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Why Does My Dog Sleep With Tongue Out? Reasons Explained!

As a dog owner, do you ever find your furry friend snoozing away with her tongue sticking out? You may be wondering why this peculiar sleeping habit exists. Though it looks funny, there are various reasons that can explain why dogs sleep with their tongues out.

Dog Sleeping With Tongue Out
Naruedol Rattanakornkul – Shutterstock

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the different factors that contribute to this behavior, including their anatomy, breed-specific characteristics, medical issues, and more.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of why your dog sleeps with her tongue out, and what you can do to ensure she has a comfortable and healthy sleeping environment.

Reasons Why Dogs Sleep With Their Tongue Out

Here are some reasons why dogs sleep with their tongue out:

Dog Sleeping
Igor Barilo – iStock
  • Cooling mechanism: Dogs don’t sweat like humans do, which means they have to regulate their body temperature in other ways. One way they do this is by panting, which helps them release heat from their body. When a dog sleeps, they might continue panting, which causes their tongue to hang out of their mouth.
  • Breed-specific characteristics: Some dog breeds have a larger tongue or a shorter snout, which can make it difficult for them to keep their tongue in their mouth while sleeping. For example, many brachycephalic breeds (such as Bulldogs, Pugs, and Shih Tzus) are known for sticking their tongues out due to their flat faces.
  • Medical issues: In some cases, a dog might sleep with their tongue out due to a medical issue. For example, respiratory problems can make it difficult for a dog to breathe properly, which can lead to panting and tongue protrusion. Neurological issues such as seizures or cognitive dysfunction can also cause a dog to sleep with their tongue out.
  • Stress and Anxiety: Dogs who are anxious or stressed might pant and stick out their tongues while sleeping as a way to regulate their breathing and calm down. This can be common in dogs who have separation anxiety or who are in new or unfamiliar environments.
  • Dental Issues: Dogs who are experiencing dental problems, such as tooth decay or gum disease, may have trouble keeping their tongues inside their mouths while sleeping.
  • Medications: Certain medications, such as steroids, can cause dogs to pant and stick their tongues out while sleeping. If your dog has recently started a new medication and is displaying this behavior, it’s important to speak to your veterinarian.
  • Age: As dogs age, they may develop dental issues or other health problems that make it difficult for them to keep their tongues inside their mouths while sleeping.
  • Temperature Regulation: Sleeping with their tongue out can help dogs regulate their body temperature not only when it’s hot but also when it’s cold. By breathing through their mouth, dogs can warm up the air they inhale, which helps keep them warm when it’s chilly outside.
  • Relaxation: Dogs who are completely relaxed and comfortable while sleeping may naturally stick their tongue out as they release tension and let their body fully relax.
  • Habit: Sometimes, dogs develop habits that are hard to break. If your dog has been sleeping with their tongue out for a while, they may continue to do so out of habit, even if there’s no underlying medical or behavioral reason.

Signs That Your Dog’s Sleeping Behavior is Abnormal

While a dog sleeping with their tongue out is generally considered a normal behavior, there are some signs that your dog’s sleeping behavior may be abnormal and require further attention. Here are some signs to look out for:

Dog Sleeping With Toy
Ermolaev Alexander – Shutterstock
  • Restlessness: If your dog is exhibiting restlessness by constantly moving around or being unable to settle down and relax, this could be indicative of an underlying medical issue or behavioral problem.
  • Difficulty sleeping: If your dog has difficulty falling or staying asleep, this could be indicative of pain, anxiety or some other medical issue.
  • Loud snoring: Snoring in dogs, while relatively common, can be indicative of respiratory problems or other medical issues if it is excessively loud or constant.
  • Excessive panting: Dogs typically pant when it’s hot or after exercise, which is normal. But if they’re panting while asleep, it may indicate an underlying medical issue like heart disease or lung problems.
  • Incontinence: If your dog is urinating or defecating while sleeping on a regular basis, this could be an indication of a medical issue or incontinence related to age.
  • Nightmares or sleep disturbances: If your dog is having nightmares, waking up during the night, or exhibiting signs of fear or anxiety while sleeping, it could be indicative of an underlying behavioral or psychological problem.

Tips for Helping Your Dog Sleep Comfortably

Here are some tips for helping your dog sleep comfortably:

mphillips007 – iStock
  • Provide a comfortable sleeping area: Make sure your dog’s sleeping area is clean, comfortable, and free of any potential hazards. This can include providing a soft bed, blankets, and pillows to help support their body and alleviate any discomfort they may be experiencing.
  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule: Dogs thrive on routine, so establishing a consistent sleep schedule can help your furry friend relax and get the restful sleep they need. Try to stick to a regular bedtime and wake-up time, even on weekends.
  • Create a calming environment: Dimming the lights and playing soothing music or white noise can help create a calming environment for your dog to sleep in. You may also want to consider using aromatherapy, such as lavender oil, which has been shown to have a calming effect on dogs.
  • Monitor the temperature: Dogs can be sensitive to temperature changes, so make sure your dog’s sleeping area is kept at a comfortable temperature. If it’s too hot or too cold, your dog may have trouble sleeping.
  • Provide mental stimulation: Providing mental stimulation, such as toys or puzzles, can help tire your dog out and make them more likely to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep longer.
  • Avoid feeding your dog late at night: Feeding your dog late at night can disrupt their sleep and lead to uncomfortable digestive issues. Try to feed your dog their last meal of the day several hours before bedtime.
  • Give your dog plenty of exercise: Regular exercise during the day can help your dog burn off excess energy and promote a healthy sleep pattern.


Is it normal for dogs to sleep with their tongue out?

Yes, it is normal for dogs to sleep with their tongue out. This is because dogs pant to regulate their body temperature and cool down when they’re feeling hot or tired.

Should I be worried if my dog sleeps with their tongue out all the time?

If your dog habitually sleeps with its tongue out, it may be indicative of an underlying medical issue such as dental difficulties, respiratory issues or neurological disorders. Therefore, it’s best to consult a veterinarian if you observe any changes in your dog’s sleeping habits or they regularly sleep with their tongue out.

Can dogs choke on their tongue while sleeping?

Dogs cannot choke on their tongue while sleeping due to the fact that it is connected to the bottom of the mouth and thus unable to block off an airway. Nevertheless, any respiratory difficulties or other medical symptoms should be immediately addressed by a veterinarian.

Can dogs suffer from sleep disorders?

Yes, dogs can suffer from sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless leg syndrome. These disorders can be caused by underlying medical conditions, such as obesity or respiratory problems, and may require veterinary treatment.


To sum up, many dogs sleep with their tongue out and this is considered a normal sleeping position. It may appear strange to some pet owners but usually requires no worry. Nevertheless, if your dog demonstrates any changes in its sleeping habits or frequently sleeps with its tongue out, it’s essential to make an appointment with your vet for examination of potential underlying medical problems.

By creating a comfortable sleeping space for your dog, keeping to a regular sleep routine, providing sufficient exercise and mental stimulation, you can help your pet develop healthy sleeping patterns. With the right care and dedication from you as an owner, your dog will be able to get the restful sleep they need in order to remain contented and healthy for years ahead.