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Corpulent canines….not their fault?

Have you ever looked at a dog & thought ‘Gee, that dog is really fat!’? It’s so easy to assume it’s all the fault of the owner & that the dog must be either overfed and/or under exercised. The overweight animal may well have been a Labrador, a breed often characterised as having an insatiable appetite.

Let’s put this into perspective. In the Britain in 2015 over 30,000 pedigree Labrador retrievers were registered making them Britain’s favourite breed. It’s the same in the USA, for 25 years in a row the Labrador Retriever has been America’s most popular breed. By sheer weight of numbers then it’s not surprising then that an overweight Labrador is a relatively common sight.

We recently came across some research that has shown some dogs inherit a gene variation that predisposes them to weight gain and one fifth of all Labradors tested had the gene mutation! A variety of breeds were studied but only the Flat Coat Retriever was prone to the condition in the same way as Labradors. Guess what – Flatties have some ancestry in common with Labradors!

From a group of 310 Labradors (when factors such as age, gender, and whether they were entire or not were taken into account) dogs with one copy of the mutant gene were found to be 1.9kg heavier than those without, while the average for dogs with two copies was 3.8kg heavier than dogs without.

Sadly, obese dogs of all breeds are more prone to health problems than their leaner cousins.

Let’s not kill them with kindness but do let’s remember that there may be some hard-wired biology behind that persistent food-seeking behaviour.