The sleep of dogs: the differences with wolves

The sleep of dogs and the sweet slumber of cats have been observed and the more curious aspects of our pets’ naps revealed by veterinarians. However, a lot less is known about the wolf, the focus of many of Almo Nature’s initiatives and close relative of the domestic dog. A recent study of the wolf, one of wildlife’s most elusive animals, looked at the predator’s sleep habits and was reported in the New York Times.


Wolves or dogs: which sleep more? 

The study that spanned over 50 years analysed the behaviour and interactions of wolves on Isle Royal, a remote, island wilderness close to Lake Superior in North America. Under the magnifying glass, one of the most important tasks for the animal: hunting. To survive in the amazing setting of the pack they have to hunt – a laborious activity that, once completed, and the meal consumed over a period of hours, is followed by a well deserved rest. In fact, the predators rest or sleep about 30 per cent of the time. A behaviour quite different from that of man’s best friend, which is not subjected to the energy-sapping task of catching prey but is fed by its owner. Furthermore, a dog does not have fixed sleep habits and often has more frequent, short naps during the day according to its personality and physical conformation.


The sleep of dogs and wolves: the importance of nutrition 

A wolf’s routine has an impact on its metabolism. In fact, a wolf will burn about 70 per cent more calories than other animals of similar size and type on a daily basis and 10-20 times more calories during the hunt than during rest. As the authors of the study point out, the predators face different challenges: “When food is plentiful, wolves spend a substantial amount of time simply resting, because they can. When food is scarce, however, wolves spend much time resting because they need to.” It could be that they eat only once every five to ten days when food is tight, losing eight to ten per cent of their body weight, but will regain the weight after they have eaten and rested.

This adventurous and fascinating life, also evidenced by the suggestive video The Art in Being Wolf, reminds us how wolves, although similar to dogs in many ways are, in reality, very different from their domestic cousins. In fact, dogs don’t suit such a wild diet but they should observe a balanced diet in which the role of proteins is crucial.