Great Dane Howling In Sleep: Find Out Why 

It is strange to see and hear your Great Dane howling in their sleep. It is natural to wonder what might be causing this behavior and how to deal with it 

So, what does a Great Dane howling in their sleep mean? Are they distressed? And  what can you do about it?

We will delve into what you need to know about Great Dane howling in sleep and what you can do about it.

Here’s why Great Dane howling in sleep happens

Great Dane howling in sleep happens due to vivid dreams, pain, separation anxiety, underlying medical conditions, and aging. It is not uncommon for Great Danes to howl in their sleep, and in most cases, the behavior is not a cause for concern, however, it can also be a sign of an underlying medical condition.

great dane howling in sleep

Great Dane howling in sleep

Howling in sleep is a behavior in dogs that refers to instances in which a dog makes howling or whimpering sounds while they are asleep. 

This behavior can be unsettling for a Great Dane owner to witness, as it may appear as though their dog is in distress.

There are different reasons for howling in sleep but it is important to note that every dog is different and what may cause one Great Dane to howl in its sleep may not be the same for another. 

Also, not all Great Danes  howl in their sleep, but some do.

Read more: Great Dane howling: What your Great Dane is trying to tell you

Reasons for Great Dane howling in sleep


Dogs do have dreams during their sleep, just like humans. Dogs, like humans, go through different stages of sleep which include the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) stage and the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage. Dog dreaming, barking, and howling typically occur during the REM stage of sleep.

This stage is characterized by rapid eye movements, an increase in brain activity, and muscle paralysis. During the REM sleep stage, Great Danes may show various behaviors, including twitching, vocalizing howling, or barking.

Dreams in dogs are thought to be similar to human dreams, in that they may include representations of the dog’s daily activities and experiences such as playing with toys or running in the park.

The dreams can be about various things including something exciting, stimulating, or frightening which could lead to a defensive howling.

Pain or discomfort

Pain or discomfort can also cause a Great Dane to howl in their sleep in the same way that it can cause them to howl or bark when they are awake.

When a Great Dane experiences pain, they may make sounds as a way to communicate their discomfort. This can include whimpering, howling, whining, howling, or barking, which can be vocalized in their sleep.

Therefore a Great Dane that is experiencing pain or discomfort while they are sleeping may howl.

Related: Why do Great Danes bark so much? (Explained)

Underlying medical conditions

A Great Dane howling in its sleep may also be due to an underlying medical condition. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Infections that cause fever, pain, and other symptoms can disrupt a Great Dane’s sleep and cause them to howl.
  • Neurological disorders such as epilepsy, seizures, or a brain tumor, can cause twitching and vocalizations including howling during sleep.
  • Pain or discomfort can cause a Great Dane to howl or bark in their sleep.

Separation anxiety 

Separation anxiety is a common behavioral problem that can present in different ways, including barking, howling, restlessness, destructive behavior, or house soiling. 

This occurs when Great Danes become anxious and distressed when they are left alone or separated from their owners.

This behavior may also occur during sleep, as a Great Dane may dream about being separated from their owner and experience anxiety or distress in their dreams.

This will result in a Great Dane howling in its sleep.


As Great Danes become older, they may experience changes in their sleep patterns, which include an increase in sleep disturbances. 

These changes can be due to a variety of factors, including changes in the brain, the onset of medical conditions, or the effects of medications.

Some of the signs that a senior dog may be experiencing sleep disturbances due to aging include:

  • Being vocal during sleep including howling 
  • Restlessness or agitation when sleeping
  • Increased waking up during the night
  • Difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep

Older Great Danes may also experience age-related health conditions such as arthritis or other illnesses that cause discomfort or pain leading to howling in their sleep.

What to do when your Great Dane is howling in their sleep

The recommendation is to do nothing when your Great Dane is howling as they sleep. This is because waking them up is disruptive and will be startling and confusing for them. 

It is best to let them sleep and allow them to process their dreams naturally even if they seem to be having a nightmare. Monitor your dog’s behavior.

Waking them up is necessary in certain circumstances, that is if the howling is becoming a problem such as causing a disturbance,if you notice fast breathing, panting, or difficulty in breathing. 

In this case, wake them up gently by calling their name until they wake up. Do not touch your Great Dane during this time because you might startle them and they might bite you. 

When to seek help for a Great Dane howling in sleep

While Great Dane howling is common and normal in most cases, there are some situations where it is necessary to seek immediate medical attention.

A veterinarian should also be consulted for Great Dane howling in sleep when:

The behavior is new or sudden: If your Great Dane’s howling in sleep is sudden or out of character, it could be a sign that there’s an underlying medical issue.

The behavior is accompanied by other signs of illness: If your Great Dane is exhibiting other signs of illness, such as fever, restlessness, or behavior changes in behavior when they are awake, consult your veterinarian.

The behavior is causing a disturbance: Consult with your veterinarian if the  howling in sleep is excessive and disrupts your household or neighbors.

The behavior is persistent: Also talk to your veterinarian if your dog’s howling  is persistent.

Related: Why doesn’t my Great Dane howl? Here’s why

What not to do for a Great Dane howling in sleep

Avoid the following when you see your Great Dane howling in sleep:

Do not wake them up: Do not wake up your Great Dane because you might startle them and disrupt their sleep cycle, causing them to feel more anxious or disoriented. 

Also, if your Great Dane is  howling due to a nightmare or a stressful dream, waking them up suddenly can increase their anxiety and stress levels.

It is important to let sleeping dogs lie and avoid waking them up unless it is absolutely necessary for their health and well-being.

Do not ignore the behavior:  Howling in sleep is a common behavior in most dogs and in most cases, there is no cause for concern. However, it does not mean you should ignore the behavior.

It is important to keep an eye on your Great Dane’s general behavior and health. Consult your veterinarian if you notice other concerning behaviors if the behavior is new or if your Great Dane acts strangely when awake.

Do not give them any medication: Do not give any medications to your Great Dane for  howling without consulting your veterinarian.

If your Great Dane’s sleep howling is due to a medical condition such as anxiety or due to pain, your veterinarian may recommend medications to help manage the symptoms. 

It is important to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations and not give your dog any medications without their guidance.

Do not punish them: It is important to keep in mind that your Great Dane does not consciously realize that they are  howling while they are sleeping, so do not punish them for it. 

Punishing them will make them more anxious and confused, making the issue worse.

Key Takeaway: Great Dane howling in sleep

Howling in sleep is a normal and common dog behavior, but it can be due to an underlying medical or behavioral problem. 

Do not hesitate to consult your veterinarian so that they can determine the possible cause and rule out any underlying conditions. Also, seek medical care if they present signs of sickness or discomfort.

By understanding the cause of your Great Dane’s howling, you can take the right steps to address the behavior.

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