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Why Do Some Dogs Sleep Belly Up?

pupy sleeping on back blogMost of the time, dogs choose to snooze with their bellies facing down. This is done for two reasons: comfort and security. For centuries, dogs in the wild have curled up into a little ball while sleeping to keep warm on a cold night and to protect their vital organs from potential predators. Most domesticated canines tend to follow this rule and catch their z’s resting comfortably on their tummies. However, there’s always an exception to the rule.

A small percentage of dogs, around 5 to 10 percent, sleep with their bellies exposed to the air. Many factors can contribute to this behavior. Dogs that have a relaxed personality may be more likely to sleep on their backs. These are the dogs that are most temperamentally different from their wild ancestors. In other cases, dogs that are well-socialized, confident, and feel extremely safe in their own home might assume the belly-up sleeping position. Dogs with a shy personality aren’t likely to be comfortable with feeling so exposed.

Lastly, a dog’s sleeping position is sometimes simply a matter of preference. Some dogs just find it more comfy to roll over on their back during nap time.

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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Conchi Torres Sanes February 20, 2014, 4:20 pm

    I have a Basset Hound and always sleep with her belly up. I think is typical of this dogs.

  • Emma February 25, 2014, 5:56 am

    My Kuvasz sister Katie who is almost 12 still enjoys sleeping on her back with her paws up on occasion. Mom always thought it was something to do with her back, so this is interesting. My sister and I prefer to sleep curled up in a ball like cats.

  • Cynthia Stewart February 25, 2014, 6:00 am

    I have owned dogs for over 30 years and every single one has slept with his or her belly exposed, regardless of breed, as have the dogs of my friends and family. This is not rare at all, and has much more to do with how safe and relaxed they feel in their environment than anything else. I also believe dogs with heavy coats will sleep like that in an effort to cool off.

  • Gary February 25, 2014, 9:52 am

    My dog sleeps belly up mostly during the summertime so I always thought she was exposing her belly to the air in order to cool off.

  • Sally February 25, 2014, 10:59 am

    And some breeds are predisposed to sleep on their backs. Terriers. Check out the Airedale groups on Facebook, nearly all sleep on their backs at least part time.

  • Ruth February 25, 2014, 11:16 am

    Our 1-yr. old beagle loves to sleep on her back under the covers.
    So cute! Looks like old TV rabbit ears sticking up.

  • Gayle February 25, 2014, 11:16 am

    I have a rather large, well balanced pack with varying personalities and energy levels. It is so interesting to see them at nap time: four consistently stretch out on their backs with all four legs hanging any which way; three sleep on their tummies with front legs tucked under under their chests and the others sleep on their sides with necks stretched out or curled up with noses covered by their tails. My pack leader is one of the tummy out sleepers but she is never really deeply asleep, always on guard for any misbehaving pack mates or intruders (you have to watch out for hostile leaves)…..

  • Marlene February 26, 2014, 5:44 am

    All of my Keeshonden (6, mostly rescues over the past 20 years) have slept belly down.

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