“I’m Not Fat, I’m Big Boned!” Study Says Labrador Genetics Linked to Obesity

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Lab owners woeful about their pets’ propensity toward pudginess may not be entirely to blame, it turns out. This immensely popular breed, it turns out, may be genetically predisposed to becoming overweight.

When a veterinary surgeon and geneticist who had studied human obesity and its link to genetics decided to conduct similar research on Labrador retrievers, she and colleagues at the University of Cambridge found a variation in one of the three condition-related genes.

The gene in question, POMC, was present in 2/3 of the obese dogs but only in two of the 18 slim ones. The variation — part of the gene was missing — can prevent dogs from feeling full once they’ve eaten.

Further research found that the deletion was more common among pudgy pooches whose owners outed them as particularly ravenous, to the point of eating non-food items, as well.

“What we’ve found in the study is that there really is a hard-wired reason for some Labradors to be completely obsessed by food,” said Eleanor Raffan, the doctor who conducted the research, in the journal Cell Metabolism.


What’s more, 75 percent of 81 Labrador service dog tested had the deletion. Raffan suggests this could be because Labs who are extremely food-motivated (treats are used as a reward during the training period) are disproportionately chosen for the job.

The moral of the story? Resist the tug of those sweet puppy-dog eyes to keep your Lab at a healthy weight.

Or at least make your dog work hard, via exercise or a toy that requires a bit of a struggle to unlock the biscuit within, before giving up the cookie.

2 thoughts on ““I’m Not Fat, I’m Big Boned!” Study Says Labrador Genetics Linked to Obesity”

  1. Thank you Amy Drew. I am happy to know that there is another dog type who loves to eat and has a propensity to becoming fat.
    I have had rottweilers continuously for 35 years and found that they, too, or at least some of them, can be obsessed with food. I have had females weighing 110 to 120 pounds and I now own a pair, male and female, that would eat anything and everything and never be satisfied. They are both healthy, very active and always hungry and eat like horses. The male is muscular but the female is on the verge of being overweight. So what is true for Labs is also true for Rotties.


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