Do Bull Terriers Dream Like Humans?


Time to read 4 min

©Alona Gryadovaya via

Do Bull Terriers Dream Like Humans?

You might be wondering do Bull Terriers dream like humans? What do they dream about?

Scientific evidence suggests that dogs, including Bull Terriers, do indeed dream. Similar to humans, they enter a phase during sleep where brain activity patterns resemble those associated with dreaming in humans. This indicates that dogs likely experience dream-like states.

These dreams are thought to revolve around their daily experiences. You might observe your Bull Terrier twitching or making noises while asleep, which could indicate them reimagining their daily activities. So, just like us, Bull Terriers likely have their own dream world filled with reflections of their day.

What is REM sleep for dogs?

Like all dogs, Bull Terriers go through several sleep cycles. This includes REM (rapid eye movement) and SWS (short-wave sleep). During SWS sleep, brain waves are slow and undulating but muscle tone is still active, so their body is not totally relaxed. During REM sleep, brain waves are faster and irregular and muscles are more relaxed but the mind is more active.

Bull Terriers generally spend only about 10% of their sleep cycle in restorative REM stage sleep. REM sleep usually begins 20 minutes into a nap and lasts for 2-3 minutes. 

During the REM stage of heightened mental activity, your Bull Terrier may whine, breathe rapidly, and move their legs. The period of REM sleep is responsible for the most vivid dreams. It’s during REM sleep that your Bull Terrier dreams most heavily. This is when you may see your Bull Terrier twitching, moving, or even making sounds.

Like all dogs, Bull Terriers require some recumbent rest each day. Without REM sleep, a Bull Terrier can suffer and become sleep deficient.

Pet parent tip

If you realize your Bull Terrier's sleep pattern has drastically changed over a short period, please visit your vet. It might be an indication of an underlying health issue.

What do we know about dog dreams? 

Dreaming is a normal, healthy occurrence and is part of a regular 24-hour cycle of wakefulness and sleep. Unlike humans, Bull Terriers can't describe their dreams. So, it is impossible to get a first-hand account of their dreams. However, scientists have managed to gather information about canine dreams and sleep patterns through clinical observations. Some of their findings include:

  • As a Bull Terrier falls asleep, their breathing becomes deeper and more regular.
  • After about 20 minutes of slumber while in REM sleep, dreams usually begin for the average Bull Terrier.
  • While dreaming, the Bull Terrier’s breathing may become shallow and irregular, and muscles may twitch. 
  • A Bull Terrier's eyes move behind the closed lids and dart about as if the dog is looking at something. During this REM sleep, dogs are visualizing dream images much as we do in this phase of sleep. 

How often do dogs dream?

Some dogs dream more than others. The frequency and length of dreams vary according to the age and size of the dog. Dream length and frequency are also related to the amount of sleep required. 

According to Dr. Richter "Small dogs and puppies dream fast and often, with perhaps 60-second dreams every ten minutes or so. Larger dogs have longer dreams - up to about five minutes - with an hour of non-dream time between dreaming sessions."

Puppies acquire huge amounts of new information daily and have much to process at night. The young, innocent minds of puppies experience more dreams than adult dogs.

Do dogs have nightmares?

Unfortunately, Bull Terriers can have nightmares. If you think your Bull Terrier is having a nightmare because they are snarling, growling, or crying out, restrain the impulse to wake them. They may replay traumatic events or dream about fears like being alone, getting in a fight with another dog, going to the vet, or being in a thunderstorm.

If your Bull Terrier is in the middle of a nightmare it's important that you don't wake them up unless absolutely necessary! To avoid a reactive response, it's best to use a gentle cheerful voice to wake your pet. Bull Terriers who are awakened from a scary dream may not know where they are right away and are more likely to growl or even bite out of fear. 

Bull Terriers that have been rescued, abandoned, or abused are more likely to suffer from nightmares than Bull Terriers that have always had a stable home. 

If your Bull Terrier has an occasional nightmare, don’t worry. Talk with your vet if you have any concerns about your Bull Terrier's dreams or sleep problems.

How much sleep does a Bull Terrier need?

As a caring pet parent, you must be concerned about your Bull Terrier's health and sleep requirements. Well, every dog has its own sleep pattern and preferred time to doze off. Sleeping is one of the main events in any dog's daily life.

How much does an adult Bull Terrier sleep?

Adult Bull Terriers generally sleep around 15 hours a day. This sleep time includes naps throughout the day along with sleeping at night.

How much does a Bull Terrier puppy sleep?

Bull Terrier puppies can tire very easily. They usually sleep between 18 and 20 hours a day.

How much sleep does a senior Bull Terrier need?

Senior Bull Terriers and sick dogs often require more sleep than healthy adult dogs. They will take naps throughout the day for a total of 16 - 18 hours.

When Bull Terriers sleep, their heart rate drops and their breathing slows down. Usually, Bull Terriers are aware of their surroundings, even when they are sleeping.

Final thoughts

Since most Bull Terriers don’t have smartphones, or jobs, and don't go to school, sleeping is normally the best way for them to spend long, tedious hours. It’s always incredible how fast Bull Terriers can fall asleep. One minute they are awake and alert, the next, their eyes are closed, and they begin to snore.

No matter what Bull Terriers dream about, there is some comfort in believing that just like us, they have dreams and fears that play out in their sleep. This makes us more alike than different.

Just like humans, Bull Terriers need uninterrupted sleep for a healthy mind and body. Provide your Bull Terrier a quiet, comfortable, area to rest and do not disturb them.