Dog Sleep 101: Dreaming, Snoring & Sleeping Dog Patterns Explained

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By Carrie

sleeping-dog-by-want2know.jpg If you have ever watched a sleeping dog, you may have noticed that the dog appears to be dreaming.

Just like humans, dogs do dream.


Types Of Dog Sleep

Dogs have REM sleep (rapid eye movement sleep) just like we do. This is known as the “sleep of the body” phase of dog sleep.

Scientific studies have shown that dogs and cats exhibit eyes twitching, lips moving, and vocalizations, which is part of REM sleep. Source

Dogs also have slow wave sleep (SWS).

Slow wave sleep happens when a dog is first going to sleep.  This is the point where your dog’s thinking is turned off but the muscle tone remains.  This is the “sleep of the mind” phase of dog sleep.


My Dogs’ Dreams

I have watched my dogs sleep several times.  I can’t help but wonder what they’re dreaming about.

There have been times when they were sound asleep and all of a sudden one of them started to whimper.  It’s not just a one-time whimper but several whimpers in a row.  I always wonder what they could be dreaming about that causes them to whimper.

I think it’s cute when they start to whimper like that.  I like to think they are back in their puppy stage — dreaming of being in the pack calling for their mother.


Dog Sleeping Patterns

It is not unusual for a dog to sleep a lot.

In adult dogs, sleeping patterns will most likely be dependent on the age of the dog and its environment. Counting little naps and longer snoozes, most dogs sleep about 14 hours a day. Some very large breeds of dogs, like Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards, and Mastiffs, often spend a great deal of their lives sleeping – perhaps up to 16 or even 18 hours a day. Though it may seem that yours is a “lucky” dog because he gets to sleep 14 hours a day, the truth is that many dogs wake from sleep more often than we humans do.  Source

Most dogs do not sleep through the night.  They will typically be up several times throughout the night.  Moreso than humans.

If your dog is just not sleeping, it could be that he has dog insomnia.  If your dog has insomnia, he may be stressed out, or perhaps he just needs more exercise during the day.

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if a dog is dreaming or having a seizure.


Dog Snoring

Does your dog snore while sleeping?

If your dog is a Pug, a Boxer or a Bulldog (among others), then you probably already know that it’s common for that breed of dog to snore… loudly!

Bulldogs, Pugs, Pekingese, Shih Tzu, English Toy Spaniels, Boston Terriers, Chow Chows, and other dogs  with broad skulls and short muzzles frequently show some degree of airway obstruction, known as brachycephalic syndrome, manifested by mouth breathing, snorting, and snoring. These difficulties become more pronounced when the dog is exercising or is overheated, and tend to get worse as the dog grows older.  Source

If your dog is not a breed that’s prone to snoring, then your dog could have a more serious health problem.  Talk to your vet about this right away.

Another thing that causes dogs to snore is being overweight.  My dog Tosha is a little overweight, and she snores a little.  She is a Min Pin and really should weigh around 10 pounds, but she weighs closer to 12 pounds.

Here are a few other reasons dogs snore:

  • Food allergies – Food allergies causes mucus build up, irritation of airway, swelling of throat.
  • Smoke – Just like people dogs can have a reaction to cigarette smoke.
  • Dry air – Dry air affects the membranes in the nose and throat and causes congestion.