Is There a Reason My Dog Sleeps With His Tongue Out?

Pet Health


July 2, 2023

Dogs do a lot with their tongues – lap up water, kiss your face, and clean themselves. It’s little wonder they sometimes sleep with their tongues out because let’s face it, their tongues seem to be active much of the time!

When it comes to dogs sleeping with their tongues out, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that most of the time, this simply means your dog is relaxed and in a sound sleep. The bad news is that it could be something else, including various illnesses and pain.

Why Is It That My Dog Sleeps With His Tongue Out?

First, let’s talk about the reasons you shouldn’t worry that your dog is sleeping with his tongue out. For starters, it often means that your dog is in a very deep sleep and is therefore as relaxed as he can be.

In fact, both people and pets sometimes sleep with their mouths open, so it is only natural that your dog’s tongue may fall out of his mouth when he’s asleep.

In fact, the deeper his sleep is and the more relaxed he is, the more likely his tongue is to fall out, especially if he’s already sleeping with his mouth open.

If your dog is breathing heavily or even snoring, it’s very likely that he’s in such a deep sleep that his tongue just naturally fell out of his mouth. This is why, in most cases, you have nothing to worry about if your dog is sleeping with his tongue out.

Why Does My Dog Sleep With His Tongue Out?

Next, let’s talk about some of the things that might be wrong with your dog if his tongue is sticking out while he’s sleeping. This is not to say that all of these conditions are serious, so you still may want to mention it to your vet, but it’s still good to take these things into consideration.

1.  Genetic Factors Such as a Large Tongue

Dogs always seem to have large tongues, but if your dog’s tongue is unusually large, he has missing teeth in the front of his mouth, or his jaw is misshapen, it’s very possible his tongue will hang out of his mouth while he’s asleep.

Since these features are genetic, there really isn’t anything you can do about it. Fortunately, it’s also not a reason to be concerned because it’s essentially harmless.

Some breeds, including boxers, are more prone to this condition than others, but again, it is really no need for concern.

2.  Pain in the Mouth or Teeth Area

If your dog has teeth or mouth pain, his tongue may stick out of his mouth while he sleeps. In fact, he may actually be sticking his tongue out on purpose in order to ease the pain.

Usually, other things happen when they suffer with mouth or teeth pain, which makes it easier for pet parents to notice it and therefore realize that it is a problem. These other symptoms include:

  • A tongue that is swollen or discolored
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Hesitation to drink water
  • Pale or red gums
  • Pawing at their face
  • Unusual vocalizations, such as whimpering

While this is usually not life-threatening, it is still a good idea to get it checked out with a vet or canine dental professional. After all, teeth and gum pain are no fun for anyone.

3.  They Are Too Hot

Sleeping with their mouths open may be a sign that dogs are overheated. Once a dog’s tongue is out of his mouth and he starts to pant, his body temperature automatically starts to lower because the moisture on his tongue and in his mouth will start to evaporate.

Of course, panting and having his tongue sticking out of his mouth are two different things.

That being said, they both have the same effect in the end – a lower body temperature. But if your dog does pant a lot at night, you’ll want to get it checked out because it could be a sign of dehydration or even something more serious, such as a heat stroke.

4.  Some Type of Injury or Illness

Some injuries and illnesses are more serious than others, but if your dog’s tongue hangs out of his mouth regularly as he sleeps, it could be something such as nerve damage, canine dementia (canine cognitive disorder, or CCD), or various injuries. Always get your dog checked out if he shows any of the following symptoms:

  • Any type of behavioral change
  • Snoring more than usual
  • Excessive drooling
  • Gums that are sore or swollen
  • Lots of panting
  • A tongue or mouth that is swollen
  • Any appetite changes

Basically, any type of changes in your dog’s sleeping pattern may or may not be serious, but even if it isn’t serious, you never want your pet to be in pain any longer than necessary. For peace of mind, get him checked out by a vet as soon as possible.


Dogs that sleep with their tongues out may be suffering from an illness or injury or it may just indicate that they are in a very deep sleep and/or are completely relaxed.

If it’s the latter, you likely have nothing to worry about, but if you notice other things, such as excessive panting or swollen gums, it could indicate a physical problem.

In any case, if you pay close attention you’ll be able to tell if they need to be taken to a vet. Even if you’re not sure, it’s better to be safe than sorry.