Obesity and food motivation

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Find out if your Labrador or Flatcoated retriever has a predisposition to obesity and increased food motivation at CAGT.

Categories ,
Turnaround 1-2 weeks
Breed(s) ,
OMIA OMIA:001258-9615


In developed countries the rate of canine obesity ranges between 34% and 59%. Obesity is associated with reduced lifespan and several other comorbidities, as it is in humans. Labrador retrievers have among the highest prevalence of obesity and are particularly food motivated. The POMC gene is known to be important in regulating how the brain recognises hunger and the feeling of being full after a meal. A variant in the pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) gene has been associated with increased body weight, adiposity (body fat) and food motivation in Labrador and Flat-coat retrievers.

The variant identified is relatively common with an allele frequency of 12% in labrador retrievers. Interestingly a higher frequency of 45% was observed in assistance dog populations.


The 14-bp deletion in the gene called POMC that is associated with Obesity and food motivation in Labrador and Flatcoat Retrievers is co-dominant. This means that dogs that carry one copy of the variant (heterozygotes) will have increased predisposition to Obesity and food motivation, while in dogs with two copies of the variant it is increased even more. They will also pass the mutation on to all (for homozygotes) or about half (for heterozygotes) of any offspring they have.

The variant is relatively common in the both labrador and flat-coat retriever populations and we therefore do not recommend the use of this test as a breeding tool to breed away from the variant. The results of this test can inform lifestyle choices though to prevent the onset of obesity.

Variant g.17:19497254-19497267del
Assay Type Variant Specific
Inheritance Co-Dominant
Severity Low-Moderate: Affected animals experience discomfort or dysfunction of some kind, but life expectancy is not affected.

Raffan E, RJ Dennis, CJ O’Donovan et al. (2016) A Deletion in the Canine POMC Gene Is Associated with Weight and Appetite in Obesity-Prone Labrador Retriever Dogs. Cell Metab. 23(5): 893-900 . DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2016.04.012.