Does Your Dog Sleep With Their Tongue Out? They'll Thank You for Reading This

Know when it's giving "couch potato" vibes and when medical attention is necessary.

Jamie Bichelman - Author

May 6 2024, Published 4:28 p.m. ET

A bulldog sleeps on a white couch with its tongue hanging out.
Source: iStock

If you're anything like us, the slightest mysterious noise or change in our companion dog's behavior has us contacting the vet (or sending a desperate text to our behaviorist bestie) to make sure our beloved pup isn't sick. If your dog sleeps with their tongue hanging out, you may be worried that they are suffering from a respiratory illness or other tricky ailment.

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We commend your proactiveness in wanting to keep your companion animals safe and in great health. That's why we've explored why your dog may be sleeping with their tongue out below, so you can make an informed decision to either cuddle up with your pup and catch a quick nap or run to the vet to diagnose the issue.

A Boston Terrier sleeps with his tongue hanging out while inside a green bed with a cozy white interior.
Source: iStock
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Why does my dog sleep with his tongue out?

According to PawSafe, you shouldn't immediately jump to conclusions if you notice your dog sleeping with their tongue out. Often, the reasons are innocuous, as a tongue out with a calm body and facial expression may simply indicate your dog is relaxed and comfy in their spot.

Especially if it is hot outside or your dog just came back from a walk that immediately necessitates a good snooze, they may also stick their tongue out in a similar way that panting can regulate body temperature.

Additionally, per PawSafe, a dog's snout shape and size may affect their comfort while trying to sleep.

Certain breeds, like bulldogs and pugs, have short noses that make it more difficult to breathe or keep their tongue in their mouth while at rest. For dogs with longer faces, like Greyhounds, letting their tongue hang out helps them breathe more comfortably.

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According to retailer Woof Blankets, your dog may be thirsty while sleeping, missing teeth that would otherwise help hold the tongue in place or may have suffered an injury necessitating a trip to the vet.

If any of these observations are paired with behaviors like excessive drooling, restlessness, the appearance of pain, or other unexpected changes in behavior, definitely be sure to visit the vet as soon as possible to rule out anything dire.

A smiling veterinarian inspects a French Bulldog with a red harness while two vets discuss in the background.
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Talk to a vet if you suspect hanging tongue syndrome.

Hanging tongue syndrome differs from the occasionally exposed tongue at rest in that the tongue will hang out of the mouth nearly all the time, per Wag!

This may be something your dog has experienced since birth or due to dental issues or neurological issues. Because the tongue is nearly always exposed, your pup is more susceptible to injuries of their tongue, difficulty eating food and drinking water, and issues self-grooming.

Per Wag! symptoms include foul breath, dry or swollen tongue, an infected or bleeding tongue, or environmental hazards like sunburn and frostbite.

Cavalier King Charles spaniels are most susceptible to the affliction, per Tuff Pets, although other dog breeds may experience it as well.

According to China's National Genomics Data Center, a veterinarian will examine the dog and likely order x-rays of the facial region to further assess the root cause and develop a treatment plan.

Medication, moisturizers, modifications to the dog's diet, and surgical intervention may be used as treatment to help dogs with this diagnosis go on to live healthy and fulfilling lives.

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