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Pet Project: Labrador weight issues linked to rare genetic mutation

Pet Project: Why are some Labradors so fat? Scientists say its in their genes
Pet Project: Why are some Labradors so fat? Scientists say its in their genes 05:19

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Our furry friends come in all shapes and sizes, but if you feed them too much they can become overweight. One breed of dog in particular that's genetically predisposed to becoming obese is the Labrador Retriever.

Pennsylvania SPCA animal advocate Carol Erickson explains that one in four labs is missing part of a gene that keeps them from feeling full after they eat. That means those dogs can feel hungry all of the time.   

In fact, labs are the only dog breed with this genetic mutation. 

In the United States, the Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog breed, according to the American Kennel Club. 

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Since Labrador Retreivers are highly food motivated it has helped them to become excellent service and assistance dogs because they will work for food. 

Erickson says while it's hard not to give into a hungry labrador's pleas for food, it's important to maintain a healthy feeding schedule for them.

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If labs become overweight they are at risk of heart disease, arthritis and a shortened life span. 

Erickson recommends redirecting their attention to non-food-related activities so they can use their energy constructively. 

Featured pets for adoption


Bubbles is a sweet 6-year-old female cat with a spotted gray and white coat. Erickson says she gets along with other cats and enjoys a family environment. It's important to note that Bubbles does have diabetes, but this is a condition in cats that can be easily managed. 


Minnie is a 2-year-old female dog who is described as snuggly, friendly and highly sociable. Erickson says she gets along with other dogs her size or bigger, but most likely won't appreciate cats. 


Picard is almost 8-years-old and came to the PSPCA after his owner lost their house. He is described as playful and open to meeting other dogs, families and kids. 

If you're interested in learning more about these pawfect friends up for adoption contact the PSPCA at or call 215-426-6300. 

You can watch this week's full pet Project interview with Erickson in the video player above. Stay tuned until the end to meet Bubbles, Minnie and Picard.  

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