Don’t blame the Lab! Well, maybe not all the time …

Don’t blame the Lab! Well, maybe not all the time …

I think we are all familiar with the appetite of a Labrador, with many of us using the line ‘they’re a Lab so they’ll eat anything’. As it turns out, for many Labs this is true and not entirely due to poor eating habits!


Research in 2016 at the University of Cambridge* in the United Kingdom identified an “obesity gene” that refers to a genetic mutation found in certain lines of Labrador Retrievers, particularly those bred for show rather than working purposes. This mutation affects the gene known as POMC (pro-opiomelanocortin), which plays a role in regulating appetite and metabolism.


Labradors with this mutation are more predisposed to obesity because the mutation disrupts the normal signaling pathway that regulates hunger and satiety. Specifically, the mutation leads to a deficiency in the production of certain hormones involved in appetite regulation.


This genetic predisposition to obesity doesn’t mean that all Labrador Retrievers will become obese, but it does mean that they may have a higher risk compared to other breeds if they are not provided with appropriate diet and exercise.


It’s important for owners of Labrador Retrievers to be aware of this genetic predisposition and to take steps to manage their dog’s weight through appropriate diet, exercise, and regular veterinary check-ups. By monitoring food intake, providing regular exercise, and ensuring a healthy lifestyle, owners can help prevent obesity and its associated health problems in their Labrador Retrievers.


* The research on the obesity gene in Labrador Retrievers was primarily conducted by a team of scientists led by Dr. Eleanor Raffan, a veterinary surgeon and researcher at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Dr. Raffan and her colleagues published their findings in the scientific journal “Cell Metabolism” in 2016. The study was titled “A Deletion in the Canine POMC Gene Is Associated with Weight and Appetite in Obesity-Prone Labrador Retriever Dogs.”