By: Amber Kingsley.
August 7th, 2015
Having a pet, especially a dog, is a life-long commitment, similar to having a child, they are dependent upon us for everything from feeding to health care and much more. They look to us for companionship, play and exercise during their active years. Depending on the breed, some dogs can be full-time workers, like police and security dogs or couch potatoes, like many of our pets.
Deceptive Dog Duties
When one thinks of a working dog, we may imagine one of these types of laborious categories:
- Herding Animals
- Dog Sledding
- Rescue Dogs
- Dog Racing
- Drug and Bomb Sniffing Dogs
Many people don’t realize that while these stereotypical roles that many of these dogs play as working animals are commonly seen in these positions, but they may not be as active as we might imagine. For example, when you think of a rescue dog, you might envision a Saint Bernard complete with his small wooden barrel of whiskey strapped underneath his chin on a snowy mountain top. But left to their own devices, this particular large canine breed is actually quite lazy and would much rather be snoozing by the fire at the ski lodge.
According to Sleep.org, powered by the National Sleep Foundation, large breed dogs like the Saint Bernard and other working dogs like Newfoundlands, Mastiffs and the Great Pyrenees have actually earned the nickname “mat dogs” for their seemingly endless nap times. While an average dog will sleep 12 to 14 hours per day, some of these larger and often older dogs can snooze up to 18 to 20 hours in a twenty-four hour cycle. As a matter of fact, most larger dog breeds will sleep much longer than their smaller counterparts.
We’re also told that dogs are flexible sleepers and spend around 50% of their day sleeping, another 30% just lying around and about 20% of the time being active. While they could be completely conked out on the floor one minute, when the doorbell rings, they will likely pop up like a champagne cork to see who has arrived at our home.
Think of it this way, many of us humans may spend our day off from working by watching television or another sedentary activity and dogs are much the same way. But when Monday morning rolls around, it’s time to get back to work. Police dogs, rescue animals and other working canines are active when needed but are perfectly content to lie around and be comfortable when duty is not calling them into action.
How Much Is Too Much?
For many of our own animals who spend the majority of time lying around while we’re at work or school, how do we know if they’re sleeping too much or too little? We’re told to look for drastic changes in their behavior as an indicator that there could be a problem. If a usually active dog is suddenly sleeping the day away or vice versa, your couch potato of a canine is unexpectedly active, there could be an issue.
If you see these types of substantial changes in their behavior, it’s time to consult your veterinarian. It could be something simple like changing their diet or perhaps treating a thyroid condition or other medical problem. In any event, whether active or inactive, working or playing, we can enjoy the time we spend with our four-legged friends, both awake and asleep.