Why Do Labrador Retrievers Always Seem Hungry?

You may think the friendship between you and your Labrador Retriever is a bond that cannot be broken. But the truth is, for some Labs, there is no love greater than the one between them and their food. Seriously, test it! Some of you may have a Lab who is entirely focused on you and won’t give a second thought to that bit of food on the floor. But others could place a treat on the ground and watch as they entirely disappear from the planet for a few seconds while their dog eats.

Believe it or not, there is science behind this phenomenon, and the answer isn’t as simple as “animals like food.” It’s very specifically related to Labradors, and it offers some pretty interesting insight into why your Lab treats you like a second-class citizen when there’s food to be had.

Dog DNA

A 2016 study in the journal Cell Metabolism rounded up 400 adult Labrador Retrievers to answer a question: why do a lot of dogs in this breed appear to be so motivated by food? The Labs were weighed. Drool samples were taken from 33 of them. The owners completed surveys about the eating habits of their dogs. Finally, after some research, scientists came to an interesting conclusion: if your Lab is obsessed with food, his or her DNA is likely to blame.

As it turns out, there’s a gene variant your Lab can have that affects how hungry and how full he or she feels: POMC, or pro-opiomelanocortin. A Lab can have one copy of the variant, two copies of the variant, or zero copies. The more copies your Lab has, the more food-focused they are, and research shows that around 23% of Labrador Retrievers have at least one copy.

Watch Their Weight

Because Labrador Retrievers are likely to be more food-crazy than dogs from other breeds, it’s especially important to keep an eye on their weight. Did you know that, amongst all dogs in the developed world, between 34 and 59 percent are overweight? That fact, combined with what we know about Labs and their propensity for zeroing in on food like they’ll never see food again can lead to some serious health issues down the line.

Heart disease is one such side effect of a dog who’s become obese. Damage to a dog’s joints over time, due to the increased weight, is another. Canine diabetes is a real danger if eating habits aren’t kept in check, and if you think human diabetes isn’t fun, wait until your dog has it. All of these concerns can shorten the lifespan of your Lab and provide you fewer wonderful years with your lovable pup, so take care to keep them on a measured meal schedule so you know how much they’re taking in, and be sure to exercise them daily.

Is your Lab infatuated with food? We’d love to hear your story down below in the comments.