Why Do Greyhounds Sleep with Their Eyes Open?

While their agility and racing abilities of Greyhounds are widely recognized, one particular trait sets them apart from other dog breeds—their ability to sleep with their eyes open. This intriguing behavior has fascinated many dog enthusiasts, prompting the question: Why do greyhounds sleep with their eyes open? In this article, we will delve into the reasons behind this unique sleeping habit of greyhounds.

Greyhound Sleep Patterns

In understanding why greyhounds sleep with their eyes open, it is essential to explore their sleep patterns. Like all dogs, greyhounds go through two main stages of sleep: light sleep and deep sleep.

Light Sleep

During the light sleep stage, greyhounds experience rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, associated with dreaming. This is when their eyes are most likely closed, similar to other dog breeds.

Deep Sleep

In the deep sleep stage, greyhounds enter a state of non-REM sleep, where their body and mind relax further. During this stage, greyhounds exhibit the peculiar behavior of sleeping with their eyes open.

Greyhound Eyes

To understand why Greyhounds sleep with their eyes open, it’s essential to delve into the distinctive features of their eyes.


We must explore their unique eye anatomy to understand why greyhounds can sleep with their eyes open. Greyhounds have large, almond-shaped eyes that are well-adapted for their racing prowess. Their eyes are more forward-facing than other breeds, providing them with a wide field of vision and excellent depth perception.


Greyhounds have exceptional vision, which plays a significant role in their hunting abilities. Their eyes are proportionally more significant than many other dog breeds, enabling them to spot prey from a considerable distance. This enhanced vision results from their well-developed eye muscles and specialized retinas.

greyhound sleep eyes open
It’s deceiving…

Reasons Why Greyhounds Sleep with Their Eyes Open

Here are some of the most common reasons greyhounds sleep with open eyes.

Adaptation for Survival

While Greyhounds have evolved to become beloved companions and family pets, it’s crucial to remember their ancestry as skilled hunters. These dogs had to be constantly alert to survive in their natural habitat.

Sleeping with their eyes open allowed them to rest while remaining vigilant against potential predators or rival packs. Although domesticated, Greyhounds still retain these survival instincts, manifesting in their unique sleeping behavior.

Heightened Awareness

One of the primary reasons Greyhounds sleep with their eyes open is their innate sense of hypervigilance. These dogs are naturally cautious and always looking for potential threats or prey.

By sleeping with their eyes open, Greyhounds can maintain heightened awareness, even during rest. This behavior allows them to instantly react to changes in their environment, ensuring their survival in the wild.

Protecting the Pack

Greyhounds are known for their loyalty and protective instincts towards their owners and territory. By sleeping with their eyes open, Greyhounds can watch their surroundings, ready to respond to any potential intruders or unfamiliar noises. This behavior showcases their commitment to safeguarding their loved ones and property.

greyhound sleep eyes and mouth open
Eyes and mouth open!

Eye Movements During Sleep

During deep sleep, greyhounds may exhibit subtle eye movements, such as rapid flickering or rolling of the eyeballs. These movements are a normal part of the sleep cycle and are associated with the brain’s processing of information and dream activity. Despite these eye movements, greyhounds can maintain a state of sleep with their eyes open.

Greyhound Sleeping Disorders

While greyhounds are generally known for their healthy sleep patterns, some may experience sleep disorders similar to other dog breeds. These disorders can disrupt their sleep quality and affect their overall well-being. Greyhound owners must be aware of any signs of sleep disturbances and consult a veterinarian if necessary.

Do All Greyhounds Sleep with Their Eyes Open?

Although sleeping with open eyes is a common trait among greyhounds, not all individuals exhibit this behavior. It can vary from dog to dog, and some greyhounds may prefer to sleep with their eyes fully closed. Each greyhound has unique sleeping habits, influenced by factors such as their environment, comfort, and individual personality.

The Importance of Proper Sleep

Like humans, greyhounds require sufficient, restful sleep for physical and mental well-being. Providing a comfortable and safe sleeping environment is crucial for their overall health. Ensuring they have a cozy bed, a quiet space, and a regular sleep routine can contribute to their overall happiness and vitality.

sleeping brown greyhound
Don’t worry, he’s just asleep!


The intriguing behavior of greyhounds sleeping with their eyes open stems from their evolutionary adaptation and heightened awareness. It is a testament to their ancestral instincts as hunting and guarding dogs.

While not all greyhounds exhibit this behavior, it is a fascinating aspect of their sleeping habits. As responsible greyhound owners, providing them with the optimal conditions for a restful sleep is crucial.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it normal for Greyhounds to sleep with their eyes open?

Yes, it is normal for Greyhounds to sleep with their eyes open. This behavior results from their evolutionary adaptation and serves as a means to stay vigilant even while resting.

Can greyhounds close their eyes while sleeping?

Yes, greyhounds can close their eyes while sleeping, although some may sleep with their eyes partially open.

Are greyhounds more prone to sleep disorders?

Greyhounds, like any other dog breed, can experience sleep disorders. It is crucial to monitor their sleep patterns and consult a veterinarian if you notice any signs of sleep disturbances.

How can I ensure my greyhound gets enough restful sleep?

To ensure your greyhound gets enough restful sleep, provide them with a comfortable bed, a quiet sleeping area, and establish a regular sleep routine. Avoid disturbances and create a calm environment that promotes relaxation.

Is it safe for greyhounds to sleep with their eyes open?

Yes, it is safe for greyhounds to sleep with their eyes open. It is a natural behavior for them and does not cause harm or discomfort.

Can greyhounds see while sleeping with their eyes open?

Greyhounds can see to some extent while sleeping with their eyes open, although their vision may not be as straightforward or focused as when they are fully open. The purpose is to stay aware of their surroundings rather than achieve visual clarity.

Victoria Richards

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