Dog Sleeping with Tongue Out [5 Reasons]

Pets, especially dogs, amuse their owners with odd or funny behavior nearly every day. Seeing your dog doze with their feet in the air or another weird position is often amusing, and they even do their little tricks while asleep. But what does it mean if you catch your dog sleeping with its tongue out? 

If your pooch is a noisy sleeper due to the shape of their face, like a Pug or a Bulldog, they may be predisposed to sleeping with their tongue out. Of course, that’s related to a genetic condition. But, there are other reasons a dog’s tongue hangs out while sleeping. 

dog sleeping with tongue out
Dog Sleeping With Tongue Out (5 reasons Why)

Dog Sleeping with Tongue Out: What Does It Mean?

Carefully observing your dog helps you keep tabs on their overall health. Since you can’t translate their barks into words, you’ll need to interpret their behavior to determine if anything is happening that could be dangerous or unhealthy. Here are a few potential reasons why your dog’s tongue is hanging out while sleeping. 

It’s Too Hot 

As you probably know, dogs don’t sweat like humans. Instead of cooling themselves through perspiration, dogs pant, letting their tongue hang out of their mouth to release extra heat. So, just like you’ll see after a vigorous game of fetch, your dog may let their tongue hang out when they’re sleeping to cool off a bit. 

You could consider moving them to a more temperate part of the house at napping or bedtime, but there’s nothing about which to worry. Just make sure they have some water in their bowl. 

long haired chihuahua
What a shot! A longer haired Chihuahua enjoying the sun and grass outdoors.

Sun’s Out, Tongue’s Out

At the end of a long day, humans like to relax, and so do their doggies. Just like when we kick off our work boots and put on a comfortable pair of pants for chilling out at home, If your dog has reached a point in their day where it’s time to chill, they may let their tongue hang out. You might see this behavior while your dog is lounging outside or playing on the floor with your kids. 


And, they might just let their tongue hang out of their mouth when they’re sleeping in the corner. But, again, this is normal and nothing to worry about. 

golden retriever tongue out
An American Goldendoodle (not English Goldendoodle) hanging out with its tongue out

Stress 

If your little fur baby has their tongue hanging out, it could also be a sign that they’re feeling stressed. Just like when we’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, dogs show how they feel. For example, some humans might cope with stress by working out, indulging in sweets, or having an adult beverage. 

Since dogs can’t really control their life the same way, you might see them let their tongue hang out of their mouth. If they are doing so constantly, and something has recently upset their routine or comfort, consider that they might just feel overwhelmed. It isn’t necessarily dangerous when this happens, but it’s a good idea to get them some stress-relieving exercise and belly rubs pronto. 

this sleeping dog is not stressed

Tooth Pain or Dental Problems

If your dog’s tongue is hanging out when they’re sleeping, it could potentially be a sign that there is something wrong inside of their mouth. If your dog’s tongue is swollen or discolored, that’s an obvious sign that they need a trip to the vet for a look at the inside of their mouth. It’s possible that they were stung or bitten by an insect or that they’ve come in contact with an allergen

Plus, just like in humans, dental hygiene is essential for a dog’s overall health. Failing to recognize the signs of gum disease or cracked teeth can lead to more significant health issues if the oral defects don’t receive a remedy. So, if you suspect that there is a dental issue causing your dog’s tongue to hang out while sleeping or throughout the day, take a good look around their mouth. 

If they shy away or guard against being looked at, or you see something that doesn’t look right, take them to the vet right away. 

dog sleeping on a floor

Hanging Tongue Syndrome

If you have one of a few breeds of dog with characteristically large tongues, their tongue may hang out while sleeping naturally. In general, if your dog has a small face and a relatively large tongue, they’re prone to this behavior. The good news is that it’s not anything about which to worry. 

Hanging tongue syndrome is common in dog breeds that are brachycephalic. That’s a fancy word that means shortened head, though, to many, it translates to a ‘smoosh-faced’ dog. Some Terriers, Bulldogs, and all Pugs have this condition due to genetic selection based on the desired appearance.

That practice has proven unhealthy for some breeds and has led to bans on the British bulldog and some Spaniel breeds in Norway, as the court viewed the resulting health issues as cruel to animals. Aside from the moral issue, the short-faced appearance of these breeds leads them prone to letting their tongue hang out all day long and while sleeping. 

It’s not dangerous per se, but prolonged exposure to the ambient air may dry their tongue out. So make sure your little guy has an ample supply of water and easy access to it at all times so that they can stay adequately hydrated. 

apricot mini labradoodle on pool deck
An Apricot Mini Labradoodle (my puppy Max!) sits on the pool deck with his tongue out

Dog Sleeping with Tongue Out: Wrap Up

If your dog’s tongue is hanging out, it’s probably not a big deal or anything to worry about. Dog’s tongues spend a lot of time outside their mouths in general. It may indicate that they’re overheated a bit, relaxed, or stressed.

However, it’s normal, and you can address those issues easily. 

Or, a dog tongue hanging out while sleeping might be endemic to their specific breed due to the size of their tongue and the shape and structure of their face and mouth. The most severe cause of dog tongues hanging out is an allergic reaction or dental issue. So, if you suspect your dog has a cracked tooth, sores, bleeding gums, a swollen tongue, or similar ailments, take them to the veterinarian promptly.