Sunday, April 7, 2024

Why are Labrador and Flat Coated Retrievers prone to obesity?


    In a recent article in the U.S. News and World Report Dennis Thompson describes the results of a recent study examining the causes of obesity in Labrador Retrievers. This British study found that nearly 25% of Labrador Retrievers and 66% of Flat Coated Retrievers have a gene that makes them more likely to be obese. This mutated gene, called POMC, causes dogs to feel hungrier and burn less calories. Dogs with the POMC gene got hungry faster between feedings, despite not needing to eat more at meal times in order to feel full. Furthermore, the study found that these dogs also burn 25% less energy while resting than dogs without the gene, meaning they should actually be fed less. The POMC gene prevents dogs from making beta-melanocyte stimulating hormone and beta endorphin, which are both important in hunger and energy usage.

    The study found that when fed a meal Labs with the mutation did not eat more then Labs without the mutation. This indicated to scientists that dogs with the mutation did not need to eat more to feel full. However, in between mealtimes a sausage was placed in a box with a perforated lid, and dogs with the POMC mutation tried significantly harder to get the sausage. This indicated to scientists that they got hungrier between meals than dogs without the mutation. Drugs are currently in development for the POMC mutation can also occur in humans.

    In my opinion this article is important because it helps to inform owners of Labrador and Flat Coated Retrievers of a health condition that could be affecting their dogs. It allows them to make more informed decisions that will affect the health of their four legged companions. This article informs others who may want to get a Lab or Flat Coated Retriever about the health needs of the dog they may get. Furthermore it also makes clear to the audience that obese dogs are not always caused by negligent owners.


  1. I think this is important for dog owners to know and understand about their dog. The Labs with this mutation will feel hungrier that other dogs without it, however if owners do not know this they will keep feeding their dog more till they believe they are not hungry. This study makes me wonder if any other dog breeds have the same gene or a different gene with the same affect

  2. This is a super interesting and important fact! I know many people who have had or have flat-coated labs. I have also shadowed in a vet clinic where it was common to see obesity in this common breed. It is something that many lab owners are not educated about and that vets should bring to attention or mention if their dogs are overweight. I think that it is also important for owners to recognize when their dogs are becoming overweight as it can have negative health effects like early onset osteoarthritis. Spreading the knowledge and education is the key!

  3. This is a super important article and research as it can help many dog owners learn more about how to take care of their dog. At home I have a beagle and I've hear they are prone to becoming overweight and developing cardiovascular disease. So this is especially interesting for me to read.