It may seem like your dog is sleeping too much, but more often than not, it is just the natural amount of sleep that a dog needs to live a healthy and productive life. The amount of sleep a dog should get depends a lot on the level activity it has during her waking hours—but not the way you think. Dogs which are companion pets and living in a home environment will sleep more than a dog that works for a living (herding sheep, or doing search and rescue). Dogs can easily adjust their sleeping patterns to rest and be ready for when there is activity.
While the above is generally true for all dogs, there are differences based on a variety of factors of which you should be aware, as signs of ill health or other problems may be hidden in a dogs sleeping behavior.
Factors that Impact Amount of Sleep
If you are the owner of a new puppy, you are likely to see a lot of sleeping. Puppies expend a lot of energy when they are up and about, so they need to rest more often, but overall take short naps as supposed to long periods of sleep. On the other hand, older dogs are more relaxed, and sleep for longer stretches of time.
Interestingly, the size of a dog—we don’t mean how fat or skinny the dog is–also impacts the amount of sleep it requires. Larger dogs generally require more sleep than smaller breeds.
Active dogs, especially working ones, will sleep a lot less, as they are busy with their work, whether it be herding, doing search and rescue, or hunting. The less activity a dog has the more likely it is to spend the spare time sleeping, sometimes out of plain boredom. If this seems to be the case it will be good for the physical and mental health of your dog to get more exercise, spend more time with you, and have access to engaging and fun toys and activities throughout the day.
If you are worried about the health of your dog because her amount of time she spends sleeping has changed drastically without any other changes in her routine, diet, or environment, then you will need to seek the advice of your veterinarian, as there might be something physically or emotionally wrong with your dog.
Some medical conditions that can results in excessive sleep include diabetes, infections by the parvo virus, Lyme disease, and rabies. These, and other, conditions can results in lethargy and more sleep than you are usually used to. Another common condition that can cause sleepiness is hypothyroidism. All of these, and other conditions, are something that your veterinarian will be able to diagnose. So, if your dog seems to be sleeping more than usual, with no other explanation (e.g. increase in level of activity or advanced age), then it is a good idea to visit the veterinarian’s office for a professional opinion.