Dog Sleeping Positions: What the Furry Formations Mean

By: Orvis Staff

There’s more to sleep position than comfort.
Photo by Mary, Concord

You love your dog 24/7—whether he’s playing, walking by your side, or relaxing with you on the couch. But there’s little better than watching your dog take a snooze. Dogs have a way of finding the most relaxing positions on their corner of the couch or on their dog bed. Because they sleep from 12 to 14 hours every day, we get familiar with the cozy, sometimes hilarious, ways our dogs like to catch their ZZZZs. Here are some common dog sleeping positions and what they may be telling you about your best friend.

Photo by Barbara, Santa Fe

Curled Up Like a Ball

Dogs who sleep tightly curled in a ball are exhibiting a survival trait of their ancient forebears. Dogs descended from wolves, pack animals who sleep together in dens. Indeed, the curled-up sleep position is often called “the fox” after another well known denning creature. Sleeping curled up with their legs tucked toward their belly, and their noses and hindquarters curved together, offers dogs multiple benefits. It allows more animals to fit within a small space; it protects their vital organs in the event of an attack while they are sleeping; and it keeps them warm. The curled position is one of comfort, warmth, and safety—the closest equivalent for people would be the fetal sleeping position. Dogs who sleep nose to tail aren’t more insecure or scared than other dogs; they are simply most comfortable that way.

Photo by Melissa, West Windsor

The Superman Sprawl

Some dogs sleep on their bellies with their front legs stretched out in front and their back legs stretched behind. (In the similar “sploot” position, most associated with Corgis, the dog stretches only their back legs behind them in a frog-like position.) Often when dogs sleep Superman-style, it’s a sign they are feeling hot and cooling off by putting their core against the cold floor or earth. If they opt to sleep in that position on a cool, but very hard, tile floor, they are definitely hot. The Superman Sprawl can also be a sign of youth: puppies will sleep like this because they are in the starting position for playtime the second they wake up.

Photo by Melissa, Indio

The Side Sleeper

When dogs sleep on their sides without curling inward on themselves, they are in their comfort zone. In this position, they’re not instinctively drawing their legs in to protect their bellies. Their heads and back sides are stretched out long without a care in the world. In the side-sleeper position, you’re most likely to see your dog twitching and moving his legs as though running, while he dreams about chasing birds and squirrels. Dogs who sleep tightly curled use muscles to stay that way, so you’re less likely to see a curled up dog “run” in their sleep.

Photo by Melissa, Long Beach

The Back Sleeper

This is the most entertaining of the sleep positions. Sometimes called the “dead bug,” this position exposes a dog’s belly to the ceiling, with their legs hanging akimbo, and sometimes their head lolling off the side of their dog bed or the couch. The image could be more charming and ridiculous only with their tongue hanging out to boot. Back sleepers take the side sleeper’s comfort a step further. They feel utterly safe and unworried about an attack on their vital organs. Seeing your dog or any dog sleeping this way is endlessly amusing, and #dogsofinstagram owes it a debt of gratitude.

However your dog sleeps, rest assured the position is the most comfortable one for that particular moment. If not, he’ll adjust his cozy configuration and furry formation until he hits the sleep sweet spot.

One thought on “Dog Sleeping Positions: What the Furry Formations Mean”

  1. I want to buy (as I’ve done before) a dog collar. Can’t even get the page.
    Yes, I called. I was told to try starting my computer (Mac) again.

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