A Hint into Canine ObesityEleanor Raffan, a leading geneticist at the University of Cambridge, has discovered a potential correlation between a certain gene and the eating habits of Labradors, a common dog breed in the US and UK. The gene, proopiomelanocortin (POMC), has a specific peptide that play a role in weight regulation. This peptide, Beta-melanocyte stimulating hormone, communicates with the brain to maintain a balance between energy intake from foods and energy output by the body. The variation of this gene found in preliminary studies shows that the expression has been altered in such a way that the dog's hunger cues were turned off, causing the dogs to lose a proper sense of food regulation.
In a follow-up study of more than seven hundred additional Labradors, this variation of the POMC gene was found in about twenty-three percent of the dogs. Furthermore, while all of those dogs with the variant may not have been obese, those with the gene were reported to be more likely to beg and scavenge for food. An evaluation of 38 other dog breeds only showed this gene variation in one type - flat coal retrievers, which are closely related to Labradors.