Why do Cavalier King Charles Spaniels sleep a lot?

All dogs like to sleep, and Cavaliers seem to sleep more than the average dog. In the morning, afternoon, and evening, it seems like your Cavvy is constantly asleep. There doesn’t even seem like there’s a particular sleep pattern, so why do Cavalier King Charles Spaniels sleep a lot?

On average Cavaliers only get around 10% of deep sleep, or REM (Rapid Eye Movement), which is why they drift in and out of sleep sessions. Due to these inconsistent sleep schedules, Cavaliers need more time to sleep in order to feel fully rested.

However, not all dogs sleep so much, so why is there a difference? There are quite a number of reasons why which I found fascinating whilst researching.

In comparison, the average human gets 25% of deep sleep within one night. This is why we tend to sleep in one large amount, around 8 hours per night. For Cavaliers, this is very different, they are constantly waking and getting up to move their position.

Some dogs have been reported to get up and wander around the house, and are fully awake during this time, no wonder they are absolutely shattered when we wake up refreshed from a good night’s rest.

  • Puppies – Sleep around 18 to 20 hours per day
  • Adult Dogs – Can sleep anywhere from 12 to 14 hours per day
  • Old Aged Dogs – Sleep from 16 to 18 hours per day

Flexible Sleepers

Have you ever noticed that your Cavvy can fall asleep at a moment’s notice? Or after being asleep for the majority of the night, only to go straight back to sleep again first thing in the morning. This is due to the flexible way that Cavvy’s tend to sleep.

If ever your Cavalier is waiting for you to play with them, but you are working or cleaning around the house, they will generally get bored very quickly, and as a result, will start to drift off to sleep. This may seem very odd to us as humans, but when dogs were wild animals, this was a very successful survival tactic.

Photo by Cameron Oxley on Unsplash

Believe it or not, even our Cavvys descended from wild animals, and they still hold onto their wild instincts when sleeping. Dropping your guard in the wild, even to sleep can mean the difference between life and death, and this is where flexible sleeping evolved.

Flexible sleeping allows dogs to relax when there is nothing in particular happening, but when they need to, can wake instantly, fully alert and aware of the situation and their surroundings. Imagine humans trying this, I can’t function until I’ve had at least 2 mugs of coffee.

Working Dogs

Lapdogs like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel tend to sleep around 50% of the day, 20% playing and exercising, and the other 30% just relaxing and watching what their humans are doing.

Working dogs, however, such as police dogs, or dogs that work on farms, need a lot less sleep. They only tend to sleep at night, when they are tired. This is due to the fact that they are working the majority of the day (or possibly at night if a police dog), they are simply too busy to be resting whenever they want to, and this proves the fact that pampered lapdogs generally sleep purely out of boredom.

Photo by Jusdevoyage on Unsplash


During the short amount of time that Cavaliers are in deep sleep, they can have the tendency to twitch, whimper slightly, growl, or even move their legs as if they are running. This is nothing to worry about, your delightful doggie is acting out their dreams.

It is widely thought that they dream about what they had done throughout the day, dreaming about that lovely walk in the park, and chasing squirrels.


Puppies have more dreams than adult dogs, and can have multiple dreams in one day

If Cavvys dream, they can also have nightmares like us humans, and you can tell the difference between a dream and a nightmare. That cute little whimper in a dream isn’t cute when they are having a nightmare, it sounds like your dog is panicking, and you want to wake them immediately.

But you must be careful waking a Cavvy when they are visibly distressed, who know what they are dreaming, but it is obviously upsetting to them. Don’t reach out and shake them awake, this could startle them, and there is a possibility that they could lash out and bite you.

Instead, wake them gently with a soft calming voice, so that they can wake up gently.

When to be Concerned

Sleep may also be a great indicator of when there is something wrong with your Cavvy. For instance, if your Cavalier is generally active, and suddenly starts to sleep a lot more than usual, then you may want to talk to your local veterinarian, or even request for him or her to have a check-up, just to be on the safe side.

Another sign could be a visibly tired dog waking continuously, this could be due to some sort of pain waking them.

Here is a list of possible reasons why your Cavalier is experiencing sleep issues:

  • A Medical Condition
  • A Sudden Change in Diet
  • Poor Health
  • A Recent House Move
  • Simply Getting Older

If there is no medical reason for your Cavvy to have restless sleep, there are ways to improve their sleep pattern. Exercise helps a great deal, a short walk outside around an hour before going to bed will not only be beneficial for your Cavalier, but also for you too.

If you have an older dog, then there are orthopedic beds that can be purchased for tired bones and muscles.

There are so many orthopedic beds available, but this PetFusion dog bed on Amazon has some amazing reviews.

Lady napping on her orthopedic bed

My Final Thought

Cavaliers, like me, love to sleep and have plenty of naps. It is perfectly natural for them to sleep more than humans, as they don’t sleep the same as us. However, there may be a possibility that your Cavvy could be unwell, so always consult your vet if you are unsure.

2 thoughts on “Why do Cavalier King Charles Spaniels sleep a lot?”

  1. Pingback: Snoring Cavalier King Charles Spaniels: Help and Tips | My Cavvy
  2. Pingback: Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Lazy? | My Cavvy

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