Gene Mutation Sparks Obesity in Labradors

Jane Davis

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Recent research by the University of Cambridge has revealed a gene mutation in Labradors and flat-coated retrievers.

This mutation plays a crucial role in obesity by increasing appetite and reducing metabolic rates.

This mutation in the POMC gene, identified in a significant proportion of these breeds, has highlighted the essential role of genetic factors in canine obesity.

With dogs having two copies of the mutation burning 25% fewer calories, the implications for weight management are significant.

This discovery prompts thoughtful consideration of the genetic predisposition and the complexity of addressing dog obesity.

POMC Gene Mutation in Labradors

In canine genetics, a mutation in the POMC gene has been identified as a significant factor contributing to obesity, particularly in Labrador and flat-coated retriever breeds.

This mutation, found in approximately 25% of Labradors and two-thirds of flat-coated retrievers, has been linked to an increased appetite between meals, lower resting metabolic rates, and a propensity to burn 25% fewer calories if two copies of the mutation are present.

This genetic predisposition for obesity represents a substantial challenge in weight management for these breeds.

The mutation does not affect the dogs’ satiety response, suggesting a genetic drive to consume more food.

Study Design and Discoveries

Building on this understanding of the POMC gene mutation, a study led by Dr. Eleanor Raffan from the University of Cambridge meticulously analyzed the behavior and metabolic rates of 36 adult Labradors with varying POMC gene variations.

The study was carefully designed to assess the impact of this genetic variation on the dogs’ behavior and caloric regulation.

Intriguingly, the results suggested a significant correlation between the POMC gene mutation and increased food-seeking behavior, indicative of an altered genetic behavior pattern.

Additionally, the Labradors with the mutation exhibited a lower metabolic rate, skewing their caloric regulation.

This scientific finding underscores the important role of genetics in obesity, highlighting the POMC gene as a potential focal point in obesity research.

Labrador’s Feeding Behavior

Delving into Labradors’ feeding behavior, the study found that dogs possessing the POMC mutation demonstrated a proclivity for consuming copious quantities of food, regardless of their genetic makeup.

These dogs exhibited a fixation on food, indicating increased hunger. Their feeding habits shifted dynamically, spending less time on exploration or rest and more time seeking food.

The mutation did not affect satiation, meaning the dogs did not feel full after consuming large amounts.

This propensity for continuous food consumption, irrespective of their satiation level, suggests a strong genetic predisposition.

Essentially, the POMC mutation alters Labrador’s feeding behavior significantly, driving them towards excessive food intake and highlighting the important interplay of genetic factors in shaping feeding habits.

Mutation’s Effect on Caloric Needs

While the POMC mutation markedly alters the feeding behavior of Labradors, as previously discussed, it significantly impacts the dogs’ caloric needs.

This genetic predisposition results in an intriguing metabolic change—the dogs with the mutation tend to burn fewer calories at rest.

As a result, their caloric intake to maintain a healthy weight should be less than that of dogs without the mutation.

A study by Dr. Eleanor Raffan from the University of Cambridge revealed that Labradors carrying two copies of the mutation burned approximately 25% fewer calories. This significant reduction emphasizes the important role of genetic factors in determining caloric requirements and further substantiates the assertion that obesity in Labradors is not merely a result of overfeeding.

Implications for Obesity Research

The insights garnered from this groundbreaking research on Labrador obesity, specifically the POMC gene mutation, have far-reaching implications for the broader field of obesity research.

They fundamentally alter the understanding of obesity, moving it beyond a simplistic interpretation of caloric intake and expenditure to a complex interplay of genetic predisposition and behavioral influences.

The study illustrates how the POMC gene mutation can drive the compulsive search for food, demonstrating a genetic component in feeding behavior.


The study highlights the importance of the POMC gene mutation in promoting obesity in Labradors and flat-coated retrievers.

This mutation, widespread in many of these breeds, leads to increased hunger and decreased metabolic rates.

The reduced caloric needs of dogs with the mutation present a vital obstacle to weight management.

This investigation emphasizes the critical role of genetic factors in obesity, potentially guiding future research addressing obesity in dogs.


Jane Davis

Hi, my name is Jane Davis, and I love dogs. I own a labrador retriever named Max. When I was growing up, we always had dogs at our house. They provide us with such unconditional love and companionship, and I can't imagine my life without one by my side.

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