Understanding Dog Sleep Patterns

The dog sleep behavior depends on the age, breed and personality of the dog. However, on average, dogs sleep 14 hours a day. A dog owner should understand the sleep behavior of the dog, so as to be able to detect any possible problems that are signaled by too much or too little sleep.

Dog Sleep Behavior

Dogs sleep a lot and they take regular naps.

The amount of sleep varies according to the personality, breed and age of the dog. Senior dogs will sleep more and there are certain breeds that spend more time slumbering. Pocket dogs tend to sleep more, however even larger breeds such as the mastiff or the Newfoundland sleep more than 14 hours per day.

The amount of sleep a dog needs depends also on the environment. Dogs in shelters or in a quiet home may sleep more, while dogs in active environments such as farms will sleep less. Dogs may easily adapt their sleep behavior to their surroundings.

Sleep Patterns

The dog sleep patterns are similar to the human sleep patterns.

The first phase is known as the non rapid eye movement (NREM) phase and is has 3 stages. The 3 stages of the NREM phase are N1, N2, and N3.

  • N1 is the first stage of NREM and is a transition to unconsciousness; the dog loses control over his muscles but you may notice some movement in the limbs.
  • N2 is a stage characterized by sleep spindles; there is some brain activity involved, but the dog is very calm during the N2 stage. N2 is the lengthiest sleep stage, lasting for up to 45% of the total sleeping time.
  • N3 is also known as the slow wave stage. During the slow wave the dog has a decreased heart rate, lower blood pressure, decreased body temperature and breathes slowly. During this phase, the dog sleeps deeply and he does not react to noises or other disruptions even if they are loud.

The slow wave phase lasts for 10 to 15 minutes and is followed by the rapid eye movement phase (REM). This is an active phase and the dog seems more agitated during the sleep. You may notice his eyes rolling and the dog may even whine or bark and move his limbs. There is brain activity during the REM phase and there are certain theories according to which dogs have dreams. The REM phase lasts for 10 to 15% of the total sleeping time. Puppies will spend more time in the REM phase.

Sleep Behavior and Health

Your dog's sleep behavior is indicative of his health. If a dog tends to sleep more, this may be a symptom for a disease. However, a bored dog tend to sleep more, so make sure you offer a lot of stimuli during the day: toys, activities, games or even another pet. In this way you can ensure that your dog spends his energy and sleeps well and more importantly you make sure that he sleeps at night.

It's important to have a place assigned for your dog to sleep in. The dog's bed should be soft and comfortable.