Whether you are recently the proud parent of a new Australian Shepherd puppy or you have had your Aussie for a while you probably have looked at your dog while it’s sleeping (or not sleeping) and wondered what is a normal amount of sleep for this high energy breed?
You are not alone in this question. There are many Australian Shepherd Owners that wonder the same thing. So just for you I did some research and reached out to other Australian Shepherd owners and this is what I found out.
Adult Australian Shepherds will sleep on average 10-14 hours a day. Australian Shepherd Puppies will sleep 18-20 hours a day in a 24hr period. How much your Australian Shepherd sleeps depends a lot on their personalities. Australian Shepherds are high-energy dogs so they may sleep a little less than other breeds.
If you are fit and active your Australian Shepherd will be also if you are relaxed and laid back chances are your Australian Shepherd will be similar to you. But how do you know if your Australian Shepherd is getting too little or too much of those precious zzzzzz’s? Continue reading to find out.
How Much Sleep Do Australian Shepherd Need? Puppies, Adults, Seniors
Australian Shepherd Newborns
This stage of life is very short and full of lots of shut-eye! For the first week of their life, Australian Shepherd newborns will be sleeping anytime they aren’t nursing. Newborns generally nurse every 2 hours but even while doing so they will have their eyes shut and look as though they are eating in their sleep.
As they grow they will slowly start to spend more time awake. Around 3 weeks old they will have around 2-4 hours of active time a day broken up into small spurts of energy and exploring their world.
Australian Shepherd Puppies
Puppies are quickly growing and changing. They need plenty of sleep to fuel and recharge their growing bodies. From 2-5 months old Australian Shepherd puppies will generally sleep around 18-20 hours in a 24-hour period. This includes sleeping at night and daytime naps.
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Your puppy will sleep in longer stretches at night, but will still need to get up to relieve its small bladder and stretch. He may even have a burst of energy and seem like he wants to play. With some patience and guidance, your puppy can learn to sleep through the night by 4 months old, maybe even sooner.
Older puppies from around 6-12 months old will sleep about 14-16 hours throughout a 24 hour period. At this point, they should be more active and inquisitive during the day and will be better about sleeping through the night in 6-9 hour stretches.
They will also take multiple naps during the day, as well as times of rest when they appear to be just lying around, but somewhat alert as well as high energy awake time when they will want to play and train.
When Will My Australian Shepherd Puppy Sleep Through The Night?
Australian Shepherd puppies will generally sleep through the night by about 4 months old, but it can range from 8 or 9 weeks old all the way through 6 months old. Some puppies may also go through a sleep regression when going through a growth spurt or teething.
There is a lot that you can do to nurture your puppy’s sleeping patterns and help them to sleep better at night. Towards the end of this article, we will discuss those in the heading sleep problems and solutions.
Fun Fact: Senior dogs, as well as puppies, tend to twitch more in their sleep! This is due to a part of their brain called the Pons which regulates muscles and keeps them still while they sleep. This part of a puppy’s brain is underdeveloped and for older dogs, it works less efficiently.
Australian Shepherd Adults
Your adult Australian Shepherd will normally sleep around 10-14 hours in a 24 hr period, but more as he ages. In this study, researchers found that older and middle-aged dogs slept more during the day than young adult dogs.
This was because they took more naps, not because their naps were longer. They tend to run out of energy and need to rest more often than the younger group. Older and middle-aged dogs also slept more at night than younger dogs because they had long stretches of sleep at night (waking up later) and woke up fewer times during the night.
It’s important to remember that this can greatly differ depending on the personality and temperament of each dog as well as the atmosphere/lifestyle of your home. When I asked Australian Shepherd owners what their Australian Shepherd behavior was like they covered all the ranges of this 12-16 hr span.
Australian Shepherds are bred to herd sheep. It is ingrained in them to want to do a job! They tend to be pretty high energy and love to be kept busy with games and exercise. Because they may have a bit more energy than other breeds, they may sleep a little less than other breeds as well.
Some owners I talked to said that if their Australian Shepherds are left home alone all day they tend to just sleep since there is no one there to engage them with play or give them a reason to exercise. So as you can see their sleep schedule greatly depend on the kinds of habits you develop for your dog.
Senior Australian Shepherd
Your Australian Shepherd is considered a senior sometime between 8 and 10 years old. At this time you will probably start to see your dog slowly increasing the amount of time it is resting and sleeping.
It won’t happen all at once, but just like humans as they age they tend to slow down and not have quite as much energy as a young pup. Senior Australian Shepherd will sleep 14-16 hrs a day on average as they get to be 10-14 years old and older they could be sleeping up to 18 hrs a day.
At an older age, your Australian Shepherd’s sleep patterns may change as well. It’s normal for your dog to take more naps during the day and have a few wakeful periods at night. This change will probably happen slowly and should be nothing to worry about unless it’s a sudden or significant change.
If your Australian Shepherd has sudden or significant changes in their patterns of sleep it’s probably best to consult your vet. For older Australian Shepherd, these could be signs of more serious issues such as dementia, arthritis, hypothyroidism, or other conditions associated with older age.
Your Australian Shepherd may be waking up more at night because its bladder is getting older and they need to use the potty more often. You can try and help with this by taking them out right before bed and limiting their water intake just before bed as well.
Can Australian Shepherd Sleep Outside?
Australian Shepherds can sleep outside if they are provided with adequate shelter and brought inside in extreme weather. However, It is not recommended that Australian Shepherd sleep outside. Australian Shepherds thrive on relationships and being close to their owners, sleeping outdoors can be lonely for this social breed.
Even though sleeping outside may not be the ideal solution for your Australian Shepherd, your Aussie most likely loves being outdoors! Whether it’s hiking, playing frisbee, or chasing animals around on the farm being outside for them is being in their element.
Many Australian Shepherds will desire to live outdoors all day long, and some may even ask to be outside at night. If your dog is comfortable with this and you live in a temperate climate there is really nothing wrong with your dog living and playing outdoors, as long as your dog has adequate shelter and socialization it needs to thrive.
As to where most Aussie owners have their dogs live I searched for answers on an Aussie lovers Facebook group and found out that out of 400 Australian Shepherd owners, 92% of them say that their dogs sleep indoors. 4% of owners said that their dog has access to stay indoors or outdoors and about 4 % say their dogs sleep exclusively outside.
Most owners state their hot or humid climate as being the reason their dogs sleep indoors with them as well as their dogs need to be by their side following them around day and night.
Some owners who have a dog door allow their Aussie to choose whether to sleep indoors or outdoors.
Why Does My Australian Shepherd Sleep So Much?
Many factors could contribute to your Australian Shepherd sleeping a lot. Puppies and senior dogs sleep more than adult Australian Shepherd. Stress, anxiety, boredom, diet, or disease can all be factors for why your dog is sleeping more than usual. In most cases, it is normal for dogs to sleep 12 or more hours a day.
If you are concerned about your Australian Shepherd sleeping patterns it is always a good idea to talk to your vet.
In most cases there is nothing to worry about if your dog sleeps quite a bit, however; if your dog’s sleeping patterns have changed dramatically in a short period of time then it could be a red flag that something more significant is happening.
Lethargy or a lack of energy and enthusiasm can be a sign that your dog is being affected by something more than just laziness or a bit tired. If this describes your dog then definitely consult with your vet. Many diseases and age-related problems can come with a change in sleeping patterns.
Some dogs will sleep more in the wintertime because the days are shorter and colder. You can read this article I wrote to learn more about that.
If you think your dog is sleeping a lot because of boredom you can always make an effort to have more playtime and exercise sessions with your dog.
You could hire a dog walker (we have a neighborhood teen that loves to walk dogs for a very reasonable rate!)
Or join a fun program you can work on together like this popular brain training for dogs course!
Sleep Problems and Solutions for Puppies and Adults
If you are struggling with getting your Australian Shepherd to settle down and sleep at night you are not alone. Whether it’s the new puppy days, or you just moved, most owners go through this stage at some point.
Things that may be making this challenging can range from crying or whining at night, waking up in the middle of the night, struggling to settle down, or waking up too early in the morning.
Some dogs will start to sleep well through the night then a few weeks or months later start to wake up again. This is called a sleep regression and can be normal.
Similar to human babies when puppies are teething or going through growth spurts it could cause them to wake up at night or have difficulties sleeping.
Luckily there are some things that you can do to help your dog (as well as yourself) get the good night’s sleep you need.
- Have a routine and schedule:
If your Australian Shepherd knows what to expect and has specific cues to alert him that it’s time to wind down and get some shut-eye it can do a lot to help them easily get settled at night. This routine can include using the restroom, bringing the noise level down, dimming the light, creating a relaxing and calm atmosphere.
It’s important to keep this schedule as consistent as possible. Going to bed around the same time each night, and having set patterns will not only signal to your dog’s brain it’s time for bed, which will in turn help to increase the production of melatonin (your bodies powerful natural sleep aid) it can also help you fall asleep more easily as well.
- Give them plenty of exercise:
Since Australian Shepherds were originally bred from Retrievers and Poodles whose origins come from being hunting dogs they are very intelligent and have an internal desire to work.
Australian Shepherds need plenty of stimulation and exercise each day. If they have been bored and laying around all day chances for a good night’s rest are minimal. Two hours a day for a high-energy Australian Shepherd should be the minimum.
The best time for a good exercise session is about 2 hours before bedtime. Try to include high cardio exercise as well and engaging brain activities so that your Australian Shepherd will be both physically tired as well as mentally tired.
Have a specific sleeping area and make it inviting:
Whether it’s in their crate in the living room, their doggy bed (Amazon affiliate link to a comfy warming bed) next to your bed on the floor, or even in your own bed. Having a designated area to go to will help create the routine and let your dog know that it’s sleep time. If your dog sleeps in his own bed, or in a crate, having something that smells like you and a small stuffed animal to snuggle with can help him feel more safe and secure. This is especially true for puppies.
One Aussie owner said that the only way to get their dog to settle down and sleep is to put him in his crate in a quiet place with a blanket draped over the crate.
Take up their water after a certain time of the evening. If your Australian Shepherd seems to need a bathroom break in the middle of the night all the time you can try changing his meal time to be a few hours earlier (so he will get the poop out before bed) or a few hours later (so he can hold it until tomorrow).
You can also take up the water dish a few hours before bed so that he isn’t filling up his bladder just before dozing off.
Either way, you may want to slowly adjust the time of his meals to see if that will help with the late-night bathroom breaks.
- If early morning waking is a problem try figuring out what it is that may be waking them up?
Is the sun coming up? Try adding some darkening curtains. Are there noises such as birds or early morning traffic? Try adding some white noise by using a noise machine like this one from Amazon. (Amazon affiliate link).
All it takes is some investigative work to try and figure out what may be causing the problem. It can be easier to do this if you keep a log or journal of your dog’s sleeping and eating patterns. This doesn’t have to be something that you do long-term, but just long enough for you to notice a pattern so you can address it.
Speaking of eating, if your Australian Shepherd eats strange things click here to read my latest article about Australian Shepherd health and what to do.
If nothing seems to be working, your dog has changed his sleep patterns suddenly, he seems very lethargic and low on energy all the time, or he has other symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, blood in his stool, or other concerns then you should take him to the vet immediately to get checked out.
If you have a puppy and all its needs are met and it is still crying just remember it is common for it to whine and cry especially for the first week or so that you have him in your home. You can try a soothing stuffy like this one from Amazon (affiliate link).
An older dog who is new to your home may experience this as well. If you must check on him make sure that the lights stay dim, and you are as un-intrusive as you can be. If you are working with your puppy to sleep in their own bed or crate, make sure to not give in and then expect smooth sailing after that. You need to start the expectations as you mean to go forward.
Should I Let My Australian Shepherd Sleep With Me?
There are a lot of great benefits you could get by letting your Australian Shepherd sleep with you. Here are some listed below.
- Eases stress and anxiety
- Extra warmth
- Greater security
- Morning cuddles and love
- Decreases loneliness
- Releases Oxytocin
- Helps you bond with your dog
- Makes your dog feel more secure
Dogs and humans have been sleeping together in some cultures for thousands of years, and for good reasons, just being close to your Australian Shepherd helps to increase your levels of Oxytocin (link to PubMed article) a powerful hormone that will help you unwind, destress, lower your heart rate and feel more relaxed. This is a perfect recipe for a great night’s sleep.
Research shows that dog owners who share special bonds with their dogs benefit greatly from mental health benefits such as lower blood pressure, decreased stress, less anxiety and depression, and overall better health.
You get a similar release of love hormone when your Australian Shepherd stares at you. Read more about why your Australian Shepherd stares by clicking here.
Many Australian Shepherd owners choose to let their Aussies sleep with them for many of these reasons.
There are however also reasons you should consider that may make you decide to not let your Australian Shepherd sleep with you. Here are some below.
- Sleep quality could be affected
- Could make allergies worse
- Possible transmission of disease
- Possibility of creating more separation anxiety in your dog
- Could make resource guarding worse
- Could make intimacy with your partner more challenging
Dog and Human sleep cycles can actually differ quite a bit. If you or your dog is a fitful light sleeper it could be difficult to get enough deep sleep if your dog is waking you up constantly. If you and your pooch are constantly battling it out then you will probably be better off with them in their own bed.
Even though everyone has their own opinion about why or why not their Australian Shepherd should sleep in bed with them ultimately you get to decide what’s best for you and your furry friend.
Do Australian Shepherd Like To Sleep With You?
Australian Shepherd generally love to be close to their owners. They are very affectionate and cuddly and if allowed can enjoy sleeping in your bed next to you or in the same room as you at night. They tend to thrive on connection and will also likely follow you around the house during the day.
Australian Shepherd Sleeping Positions and What they Mean
Curled up in a ball: I’m keeping warm and protecting myself. Dogs curl up in a ball as an instinct from their wild days when they needed to do so to protect their most vital organs and stay warm.
Flat on their back with legs in the air: I feel completely comfortable with you and have no worries about being safe I know you will protect me!
Laying on their back says that they feel completely secure and safe! It’s also the most comfortable position for them since they can relax all their muscles at once. There aren’t any muscles curled or tensed when they sleep like this.
Under the covers with my favorite people: I’m feeling safe and warm on your soft bed near your toes! …. Or in some cases near your face!
With a Friend – You are part of my pack. I feel better when you are here next to me!