If you could read your dog’s mind, what would he be thinking about? For Labrador owners, the answer is obvious: food, food, FOOD! But before you roll your eyes and call your pup a fatty, consider this: a recent study published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that there is actually a scientific reason for your Lab’s food obsession.
Two years ago, scientists examined 15 obese and 20 lean Labrador Retrievers to seek genetic answers to observed patterns of obesity in dogs.
They looked at genes that are known to be related to obesity in humans, and noticed that one gene in particular, POMC, had a peculiar variation – obese dogs were missing the end portion of its DNA.
A second study, this time with 310 Labs, confirmed that this genetic variation did, in fact, influence a dog’s behavior towards food: dogs with the missing DNA tended to weigh more, and were more motivated by food – aka the ever-annoying begging, drooling, crying, and whining for ‘just one bite!’
Sure, lots of dogs act this way, but Labrador retrievers really take the cake: the scientists found that 23% of Labradors have this gene variation, while most other breeds do not.
So next time you catch your Lab eyeballing your plate, cut him some slack. He was born that way.