Labrador Retrievers – The Most Commonly Overweight Dog Breed

February 13, 2017 in Aerowood Animal Hospital

The prevalence of canine obesity continues to rise with an overall rate of nearly 53 percent. Labrador retrievers are the most commonly overweight dog breed with approximately 60 percent facing obesity. A recent study finds there may be a genetic reason for this, noting that one-fifth of Labs are missing a portion of the POMC (proopiomelanocortin) gene. The POMC gene is involved in appetite and switching off feelings of hunger. Variation in the POMC gene may also lead to severe obesity in humans.


Researchers analyzed the DNA of Labrador retrievers and 38 other dog breeds. The POMC variation was found in only one other breed: flat-coat retrievers, which are closely related to Labs. In addition, being overweight was most common in Labrador retrievers who were used as assistance dogs. This could be due to being easy to train using treats.


If you have a Lab that likes to eat, there is no need to panic. The key to keeping any pet at a healthy weight is the same no matter their breed or genetic makeup. A nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate diet is the first step. Many pet owners overfeed their pets, so be sure to keep portion size in mind and account for treats. Daily exercise is important also, especially for pets that need to lose weight.


Source: Raffan E, Dennis R, O’Donovan C. et al. A deletion in the canine POMC gene is associated with weight and appetite in obesity-prone Labrador retriever dogs. Cell Metabolism, 2016 May; 23(5): 893-900.

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