, but on weekends, they may sneak away for a quick “cat nap,” or maybe it should be called a “dog nap” instead. Regardless of the situation, a dog will regulate its own sleep pattern and generally conform it to your sleep pattern with several naps along the way.
Normal is as Normal Does
Of course, there are several variables as to how much sleep dogs really need. Puppies need a lot more sleep than adult dogs, and they might sleep up to 20 hours per day. On the other paw, working dogs, like herders or service pooches, may only need about 8 hours per day, which is completely normal. Larger breeds like Mastiffs or St. Bernards may need more sleep than what would be considered normal, and older dogs tend to sleep more too. So how much sleep your dog needs can be variable depending on a lot of things like breed, size, and activity.
What isn’t Normal
Living with your dog means you’ll be able to discern a normal sleeping pattern. Sleeping at night and naps during the day are all a part of this, but if you begin to notice a change in this pattern, there may be some health issues going on. For example, if your dog begins sleeping more and more, it could be a sign of distemper, heart or liver disease, parvovirus, and several others. If you notice a big change in a sleep pattern, it’s time for a trip to the vet.
Another thing to watch out for, except in puppies who can fall asleep at the drop of a hat, is if your dog just lays down and falls asleep, even during normal activities like eating or playing. That could be a sign of narcolepsy, much like the affliction that humans have, and it will also be a wake-up call for a vet visit.
Your Dog’s Sleep Needs
The bottom line for any dog owner is this. Your dog knows how much sleep she or he needs, and they will work their own sleeping schedule out so that it fits into yours. Just keep an eye out for any dramatic or unusual sleeping patterns that begin to occur, and you’ll both have sweet dreams.
About the Author
Mary Nielsen is a passionate dog lover, blogger, and part-time music teacher. She founded MySweetPuppy.net to share her ups and downs of being a pet parent to a bunch of adorable mutts. When she is not playing with them or teaching, you can find her experimenting in the kitchen.