Britain's most popular dog (Churchill is actually a puppet), Labradors are well-known for their loyalty, waggy tails and the fact that they're easy to train. However, they're also greedy as fuck.
However, new research by scientists reveals that portly labs may put on weight not because they're overindulged with too many custard creams and pork scratchings from owners, but because they carry a certain gene that keeps them obsessed with food.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge (approx 81 miles from Oxford) discovered a genetic variation which they argued drove some Labs and flat coat retrievers to be balls-deep obsessed with dinner, causing them to beg constantly or drool at the sound of a biscuit tin opening. This, they argued, was because these dogs may be 'genetically hungry' rather than spoiled, cheeky twats.
The university hopes the finding will 'shift the paradigm away from owner-blaming', but warned that attempts to breed the gene out of the dogs would be foolish, as it might also remove traits that make Labradors so very lovable, like their little noses or adorable paws perhaps.
In the study, scientists analysed genes from 310 Labradors, weighed the dogs, and had owners fill out a questionnaire. The dogs were unable to do it themselves because they can't speak (except one dog who is in a secret lab in Runcorn that the government is keeping secret from you).
Researchers noted that almost a quarter of the dogs had a copy of POMC, an obesity-related gene they were looking for. The dogs were on average 1.9kg heavier, unusual given it was the owners who control how much exercise and food a dog gets. It therefore seemed like there may be a genetic trend rather than a human cause for weight increases.
Dr Eleanor Raffan, who led the study said "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. However, it's not a straightforward picture as the variant is even more common among flat coat retrievers, a breed not previously flagged as being prone to obesity."
She noted that while being overweight is problematic for dogs, posing them a variety of health risks, being preternaturally hungry was a welfare issue, potentially creating difficulties for owners trying to keep their dog health and happy.
Words: Ronan O'Shea
Featured Image Credit: PA