Why Do Dogs Like To Cuddle?


The word ‘cuddle’ means to hold close for warmth and affection. Dogs cuddle with their owners to keep warm when they need to and to show love as a result of a healthy relationship.

So why do you and your dog cuddle? On the other hand, why doesn’t your dog like to cuddle with you?

History of Dog Cuddling

Dogs as we know them today most likely descended from wolves. Wolves traveled in packs for protection in the wild. Within these packs, they began to communicate.

These packs were tight-knit groups of canines that would work together to accomplish tasks as a team. In this setting, dogs became social animals.

Dogs are sensitive to the changing emotions around them. It became natural for dogs within packs to show and seek affection with each other. They needed to see and understand the level of trust that their teammates had.

As pack animals, dogs learned to work together. Interactions took place in the form of body language. Dogs also used short, specific barking sounds to communicate with each other. 

For survival purposes, dogs cuddled to keep themselves warm. Any number of dogs would come together to keep warm as they slept. Cuddling is one of the first things puppies learn after birth, as the mother holds her young close to protect them.

Cuddling also became a sign of closeness. It displayed the will of one dog to protect another in a pack.

There is a theory that human and dog cuddling was a progression in dog domestication. When hunters would try to keep warm with their dog partners, they would cuddle with them. This bond strengthened the relationship between the owner and his pet.

Today, cuddling is frequent for our household dogs. You’ll find that this practice is healthy for both the dog and for you too.

The Science of Dog Cuddling

Studies show that cuddling with your dog produces oxytocin in your brain and your dogs’ brain. Oxytocin is known as the love hormone. We typically feel it when we socially bond with other people or even cuddle with them.

Research suggests that dogs value their bond with their owner more than any other animal. They become protective of you. They also look to you to show affection in return. Cuddling is one way that you can do that for your pet.

When you cuddle your dog, it connects with you more.

You produce chemicals in its brain that make your dog feel calm and safe. These emotions grow your relationship and trust. Dogs that cuddle with their owners more often tend to be more obedient. They also tend to accomplish tasks better.

Why Your Dog Cuddles and Why it Doesn’t

The truth is, some dogs cuddle more than others.

Cuddle behavior can be affected by three factors. These are outside of the strength of your relationship with your dog. It could come down to:

  •  Dog breed
  •  Dog personality
  • Temperature and weather

Dog Breed

Different dog breeds tend to cuddle more than others. If your dog is strongly dominant or independent, it may not want to cuddle with you. On the other hand, friendly and more social breeds will cuddle more.

Lap dogs such as the Pug, Bolognese, and Chihuahua, are known to be more sociable. Breeds like these will likely want to cuddle with you more. 

Dog Personality

Though a member of a particular breed, your dog also has a unique personality. This personality is what sets your dog apart from all others. Your dog may cuddle with you more based on its personal preference to do so.

The same is true if your dog refuses to show affection in this way. Dog breeds do have some general and natural tendencies. Your dog’s personality may not be one that is typical for its breed.

Temperature and Weather

You may notice that your dog cuddles with you less during summer months. Cuddling keeps dogs warm. If the weather is already hot, your dog will be less likely to want to cuddle with you.

Consequently, if you attempt to cuddle your dog when the weather is hot, it will be less willing to show the same affection.

This is especially because the natural body temperature for dogs is higher than that of humans. Dogs have an average temperature of 101-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit or 38.3-39.2 degrees Celsius. The average human temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius.

How You Cuddle Matters

Cuddling produces feelings of calm and safety for your pet. If you’re not careful though, it may create feelings of anxiety.

Bear hugging your dog can cause your it to feel uncomfortable in your arms. If you do this regularly, it will affect the trust your dog has with you. The result may be that your dog learns not to cuddle with you at all.

It is important to pay attention to how your dog is reacting to what you’re doing. If your dog feels tense or is breathing hard, change how you’re holding it. Take note of how your dog prefers to cuddle so you can duplicate this to display your love.

Cuddling should calm your dog. Make sure that your dog feels and understands that mutual exchange of affection. Do the best you can to create a safe environment for your dog. 

Final Thoughts

Both within packs and with their owners, dogs cuddle for survival and emotional reasons.

If you’re a dog owner, make sure you understand why your dog will or won’t cuddle with you. Cuddling does display the strength of a relationship but it can also be affected by several outside factors.