It may seem weird when your German Shepherd sleeps on its back but there are a number of reasons that it could be doing it. This post will help you to figure out why.

So, why does your German Shepherd sleep on its back? There are a number of reasons that your German Shepherd might choose to sleep on its back. Possible reasons include trying to cool down, submission, being more comfortable and feeling safe. 

It can actually be a good sign when your German Shepherd decides to sleep on its back for a number of reasons.

Why Your German Shepherd Sleeps On Its Back

It’s cooler

If your German Shepherd tends to sleep on its back when it’s hot inside then the likely reason is that it is trying to stay cool. The underside of its belly has less fur there and so by sleeping on its back it can allow more air to get to the less insulated part of its body.

If you think that this could be the cause then take some measures to ensure that your German Shepherd is able to stay cool. You can do this by making sure it has lots of shaded areas to go to, lots of access to water, you can groom it more often and you can lower the air conditioning temperature if you can.


When German Shepherds challenge each other the submissive one will often go onto its back since it’s a more vulnerable position showing the other German Shepherd that it’s in control. If your German Shepherd sleeps on its back with you around then it could be that it is telling you that it submits to you.

It’s more comfortable

Another possible reason that it chooses to sleep on its back is that it is simply more comfortable. It could be that the feeling of sleeping with its thicker fur touching the floor feels better. Sleeping on its back also allows it to have its muscles in a more relaxed state than on its front where they will stay tensed so that it can spring into action if it needs to.

It feels safe

If your German Shepherd decides to sleep on its back then it’s a good sign that your German Shepherd feels safe. Dogs in the wild are barely reported to be seen sleeping on their backs mainly because it’s a vulnerable position.

If something happens then it will take them longer to be able to react to it. If your German Shepherd is sleeping on its back then it would indicate that it’s not concerned about something happening and that it feels well protected.

Related post: How to tell if your German Shepherd loves you

Other positions

There are some other sleeping positions that your German Shepherd might prefer to sleep in that you are curious about. I will list them below with the reasons why your German Shepherd might prefer to sleep that way.

On its side

If your German Shepherd tends to sleep on its side then it will also indicate that your German Shepherd feels pretty safe around you.

Sleeping on its side is less vulnerable than on its back but it does still make it harder to spring into action if it needs to and it leaves its vital organs exposed. They may prefer this position since it allows them to keep their arms and legs in a more relaxed position helping them to feel more comfortable.

On its front

It’s common for German Shepherds to sleep on their front. The reason for this is that it’s the most alert way that they can sleep. If something happens then they will already be in a position to spring into action quickly. Don’t be discouraged if your German Shepherd chooses to sleep like this since it is a natural way for most dogs to sleep.

Curled up

Another common way that your German Shepherd might choose to sleep is curled up in a ball shape. Sleeping like this allows it to stay more insulated which is why it is more common in the colder months. It could also like sleeping this way since it’s the most comfortable position in the spot that it likes to sleep.

Tail wrapped over its nose

When German Shepherds sleep with their tails wrapped over their nose it is mainly so that they can keep their nose sheltered from the wind, rain, and snow. The nose is a more vulnerable area than the rest of their body so in the colder months they will often sleep this way.

With you

If your German Shepherd chooses to sleep with you then it is less likely to be for warmth since they are warmer than you but more likely for protection. By sleeping in a group it means that they are less likely to get attacked by a predator in their sleep and that they will be able to fend it off more easily.

Related Questions

Why does my German Shepherd circle before sleeping? This is a natural way that German Shepherds will make their sleeping area more comfortable. Their ancestors didn’t have soft beds designed for them to sleep in so it was necessary for them to make their sleeping area more comfortable by patting the grass down before sleeping so that it’s flatter.

Why does my German Shepherd sleep so much? German Shepherds tend to sleep a lot, as much as 14 hours a day. German Shepherds are a breed that was bred to do energy-intensive tasks for hours daily so it was important for them to conserve and to replenish energy as efficiently as possible. By sleeping a lot it would allow them to get a chance to recover from all of the running that it had been doing and to prepare for the next days run.

Why does my German Shepherd twitch when it sleeps? When German Shepherds sleep they go through three sleeping cycles which are NREM (non-rapid eye movement, REM (rapid eye movement), and SWS (short wave sleep).

In the SWS stage German Shepherds will breath more heavily. It is also theorized that German Shepherds dream during the REM stage of their sleep and that it’s in this stage that they are able to move based on their dream. This is why they might move their paws when their sleeping since they’re dreaming of chasing something.

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Our favorite: Royal Canin German Shepherd Adult Dry Dog Food. it's good because it is designed specifically for German Shepherds

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Our favorite: The German Shepherd Handbook (on Amazon) - Shows you all you need to know to keep your GSD happy, healthy and well-behaved.


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