You may have gazed over at your hound dogs snoozing on the couch all day and wondered: “Is sleeping this much normal?”. We, busy humans, cannot fathom a day of mostly sleeping unless something is wrong with us. But for sleepy hounds, it seems to be the norm to eat, sleep, yawn, repeat!
A characteristic of hound dogs, both scent- and sighthounds, is that they sleep for 12-18 hours per day; much more than other dog breeds. Due to their heightened senses, they do not sleep deeply. To get the right quality and quantity of sleep, hounds take many short naps during the day.
It is not just the hound dog’s breed type that makes them so sleepy. Various factors influence dogs’ sleeping patterns: size, age, amount of exercise, and activity, to name a few. Changes in sleeping patterns or excessive sleeping can also be an indication of health problems.
Dogs Need More Sleep Than Humans
Dogs, in general, love taking long naps, and it is not necessarily a sign that they are lazy, bored, or depressed. Dogs have evolved different sleep patterns than humans. Let us look at the reasons for this:
- Dogs have shorter sleep cycles. Relative to humans, our canines experience much shorter sleep cycles, therefore less REM sleep. Because their senses of smell and sound are so strong, their sleep is easily interrupted. Dogs spend their day taking short naps and relaxing.
- When dogs are awake, they exert a lot of energy. When dogs are not sleeping, they are highly active – running around, playing, wagging their tail, taking in loads of sensory information. They, therefore, need more time to rest and recharge than we do.
Evolution Has Made Dogs Sleepy
Naturally, dogs are carnivores, just like lions and wolves. Their metabolism is made to hunt prey animals during short bursts of activity, eat the meat, and then sleep together while they digest their meal.
Their physiology and behavior have developed hand-in-hand, and this is why dogs spend on average 50% of their day sleeping, 30% of it resting, and only 20% active.
Dogs are social sleepers, so that they will synchronize their sleeping pattern to their pack or yours. This is why they sleep with us during the night.
Instead of being diurnal or nocturnal, dogs are crepuscular, meaning that they are most active in the morning and the evening but sleep for the rest of the day.
Hounds Are Sleepier Than Other Dogs
I have lived with many hounds in my life – a Beagle Mix and two Miniature Dachshunds – and as different as they are, they have one thing in common: they love to sleep for most of the day.
Hounds are known to be the sleepiest of dog breeds. Larger breeds of hound, like Irish Wolfhounds, Borzoi, Great Danes, and Afghan Hounds, can easily spend 18 hours a day sleeping, while smaller breeds such as Beagles, Harriers and Ibizan Hounds are more active, sleep for around 12 hours a day.
Strangely enough, this is what makes huge dogs like Great Danes perfect apartment dogs, even over small dogs. They are more than happy snoozing on the couch all day.
Why Do Hound Dogs Sleep So Much?
Hound dog breeds have been developed for hundreds of years for hunting purposes, to use their keen senses to track, chase and retrieve prey. The original dogs that man began domesticating were already skilled hunters with good senses to help them catch prey.
Humans chose dogs with the best hearing, sense of smell or sight, and selectively bred those in the hopes that their puppies would be even better hunting companions. Over generations, their senses became heightened and honed.
It is because of their impressive senses of smell and hearing that hound dogs do not sleep very deeply. At the slightest sound or tantalizing smell, they wake up and are alert and ready for action. For this reason, hounds have relatively short sleep cycles.
The brain relies on REM sleep to process and organize all the sensory information that is taken in throughout the day – for hound dogs, this is a significant amount! REM sleep requires deep sleep, so hounds need to take many naps to accumulate 12-18 hours of sleep during the day to get the same quality of sleep that we do in 8 hours.
Age Affects How Much Dogs Sleep
Like human babies, puppies need a lot of sleep. This is because their brains and bodies are growing rapidly and using a lot of energy. Puppies need about 20 hours of sleep per day. Many people are concerned when they get a new puppy, and all it does is sleep, but this is totally normal!
After the age of about 5 years, dogs begin to show signs of ageing, and they tend to slow down and sleep for longer – on average, 16-18 hours a day. It is normal for senior hounds to sleep up to 20 hours! As their senses dull with age, they are less easily disturbed, and sleeping soothes aches and pains related to arthritis.
How Much Sleep Is Too Much?
Of course, there is a point where your dog’s excessive sleeping or sudden change in sleeping patterns can be a cause for concern. One should pay attention to their behavior, as there may be an underlying health issue.
If a dog is sick or overweight, they sleep more than a healthy dog would. Stress brought on by separation anxiety can also lead to excessive daytime sleeping.
Normally, hounds sleep for 12-18 hours per day. If they are sleeping more than this, and they are not a puppy or elderly, there could be a problem. Hypothyroidism, diabetes, and pain can cause drowsiness.
If your dog is sleeping more than usual, or their sleep interferes with their eating or drinking, they may be sick or in pain. Take them to a veterinarian for a check-up if they are sleeping more or less than their usual amount.
Excessive Sleep Due to Boredom
If your dog spends their days at home alone, while you are at work, they will mainly sleep, as they do not have anything else to do. This may make them very sleepy overall, even when you are home. If you have ruled out any underlying health issues behind their lethargy, it may be that they are under-stimulated and bored.
Keep your dog’s intelligent mind, and keen senses stimulated during the day by giving them interactive toys to play with. Ensure that you walk your dog every day, even if you have a big yard, and see if you can make time for a midday walk and play session.
If you are too busy, hire a dog walker or book your hound into doggy day-care a few days per week so that they can play and socialize with other pooches.
Dogs in the hound group of breeds are known to be extra sleepy, usually dozing for between 12-18 hours per day. The reason for the many hours they spend snoozing is that they need far more sleep to get the same quality of sleep as humans do for 8 hours during the night.
Hound dogs have strong senses of smell and hearing, meaning that they are easily disturbed when asleep. This causes them to have very short sleep cycles, with small bursts of REM sleep.
Their brain needs REM sleep to process all the sensory information that they take in during the day. Therefore, hound dogs take naps throughout the day to catch up on REM sleep.
Large breeds of hound dogs need more sleep than smaller breeds, and dogs sleep patterns also depend on their age. Puppies and senior dogs sleep for 18-20 hours per day.
Excessive sleeping (more than 20 hours per day) could signify health problems or boredom. Pay attention to your dog’s sleep patterns to observe any changes that could be cause for concern. They may just need more mental and physical exercise during the day.