The Labrador retriever is a hugely popular dog breed in the UK, and is in fact our sixth most popular of all at the time of writing. It is perhaps the breed’s versatility that has helped to make the Labrador such a firm favourite both within the UK and across the world, and Labradors don’t just make great pets – they are also excellent at a wide variety of working roles, as well as often really good at canine sports too.
However, it is probably the breed’s personality that is the ultimate reason for their enduring popularity, and Labrador retrievers are often said to be the ambassadors of the canine world, and the breed that is the most personable and adaptive.
Labrador retrievers are loving, loyal dogs that enjoy meeting new people, and they have bright, happy demeanours that tend to put a smile on the faces of those around them. Labradors are also hugely smart, and capable of adapting their behaviour to accommodate for the dogs and people around them. They can be full of beans and in the thick of a large pack of dogs in the dog park, but they can also be very calm and gentle with smaller dogs or people who are nervous of dogs.
As a very smart, active breed, Labradors are very amenable to training and can often retain a huge number of different complex commands. Like most dogs, they are also very motivated by food, and encouraged by the use of training treats.
However, Labradors also have something of a reputation for being undiscerning eaters that will eat much more than they should if left to their own devices or offered too many treats, and many of the UK’s Labradors are overweight to some extent, to the point that many dog owners cannot even see that their own dogs are somewhat overweight rather than at a normal, healthy weight.
The Labrador breed as a whole needs to have their diets carefully monitored to ensure that they don’t put on excess weight, but there is also a genetic disorder that can be found in some Labrador retriever populations that causes increased appetite and correlating weight gain within some dogs of the breed too.
This condition is called adiposity or hereditary obesity, and owning a dog with adiposity can be challenging because these dogs are even more food-obsessed than the average Lab! However, there is a DNA test that can be performed on Labrador retrievers to identify the markers of adiposity, which enables breeders to ensure that only healthy dogs are bred from.
In this article we will provide a short overview of adiposity or hereditary obesity in the Labrador retriever, outline the condition’s mode of heredity, and explain how to get your Labrador DNA tested for adiposity. Read on to learn more.
Adiposity simply means being significantly overweight or obese, and this is of course an issue that can affect all manner of dogs and people for a variety of reasons, which are generally related to overeating and not enough exercise, unless there is a medical issue in play too.
Labrador retrievers can eat too much and gain excess weight just like any other dog (or person), and this is usually a feeding and management issue rather than a health problem.
However, some Labrador retrievers inherit a genetic mutation that predisposes them to gaining weight, feeling the need to overeat, and generally, having a complicated and potentially harmful relationship with food.
The gene involved in adiposity in the Labrador retriever is the POMC gene, and a fault or anomaly in this gene causes a hereditary predisposition to being overweight – potentially significantly so.
Adiposity in the Labrador retriever is passed on from parent dogs to their young by heredity, and it is transmitted following the autosomal recessive mode of heredity. This means that both parent dogs – and the genes they pass on to their young – is what dictates the status of any given puppy.
By finding out the status of any two parent dogs or prospective dogs within a planned mating match, you can work out whether or not their puppies will inherit adiposity too. Dogs are assigned with a status of either clear, a carrier, or affected, and following the pattern of autosomal recessive heredity, knowing parental status allows you to find out their offspring’s potential status too, as follows:
If you wish to have an adiposity DNA test performed on your Labrador prior to breeding from them, remember that the other dog in the mating match needs to be tested too before you can predict the status of their litter.
To arrange a Labrador adiposity DNA test, just book a consult with your vet and ask them to take a DNA sample from your dog. This will then be sent off to an approved testing laboratory, who carry out the test and return the results to the dog’s owner.