Labrador & Golden Retriever Owners asked to help tackle Canine Obesity

Owners of Labradors and Golden Retrievers are being asked to participate in a study into whether or not these breeds are predisposed to obesity.

The study, being run by GOdogs, a research group at the University of Cambridge investigating the genetics of obesity in dogs, is attempting to find answers to why Labradors and Golden Retrievers may be prone to obesity.

The Kennel Club’s Breed Watch scheme, which identifies particular points of concern within each dog breed, lists a tendency to become overweight as one issue which these two breeds face.

Eleanor Raffan, a veterinarian and geneticist at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Metabolic Science, and who is running the project, said: “Canine obesity is emerging as a significant threat to dogs’ health and welfare, with obesity being associated with the development of all manner of diseases from breathing problems to arthritis and diabetes to cancer.


“It is apparent that obesity develops when animals eat more calories than they burn up each day. However, it is not known why some individuals eat and beg for food to the point of obesity whilst others remain lean. The fact that some breeds, such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers, are predisposed to obesity makes us believe their genes are the cause.”

“Research in humans suggests that genes governing appetite are important but there is much to learn and little work has been carried out in dogs. If we can find a genetic reason why Labradors are considered greedy, it will offer benefits to them, other dog breeds and human medical science too.”

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, added: “We would encourage as many Labrador and Golden Retriever owners as possible to get involved in the study, which may help to safeguard the future health of these wonderful breeds.”

GOdogs require a saliva sample from participating dogs, that the dog is ‘condition scored’ and weighed by a vet or vet nurse, and owners will be asked to fill out a questionnaire. To be eligible for inclusion in the study, dogs must be over 5 years old and either lean or markedly overweight.

Further information about the project, and details of how to get involved, can be found here, following GOdogs on Twitter (@GOdogsProject) or by emailing Eleanor Raffan directly at

More information on the Kennel Club’s work to improve the health of dogs can be found here.

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  1. I agree. I own a beautiful Golden Retriever who is now 6 years old. I noticed that he was becoming very overweight from the age of about 4. Not only was his weight a problem, his teeth and coat were in poor health as well. I did my own research and started making my own food, using only human grade ingredients. The results were amazing not only did his weight fall away, his teeth cleaned up and his coat is now silky and beautiful. On his annual check up at my vet Crossways in Horsham, Alan Turnbull the vet was amazed at his condition and at how much weight he had lost. I have now started a small business from home making this dog food and I am selling it to local residents in Horsham. They too are soon noticing the difference with their pets. I am local council and DEFRA approved. Please see my website
    From my studies I believe that as Goldies and Labs are a calm breed anyway, they tend not to be walked to the required amount for the size of dog. A diet of processed shop bought food just piles on the calories and as a result the dogs become overweight and lazy. I have not increased my exercise regime for my dog, it is just down to his homemade diet of wholesome, nutritional food.
    Anne Royle
    Ben and Charlie’s
    Homemade Gourmet Dog Food

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