Why Do Dogs Like to Cuddle? Vet Explains (2024)


Dogs are known for their affectionate nature and their love for cuddling. Every dog is unique, and dogs may have varying preferences when it comes to physical contact and showing affection. Some dogs are “cuddle bugs” who enjoy snuggling up with their owners, while others may prefer to be left alone. In this section, we will explore the reasons behind why dogs like to cuddle and the different factors that influence their cuddling tendencies.


  • Dogs cuddle to show love and seek comfort from their human companions.
  • Some dogs may not like to be hugged; understanding their body language is essential.
  • Individual dogs and breeds have varying preferences for cuddling and physical affection.
  • Cuddling benefits physical health and strengthens emotional bonds with dogs.

The information provided herein is for informational purposes only. Please refer to our disclaimer for more details..

Table of Contents

    1. The emotional connection Between Dogs and Humans
    2. Do dogs know why we cuddle them?
    3. How to know if Dog wants to cuddle?
      1. Bonding with Your Dog Through Cuddling
      2. Why do Dogs like to Cuddle in Bed?
    4. The Physiological Effects of Cuddling on Dogs: Science behind Dog cuddles
    5. Do Dogs like to Cuddle; Are there any Individual Breed Preferences?
    6. Conclusion

The emotional connection Between Dogs and Humans

Image credit: PNW Production

At the heart of a dog’s desire to cuddle is their emotional connection with humans. Dogs are social animals, and they naturally crave companionship and affection. Over time, through socialization and bonding, a puppy develops a deep attachment to their owners. As a result, cuddling becomes a way for dogs to seek comfort and show their love for their human companions.

Understanding this emotional connection is essential for building a strong bond with your canine companion. By spending quality time with your pet and showing them love and care, you can strengthen this connection and deepen your relationship. Cuddling can be an excellent way to bond with your dog and build trust.

Do dogs know why we cuddle them?

Image credit: Laura Stanley

Dogs may not fully grasp the idea of cuddling like we do, however, they learn to associate cuddling behavior as a gesture of affection. Dogs are pack animals and consider their owner a closely knit member of a pack, a provider who leads them. As pack animals, dogs often meet and greet others by sniffing and licking. If they like the feeling, they often cuddle by rubbing their bodies. Similarly, they take human cuddling as a form of affection.

When you cuddle with your dog, it can create a sense of security, warmth, and bonding. Dogs are known to be sensitive to their owner’s emotions, and they can pick up on the calming and comforting effects of physical contact. While they may not comprehend the specific reasons for cuddling, they do associate the experience with positive feelings and the pleasure of being close to their human.

However, dogs may not like to be hugged like humans do, they may feel trapped and get nervous as they try to escape, these are signs that a dog is getting uncomfortable. Behaviorists recommend that you should not hug your dog and use other means of showing love like belly rubbing and light cuddles.

How to know if Dog wants to cuddle?

Image credit: Andrew Kota

When it comes to cuddling, it’s important to pay attention to your dog’s body language to ensure that they are comfortable and happy. Dogs communicate primarily through body language, so learning to read and respond to your dog’s signals is crucial for building a strong bond.


Some dogs may not like to cuddle, while others may be more affectionate. It’s essential to respect your dog’s preferences and not force them to cuddle if they don’t want to. Instead, look for signs that your dog is happy and relaxed when cuddling, such as a relaxed body posture, a wagging tail, and a willingness to stay close to you.

Bonding with Your Dog Through Cuddling

Cuddling can be a powerful way to deepen the bond between humans and dogs. By spending quality time together and showing affection, you can strengthen your relationship and build trust. When cuddling your dog, be sure to use gentle touches and soothing words to create a calming and comforting environment.

Remember that every dog is unique when it comes to their experiences and preferences. Some dogs may prefer to cuddle to get warmth, while others may prefer to snuggle close to you on the couch. By paying attention to your dog’s body language and preferences, you can create the ultimate cuddle experience for your furry friend.

Why do Dogs like to Cuddle in Bed?

Some dogs like to cuddle and love sleeping in your bed, this is a sign of showing affection and love to their owners to feel safe, protected in times of stress and to get some warmth by getting close to their owner. Sometimes dogs are attracted to the comfort of the bed and they cuddle next to you to relax alongside their favorite human.

The Physiological Effects of Cuddling on Dogs: Science behind Dog cuddles


As it turns out, cuddling with your furry friend can be beneficial for their physical health as well as their emotional well-being. Research has shown that when dogs cuddle, their body releases chemicals like hormone oxytocin, commonly known as the “love hormone.” The same hormone is released in humans when we hug or cuddle with someone we care about.

When dogs experience an increase in oxytocin levels, they may show physical signs of happiness, like a wagging tail or a desire to rub their belly against you, this makes them feel good. But cuddling can also have physiological effects on both the dog and its owner, including a decrease in stress levels and lowered blood pressure.

This can be especially helpful during times of stress or anxiety for your dog. By snuggling up with their human companion, dogs can experience a sense of comfort and security that helps them feel more relaxed. This is why some dogs may seek out cuddles during thunderstorms or other stressful situations.

In addition to the benefits of oxytocin, researchers have also found that rubbing or giving belly rubs to dogs can have a calming effect and help reduce stress levels. So, the next time you and your furry friend curl up for a cuddle session, know that you’re not only enjoying each other’s company, but you’re also promoting each other’s health and well-being.

Do Dogs like to Cuddle; Are there any Individual Breed Preferences?

Not all dogs have the same preferences when it comes to cuddling. While some lap dogs and small breeds like to cuddle and others don’t show the same level of affection. Within any breed, there can also be individual differences in cuddle preferences.


Dogs’ body language is a good indicator of their feelings towards cuddling. Some dogs will initiate cuddling by jumping onto their owners’ laps, while others prefer to keep their distance. It’s important to respect a dog’s wishes when it comes to cuddling. Pay attention to dog body language, and avoid forcing a dog to cuddle if they show signs of discomfort or disinterest.

Furthermore, there are breed differences, humans have bred certain large sized breeds to guard and protect that may not engage much in cuddling, some like to have their own space and wants to be alone, like Chow Chow.

There are some breeds that are called lap dogs that love to cuddle and get a good belly rub, for instance, pugs, French Bull dog, Boston Terrier etc. However, there are some large affectionate breeds that are known for their love and affectionate behavior like Golden Retrievers.

In research studies, it has been shown that dogs who have been socialized with other dogs tend to be more affectionate towards humans. Whether or not dog loves to cuddle depends on the socialization experience, breed related personality trait variations in different dogs and lastly individual preferences.

So, if you have two dogs, don’t be surprised if one is cuddly and loves cuddle time while the other wants to be left alone. Just like with humans, every dog is an individual with their own experiences and preferences, and it’s important to respect their personal space and boundaries.



From our research, we have discovered that dogs enjoy cuddling because of their emotional connection with humans, the physiological benefits it provides for both the dog and their owners, and their unique cuddle preferences. Dogs who love to cuddle may show affection through wagging their tails, leaning in for a rub or belly rub, or even becoming a “cuddle bug.”

However, not all dogs like to cuddle, and it’s important to pay attention to a dog’s body language and respect their space if they prefer to be alone. Research has shown that cuddling can reduce stress and lower blood pressure in dogs, but it’s important to approach every dog with care and sensitivity.

Understanding why dogs like to cuddle can help us deepen our bond with our furry companions. Whether your dog is an ultimate cuddle buddy or less affectionate, cherish the moments when they show love and affection in their own unique way.

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Why Do Dogs Like to Cuddle? Vet Explains (2024)


Why Do Dogs Like to Cuddle? Vet Explains? ›

Just like you, the number one reason dogs like to cuddle is that they love you. "Because dogs have a pack mentality, they consider you as part of their close-knit group, meaning they want to show you their affection and love," says Dr. Zac Pilossoph, a veterinarian with Healthy Paws Pet Insurance. Dr.

Why do dogs like to cuddle so much? ›

“Dogs cuddle to get warmth, bond with their family members or pack, and because it releases chemicals and hormones that make them feel good,” Bernal says. When dogs cuddle with us, their brains release the feel-good hormone oxytocin, “which reinforces their desire and enjoyment of touch and bonding,” she adds.

What does it mean when a dog snuggles up to you? ›

Cuddling (on their terms)

So, when they cuddle into you, they are actively choosing you. This can vary from full body cuddles, to them leaning into you to ask for some love.

Do dogs understand the concept of cuddling? ›

Experts in dog behavior believe that, in general, dogs do not like being embraced. However, every dog has a unique personality. Some may dislike hugs more strongly than others, and some may actually adore them. The closest thing our furry family members do to a hug is something referred to as 'standing over'.

How do dogs decide who to cuddle? ›

Quality time and the amount of time spent together is another factor that might determine your dog's best friend. If your dog has had some really fun, deep bonding time with you and is anticipating more of that, they might stay nearby, ready to play or snuggle up.

Do dogs cuddle their favorite person? ›

Snuggling up to you or showing you vulnerable positions, such as laying on their backs so you can pet the belly, shows trust and comfort,” Grottini says. These signs of love can often be reserved for the favorite human of the house.

Why is my dog so needy for cuddles? ›

Dogs are social animals, and they have evolved tight bonds with their human companions, so it's totally normal for your dog to want your attention and affection. But a dog being clingy could be a sign of a deeper issue, such as anxiety, stress, or even an underlying health problem.

What dog breed likes to cuddle the most? ›

According to our data, these are the most cuddly dog breeds, shown next to their average cuddle score:
  • Bull Terrier (4.63)
  • Dalmatian (4.55)
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (4.54)
  • Belgian Tervuren (4.52)
  • American Bully (4.52)
Jan 29, 2024

Can you cuddle your dog too much? ›

A few people disagree, but despite how good it feels for humans to receive hugs, most experts agree with Coren's analysis that dogs do not like to be hugged because the gesture immobilizes them, causing high levels of stress and anxiety that could lead to aggression or biting in extreme cases, or just a nervous and ...

What does it mean when your dog stares at you while cuddling? ›

1. They love us. Just as we humans gaze into the eyes of people we adore, dogs have “borrowed” the same sign of affection to communicate with their owners. New research shows that mutual gazing between us and our pets releases the same hormonal response present during mother and infant bonding between humans.

Do dogs know we kiss them? ›

Many dog owners talk to their dogs in a cute or gentle manner when they are kissing them. The dog then learns to associate the kisses with a warmer tone, meaning they might respond accordingly. So while dogs do not understand what kisses really mean, they can eventually learn to realize they are positive messages.

Do dogs like you talking to them? ›

Do Dogs Like When You Talk to Them? Yes! Research published in Animal Cognition found that both puppies and adult dogs are attentive to the high-pitch voice we use with babies and the more even-toned language used with adults.

Do dogs understand crying? ›

It's not in your head: Dogs do seem to be attentive to crying. “It's pretty extensively established that dogs do respond to human crying,” Julia Manor, Ph. D. opens in a new tab , an animal cognition and neuroscience researcher and associate professor at Ripon College, tells us.

Do male or female dogs cuddle more? ›

Male dogs have a reputation for being more affectionate than females, but in truth, you can find many extremely affectionate female dogs and some male dogs who prefer to be left alone.

Do dogs get annoyed when you cuddle them? ›

It's natural to hug your loved ones, including your canine companion. But just as some people feel hugs are an invasion of their personal space, many dogs dislike a tight embrace. Hugs are a form of restraint – your dog can't run away or escape while they're pinned by your arms. It can also seem threatening.

Why do dogs sleep with their bum facing you? ›

If your dog does this, it means they trust you. And, if they keep their bum toward your face, it shows that you make them feel safe. Your dog also wants to keep you safe and secure, which is why they plant their rumps where they do. This allows them to monitor the entire room and be ready for action if it's warranted.

Do dogs know we love them? ›

Yes, your dog knows how much you love him! Dogs and humans have a very special relationship, where dogs have hijacked the human oxytocin bonding pathway normally reserved for our babies. When you stare at your dog, both your oxytocin levels go up, the same as when you pet them and play with them.

Why is my dog overly affectionate? ›

Even though dogs have a reputation for loving anyone and everyone who comes across their path, that's not always the case, Dr. Wooten says. “If your otherwise confident dog becomes overly clingy or snuggly, that is usually an indication that something is bothering your dog, such as new people,” she says.

Do dogs cuddle on purpose? ›

Exactly the same we do! Dogs love to cuddle with their owners, and it's a sign of their affection and love towards you. Cuddling releases oxytocin, which is known as the “love hormone.” When your dog cuddles with you, it makes them feel happy and secure, and it also strengthens your bond with them.

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