CAMBRIDGE, UK — Scientists with Cambridge University’s Welcome Trust Medical Research Council Institute of Metabolic Science recently conducted a study to discover why Labradors tend towards obesity.
The breed has always been associated with begging and desiring food as a reward, but now we may know why.
23% of dogs studied had a “food-obsessive” gene
After studying the genetic variants of 310 pet and guide dogs, these scientists discovered that the dogs with at least one copy of the variant of the POMC gene tended to weigh more than those without it. Approximately 23% of the dogs in the study were found to have this mutation that is linked to food-obsessive behavior.
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POMC Gene effects humans and canines
The POMC gene is known to be associated with hunger and how full one feels after a meal from previous studies both in humans and canines. For Labradors, they may not feel full even when they should. The discovery of this genetic variant also sheds some light on why Labradors are so easily trained – their food motivation results in an eager-to-please attitude.
Genes are not the end of the obesity story
Scientists remind us, however, that even though genetics contribute to this breed’s obesity, so does overfeeding of treats and lack of exercise. Their hope is that continued research into the POMC variant in Labradors may also help in human obesity studies, where POMC has already been linked to childhood obesity.