The scientific reason why your Labrador is always hungry

Have you ever noticed that some dogs are just insatiable? No matter how much you feed them, they just keep wanting more and more food! Well apparently, according to researchers, there are certain types of dogs that are genetically prone to being in a constant state of “please feed me.”

Which dogs are the hungriest? Turns out that the very lovable Labrador retriever — as well as black labs, chocolate labs and golden retrievers — love to eat.

The reason? These dogs are just especially motivated by food. In turn, Lab owners figure out quickly that the best way to train their dog is with treats.

The problem is that overfeeding with treats leads to weight gain fast. And while fat pups are pretty cute, the sad truth is that 56 percent of dogs in the United States alone are overweight or obese, leading to serious health issues.

To find out which dogs are most prone to obesity, researchers at the University of Cambridge started with 400 healthy Labs, weighed them, collected drool samples of 33 of these dogs and sequenced the DNA within. While Labs had plenty of genetic material in common with one another and with other breeds, they also had a gene that stood out: the deletion of 14 base pairs from a gene called pro-opiomelanocortin, or POMC. Past research has shown that POMC relates to weight, appetite and a feeling of fullness.

Essentially, the more copies of this gene variant, the fatter and more food-motivated the dog was.

“This is a common genetic variant in Labradors and has a significant effect on those dogs that carry it, so it is likely that this helps explain why Labradors are more prone to being overweight in comparison to other breeds,” explains Dr Eleanor Raffan from the University of Cambridge in a press release.

While Labs’ constant want of food makes training them relatively easy, carrying the gene variant puts them at a higher risk of obesity. So Lab owners need to pay special attention to how much they’re feeding their best friend, as well as how often.

How do you train your dog?