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Why Do Dogs Sleep With Their Tongue Out? 6 Vet-Approved Reasons & FAQ

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Dogs have all sorts of strange and entertaining quirks. Sleeping with their tongue out is one of them. It’s usually a harmless habit, but it can be a little concerning if you’ve never seen your dog doing it before.

Your dog can sleep with their tongue out for several reasons. Most of the time, it’s simply because it’s comfortable, but it can also be due to their anatomy, dental problems, or medical issues. 

We explore all the possible reasons and solutions in this guide. Hopefully, we can help ease your concerns about your dog’s strange sleeping habit.


The 6 Possible Reasons Why Dogs Sleep With Their Tongue Out

Your dog sleeping with their tongue out might be an adorable habit, but it is admittedly an odd one. There are several reasons that dogs might demonstrate this behavior, and most of them are simply because your dog likes doing it. Here are common reasons for your dog sticking their tongue out while they sleep.

1. Anatomy

Some breeds will sleep with their tongue out more than others due to their genetics. Brachycephalic breeds, or those with squashed faces, are the most likely to sleep with their tongue hanging out.

This habit is known as hanging tongue syndrome and is commonly caused by the tongue being too big for the mouth. With nowhere else for it to go, it’ll hang out of the mouth.

Pug Dog sleeping on the floor tongue sticking out
Image Credit: fongleon356, Shutterstock

This can be a habit that they like doing, or it can be a brief moment before they readjust their position to snuggle back into your side or their favorite blanket. In this case, there’s nothing to worry about. Your dog is just enjoying their snooze.

2. Comfort

Dogs will always sleep the best when they’re completely comfortable. Sometimes, this means sleeping in weird and wacky positions. They might be upside down with their legs splayed everywhere, or they might be curled into a tiny ball. Their tongue might stick out too.

3. Medical Conditions

A dental condition is one of the most common reasons that your dog’s tongue might be hanging out. Injuries to the head and jaw from a fall, rough play, or a car accident can also result in this situation. In some cases, the medical condition might not be obvious, and you should always pay attention to any other signs of discomfort that your dog might be showing and visit a veterinarian as soon as possible.

The medication that you give your dog to treat a health condition can also prompt this habit. If one of the side effects is a deeper, more relaxed sleep than usual, your dog’s tongue might stick out more often. Mention the new habit to your veterinarian just in case it’s a sign that the dosage needs to be adjusted.

chihuahua dog sleeping with his tongue out
Image Credit: Annette Shaff, Shutterstock

4. Missing Teeth

Teeth are vital for keeping your dog’s tongue in place. If your dog is missing teeth because of dental disease, their tongue might be hanging out more because there’s nothing to keep it in place.

To avoid dental problems and lost teeth, always make sure you keep your dog’s teeth regularly checked by your vet and cleaned at home. You can use a doggy toothbrush and toothpaste, dental wipes, chews, or a combination of all three for the best results. Don’t be tempted to use human toothpaste, though, as it contains ingredients that are toxic to dogs.

5. Playtime Exhaustion

Sometimes, your dog simply wears themselves out so much when they’re playing that they’ll fall asleep as soon as they sit still long enough. Puppies will do this frequently, especially after a vigorous play session. They’ll tackle their favorite toy and shake it around for a bit, and when you next look over, they’ll be snoring away, paws twitching and tongue hanging out as if they fell asleep mid-pant.

beagle dog sleeping in the bed covered with blanket
Image Credit: Kuznetsov Alexey, Shutterstock

6. Temperature Regulation

Dogs can’t sweat through their skin like we do, so they need other ways to regulate their temperature. Panting is a natural way for them to cool down, and it involves sticking out their tongue and breathing deeply. If your dog is tired when they pant or exhausted from playing, they might fall asleep while they’re cooling themselves down, leaving their tongue hanging out while they nap. This is the least common reason but is still possible. 



What Should You Do if Your Dog Sleeps With Their Tongue Out?

Your dog sleeping with their tongue out might seem strange, but it’s rarely something to worry about. In most cases, it is related to their anatomy, and there’s no need to do anything. 

If you’re still concerned, gently wake your dog by calling their name. They’ll likely put their tongue away when they wake up, see what you want, and then go back to sleep.

Most dogs are fine even if they sleep with their tongues out all the time, but there are a couple of things that you can do to make sure they’re healthy.

sleepy young German Wirehaired Pointer dog outdoors
Image Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock

Encourage Hydration

If your dog sleeps with their tongue out all the time, they might start suffering from a dry tongue. This isn’t a serious condition, though it can be uncomfortable. Fortunately, it’s easy to treat by encouraging your dog to drink plenty of water.

Some dogs dislike drinking out of a normal water bowl, so consider purchasing a water fountain to encourage them to drink running water. You can also use frozen treats like unsalted chicken broth or a dropper with water to dampen their tongue directly.

When Should You Visit a Vet?

Although sleeping with their tongue out is mostly a harmless habit, it can be a sign that your dog needs to see a veterinarian. If they’ve never slept with their tongue out before, head to your clinic.

Your dog might just have found a new sleeping position, but discoloration of the gums and tongue, swelling, pain while they eat, or other odd behaviors might indicate dental issues or other health problems.



A cute and somewhat strange habit that some dogs have is sleeping with their tongue poking out. Dogs will normally stick out their tongues when they’re panting to regulate their temperature and might fall asleep while they’re cooling down, or they’re simply comfortable and relaxed. Some puppies might even fall asleep with their tongue hanging out after a vigorous play session. Genetics and face shape can play an important part too.

If you’re concerned, keep an eye out for any health issues that your dog might be showing signs of. While sleeping with their tongue out is typically harmless, it can be caused by medication, dental issues, or facial injuries.

Featured Image Credit: Naruedol Rattanakornkul, Shutterstock

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