Weird German Shepherd sleeping Habits [ Puppy, Adult & Senior GSD]

Weird German Shepherd sleeping Habits

Ever wondered why your german shepherd sleeps a lot and is in weird positions? While let’s dive in and check out the German shepherd sleep factors, position, and what it means?

Sleep is the body’s natural way of rejuvenating its energies. While asleep, your body can fix what has been injured or depleted, improving your mind, health, and general wellbeing.

This is not only true for human beings but also for German Shepherds. But how much should a german shepherd puppy, adult, or senior sleep?

A German Shepherd should have 12-14 hours of sleep on average. This pattern may change with the kind of lifestyle the dogs end up living. For instance, older and younger German Shepherd tend to sleep more, while working or active German Shepherds tend to sleep less.

 You may have a German Shepherd that is quick to nap and you may have one that looks like it is a night owl. Whichever the case, learning about a German Shepherds’ sleep cycle and why your puppy may not be sleeping well should be a concern for any owner.

In this article, we talk about German Shepherds and their sleep patterns. We also discuss lifestyles that prevent German Shepherds from sleeping well and the dangers of such lifestyles. Read on and find out more about naptime and German Shepherds.

Importance of Sleep to a German Shepherd

German Shepherds are some of the most active and energetic dogs. They are highly intelligent maintaining a strong reputation as loyal and protective dog breeds. Initially bred as herding dogs, they portrayed strong guarding and protective instincts and have over the years become the preferred guard, guide, military, police, search and rescue dogs. What a resume!!!!

Weird German Shepherd sleeping Habits

But to have all these possible, German Shepherds have to be in tiptop shape. They have to be trained, fed, protected and constantly shown attention.

 Like all mammals, sleep is a very important element in the well-being of German Shepherds. Through sleep, German Shepherds can attain the following benefits:

  1. For better brain function – German Shepherds face many mental challenges on a typical day. For the dog to be highly effective in both mental and physical activities during the day, it has to have a certain period of mental and physical inactivity to rejuvenate brain function. This keeps the dog alert throughout the day.
  2. For Memory Retention – German Shepherds are intelligent and can often be taught a variety of lessons throughout their day. To ensure that these lessons stick, sleeping plays a key role. A well-rested German Shepherd can perform and remember certain tasks better than a fatigued German Shepherd.  
  3. Strengthens the Immune System – Sleep-deprived German Shepherds are more prone to sickness and infections. Ensuring your German Shepherd sleeps for the appropriate amount of time strengthens his/her immune system.
  4. For Physical Recovery – Sleep is a naturally rejuvenates. A German Shepherd is extremely active and, by the end of any day, could be extremely exhausted.  By Sleeping, German Shepherds can rest and recover from physical exhaustion.
  5. For Growth and Development – The Growth Hormone is normally released while sleeping. German Shepherd puppies need to sleep for 12-14 hours if they are to grow well. Sleep deprivation can suppress the release of this hormone, among others, that are critical for proper mental and physical development.

German Shepherd Sleeping Habits

The sleeping habits of a German Shepherd refer to the time, position, and action that a German shepherd takes in response to their body’s need for rest. German Shepherd’s sleeping habits are influenced by two factors, age, and lifestyle.

Weird German Shepherd sleeping Habits

Sleeping Habits of a German Shepherd Puppy

 Young German Shepherd puppies require more hours of sleep so that they may grow and develop. Typically, these puppies require 18-20 hours of sleep per day. They require adequate food and rest as they easily get tired, especially during training and play-time. 

Sleeping Habits of adult German Shepherds

Adults German Shepherds sleep for 12-14 hours each day. Due to its guarding and protective nature, you may find an adult German Shepherd sleeping lesser hours due to how active it is during the day. Additionally, the need to protect forces the German Shepherd to remain alert; hence, they end up becoming light sleepers.

Sleeping Habits of Senior German Shepherds

Older German Shepherds sleep more than adult German Shepherds. Their bodies are slowly deteriorating. Just like young German Shepherds, these senior citizens will sleep from 16-20 hours.

Do you own a German shepherd and want to get a cat and want to know if they get along? Then you should check out “German shepherd and cat get along article.

Why does my German Shepherd sleep so much?

You may be wondering why your German Shepherd sleeps a lot.  Several reasons could explain this behavior. They are listed as follows:


 Puppies and senior German Shepherd sleep longer hours than adult German Shepherds.

German Shepherd puppies sleep for 18-20 hours a day. This allows them to grow well, developing a healthy immune system, bones, and muscles.

Adult German Shepherd sleep for 12-14 hours a day. Depending on the kind of lifestyle they are living, adult German Shepherd needs to be alert and hence will sleep less. When they do sleep, they are extremely light sleepers keeping an ear out for danger.

Senior German Shepherds sleep for 16-20 hours. Their body organs are slowly deteriorating and they are becoming less and less energetic. At this age, German Shepherds tire out more quickly and end up sleeping more often.

As the adult German shepherd grows older, it will certainly start sleeping more often.


Unlike human beings who require 6-8 hours of sleep a day, a German Shepherd sleeps for 12-14 hours a day (Coile, 2011). During this time, the German Shepherd’s bones and muscles develop. This is an important process as a German Shepherd is quite active and energetic. During the day, you will find the dog playing and roughhousing. At night, while the German Shepherd sleeps, the body has an opportunity to replenish, repair, and grow the dog’s muscles.


The current temperature can also greatly affect how much a German Shepherd sleeps. German Shepherds were initially bred to thrive in cold environments hence why they have double coats.

However, in regions where the weather is hot, German Shepherds become sleepy sleeping for more than 14 hours a day.

If you live in a warm or hot area, ensure your German Shepherd has access to shade, cool areas, and water throughout the day. Also, ensure that you take your German shepherd on walks when the sun is not directly overhead.


When a German shepherd is sick, it can also sleep longer than it is used to. If you notice that your German shepherd sleeping suddenly, more often and exhibiting certain behavioral changes, such as being lethargic, it is likely they are sick. Check-in with your vet if you suspect this.


German Shepherds sleep because they are bored. With such an active and energetic personality, German Shepherds need a lot of physical and mental stimulation throughout their day. They also require a lot of attention from their owner.

When German Shepherds are not mentally stimulated, they can easily get bored and sleep more often. You must consider increasing the number of activities that your German Shepherd is exposed to in a day.

If it is a puppy, limiting the amount of exercise is critical for its growth as it can end up hurting its joints.


The diet you are feeding your German Shepherd also contributes to how long it will sleep in a day.

Your German Shepherd requires a healthy and balanced diet to ensure it has a normal sleeping pattern. However, if you change its diet and it is not balanced, your German Shepherd may start sleeping more than usua

Research on the best German Shepherd diets to follow to ensure you do not end up giving your pup an unbalanced diet.

German Shepherds sleep problem

Yes, German Shepherds can have sleeping problems if their state of mind is affected. Certain mental conditions or diseases could lead to the development of sleeping problems. These include:

Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleeping Disorder – German Shepherds with REM sleeping Disorder are physically active in their sleep. They often act out the dreams they are experiencing with vocal sounds, sudden violet leg movements, twitching, and other bodily movements. In extreme cases, the German Shepherd can attack objects violently and run wild. When they wake up it is as if nothing happened and they continue with their life as normal.

Sleep Apnea – German Shepherds sleeping patterns can be affected by Sleep Apnea. This is most common in obese German Shepherds whose airways have been narrowed by fat deposits. Such dogs will often snore loudly to the point of being startled by their own snores. They will wake up sluggish and tired. In extreme cases, Chronic Sleep Apnea can be fatal where the dog is unable to breathe properly when asleep.

Insomnia – When German shepherds have certain health and mental issues, such as depression, stress, flea infestation, anxiety, chronic pain, and pent-up energy, they may experience insomnia.

Narcolepsy Sleep Disorder – It is a sleeping disorder that causes a German Shepherd to suddenly collapse and sleep when it is excited or during physical activity. The German Shepherd does not experience any pain.

Sleeping positions

 You may find your German Shepherd sleeping in a weird position, one that looks as though it is defying the laws of nature. This is typical of all German Shepherds. The sleeping position your German Shepherd chooses often spells out the kind of life they are living and the influence the surroundings may be having on them at that particular moment. Let us check out a few sleeping positions and understand what they mean.

Sleeping upside down

This is one of the weirdest and hilarious positions to find your German Shepherd taking a nap. The legs are usually suspended in the air, and the dog practically looks like it is playing dead.

Finding your German Shepherd sleeping in this position could mean one of three things:

  • The pup is relaxed and comfortable with its paws facing up.
  • The dog is submitting to its owners
  • The dog feels very safe and does not have to worry about being attacked by enemies
  • The dog is trying to cool down
  • Sleeping on the side

 A German Shepherd sleeping on its side normally has its paws outstretched before it. This is one of the most common sleeping positions for German Shepherds and is evident when the dog wants to stretch its legs so that they are more relaxed.

Also, if you find them sleeping in this position, it signifies that the dog is feeling comfortable and safe in that environment.

Sleeping while curled up like a ball

This is also one of the weird positions you may find a German Shepherd sleeping, especially where the pup chooses to cuddle up in a small space, such as a basket or box.

Typically, your German shepherd sleeps in this position to keep warm. You will often find the puppy curled up this way in colder months.

Sleeping on its front

This is one of the most natural sleeping positions for German shepherds. It is a position that allows them to stay alert and attack in case of anything. This position gives them an added advantage as they can quickly rise to their feet and charge.

Tail wrapped over its nose

This position is not as common. A sleeping German Shepherd will want to protect the most exposed part of its body, being the nose, from any injuries or flying elements. You will find a German Shepherd sleeping in this position during seasons where the weather is harsh, for instance when it raining, snowing, or windy.

Sited but Upright

Picture a Kangaroo sitting down. . .  Yes, this is a legitimate sleeping position for a German Shepherd. It is hands-down, one of the weirdest and uncommon sleeping positions. The pup sits on its tail with its hind legs stretched before it, and the upper body rests either on a wall or back of a chair supported on either side. Such a position just shows how comfortable and safe your dog feels. Also, it allows the pup to cool off.

These are some of the most common German Shepherd sleeping positions. They communicate a lot about their current situation and the influence the environment may be having on them. They can also be good indicators of your German Shepherds’ well-being. For instance, if you find your German Shepherd sleeps while curled up during extremely hot days, it may be an indication that the pup is coming down with something.

Where should a German Shepherd Sleep?

Now that we have covered the reason a German Shepherd sleeps and its sleeping habits, let us talk about where it should sleep. We all know that a good bed or sleeping structure highly contributes to how well we rest. Is this true for Germans Shepherds as well?

Weird German Shepherd sleeping Habits

Yes, providing a safe and comfortable environment where a German Shepherd sleeps is important. Most German Shepherd owners provide a doggie bed; however, this is not enough. Ensure that the bed is placed in a suitable location.

Place the doggie bed in a location that not too hot. Also, ensure that the dog has access to clean water from where it sleeps. This will give the dog a comfortable sleeping environment.

German Shepherd likes sleeping in my bed

 A German Shepherd enjoys sleeping on its owners’ bed for several reasons:

Its Herding instincts

 German Shepherd sleep next to their flock, this is a natural instinct. Since you are part of their flock, they will want to sleep next to you.

Its Protective instincts

German Shepherds have very strong protective instincts. This is why your pup will often bark and whine continuously when you are leaving or when they can’t see you.

They have very strong protective instincts and will get very anxious if they cannot see you because they can’t protect you. At night especially, they would rather sleep next to you and protect you, than in the other room.

Separation Anxiety

Genetically, German shepherds were bred as herd animals. They will want to spend every waking moment with members of their flock.

As a member of its flock, expect the German Shepherd to get quite anxious and angry when you leave it behind. This is why it is attached to you and may also want to sleep in your bed at night.

They are trained to sleep next to people

Your German Shepherd may have been trained to sleep next to people as a puppy.

If you allowed your German Shepherd to sleep in your bed, or if its previous owners allowed the pup to sleep with them, then sleeping with you even in old age is normal.

It’s cold

 Your German Shepherd sleeps next to you for warmth. This is the most likely reason for their behavior.

In summary: German Shepherd sleep Position, Habits and quantity

An adult German Shepherd should have 12-14 hours of sleep each day, while puppies and senior German Shepherds sleep for 16-20 hours. Of course, the amount of sleep highly depends on the lifestyle and health of the German Shepherd.

Weird German Shepherd sleeping Habits

 A Healthy German Shepherd will get its beauty sleep, and most times, the sleeping position will communicate how comfortable, safe, and rested the dog is. However, if the pup is battling any sort of health condition, whether mental or physical, sleep patterns may likely be affected. You may find that your German Shepherd sleeps less or more depending on the kind of illness it is battling.

Therefore, if you want a healthy German Shepherd, be sure to check on its habits and conditions. Ensure you provide the most comfortable option for the pup, be it sleeping on its own bed or yours.


Heather, M. (n.d.). Facts About German Shepherds. ASPCA Pet Insurance.

Separation Anxiety. (n.d.). ASPCA.

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