Why Do Dogs Curl Up When They Sleep?

As a dog owner or dog lover, you may be fascinated by some of the things they do. For example, you might ask yourself why dogs curl up when they sleep?

Not all dogs sleep curled up in a circle, but most do, and of those that do, they don’t always sleep that way but often do.

So this way of sleeping is definitely a very common canine behavior. Let’s find out why they do it.

Why Do Dogs Sleep Curled Up in a Ball?

The reason dogs sleep curled up in a ball comes from their ancient wolf ancestors, who would have slept curled up for warmth and protection.

Sleeping curled allowed them to preserve most of their body heat while also covering up most of their vital organs in case they were attacked as they slept.

Dog Curled Up Asleep in a BallThis behavior pattern is so deeply ingrained in your dog’s DNA from thousands of generations of evolution that they still sleep curled up in a ball even if they are warm and not under any threat.

Of course, the dog has no idea of any of this. They just do it because it feels good, like humans curling themselves up in a ball under a duvet or blankets.

Humans sleep like this without thinking about it, and the same goes for dogs. They naturally find sleeping curled up comfortable and reassuring.

A Quick Note About Canine Evolution

When looking at any behavior trait of a domestic dog, we have to remember that all domestic dogs have evolved from a now-extinct species of wolf.

Even though that specific wolf species (most likely the Late Pleistocene wolf) has become extinct, we can look at the wolves alive today and use them to understand domestic dogs.

Once you know this fact, it makes thinking about dog behavior so much easier.

The other factor to be aware of is how humans have bred dogs from wolves into all the species of domesticated dogs we now share our lives with.

This has given different dog breeds various behavioral and physical characteristics that are unique to that breed.

However, wolf instincts are still buried deep in all domestic dogs, which can be seen in the example of them preferring to sleep curled up in a ball just as their ancestors did.

NOTE – You might also be interested to read this blog post if your dog gets hiccups when sleeping.

Using this Knowledge to Help Your Dog Sleep Better

Now that you know your dog has evolved with a need to feel warm and safe when they sleep, you can use this to help your dog feel more secure.

If you can create a den-like sleeping area for them to curl up in, they will appreciate it.

You could even buy them a round, donut-shaped cuddler bed with high bolster cushion walls to help them feel even more snug and safe.

Another great option is to use a crate with a blanket thrown over the top of it. Put their bed inside it, and they can curl up inside there in a nice little ball feeling safe, snug, and secure.

Final Notes on Dogs Sleeping Curled Up in a Ball

Dogs curl up when they sleep to feel warm and safe as if they were in a den.

They do this because their wolf species’ ancestors would have needed to do so to stay safe thousands of years ago.

Of course, dogs don’t know they sleep like this for that reason. It just feels comfortable for them to curl up in their bed.

Before you leave the site, you may also be interested in this video about dogs’ sleeping positions.

It lists the most common positions dogs tend to sleep in. From being curled up in a ball to lying on their back with legs fully stretched out and explains why they do so.

Just click the video to start watching:

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