My dog does not sleep. He waits.
June 1, 2010 10:33 AM   Subscribe

How many hours per day does an average dog sleep? Does this change as they age (do they sleep more as a puppy or when they are mature)?

This seems like an easy question to answer but I'm only finding anecdotes and unsourced data.

Bonus question: How many hours does a dog lie still, with his eyes mostly closed not actually sleeping?
posted by 2bucksplus to Pets & Animals (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Well, google instantly turns up a slew up pages saying 13-14 hours. I don't think my 2.5 year old German Shepherd mix sleeps that much, but she lives in a house full of people who are constantly playing with her.

I tried google scholar for the hell of it, and it turns out that there has been a lot of narcolepsy research done using canines. This paper has a table showing % of time spent asleep for the narcoleptic and control groups. It looks like normal dogs spend about half the day asleep, but only 16-20% in deep or REM sleep.

No idea about aging, but dad's 12 year old German Shepherd is up for most of the day, following the half-siblings around.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 10:44 AM on June 1, 2010

Sorry, I know you want only sourced data/research (which I did provide) and surely already googled "canine sleep patterns." Didn't mean to be snarky. Google scholar is, in my experience, the next best step to finding an actual source for a random question like this. Even if you are not on a university network with journal subscriptions, a significant % of most searches are publicly available papers and I've turned up scientific papers confirming or rejecting un-sourced datum I saw elsewhere.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 10:57 AM on June 1, 2010

Somewhat interesting and related to the question, but not a real answer:

Most vertebrates have a roughly 24-hour circadian rhythm, with a lot of sleeping happening during the night (for diurnal animals) or during the day (for nocturnal animals). Scientists frequently use levels of the stress hormone cortisol as a way to track this rhythm -- cortisol is higher during the active phase of an animal's day. This paper shows that the circadian rhythm of dogs is essentially no different in young adult vs. old adult dogs, but that puppies haven't developed a circadian rhythm yet. (Older dogs still might get fatigued more easily and therefore sleep more, or they might even need less sleep, but the overall pattern of their sleep-wake cycle is likely the same. This is different from older people, whose circadian rhythm shifts as they age.) The data in the paper about puppies lacking a circadian rhythm would also correlate with my anecdata that puppies spend a lot of time sleeping -- most young animals sleep a lot; it seems to be important to the further development of their brains.
posted by kataclysm at 10:59 AM on June 1, 2010

I can't find online copies of the articles, but here are a few citations I've found that might have answers to your question, if you have access to them:

Zepelin H, Rechtschaffen A (1974) Mammalian sleep, longevity, and energy metabolism. Brain Behav Evol 10: 425–470.

Campbell SS, Tobler I (1984) Animal sleep: a review of sleep duration across phylogeny. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 8: 269–300.

I know at least the Campbell/Tobler abstract indicates that they were studying the sleep duration during a 24-hour period.
posted by specialagentwebb at 11:07 AM on June 1, 2010

And on further googling, this chart indicates that dogs on average sleep 10.6 hours a day. They cite their sources at the bottom (including the Campbell/Tobler research).
posted by specialagentwebb at 11:09 AM on June 1, 2010

specialagentwebb has a good point regarding the length of the study. The freely available paper I originally posted points to (and claims to have results consistent with) another 24 hour study:

Kaitin, K.I., Kilduff, T.S., Dement, W.C., 1986. Sleep fragmentation in genetically narcoleptic dogs. Sleep 9, 116–119

Unfortunately, that one is behing a paywall as well.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 11:17 AM on June 1, 2010

Not research, data point.
We had a German Shepherd Dog/Normative Elkhound mix that was a rescue from feral.
First thing he needed was crate training.
Then we noticed that it didn't matter when we put him in the crate at bedtime, he was always was awake, sitting up. Same thing in the morning, he was always up sitting in the crate.
We found out that he was so high strung that is seemed like he never slept.
posted by Drasher at 5:46 AM on June 2, 2010

My dogs sometimes sleep with their eyes only mostly closed, or sometimes even open. You sure the dog in question isn't sleeping?
posted by galadriel at 8:54 AM on June 2, 2010

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