Dog owners are familiar with eccentric behaviors of dogs. As a dog owner, I am sure you have noticed weird behaviors in your dog that you failed to make any sense of. One such behavior is sleeping with the tongue out. This behavior is not unique to dogs, however, other animals that sleep with their tongues out are not as commonly domesticated as dogs.

New dog owners often get worried seeing their puppy friends sleeping with protruding tongues. For their peace of mind, there’s no reason to worry. Sleeping with a booping tongue is not among dog health problems.

In this article, I will discuss why dogs sleep with their tongues out. Why it is not a cause for concern, the common reasons behind it, and which other species do the same, and why. 

So keep reading.

The Most Common Reasons

Why do dogs sleep with their tongues out? The most common reasons are as follows:

  • Panting: Dogs believe in staying cool. If your dog has been running around or is in a hot place, it may pant while sleeping to maintain its body temperature. This makes their tongue stick out a little. We humans also pant this way, when we are extremely tired, or just done sprinting half a kilometer. 
  • Relaxation: Dogs may become completely relaxed, with every muscle relaxed, extending to the tongue. So, next time you see dogs sleep with their tongues out, remember, it could be because of muscle relaxation.
  • Brachycephalic breeds: There are specific dog breeds that have short snouts, such as pugs and bulldogs. These breeds of dogs sleep with tongues out more often because their air passage is narrower. The result is that their mouths have to stay open, so their tongues stick out.

A word of caution. Dogs often sleep with their tongues out, and it’s harmless. But as a responsible dog owner, if you notice your dog sleeping with its tongue out for the first time, keep an eye on it. Do this to make sure your dog is breathing normally. Upon noticing your dog is struggling to breathe or its tongue is unusually dry or discolored, call a vet.

Some Offbeat Reasons

Here are some not-so-common reasons why dogs sleep with their tongues out.

  • Tongue placement can vary too. Some dogs sleep with their tongues hanging lollipop style, while others simply poke their tip out like a mischievous prankster. 
  • Studies indicate a connection to tongue protrusion and a type of sleep called rapid eye movement sleep ( containers dreaming and fidgeting hands). It has been proven that dogs, just like humans, dream during sleeping, and even remember those dreams after waking up. Therefore, catching your dog’s tongue dangle may be a window into the dream territory of your canine friend.
  • Some explain that the protruding tongues allowed our canine ancestors to cool themselves during hunts or during short races. Even now, this panting routine may occur during canine sleep as a carryover from their wild days. This is a theory though, and not all scientists endorse it.

As stated earlier, the reasons behind tongue protrusion are mostly innocuous. That being said, too much protrusion of the tongue, especially when combined with an unusual panting or with dribbling saliva, may mean problems with the teeth, the airways, or overheating. If you are still worried, you can always ask a veterinarian.

Don’t Feel Worried

Long time dog owners don’t feel worried seeing their dogs sleeping with protruding tongues. They know dogs sleep with their tongues out. Familiarity matters big time. Think about it. Would you really be surprised if your dog always slept with their tongue hanging out? You come to accept this little foible as one of their characteristics.

Another important thing to keep in mind is knowledge eases concern. For dogs which sleep with their tongues out, understanding why they do so can dispel worry. But knowing that it is usually caused by panting, relaxation, or breed will free your mind of anxieties.

Misinformation plays a role behind dog owners becoming unnecessarily worried. Sometimes, some kinds of stories which circulate on the Internet happen to be exaggerated. They may actually give people unnecessary anxiety. Hence, it’s essential that you find reliable information from credible sources, such as veterinarians or animal behavior specialists.

Tongue Protrusion Across Species

Cats, pigs, bears, and horses also sleep with their tongues out. Sometimes cats (especially kittens) will stick their tongues out when they sleep due to relaxation, or sometimes even while dreaming (REM sleep) during which they similarly poke, lick and clean themselves.

Newborn pigs frequently sleep with their tongues flopping, as they gradually adjust their own body temperature. For horses, it is not as common as dogs. But a fatigued horse may slither its tongue out so he can pant when sleeping to cool himself off. Bears also protrude their tongues, which help them thermoregulate.


In the end, of course, if you have any doubts about the health of your dog or his behavior, you should best tell your vet. But don’t be unnecessarily alarmed. Dogs sleep with their tongues out.  Accept it as one of their charming eccentricities and watch your cute dog get comfy!

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