Many Labrador owners notice the same thing – they eat a lot.
Labradors have the potential to become very large dogs in their lifetime, but it hasn’t really been investigated in detail, until now, why they they get so large.
In a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism, researchers dig deeper to find out why Labradors seem to love food so much and get so big. 300 dogs were examined as a part of the study.
The blame can be placed on a specific gene dubbed POMC in the breed’s DNA, which essentially hard-wires them to be very interested in eating, and less so in activity and mating.
Without the proper physical activity, and combined with high amounts of calorie consumption, Labradors easily climb in weight as they devour food and sit around.
"What we have found is that some Labradors get fat because they have a deletion in a gene within their brain," study worker Dr Giles Yeo said in a statement. “And this particular gene plays a role in sensing how much fat they have in their body - and so some Labradors don't know how much fat they have and so keep eating to try to get fatter."
It is also worth noting that the genetic differences appear to be present in the Labrador breed specifically, as other dog species don’t tend to have the same genetic qualities.
The gene is also thought to be an important part of the reward process, which makes Labradors very useful at performing tasks when food is offered as a reward.
The patterns are very close to that of the genes in humans.
Although human genetics are slightly more complex in deciphering how we decide when we’re hungry, researchers believe that by studying this gene in Labradors, we can better provide obesity patients with the care they need to lose weight.
Source: BBC, EurekAlert