Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Dogs > Why Do Dogs Like to Sleep Curled Up? 3 Likely Reasons

Why Do Dogs Like to Sleep Curled Up? 3 Likely Reasons

Brown dog sleeping outside

How many times have you watched your dog prepare for bed only to watch them curl up into a tight ball instead of spreading out? There isn’t a sleeping position that is much cuter than this one. But why do dogs prefer to sleep this way? While there are many different positions that dogs sleep in, it’s relatively common to see them in this one where their bodies are tightly wound into a ball. This isn’t just for comfort purposes. There are some more practical reasons that dogs lay like this.

divider-dog paw

The 3 Reasons Dogs Sleep Curled Up

1. Warmth

Both the environment and our body temperatures tend to cool down at night. When a dog curls into a ball, they are able to conserve some of their body heat. Think about the way that most humans sleep. Many of us tend to bundle up under blankets. Huddling for warmth is a natural instinct by most mammals, and this behavior dates back to their origins.

Before being domesticated, wild dogs slept in dens to keep warm. Even though you give them a comfy, safe shelter, this behavior still resides in their DNA and is their way of preparing for warm sleep throughout the night.

dog sleeping curled up
Image Credit: ddzphoto, Pixabay

2. Security

It’d be pretty hard to fall asleep if you never felt safe. While your home is a safe place for them, dogs aren’t animals that want to be vulnerable in the middle of the night. Curling into this sleeping position is a way of making them feel safe. You’ve probably heard that dogs show their bellies when they feel comfortable. Your dog isn’t able to monitor their surroundings while they sleep, so they lay in this position to protect their vital organs while they have their guard down. It also provides them comfort and makes them feel a little more protected.

3. Comfortability

Realistically, your dog could be choosing to sleep like this simply because it feels comfortable compared to other positions. Even if there is plenty of space for them to turn around or stretch out, some will always choose to curl up because it’s the coziest. You can also provide some more comfort by giving them a soft pillow or blanket to use as a type of nest.

Cute dog sleepin on couch
Image Credit: DenisDoukhan, Pixabay


Do Dogs Sleep Curled Up When Feeling Sick?

Many dogs prefer to curl into a ball when taking a snooze. However, there are some dogs whose preferred method is to sprawl out. That’s when this behavior starts to feel strange to some dog owners.

Dogs are capable of not feeling well sometimes, the same as we do. Sick dogs occasionally curl into this position when they have an upset stomach or other types of pain and are trying to protect that area. Other signs that your dog is sick are if they are less interested in their surroundings, seeking solitude, shivering, or sleeping more than usual. If you suspect they’re sick, take them in for a quick trip to the vet and get them feeling back to normal.

Related Read: 15 Biggest Dog Myths & Misconceptions: It’s Time We Stop Believing These

Why Do Dogs Curl Up When Lying Next to You?

If your dog sleeps in this position when they’re lying right next to you, take it as a form of flattery. The chances are that your dog feels safe and comfortable around you. They could be trying to absorb your heat or could simply just want to be closer to you.

Dog sleeping with woman and baby
Image Credit: Sarah Chai, Pexels



Dogs have their own reasons for sleeping the way they do. There isn’t anything wrong most times, and they are either comfy that way or just trying to keep warm. Instead of worrying, try to embrace how cute they look and cuddle up next to them if they’re up for it.

See also: 11 Dog Sleeping Positions and What They Mean

Featured Image Credit: michaelmehls, Pixabay

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets