WHY LABRADOR RETRIEVERS BECOME OVERWEIGHT

White Labrador

Labradors are known for easily becoming overweight and there is a good reason for that.

Labrador Retriever weight problems

Keep on reading and learn why you should take responsibility for your Labrador’s weight and why your Lab should not be blamed for eating as much food as it can find.

The ideal weight for a Labrador Retriever

The American Kennel Club lists the ideal weight for a Labrador as between 65 – 80 pounds for a male and 55 – 70 pounds for a female.

Males should be between 22.5 – 24.5 inches high and females between 21.5 – 23.5 inches.

Why Labrador Retrievers become overweight
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Why are Labradors always hungry?

Labradors are well known for their appetite.

A Lab will keep on eating as long as it finds something to eat, so they become overweight quite easily if they are continuously fed snacks and do not exercise enough.

Why can’t Labradors stop eating when they are full?

Why Labrador Retrievers become overweight
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You should not blame your Labrador for eating too much. There is a good reason why Labs cannot stop themselves from eating and the reason is found in their genetic makeup.

The blame should go to something that occurs in the DNA of the Labrador Retriever and Flat Coated Retriever but not in other dog breeds.

When a part of a chromosome or a sequence of DNA is left out during DNA replication, a break occurs and part of a chromosome is deleted. Deletions happen for a variety of reasons and the results differ depending on where the deletion occurs.

A deletion occurs in a gene known as the POMC gene in Labrador Retrievers. This results in an increase in body weight, obesity and “food motivation” or appetite. It is called a mutation and the mutation is more commonly found in Labradors that qualify to become assistance dogs than in Labradors that are chosen as pets. That finding has led to suspicion that this gene mutation may make these dogs more trainable and more capable service dogs due to the fact that they are more treat-motivated than other Labradors.

What that means in plain English is that your Labrador can’t help itself. It just wants to keep on eating because the mutation disabled the ability of the DNA to send a message to the brain and tells it that your dog is full and must stop eating.

The mutation originated in a common ancestor and is now part of every Labrador Retriever’s DNA makeup.

Labrador Retriever weight chart

Weight charts are used as a broad indication of the healthy weight of your dog at different ages and reflect weights that enable your Lab to be healthy and suffer fewer health problems as it gets older.

There are many factors that affect the ideal weight of a Labrador including how active it is and what it is fed.

American and English Labradors are generally different in appearance based on the fact that American Labradors are bred for more active hunting over larger areas and are leaner than English Labradors. Their weight and height should however always be within the boundaries dictated by the breed standards.

You can check your Labrador’s weight here and here.

American Labrador weight

Male American Labradors weigh between 60 – 75lbs and females between 50 – 70lbs.

English Labrador weight

Male English Labradors weigh between 70 – 80lbs and females between 6- – 70lbs.

In both American and English Labradors, a lot depends on how fit the dog is or whether it is a family pet.

Family pets who get little exercise may be overweight and weigh the same as a fit Labrador that carries muscle. The two may weigh the same but one is a healthy dog and the other is not.

Why Labrador Retrievers become overweight

Why should Labradors not be overweight?

Just like in humans, obesity has certain risks.

Your Labrador may develop chronic inflammation and the result of dog obesity could be chronic inflammation that could lead to cancer.

Overweight dogs have lower carnitine concentration. Carnitine is an amino acid that plays a critical role in energy production. That explains why overweight Labradors (and obese people) have lower energy levels than their healthy counterparts.

Labradors are prone to joint diseases which can be exacerbated by being overweight because the joints carry more weight than they should.

Research showed there is no indication of a link between Labrador obesity and diabetes although other research showed an increase in insulin resistance in dogs with a fat mass of more than 25%

What must I do when my Labrador becomes overweight?

  • Control the portion size when you feed them anything.
  • Exercise your Labrador. It will increase its (and your) health.

What has Labrador color to do with weight?

Nothing.

Although some Lab lovers swear that certain color Labradors tend to weigh more than others, it is not true.

Weight depends on factors such as inherited features, the fitness of the dog, for what purpose the dog has been bred and how the dog’s food intake is managed.

Although chocolate Labradors may appear heavier than other Labs because they are bred for show purposes while black Labradors are bred and used for hunting and yellow Labradors are kept as pets, any color Labrador can be lean or overweight.

Despite the color of the Labrador, the weight will fall within the range dictated by the breed specifications, and that has little to do with coat color.

General

In general, it is the responsibility of the Labrador owner to look after his canine like a child, and that includes the dog must receive a proper diet.

It is to the advantage of your Lab that it has diet restrictions because a healthy diet adds up to 8 years to a dog’s life and delays the onset of late-life diseases.

There appears to be a correlation between the personality traits of overweight dogs and obese people.

Your Labrador is entitled to the best care.