The “Sphinx” And Other Dog Sleeping Positions Explained

Written by Abdulmumin Akinde
Updated: August 1, 2022
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Like humans, dogs have different sleeping positions. Although most pet parents don’t pay enough attention to it, your dog’s sleeping position can tell you a lot about how they’re feeling at any particular time. The sphinx is one of the most well-known sleeping positions. However, dogs have several other positions that they might take.

More than just being cute, picture-worthy poses, you can interpret your dog’s preferred sleeping position, and it can tell you a lot about how it is feeling mentally or physically at any given time. Here are a few of the most common dog sleeping positions and what they might mean: 

The Lion’s Pose

The sphinx, as it is more popularly called, is one of the most popular dog-sleeping poses. It is typically a resting position. In this position, your dog is sleeping with its head resting on top of its paws. But your dog can also sleep like this with its paws tucked underneath it and the back legs resting on one side. 

When your dog is in the sphinx position, it is resting but isn’t sleeping deeply. This position makes it easy for the dog to stand up or take off immediately if there’s any need for it. 

lion's pose

When in


‘s pose, a dog may be resting but is ready to react to any unexpected threat.

©Jaromir Chalabala/

The Side Sleeper

Dogs sleeping on their sides with legs extended in front of them is a fairly common sight. You’ll probably find your pooch in this position quite often. Puppies and older dogs suffering from stiff joints prefer this position in particular because it is safe and comfortable for their vital organs. 

When your dog sleeps on its side, it means the dog feels safe and relaxed. It is a comfortable condition, which means the dog feels relaxed in a familiar environment, and the temperature is optimal. Their paws are loose and move freely, which means you’re likely to notice signs of sleep-running or twitching if your dog dreams. 

dog on side

A dog sleeping on his side is fully relaxed. It’s a common position for older dogs with stiff joints.

©komkrit Preechachanwate/

The Superman

The superman sleep position is also called “sploot.” Your dog lays sprawled on the ground with the belly pressed on the floor in this sleep position. The front legs are stretched forward directly in front of it, and the back legs are stretched backward. 

If your dog sleeps in this position, it means they’re tired. However, since the position is fairly common with energetic and playful puppies trying to take a nap during a play session, it also means the dog is ready to start playing again in the blink of an eye. 

dog in sploot position

A dog in this position may be tired, but is ready to play again at any time.


The Donut

The donut is arguably one of the more adorable dog sleeping positions. In this position, your dog sleeps with its entire body curled up into a ball. All of its limbs are tucked close to its body, and its nose may even touch the bag legs forming a sort of shrimp curl. Some dogs may even be able to drape their tails over their body in this position. 

The donut might be a cute position to you, but dogs usually take this position when the conditions of their surroundings aren’t quite favorable. Your dog may curl up to preserve its body heat when the weather feels too cold or windy. A dog may also sleep like this on its first night in a new environment. 

dog curled up

While cute, a dog in this position may not be totally comfortable with its surroundings.

©Nicholas Floyd/

The Cuddler Bug

The cuddler bug is another adorable sleeping dog position. It’s a left-over behavior from when your dog was a pup, cuddling with the rest of the litter for warmth. Your dog will most likely take this position if it is sleeping next to you or another dog. It’s a great position if your dog gets into bed with you or you’re watching TV on the couch together. 

The cuddler bug position signifies love and affection. It shows that your dog is familiar with you. If your pup takes this position next to another dog, it means they are bonding. 

dog cuddling

A dog in this position is demonstrating love and affection toward its owner


Head and Neck Raised

Your dog may rest its head on the side of its dog bed or on a cushion instead of laying it flat on the ground with the rest of its body. If your dog sleeps in this position, it might be experiencing some breathing difficulties. Raising its head and neck this way allows it to get more air than it would if the head were on the floor. 

If your dog starts sleeping in this position, you should keep an eye out for other symptoms of breathing difficulties such as noisy breathing, faster breathing rate, or increased inactivity. You should contact a veterinarian if you notice any of these additional signs. 

dog head on bed

A dog in this position may be experiencing breathing troubles while sleeping.

©Patryk Kosmider/

On The Tummy

Dogs typically sleep on their tummy on a cold surface such as the kitchen floor or the pavement. It is similar to the lion pose, but it’s a lot more relaxed as they try to maximize the contact between the unhaired skin on their belly with the cold floor. 

If your dog is sleeping flat on its tummy on a cold surface, the chances are that it feels hot, and it’s trying to use the temperature of the cold surface to adjust its temperature. Your dog is likely to sleep like this on a long day or after taking a walk. You can help it regulate its temperature by providing access to water, cooling pads, or giving it a frozen treat. 

golden retriever lying prone

A dog lying on its tummy may be trying to cool down.


On The Back

In this position, your dog is lying on its back with its belly up and its legs hanging in the air slightly folded and close to its body. While this might seem like a weird position for a dog, as it turns out, it is actually one of the most comfortable positions for them. 

Your dog might take this position while it is playing with you. It suggests that it is familiar with you and in a comfortable environment. Dogs may also use this position to cool their body as it allows maximum flow of air to all their body parts. 

dog on back

A dog on its back may be trying to cool down or to play.

©Annette Shaff/

Back To Back

The back-to-back sleeping position is similar to the cuddler. But in this case, your dog is sleeping with its back turned against your body or the back of another dog. 

Like the normal cuddler position, the back-to-back position signifies love, affection, and bonding. In fact, some experts think this position is more intimate than the regular cuddling position as they only tend to do this close to the people they trust the most.  

dog on side

A dog giving its back to you indicates it trusts you a lot.

©Soloviova Liudmyla/

The Burrower

Dogs sleeping in a burrower position try to snuggle or drape themselves with pieces of clothing, pillows, or blanket. When your dog sleeps in this position, it could mean that it is looking for security and comfort or trying to calm itself down. 

Burrowing under a blanket could also be your dog’s way of taking a break from everyone and getting their alone time. It’s similar to the way people use sleep masks to minimize distractions before bed. If your dog shows signs of anxiety, getting it a dog shirt to swaddle with can help ease the nervousness and cope better with anxiety. 

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dog in blanket

A dog that tries to “burrow” into clothes, blankets, or pillows, may be anxious.

©Kateryna Mainova/


As a dog parent, you should always keep an eye on your dog’s sleeping habits. Their sleep position is one of the most important things to watch out for. Your dog’s preferred sleeping position can give you little clues about how it is feeling so that you can make adjustments where necessary. 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Aleksey Boyko/

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About the Author

Abdulmumin is a pharmacist and a top-rated content writer who can pretty much write on anything that can be researched on the internet. However, he particularly enjoys writing about animals, nature, and health. He loves animals, especially horses, and would love to have one someday.

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