Why Is My German Shepherd Dog Sleeping On His Back? Everything You Need to Know!
Camille Bataille
Author: Camille Bataille
Camille, a dedicated veterinary professional, has a profound commitment to providing expert care, especially for German Shepherds.
Published date: January 29, 2023
Updated date: May 25, 2023
This article was reviewed and fact checked If you have found any errors, please contact us!

Why Is My German Shepherd Dog Sleeping On His Back? Everything You Need to Know!

Dogs can do the strangest things! Of all of the strange things that your dog does, however, a good bunch of them happen while your dog is asleep.

Sometimes, German Shepherds like sleeping on their backs.

They’re peaceful and serene most of the time. But why do they choose to sleep on their backs?

We’re here to answer that question and a few others about how your pooch chooses to sleep.

We’re going to explain a couple of the reasons as to why your German Shepherd is sleeping on his or her back, and we’re going to dive into the specific things that you need to know about this particular sleeping position.

Why Is My German Shepherd Sleeping On His Back?


Perhaps you have come downstairs and have noticed your dog sleeping on his back.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s day time or night time, your dog loves to lie on his back.

We’ve been there too – we’ve witnessed our dogs loudly snoring with their legs and bellies up in the air, without a single care in the world!

As it turns out there are a number of different reasons that a German Shepherd may decide to sleep with his belly in the air.

Some of them are rather useful for your dog, and some of the reasons may just come down to temperament.

4 Main Reasons That Your German Shepherd May Be Sleeping On Their Back

1. It Provides Comfort

Let’s address the most obvious reason straight away.

It is very likely that your German Shepherd is lying on their back to sleep simply because they feel comfortable.

Think about it – don’t you find it comfortable to lie on the floor with your body all stretched out.

It’s even comfier for dogs since they can lie on top of a bunch of thick fur.

Your dog feels relaxed when they lie on their back on the floor.

It’s a lot more comfortable for them than it is for them to lie on their stomach since their legs are all cramped up underneath them.

2. Your Dog Feels Well Protected

You should take it as a good sign that your dog is sleeping on their back because it’s a good sign that they are feeling safe.

This is because this position puts your dog in a vulnerable spot.

Their stomach is showing, and they are in a situation where they can’t jump up onto their legs very quickly.

They don’t think that they need to worry about predators approaching. It’s a sign that they feel well protected in your home and around you.

This is a stark contrast to dogs out in the wild. When a dog is out in the wild it is unlikely to lie on its back since there are potential predators everywhere.

They need to be able to jump up with a moment’s notice, or they may need to hunt down their prey quickly.

It isn’t safe for them to lie on their backs out in the wild since they can’t jump up and get into action like this.


3. It’s a Submissive Behavior

As we have already established, if your German Shepherd is lying on his back then it may be a good sign that they feel safe.

That’s not all, however – it can also show you that they acknowledge they are submissive to you.

There’s no attempt to challenge you or any other dogs at home. You may also find that your dog lies on their back when they want you to pet them.

They are allowing you to touch them when they are vulnerable, so they trust you and are submissive to you.

4. They Want to Feel Cool

German Shepherds have a lot of fur, and that fur is super thick. As such, there may be times when they just feel very warm, especially during the summer months.

In these times, they may try to find ways to make themselves cooler, such as lying by the door, underneath the shade of a table, lying on tiles or next to open windows.

It may just mean that they’re feeling a little overheated.

If they lie on their back, it means that more air is able to move around their body and across their paws and belly.

This can help to keep your German Shepherd cool even in the hottest weather conditions.

Of course, it’s important to note that this doesn’t mean that your German Shepherd needs to be shaved.

What Can Your Dog’s Sleeping Position Tell You About Them? 

Most dogs don’t sleep in the same position all the time.

They can lie in a wide range of different positions, and the way that your dog sleeps can actually tell you a lot about how they are feeling.

Here’s some information about just a few of the most common sleeping positions that you may find your German Shepherd dog lying in.

Close To You

There’s nothing better than when your dog is lying close to you so you can enjoy a cuddle with them.

A lot of German Shepherds will lie next to your bed so they are near you, but they’re on the floor so they remain cool.

So why does your dog insist on lying close to you? It’s because these dogs are pack animals.

When they are close to you, your dog feels much more safe and relaxed because they know that their pack is looking out for them.

It means that they are more likely to be protected because another member of the pack will usually wake up in the event of danger.

Tightly Curled Up

This isn’t an especially common sleeping position for a German Shepherd, since it means that they are trying to keep themselves warm.

This position allows your dog to keep heat in when the weather is cold.

It means that the neck and stomach won’t be susceptible to being attacked too, so your dog may feel safer in this position.

For some other dogs, this position is also quite comfortable.


Covering Their Nose With Their Tail

Sometimes your German Shepherd may sleep with his tail draped in front of its nose.

This may seem like a strange sleeping position, but your dog usually does it in order to protect their nose from the weather.

For instance, your dog may do this if it’s raining, windy or it’s snowing.

If your dog tends to sleep outdoors when it’s cold then you may notice your dog trying to sleep in this position.

Lying On The Side

This is probably a sleeping position that you’ve seen your German Shepherd lying in a couple of times!

They may lie like this underneath the table or may try to trip you up by lying with their legs splayed out in the center of your floor.

This is essentially the dog equivalent to starfishing in bed – it allows them to stretch out their limbs around them.

If your dog sleeps like this, then it can tell you that they are feeling safe and comfortable. They aren’t worried about any predators or dangers.

They are solely focused on relaxing and stretching out – they don’t need to worry about running away from any danger.

Sometimes your dog may also sleep like this if they want to sleep near to something they are fond of, such as a toy, or another animal that they like.

On Their Stomach

You may not find your German Shepherd lying in this position very often.

In all honesty, it’s not the most common position for a dog that feels comfortable in his home.

Their feet are positioned underneath their body, and this isn’t very relaxing or comfortable for your dog.

If your dog feels like they will need to jump up at a moment’s notice though, this is the most practical position for them to sleep in.


Frequently Asked Questions About German Shepherd Sleeping

Why Is My German Shepherd Sleeping All The Time? 

When you have nothing else to do and you have a lazy day, what do you do? If your answer is nap, then you have a lot in common with a German Shepherd.

If your dog is bored, then it’s nap time! What you may not know is that adult German Shepherds can often sleep for around 14 hours a day.

A puppy will sleep even longer than this for a whopping 16 hours!

Dogs tend to sleep for longer durations of time as they get older since they have a lot less energy.

Likewise, it’s hard work being a puppy, so they need more rest to allow them to grow up healthy!

That’s why it’s so important to allow your dog to sleep when they need to. 

In addition to this, sleep is important for your dog as it gives the body the time to focus on rejuvenating and reviving after a busy day.

This is especially true if your dog has done a lot of running around and they need to recharge their batteries and muscles!

German Shepherds require a lot of exercise, and they need to sleep it off.

Is It A Good Idea To Wake a Sleeping German Shepherd?

Absolutely not. You should never try to wake up a German Shepherd while they are asleep.

You need to be especially cautious if they are barking while they sleep, or making other noises.

This can really scare your dog, and it may mean that they bite you or hurt you by accident because they are scared.

Not only that, but you wouldn’t like it if someone woke you up when you were sound asleep, so imagine how your dog likes it.

You should give your dog the opportunity to sleep.

Sometimes you may have to wake them up. In this case, get a little bit of food and then put it underneath their nose.

They will then smell the treat which will eventually wake them up.

Do not attempt to wake them up by petting them, poking them or shaking them.

Why Does My Dog Circle Around Before They Try to Sleep?

This is perfectly normal behavior for your dog.

When your dog does this, they are trying to find a comfortable place to put their body before they try to lie down.

Your dog will have the opportunity to feel the surface using their paws, and this will help them to gauge whether it’s the right location for their next sleeping session.

They may also sometimes do it to make the ground flatter if they are trying to sleep on dirt or on the grass.

Help! My German Shepherd is Twitching While He Sleeps!

First, stay calm – this is perfectly normal and okay. When people sleep, they go through different sleep cycles.

Well, it’s the same thing for German Shepherds. German Shepherds will go through something called REM sleep.

This stands for Rapid Eye Movement.

When your dog is experiencing this kind of sleep, you may notice that their paws are twitching a lot, their eyes may move around a lot and sometimes they may also bark while they sleep.

On average, a dog will tend to spend around 10% of their time sleeping in REM sleep.

When your dog is in REM sheep, they may actually be dreaming!

Their body may begin to twitch and you may hear them bark as they are dreaming. Who knows what they are dreaming of?

Perhaps in their dream they’ve managed to get away with running off with your socks!


In general, dogs will usually lie on their backs when they feel comfortable and safe. So don’t be alarmed if you walk in on your GSD sleeping on his back!

It’s very normal and it’s a popular sleeping position among these dogs.

Don’t try to wake them up if they are sleeping like this – it may not end well for either of you.

A dog that has plenty of sleep is a healthy dog, so don’t be concerned if they are sleeping a lot.

That’s everything that you need to know about your dog’s sleeping positions!

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!

See latest posts