Why is My Dog Sticking Their Tongue Out While Sleeping?

dog sleeping with tongue out

There’s nothing to be worried about if your dog is sticking its tongue out while sleeping. The most common reason dogs do this is because they’re relaxed and comfortable. Other than a dry mouth when they wake up, there are no adverse effects of sleeping with the tongue out.

There’s not much cuter than seeing a dog sleep with his tongue sticking out. Many pet owners are curious about why dogs stick their tongue out while sleeping, so we’ve gathered up a few possibilities.

Why Dogs Stick Their Tongues Out While Sleeping

There are a few reasons a dog might stick his tongue out while he’s asleep, which we’ll get into below. We start with the most common reasons and move on to less likely causes.

The Dog is Relaxed

By far, the most common reason for a dog to stick his tongue out while sleeping is because he’s relaxed.

Just like humans, dogs’ muscles relax when they’re asleep, and the more deeply they’re sleeping, the more likely their jaw will relax, allowing the tongue to stick out.

Because the tongue itself is a muscle, it will sometimes be relaxed enough to fall forward out of the mouth rather than being held further back in.

This is completely harmless and has to do with the dog’s face shape, sleeping position, and relaxation level.

Many dog owners report that very young and old dogs are more likely to sleep with their tongues out, perhaps because their muscles are not as strong or because they’re able to fall into a deeper level of sleep.

Tongue is Too Long

It sounds funny to say it, but some dogs’ have a tongue that is too long for their mouth, which will result in the tongue sticking out any time the dog relaxes, such as when sleeping.

This is mostly the case with Brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs such as pugs, mastiffs, and bulldogs.

Too Hot

Since dogs use their tongues to regulate body temperature, it makes sense that if a dog gets too hot when he’s sleeping, he’ll stick his tongue out to cool off.

If you suspect that this is the case, try cooling the sleeping area by using air conditioning, a fan, or even an open window.

Mouth Breathing

Dogs can breathe through both their nose and mouth. Some dogs have a tendency to breathe through their mouth while sleeping, which, of course, can allow the tongue to fall out of the mouth since it’s open.

There’s not usually anything to worry about if your dog is a mouth-breather, as long as he’s not struggling to breathe. Just make sure he’s got plenty of water to offset a dry throat.

Missing Teeth

Older dogs and dogs with dental or jaw issues may be missing teeth, resulting in the tongue falling out, just like if the dog’s jaw is open or relaxed.

Again, this is nothing to worry about, as long as the dog isn’t showing any signs of distress.

Neurological Condition

Neurological conditions or damage can cause a dog’s tongue to stick out of the mouth, though this will often be the case while he’s awake as well. If it’s only happening when he’s sleeping, and he seems to be otherwise fine, chances are good that there’s nothing like that going on.

If you’re unsure, though, check with your vet.

Can Sleeping With Tongue Out Cause Issues?

A dog sleeping with his tongue sticking out will usually suffer no adverse effects. However, if it’s a regular occurrence, it can sometimes lead to dry, cracked tongue and lips, which will then be more vulnerable to infection.

If this is the case for your dog, be sure to call your vet, who may recommend rubbing an oil on the tongue. Avoid using anything that may cause digestive upset, as some oils can have a laxative effect.

Other Funny Dog Sleeping Behaviors

As any dog owner will tell you, sleeping with their tongues sticking out isn’t the only strange thing dogs do while they’re sleeping.

Twitching, Whimpering, and Howling

Dogs have dreams, and it’s not uncommon for them to physically react to those dreams while sleeping.

They’ll often twitch as though they’re running, whimper and bark softly, and even start howling if they have a nightmare.

If your dog is exhibiting any of these behaviors, it’s completely normal. Just sit back and enjoy how cute they are, unless the dog seems to be having a bad dream, in which case he might appreciate you gently waking him up by saying his name or petting him.

If you decide to wake a dog up by petting him, it’s not a bad idea to keep the pats towards the back of the dog rather than the face since they might jolt awake and be disoriented. You don’t want your hand near the head if that happens.

Sleeping in Weird Positions

Dogs sleep in all kinds of weird positions, some more so than others. This can be mildly irritating if the dog is taking up a lot of room and sleeps in the bed with you, but it is usually just plain cute.

  • Sleeping belly up with legs akimbo usually means the dog is very secure and comfortable in his surroundings
  • Sleeping belly up with front legs curled over the chest is a more guarded position and usually means that the dog is trying to cool off
  • Side sleeping with his back up to yours means the dog wants to be close but doesn’t want to overheat
  • Sprawled out on its belly with legs out can either mean the dog is hot and is cooling off on a cold floor or that the dog is tired but feeling playful and wants to be ready to jump up and rejoin the action once he’s rested
  • Burrowing under a blanket or pillow can mean the dog is cold but also anxious and seeking security. Or, it can simply mean that the sleeping area isn’t dark enough

Sleeping in Weird Places

If your dog sometimes chooses strange places to snooze, he probably has a good reason for it.

Sometimes the bed you provide isn’t comfortable for the dog because it’s too big, too small, too roughly textured, too hard, or just plain lumpy. In this case, he might decide to sleep on the floor or on a piece of furniture that’s more comfortable.

If the dog is insecure, he might prefer sleeping in a sheltered space, like under a table or bed. If this is the case, buying a covered dog bed can solve the issue.

Insecure sleepers will also often try to sleep closer to their owners because they’re anxious or because they feel protective of their human. Protective dogs will sometimes sleep in uncomfortable spots so they can defend their human if need be.

Another main reason dogs will pick random places to sleep is that the temperature in their designated sleeping area is wrong, and they’re trying to warm up or cool down.

Their sleeping place might also be too loud, especially if you live in a busy city or household with children.

Just like anyone, dogs need safe, comfortable, quiet places to sleep, and they’ll adjust their sleeping locations accordingly. If you’re able to adjust the dog’s sleeping area so that he’s more comfortable, that’s ideal.

But if not, it’s acceptable to let the dog sleep where he wants to, unless it’s causing a problem.

Dogs Bring Unspeakable Joy

Dogs bring a ton of joy to their owners’ lives. Even while they’re sleeping, they’re entertaining, especially dogs who have unusual sleeping habits like sleeping with their tongue out.

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