Why Do Golden Retrievers Sleep On Their Back?

by Kern Campbell

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Why Do Golden Retrievers Sleep On Their Back?

My golden retriever loves to sleep, as I am sure yours does too, but I can’t figure out why she always sleeps on her back.  Have any of you wondered about this also?

For those who are curious like I am, I did some investigating today.  I hope you find it as informative as I did.

Why Do Golden Retrievers Sleep On Their Back?

The most common reason Golden Retrievers sleep on their backs is to help keep cool. However, there are many reasons a retriever will sleep on its back.

Keep reading and we will dive into the various reasons.

Golden retrievers sleep on their back because it helps to keep them cool. After all, they are a dog breed that has a lot of hair.  This large amount of hair can cause them to get hotter quicker, but they may feel cool when their underside is exposed. 

Golden retrievers may also sleep on their back because it feels more comfortable.  They are large dogs with a lot of fur that gets everywhere, and that usually means that they may be found sleeping on the floor or in more uncomfortable places than smaller dogs. 

Golden retrievers sleep on their back because they attempt to be submissive to their owner as it sleeps beside them.  Golden retrievers are very friendly, people-pleasing, passive dogs. This makes it easier for them to be submissive to those around them when golden retrievers sleep on their back. 

Golden retrievers also sleep on their back because they feel safe enough to do so around their pet parents or those that care for them.  Golden retrievers even sleep on their back as a way of seeking love, closeness, and affection from those they love most, be it another dog or their pet parent.

Golden retrievers sleep on their back because it is cooler for them.  As a large dog with many dog hair on its body, golden retrievers can get hot easier than other dogs.  Their coat of hair is thick, dense and tends to hold the heat and moisture against their body.  This can make them do whatever is necessary, including put themselves in a vulnerable or precarious position to be comfortable and cooler.

Golden retrievers also sleep on their back because it feels naturally more comfortable for them.  These dogs are large and have a lot of fur that tends to get everywhere.  This can have many golden retriever pet parents deciding to keep them on the floor away from furniture and where people sit and on more awkward spots, so they adapt by exposing their underside and sleeping on their back.

This position is great because it also allows their body to relax fully, legs spread, head lulling back, paws up in the air.

Another reason golden retrievers also sleep on their back is that they are trying to be submissive to their owner or another caregiver. A natural people-pleasing dog breed golden retriever doesn’t have trouble being submissive like other dog breeds.  With those they love, they don’t mind being submissive.

And still, golden retrievers sleep on their back because they are comfortable enough to do so around someone, whether pet parent, caregiver or another dog.  By doing so, they are showing they are comfortable and relaxed.

Finally, golden retrievers sleep on their back because they say I am opening to receiving love, affection, attention, and comfort.  This can be directed at another animal, their pet parent, or even a stranger that visits their home.

If golden retrievers sleep on their back because they are hot, what other ways can they cool off?

For golden retrievers that sleep on their back because they are hot, they can cool off in a few ways.

Cool Air

Golden retrievers who sleep on their back to cool off may also feel cooler when they are allowed to sit in front of a fan or air-conditioned room.  The air can be directed at them from a fan, or they can sit in a room that is being cooled by an air conditioner to be more comfortable.

Cooling Mat

For those golden retrievers that get hot quickly, they can also feel cooler if they lay on a cooling mat expressly designed for this purpose. At the same time, these mats won’t cure the fact that they have a lot of dense hair, but they can help them feel better with all that hair on their body.

Water Play

Golden retrievers that sleep on their back to be cooler might enjoy a dip in the pool or the indoor bathtub for those pet parents who are game enough to do so.  If the weather is sweltering, they might also like a nice wetting down outdoors with a hose.

A Trim

What might be even better during certain seasons when golden retrievers are hot and sleep on their backs, giving them a trim can be more cooling for them.  Their undercoat should not be trimmed as it can cause issues with it growing during the next season, but a quick snip of their outer coat can be beneficial.

How can I make my golden retriever more comfortable if she sleeps on her back on the floor?

For those golden retrievers that sleep on the floor on their back, it is easy to make them a bit more comfortable by providing them with a dog bed or something fluffy. An excellent way to do this while reducing the chance they will get too hot is to use foam floor pieces.

These pieces may not be as fluffy and comfortable as a stuffed dog bed, but they are softer than a hardwood floor and sometimes better than a carpet because they are soft but firm.

Another option is to provide your golden retrievers that sleep on their back a comfortable place to rest is to give a dog bed with a cooling mat on the top.  The bed will provide the cushion that they need, and the cooling mat will combat and heat they may produce.

This also allows pet parents to continue to have somewhat hair-free furniture that they can feel comfortable sitting on.

Is it okay for my golden retriever to be submissive by sleeping on their back?

Yes, it is okay for your golden retriever to be submissive by sleeping on their back.

For a golden retriever or another dog, being submissive is normal at one time or another.  While certain breeds and individual dogs are more submissive than others, it is okay for a golden retriever to sleep on their back and show submission.

It is a sign of submission to their pet parent, caregiver, or other person or animal that is a comfortable submission which would be opposite to the more aggressive dominance and submission people are familiar with in dog body language.

It is a show that they trust you and are comfortable making themselves vulnerable in your presence.  They should trust their pet parent or loving family and let down their guard and be relaxed dogs.

For golden retrievers that sleep on their back, what other ways do they seek affection and attention?

Golden retrievers that sleep on their back may seek affection and attention in numerous other ways.

They may rest a head or paw on those they love to show and seek love and affection as well as attention.  Golden retrievers that sleep on their back might also seek attention and affection by barking while dancing around their pet parent or by leaning into or snuggling up beside their family members.

These dogs are gentle, passive, and loving; therefore, they can go unnoticed despite their large size.  When the golden retriever sleeps on their back, they seek attention and love in the open, trusting, and pronounced way.

Do you see my belly?  I want you to scratch my belly.  I like to have my belly rubbed, and I trust that you will do that for me because you love me as I love you.

It is important to remember to respect the golden retrievers’ trust and openness by showing kindness, love, and gentleness with them at all times.  This keeps the bond strong and the connection, one that is open and loving.

For golden retrievers that sleep on their backs, what other positions do they sleep in?

Golden retrievers that sleep on their backs also sleep on their side, or perhaps curled up, and even still directly on their belly.  The reasons for these different positions are as unique as the dogs themselves, similar to why we sleep as we do.

These golden retrievers will also switch from sleeping on their back to other positions during one sleeping session just as we might for comfort.

In Conclusion

Whatever the reason golden retrievers sleep on their back, it is directly linked to comfort, just as our sleeping patterns.

While it may seem odd to see such a big dog on its back while sleeping, it is both comfortable and normal.  We should all feel so comfortable around others that we can be in such a vulnerable state!

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