Sleep is one of the important health aspects you should keep an eye on in your German Shepherd. This is because too much or too little sleep can be indicative of issues that should be taken care of as soon as possible.
Here is a detailed outlook on sleeping patterns in German Shepherds, so you will be able to identify possible health issues and avoid them as effectively as you can.
General Sleeping Patterns In German Shepherds
In general German Shepherds tend to sleep for about 12 hours to a maximum of 14 hours a day. But this sleeping time may differ based on the specific lifestyle led by a German Shepherd.
These dogs are generally known for their role as protectors and are particularly used as watch dogs to protect sheep herds and other watch operations. They are used in military for apprehension, scouting, and bomb detection and also for deterring potential ambushers.
Fierce loyalty, self assurance, confidence, obedience and intelligence are specific characteristics you will find in this dog breed. Thus German Shepherds make ideal work dogs and they are capable of working vigorously.
Usually the German Shepherds do not have a sleeping pattern and take naps all through the day. For dogs in special working conditions, the sleeping time is mostly taken up in training them as service dogs.
An active or working German Shepherd has fewer hours of sleep. For those working with the military and in watch operations due to their line of work can sleep for a lesser duration.
Since such work requires plenty of concentration, especially in search and rescue operations, such dogs sleep less. They even have to work continuously for several days with very little sleep. Such dogs are conditioned to adapt to the limited sleeping time and start working any time of the day when they are wanted.
However, for a less intense lifestyle like in a farm or ranch, the dogs are allowed more time for sleep. They develop a regular sleeping schedule of minimum 14 hours.
Age Related Sleep
Older dogs and puppies sleep for a much longer duration. The age directly influences the sleeping time. For puppies and dogs of younger age the time can be as long as 30 hours.
And when dogs become older the sleeping time increases. This change in their sleeping habit can be seen clearly as German Shepherd are active in their prime. The longer sleeping time indicates they are aging.
When To Worry?
If the sleeping time extends to 16 hours or longer, you should find out whether there is some problem related to the dog’s health. The reasons for prolonged sleeping time can be manifold.
A cold or other illness can make your German Shepherd sleep longer. The additional rest can help fight the illness better.
As mentioned before, old age also makes the dog less active and more prone to sleeping for long hours. This is true in case of different German Shepherd breeds. For American bred dogs the dogs are like couch potatoes while the pure German breeds possess a high drive.
If you want your dog to have the average sleeping time and not too long or short, you have to train the dog to get up at a certain time in the morning and sleep at a fixed time at the end of the day.
Using a special German Shepherd bed for dogs is another way to ensure your pet is comfortable and gets sufficient sleep.
Keeping a regular and busy schedule for your dog by keeping it engaged in several fun activities will help reduce an impromptu sleeping time during the day.
Activities like playing with toys, scavenging games or taking your German Shepherd for walks or runs can help keep the dog awake and active. (You can find the best harnesses for German Shepherds here.) Allowing the dog to volunteer as a therapy dog is also a way to keep your German Shepherd watchful, attentive and awake.
If your dog does not wake up even after a restful sleep, you should consult the concerned professional to correct the behavior.
Sometimes too much energy can also keep your pet awake. In such a case, you have to ensure your pet gets exercise for a minimum of 2 hours. Including exercise and other activities like a walk in the park, backyard playtime, etc. can help regularize the sleeping time.
Medical Conditions That Prevent Healthy Sleep
Sometimes conditions like arthritis can make it difficult for the dog for sleep long hours. In such cases you have to consult with your veterinarian to ensure proper treatment is provided.
For dogs that do not get proper sleep even after heavy activity, using Melatonin can help. This is a good sleeping aid when given around 5 to 6 mgs or based on the size of the pet.
For dogs with sleeping disorders such as Narcolepsy, which is a disorder of the nervous system sleeping occurs suddenly generally after the dog exercises. The eye keeps moving right and left like it would in an REM cycle. The low hypocretin levels make it difficult to maintain alertness and the regular sleep patterns.
Insomnia which is sleep inability and sleep apnea, which causes plenty of annoying snoring, are other disorders that can influence your pet’s sleeping time.
For such disorders and other similar issues, it is best to visit a professional to take good care of your pet.
Now that you have read our post on the sleeping habits of German Shepherds you will understand that they do not need much sleep. Even with a few hours of sleep the German Shepherd are energetic and lively. While a sleeping time of up to 14 hours is the average time spent by an adult German Shepherd, elderly dogs and puppies increases to around 20 hours. For puppies, where there is a need to grow and develop fast, the longer sleeping time ensures the processes are quick and uninterrupted. For older dogs, the time is longer like around 20 hours when the dog spends a majority of its daily time being alone and without any activity to be occupied in.