News that Labradors can carry a greedy gene will come as no surprise to owners of the breed

A rogue gene could explain your Labrador’s  insatiable appetite.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have discovered a genetic variation in Labradors that, they suspect, makes some obsessed with food. The research was led by Dr Eleanor Raffan, who said: “This is a common genetic variation in Labradors and it has a significant effect on those dogs that carry it, so it is likely that this explains why Labradors are more prone to being overweight than other breeds.”

Training with food

The Cambridge researchers did 
warn, however, that any bid to get rid 
of the rogue gene might also get rid of 
the Labrador personality we all know 
and love. Labradors with less interest 
in food might well become more difficult to train, as many Labradors — though not, 
I suspect, that many working gundogs — are trained using titbits.

I have never met a Labrador that wasn’t keen on its food. In contrast, I have come across a number of spaniels that weren’t too bothered about their dinner. 
I also have a friend with a pair of standard poodles that are so disinterested in food that they are left with a bowl of grub that 
is available to them all day. They simply have a munch when they feel so inclined.
Show types traditionally favoured portly dogs

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The solution for fat Labradors

The answer to fat Labradors is to give them less to eat to keep them trim, and to give them things to occupy them other than eating.

I know a lot of Labradors 
that start the picking-up season looking, 
shall we say, slightly portly, but finish 
with the skinny-ribbed appearance of 
a greyhound.

Show people traditionally liked well-upholstered dogs, and it 
was a general rule that if you took 
a skinny Labrador into the show ring 
you wouldn’t stand a chance of catching the judge’s eye.

Following the film Pedigree Dogs Exposed, the breed standard was amended. It now reads: “Chest of good width and depth, with well-sprung barrel ribs — this effect not to be produced 
by carrying excessive weight”. Perhaps 
if your dog is a little porky you can make the excuse that it has the gene that makes it food obsessed.