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Dogs spend a lot of their day asleep. But how much sleep do they actually need? The answer to that question depends on your dog's age, breed, lifestyle, and health. And in fact, a dog's sleep needs change as they age. Here is some information on dog sleep habits and needs.
On average, dogs sleep 12-14 hours per 24-hour sleep cycle, which means they spend 50% of their day sleeping. To put that in perspective, it is recommended that the average human adult gets at least 7 hours of sleep. So dogs get almost twice as much sleep than humans.
But dogs don't sleep in the same way that people do. Humans have a diurnal sleep schedule, meaning they sleep at night and are awake during the day. Dogs, on the other hand, don't get their sleep all at once. Yes, most dogs sleep through the night with their people, but they also sleep on and off throughout the day. Some vets call dogs "social sleepers" because they adjust their sleep schedule to their environment (a.k.a. their people). For example, they may sleep 7 hours at night with you and then take naps while you're working during the day.
A dog's sleep needs vary based on his or her age. For example, puppies need more sleep than adult dogs. This is because your puppy is growing and the physical, mental and emotional maturation takes up a lot of energy. Puppies can actually sleep up to 20 hours a day. They don't sleep it straight though and are actually bad at sleeping through the night. Instead, they take lots of nap throughout the day.
Senior dogs also need more sleep than adult dogs. But, unlike puppies, it's because their metabolism is slowing down. As dogs age and slow down, they need more rest to recover their energy (just like humans). Because of this, it's normal and natural for your older dog to sleep more than they used to.
Pro Tip: If your senior dog seems extra lethargic and slow, it could be a sign of an underlying condition like arthritis or another disease. It's best to take your senior dog to the vet twice a year to monitor his or her health.
How much sleep a dog needs can also depend on his or her breed. For instance, large dogs tend to need more sleep than small dogs. This is because larger dogs tire out more quickly, as they have more weight to carry. Large, sleepy breeds include Mastiffs, Great Danes and Saint Bernards.
Some are known to be "lazy" or less active breeds and these dogs tend to sleep more than other breeds. Dogs that tend to get labeled this way include English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pugs, and Basset Hounds. On the other hand, more active dogs - like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds - are actually more likely to sleep through the night.
Dogs sleep a lot and it's usually nothing to worry about. But if you notice your dog's sleep habits change suddenly, you may want to call your vet as a precaution. This is because some conditions, like diabetes and hyperthyroidism, can disrupt sleep habits. Signs that your dog's sleep patterns have changed include sleeping quite a bit more or less than usual, grumpiness, difficulty concentrating and disorientation. In general, you can trust your dog that he or she will sleep when needed, but call your vet if you're in doubt.