SleepyDust logo

Do Dogs Sleep with Their Eyes Open? Uncovering the Mystery

Published by Chris Riley on May 25, 2023

Do Dogs Sleep with Their Eyes Open? ever noticed your furry friend appearing to doze off with their eyes open. It’s a common behavior observed in dogs, and it’s not unusual for pet parents to wonder if it’s normal or even possible for dogs to sleep with their eyes open. In this article, we’ll explore this peculiar canine quirk and discuss why it happens.

Do Dogs Sleep with Their Eyes Open

Dogs do actually sleep with their eyes open at times, but it’s not the same as how humans would sleep with their eyes closed. Instead, it’s more accurate to say they can rest with their eyes partially open. This behavior is linked to their ancestors, who were constantly alert to potential threats in their environment. So, by resting with their eyes open, they could keep watch even while taking breaks.

However, while they’re seemingly “catching some Zs” with their eyes open, they may not be experiencing a full, deep sleep. Deep sleep is essential for dogs to rejuvenate and conserve energy, so it’s important that they also get quality sleep with their eyes closed.

Can Dogs Sleep with Their Eyes Open?

Many sleep enthusiasts wonder if dogs can sleep with their eyes open. While it’s not common, some dogs do sleep with their eyes open. This phenomenon is known as “unilateral eye closure” and typically occurs in short bursts during light sleep. There are several factors that contribute to this unique sleeping habit in dogs.

Do dogs sleep with their eyes open or closed?

Dogs typically sleep with their eyes closed, similar to humans. However, some dogs may sleep with their eyes partially open or have a tendency to sleep with their eyes open due to certain factors.

Sleeping with one or both eyes open is more likely to happen in specific breeds. Breeds such as Boston Terriers, Pugs, and Bulldogs have more prominent eyes, which makes it challenging to fully close their eyelids. In these cases, it might appear as if the dog is sleepin+g with their eyes open even if they’re only partially closed.

There are instances when dogs sleep with their eyes fully open, which usually involve shallow sleep stages. During these stages, a dog’s muscles may twitch, and their eyes might open partially or entirely. This sleep behavior is most commonly observed in pups and younger dogs as their muscles are still developing.

Moreover, dogs can intentionally keep their eyes open while resting in a potentially unsafe environment. By doing so, they maintain a level of alertness, ensuring they’re always prepared to defend themselves or respond to an external threat.

Here are some factors that contribute to dogs sleeping with their eyes open:

  • Breed characteristics: Dogs with prominent eyes may not fully shut their eyes while asleep.
  • Light sleep stage: Shallow sleep may result in muscle twitches and partially open eyes.
  • Environmental factors: Dogs may keep their eyes open in unfamiliar or potentially unsafe surroundings.

It’s essential to pay attention to your dog’s sleep quality and habits. If you notice your furry friend sleeping with their eyes open more frequently, it might be an indication of an underlying issue. In some cases, a medical condition like entropion can cause a dog’s eyelids to roll inward, making it painful or impossible for them to close their eyes.

If you’re concerned about your dog’s sleep habits and overall well-being, we recommend consulting your veterinarian. They’ll be able to identify any potential issues and recommend the best course of action to ensure your pup gets the restful sleep they deserve.

Why Some Dogs Appear to Sleep with Open Eyes?

When it comes to dogs and their sleeping habits, it’s not uncommon for some to appear to sleep with their eyes open. There are a few reasons why this might happen, and it’s essential for dog owners to understand what’s going on. In this section, we’ll delve into the possible explanations for this peculiar canine behavior.

Do all dogs sleep with their eyes open?

No, not all dogs sleep with their eyes open. Most dogs sleep with their eyes closed, but there are exceptions. Some dogs may exhibit a behavior known as “sleeping with their eyes open,” which can vary from dog to dog.

Do dogs sleep with the alpha human?

The concept of an “alpha” human is not supported by modern dog training and behavior theories. Dogs are social animals and may choose to sleep close to the person they feel most comfortable with or have a strong bond with, but it does not necessarily relate to an alpha position.

Ancestral Instincts are one reason dogs might seem to sleep with their eyes open. In the wild, dogs faced many potential threats and needed to be constantly vigilant. Sleeping with their eyes open allowed them to react quickly to danger. While domesticated dogs are now safe in our homes, they may still carry over this instinct from their ancestors.

Partial Eyelid Closure is another factor to consider. Dogs have a unique eyelid called the nictitating membrane (or third eyelid) that can be partially closed during sleep. This membrane helps protect and moisten the eye, while still allowing the dog to remain aware of its surroundings. To us, it may seem like their eyes are open, when in fact, they’re simply in a lighter stage of sleep.

Canine Sleep Patterns can also give the impression that a dog is sleeping with its eyes open. Dogs experience periods of lighter and deeper sleep, similar to humans. During stages of lighter sleep, dogs may exhibit rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, contributing to the open-eyed appearance. Moreover, here’s a quick comparison between dog and human sleep patterns:

Dog Sleep PatternsHuman Sleep Patterns
Cycle through lighter and deeper sleepCycle through lighter and deeper sleep
Experience REM sleepExperience REM sleep
Sleep more frequently, with shorter durationsSleep less frequently, with longer durations

Breed-specific Traits can influence dogs’ appearance while sleeping, too. Some breeds, like the Brachycephalic dogs (e.g., Pugs, French Bulldogs), have shallow eye sockets, causing them to look like they’re sleeping with their eyes open more commonly.

When observing your dog’s sleep habits, consider the following factors:

  • Ancestral instincts
  • Partial eyelid closure (nictitating membrane)
  • Canine sleep patterns
  • Breed-specific traits

Understanding these elements can help you grasp why your beloved canine companion might look like it’s snoozing with open eyes.

Can dogs sleep with their eyes open on purpose?

No, dogs do not have conscious control over whether their eyes are open or closed during sleep. If a dog sleeps with their eyes open, it is typically an involuntary behavior and not a deliberate choice.


Through our research, we’ve discovered that it’s not uncommon for dogs to sleep with their eyes open or partially open, as this behavior can vary depending on the individual canine. There are a few key factors to consider when examining a dog’s sleeping habits:

  • Breed: Some breeds, like the Brachycephalic ones (e.g., Pugs and Bulldogs), are more likely to sleep with their eyes open due to their facial structures.
  • REM Sleep: Dogs may appear to have their eyes open while in REM sleep, during which time they dream and exhibit rapid eye movement.
  • Safety Mechanism: A dog might keep its eyes slightly open while resting to remain alert and ready to react, even when asleep.

As sleep enthusiasts, it’s essential to recognize that the canine sleep cycle is quite different from ours. Noticing a dog snoozing with their eyes open may seem odd, but it’s usually not a cause for concern. However, if there’s a sudden change in a dog’s sleeping habits or if the pet exhibits signs of discomfort or illness, it’s wise to consult a veterinarian.

Dogs may sleep with their eyes open or partially open for various reasons, including their breed, REM sleep stage, or as a natural safety mechanism. It’s crucial to monitor these sleeping behaviors and consult with a professional if any concerns arise. So, the next time you see a dog resting with its eyes open, don’t be alarmed – it’s just another fascinating aspect of our furry companions’ sleep habits.

References and Sources

Content Revisions

Related Posts

dog barking in sleep

Dog Barking in Sleep: Understanding Your Pet’s Nighttime Noises

I’ve often noticed my precious furry friend barking or twitching in their sleep, leaving me to wonder what’s going on in their doggy dreams.Dog barking in sleep is a common occurrence, and understanding the reasons behind it can help dog owners like myself become better equipped to care for our pets. In this article, I’ll explore the reasons and research behind dogs barking during slumber.

Read More »
why do cats cover their face when they sleep

Why Do Cats Cover Their Face When They Sleep: Uncovering the Mystery

As cat owners, we’ve all seen our feline friends covering their face while sleeping and wondered about the reason behind this adorable behavior. Do they do it for comfort, protection, or some other purpose? In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why cats cover their face when they sleep, shedding some light on this intriguing aspect of their lives.

Read More »
Why Does My Cat Sleep Between My Legs

Why Does My Cat Sleep Between My Legs: Uncovering the Reasons

If you’re a cat owner, you’ve probably noticed that your feline friend has a favorite sleeping spot: right between your legs. This quirky cat behavior can be puzzling, but there are a few key reasons behind it. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common explanations as to why cats choose to snuggle up in this particular location.

Read More »
Do Guinea Pigs Sleep with Their Eyes Open? Facts and Intriguing Insights

Do Guinea Pigs Sleep with Their Eyes Open? Facts and Intriguing Insights

We all have our little quirks when it comes to sleeping habits, and as pet owners, we’re often curious about the peculiar behaviors of our furry friends. Guinea pigs are no exception, and one sleep-related trait you might notice is their ability to seemingly sleep with their eyes open. This behavior leaves many guinea pig owners wondering what’s going on and if it’s normal for their little pals.

Read More »
Why Does My Cat Sleep Pressed Up Against Me

Why Does My Cat Sleep Pressed Up Against Me: Unraveling Feline Affection

Ever snuggled up with your feline friend and wondered, “Why does my cat sleep pressed up against me?” Well, you’re not alone. Many cat owners want to understand the reasons behind this adorable yet somewhat perplexing behavior. Let’s dive into some of the possible reasons why your cat enjoys snuggling against you at bedtime.

Read More »
How Do Birds Sleep

How Do Birds Sleep: Uncovering Their Unique Slumber Patterns

Birds, just like humans, need sleep to maintain their health and well-being. However, the way they sleep can be quite different from what we might expect. One intriguing question many of us have is, how do birds sleep? Let’s dive into this fascinating subject and see how our feathered friends catch their much-needed rest.

Read More »
Do Snakes Sleep?

Do Snakes Sleep? Unraveling the Mystery Behind Serpent Slumber

Have you ever wondered if snakes sleep? It’s a question that many of us have pondered, and we’re here to shed some light on this fascinating topic. Just like other animals, snakes do need sleep to maintain their overall health and well-being. However, there are some interesting aspects about the way snakes sleep that we think you’ll find intriguing.

Read More »
Why Does My Dog Sleep Against Me

Why Does My Dog Sleep Against Me: Uncovering the Science and Reasons

Have you ever wondered why your dog sleeps against you? It’s a common behavior many dog owners experience and often find heartwarming. There are several reasons behind this adorable habit, ranging from affection to a sense of security. We’ll go over some of the most prevalent motives to give you a better understanding of your canine companion’s behavior.

Read More »
Where Do Raccoons Sleep

Where Do Raccoons Sleep: Uncovering Their Secret Hideouts

As nocturnal creatures, raccoons are known for their on-the-go and curious nature. But when it comes to finding a place to call home and catch some well-deserved rest, where do raccoons sleep? Understanding the sleeping habits of these fascinating mammals can help us coexist more peacefully, as well as keep our homes and properties safe from unwanted visitors.

Read More »
How Long Do Snails Sleep

How Long Do Snails Sleep? An Exploration of Snail Sleep Habits

Discover the fascinating world of snail sleep habits in our latest article, “How Long Do Snails Sleep? An Exploration of Snail Sleep Habits.” From the duration of their slumber to the unique positions they adopt, this article delves into the intriguing sleep patterns of these slow-moving creatures.

Read More »
Do Flies Sleep

Do Flies Sleep? Uncovering the Truth About Insect Resting Habits

Have you ever wondered if flies have a bedtime just like we do? It might be hard to imagine these tiny, buzzing creatures catching some Z’s, but the answer may surprise you. Yes, flies do sleep! Despite their seemingly relentless activity during the day, these insects experience periods of rest similar to our own sleep patterns.

Read More »