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Is Your Labrador Retriever Fat? Blame It On 'Gluttony' Genes

May 04, 2016 10:23 AM EDT
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If your pet labrador retriever seems like it's addicted to food and is fat, a recent study reveals that they have a genetic variant that makes them more prone to gaining weight.

According to the study published in Cell Metabolism, researchers from the University of Cambridge analyzed the genetic profiles of 18 lean and 15 obese labrador retrievers. The team wanted to see if genetics is involved in the breed's innate fondness to food.

After analyzing the data from participant dogs, the researchers discovered that a particular gene, called POMC, is impaired among obese labrador retrievers compared to the lean ones. The obese dogs' POMC does not have the ability to produce neuropeptides, which halts the appetite. Thus, without these, obese labrador retrievers do not have control on their eating habits and will always feel hungry even after eating.

The study's senior co-author, Giles Yeo, said in a news release via U.S. News & World Report that POMC acts as a "double-edged sword" because those who have it are easily trainable as they see food as a reward, but are more likely to be obese.

"Carrying the variant may make them more trainable, but it also makes them susceptible to obesity. This is something owners will need to be aware of so they can actively manage their dog's weight," Yeo explained.

To further examine the results, the researchers also studied 310 labradors. They revealed that the impaired PMOC gene among labradors is connected with an increase in weight and appetite, but they are not necessarily obese or fat.

Eleanor Raffan, lead author of the study, also advised labrador owners that even though their pets have this gene, there are ways to minimize their weight.

"You can keep a dog with this mutation slim, but you have to be a lot more on-the-ball -- you have to be more rigorous about portion control, and you have to be more resistant to your dog giving you the big brown eyes," Raffan explained.

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