why do dogs like to cuddle

Why Do Dogs Like to Cuddle?

One of the most endearing qualities of dogs that puts them head and shoulders above other choices of pets for many people, is their almost obsessive need to cuddle up with you at many times throughout the course of day. Is your dog love cuddling?

When we say ‘cuddling’ we should point out that we don’t mean ‘hugging’ which is normally initiated by you the owner. We mean cuddling when they jump on the sofa next to you and choose to snuggle up. Have you ever given much thought to why your dog likes to cuddle so much?

In the following post that is what we will be looking at and what it means.

Dogs Enjoy and Need Cuddling Because They Get Warmth from It

When you look at the definition of the word cuddle, it actually provides an explanation as to why they like doing it so much. Cuddling in the dictionary is defined as being the act of holding someone close in your arms as a way of showing affection or love.

It’s starting to make a lot more sense now, isn’t it? Further to this, there are actual internal physical benefits that dogs gain from cuddling. Have you seen puppies piling on to each other before? Adorable, isn’t it? But it’s a lot more than that as do it to actually stay warm, temperature wise. When humans need to raise their temperature, we just put some more clothes on or get a blanket and wrap it around ourselves. However, dogs obviously don’t have that luxury.

Related Post: Dog Blankets

Another side to the warmth and affection reason for cuddling is that it is part of a dog’s domestication. When humans were first working with dogs and keep them as companions, they served the purpose of helping us to hunt and alerting us to and/or protecting us from danger. However, humans and their canine companions also helped one another by keeping one another warm. There is actually a phrase you may have heard before, ‘a 3 dog night’, which actually originates from extremely cold nights that meant humans would cuddle up with 3 of their dogs to prevent them dying from hypothermia.

So in all senses of the word, cuddling is used to get warmth.

Dogs Like Cuddling Because It Shows Them Affection

Cuddling though, as we are sure you realise, is more than just about the temperature. We briefly touched on it above, but cuddling is a great way to show affection. This is an essential way to strengthen the bond you have with your dog – sharing a cuddle.

There has actually been research conducted that proved dogs need to bond with their owners more than other animals do.

A Brief Scientific Look At Dogs Cuddling

The science behind cuddling is rather fascinating. Cuddling can be an incredibly effective way to relieve stress. Just spending a couple of minutes talking and petting your dog has been proven to increase the levels of oxytocin in both human owners and dogs themselves.

What is oxytocin? Oxytocin is a hormone often named the ‘love hormone, because of its association with trust and bonding in society. There has also been new evidence to suggest that interactions between dogs and their owners can have the same beneficial hormonal responses that infants and mothers have.

Something that has a profound effect on owners and their dogs is mutual gazing. During the study, the owner and dog duos that spent the longest time looking at each other into their eyes, the owners had an increase in levels of oxytocin of 300%, while the dogs experienced an increase of 130%.

It was suggested that domestication is possible because of the deep bond that humans can have with dogs. In theory, this is because wild dogs that bonded with humans, did so because they received protection and care from humans. Which could also mean that cuddling was involved.

Read here our article on the Best Calming Aid for Dogs.

Why Some Breeds Like Cuddling More Than Others

If you have friends with dogs, they may have a different experience with their dogs and their attitude towards cuddling. There does seem to be some dog breeds that enjoy cuddling more than others and a lot of this is connected to genetics. While some have been bred to be more robust, less affectionate and independent; others are bred to be highly affectionate and close to their owners.

photo of dog

Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians and Maltese dogs have all been bred to act as lap dogs for their owners. Lap dogs have the temperament and size suited to sitting in a human owner’s lap.

However, genetics is only a small part of it. Some breeds of dogs and individual dogs just seem to be more interested in showing love and affection than others. There are some that never cuddle much, if at any point.

Dogs are unique just like humans, and some don’t follow the traits of their breed or species that other individuals do. Although dogs are always considered to be more affectionate or cuddly than cats, not every dog is the same. We are sure you know of many people that love a good cuddle, whereas there are others who just don’t and it makes them feel uncomfortable. This is exactly how it is with dogs too.

Why Do Dogs That Love Cuddling Do It Less During Summer

Another factor that comes into play with whether your dog likes cuddling or not, is the weather and climate. Many dogs, again in a similar way to us humans, don’t enjoy cuddling when it is hot. Dogs actually have higher internal body temperatures than humans, so it takes them a lot longer to cool down.

As you’d imagine, cuddling creates a lot of heat, so when the climate is up your dog is probably not going to want a cuddle. It’s nothing personal, just like your partner or best friend might not appreciate a cuddle in the heat of summer when all they want to do is chill out and cool down.


  1. Do Dogs Like Hugs?, The American Kennel Club

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