Sleep is important for the restoration of energy, for healing and growth for us humans as well as for dogs.
However, you may have wondered why your German Shepherd sleeps most of the day. Is this normal and should you be worried?
In this article, we aim to show you factors that influence a German Shepherd to sleep more, the breed’s sleeping habits, and when to get medical help.
Table of Contents
Why is my German Shepherd always sleeping?
Factors that influence a German Shepherd to sleep so much include their age, activity level, health status, the natural sleep pattern of dogs, and the breed characteristics as medium-sized breed dog which is predisposed for longer sleep. Sleeping more is normal, however, some symptoms could accompany the sleep pattern indicating signs of health problems.
Factors That Influence A German Shepherd's Sleep
How much a German Shepherd sleeps depends on the following:
The length of time of sleep depends on how old a German Shepherd is.
Puppies sleep more compared to adult or senior German Shepherds.
This is because it is natural for young ones to sleep more for healthy growth. Their bodies are developing and sleep is part of the process in allowing this to take place.
Puppies are also more energetic and playful and use up their energy quickly compared to adult dogs and they need more time to rest to regain energy.
Senior dogs sleep longer as well because of the decreased energy level, get tired quickly, and thus spend most of their time sleeping.
The activity level of a German Shepherd also affects how much they sleep. Working dogs and small breed dogs usually sleep less.
The activity level also depends on your family’s lifestyle or engagement with them with activities they can do. If a German Shepherd has a daily routine that has more activities to engage in, they will sleep only after the activities to rest and regain energy.
Also when they don’t have an active lifestyle, naturally due to boredom they will sleep the day away.
A sick German Shepherd will sleep more as they recover and get well compared to a healthy one.
The presence of diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, depression, and acquired deafness in older dogs can also cause a change in sleeping patterns.
Also, a dog on medication will tend to sleep more. Therefore, the presence of disease can also be the underlying reason why a German Shepherd can sleep a lot.
The breed's characteristics
A dog’s breed characteristic determines how much they sleep. Some breeds are more likely to have the tendency to sleep more compared to others.
Medium-large breed dogs are known to sleep more than small breed dogs.
As a medium-sized dog, the German Shepherd is naturally predisposed to longer sleep habits.
The sleep pattern of dogs
Dogs in general have a different sleep pattern compared to humans and tend to sleep more than us in 24 hours.
Dogs have a polyphasic type of sleep which means they have several sleep cycles spread throughout 24-hours, while humans have a monophasic sleep pattern which means we have one long sleep cycle in a 24-hour period which is usually at night.
Both human and dog sleep cycles have the slow-wave phase which is the first phase of sleep and the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
A dog usually enters the slow-wave phase in 10 minutes and quickly enters the REM phase.
They only spend 10% of their sleep cycle in REM which is not enough compared to humans where we spend 25% of our sleep in the phase, which is the restorative period of sleep which is important.
As quickly as a dog enters its REM sleep cycle, they can also quickly wake up from it and can be alert. This is seen when your dog wakes up quickly when they hear sounds from their surroundings.
Short periods of sleep explains why dogs sleep several times a day. They need more total sleep in 24 hours to regain and compensate for the lost REM sleep cycle which is important for natural rest or restoration.
Therefore a German Shepherd sleeping a lot during the day combined with the night sleep is a natural sleep pattern of all dogs.
German Shepherd Puppy Sleeping Habits
A German Shepherd puppy sleeps between 18 to 24 hours. Just like human babies, puppies sleep most of the time because sleep is essential as it allows for healthy growth and development.
Their bodies continuously grow during this period and rest allows this to happen.
Puppies also have high-energy, they spend time learning about their environment and all this can be exhausting for them. They require sleep to recover energy.
It is therefore natural for a German Shepherd puppy to eat, sleep and poop a lot.
When they mature and grow older, the sleep reduces to about 14 hours.
Adult German Shepherd Sleeping Habits
An adult German Shepherd sleeps between 14 to 16 hours a day with an average of 12 hours.
This is perfectly normal if they are healthy and eating well.
Dogs inclusive of the German Shepherd spend 50% of their time sleeping and 30% of their time lounging. This means only 20% of 24 hours is spent on other activities. This shows a lot of time in a 24-hour timeline is spent sleeping.
Also, typically all dogs like to lounge when not asleep. This is where they are awake but generally, they are not doing anything while lying down and just watching their environment. This is normal as well for a German Shepherd.
When To Worry And Get Help
Sleeping a lot for a German Shepherd can also be a sign of underlying health problems. Talk to your vet when your German Shepherd’s sleep pattern has changed from their normal pattern, especially with sudden significant sleep changes.
The vet will determine if the change is due to medical or behavioral problems.
Also, immediately call your vet when you notice the following behaviors from your German Shepherd:
- Consistent restlessness at night
- Refusal to sleep during the day
- Sleep interferes with their eating and drinking
- They sleep suddenly in the middle of an activity
- It’s hard to wake them up in the morning
- Change in sleep pattern, that is, they sleep more than usual
- They are slow to wake up and don’t respond quickly to normal motivations such as you calling them or when giving them a treat or food
- Behavior problems arise, that is, excessive sleep is accompanied by excessive whining, crying, disorientation, neediness, becoming irritable, anxiety, pacing, drooling, limping, staring at walls, and withdrawal from being active or engaged even in small activities
Frequently Asked Questions
When will my German Shepherd puppy sleep through the night?
The time a German Shepherd puppy sleeps throughout the night depends on the consistent training they receive to get them to sleep most of the night.
Training is important for a puppy to encourage longer sleep.
As a German Shepherd puppy owner, much like having a newborn baby, you will still have to wake up at least once a night during the first few months because it is normal for them to wake up at least once a night to urinate and relieve themselves.
Sleeping a lot for a German Shepherd is common and normal therefore should not be a cause for alarm, however, there are certain signs to watch out for that indicate the presence of health problems.
It is also best to be aware of your dog’s sleep habits so that if there are any changes to their sleep patterns, you can contact your veterinarian immediately. It is also advisable to keep a sleep log to track this.