Labradors and their fascination with food

(110 Posts)
WildRosie Tue 05-Jan-21 08:36:16

This has been discussed on here before but one thing I don't understand is why Labradors in particular have this apparent compulsion to eat. All dogs, whatever their breed, size, age and so on have to eat to survive but Labradors take this to the next level. I'm not sure they are a unique breed in this respect - our show Cocker spaniels many years ago had a tendency to podginess. Thankfully they all lived to a good age regardless.

Are Labradors naturally cunning dogs with an innate ability to snaffle nosh when backs are turned ? Or do their big brown eyes overcome their owners every time ?

OP’s posts: |
GhostPepperTears Tue 05-Jan-21 08:37:46

It's genetic. Their is a genetic 'flaw' in the labrador strain that increases appetite. They are to be pitied - poor, hungry buggers grin

www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/genetic-variant-may-help-explain-why-labradors-are-prone-to-obesity#:~:text=The%20researchers%20found%20that%20a,Labradors%20and%20flat%20coat%20retrievers.&text=The%20gene%20affected%20is%20known,being%20full%20after%20a%20meal.

MangoSeason Tue 05-Jan-21 08:38:13

They are missing the “I’m full” gene. Plus they have perfected the stare.

www.nytimes.com/2016/07/06/world/what-in-the-world/dog-labrador-retriever-obesity.html

Pugliandreamer Tue 05-Jan-21 08:38:40

I don't know but my DH's childhood lab used to eat non food items too. Particularly socks and teatowels, which put him in surgery a few times! That wasn't his brown eyes begging! Just a desire to eat anything and everything. Nature's hoover.

MangoSeason Tue 05-Jan-21 08:40:50

Ours ate my Dad’s hearing aid last week. Cue DH franticly rushing lab to vet while I desperately crawled around looking for the battery. I found the battery just as lab was being prepped for x-ray.

TodgerStrunk Tue 05-Jan-21 08:43:29

Pugliandreamer

I don't know but my DH's childhood lab used to eat non food items too. Particularly socks and teatowels, which put him in surgery a few times! That wasn't his brown eyes begging! Just a desire to eat anything and everything. Nature's hoover.

My friend had a lab which would eat anything - socks, plastic bags, pants... Luckily she was married to a vet but he had to operate so often when it was a puppy that he used to threaten he was going to put a zip in its side.

TheDoctorDances Tue 05-Jan-21 08:50:54

Mine has a taste for cardboard. Big soppy PITA he is.

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Giggorata Tue 05-Jan-21 08:59:53

Apart from living from meal to meal, one of mine scours the river bank for rotting fish, and the other likes fresh horse poo.🤮

WildRosie Tue 05-Jan-21 09:08:13

It is odd. Labradors were bred for retrieving game, as were the Golden and Flat-coated retrievers. The Golden looks superficially similar to the Labrador - they're probably descended from the same stock - yet I have never seen a fat Golden. Yes, they are quite big dogs but always toned and elegant. Maybe breeding a permanently greedy dog was a form of selective breeding, to give it a switched-on nose for sniffing out the 'bags'.

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BashfulClam Tue 05-Jan-21 09:13:22

WildRosie

It is odd. Labradors were bred for retrieving game, as were the Golden and Flat-coated retrievers. The Golden looks superficially similar to the Labrador - they're probably descended from the same stock - yet I have never seen a fat Golden. Yes, they are quite big dogs but always toned and elegant. Maybe breeding a permanently greedy dog was a form of selective breeding, to give it a switched-on nose for sniffing out the 'bags'.

Our golden was a Greedy bastard and got podgy. She would dig in the bin, eat pants etc

Honeyroar Tue 05-Jan-21 09:17:48

They weren’t bred for retrieving game. They were fishing dogs retrieving fish from icy cold waters (in places like Labrador, I guess..). They would’ve used up a massive amount of calories keeping warm. So they could probably eat huge amounts and not put weight on. Nowadays we keep them in centrally heated houses with little walks so they don’t need half as many calories, but the drive to eat is still there.. That’s my take on it anyway!

WildRosie Tue 05-Jan-21 09:20:43

Thankyou Honeyroar. I was misinformed.

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GhostPepperTears Tue 05-Jan-21 09:21:40

Yes, I could see how you could inadvertently select for increased hunger.

Those dogs more likely to be motivated by food may well have been successful as retrievers and so used more often for breeding.

Or when you select for a dog that actively enjoys having things in its mouth, you accidentally also select for one that likes eating grin

2fatbyfar Tue 05-Jan-21 09:22:16

True fact: I was a lab. In my previous life and still have the 'I need to eat gene!'

GhostPepperTears Tue 05-Jan-21 09:22:41

That's also a fair point on keeping weight on for survical in icy waters.

GhostPepperTears Tue 05-Jan-21 09:23:38

To be fair @WildRosie they are now several generations into being bred for game retrieval so there may well be some influence of this now, especially in UK strains.

Namechangey123 Tue 05-Jan-21 09:26:37

“yet I have never seen a fat Golden.”

I have!

With labs and weight though, it’s not because they want to eat, it’s just that people for some reason seem to find fat labs acceptable. They’re not off buying their own food, a human is keeping them at that weight.

GeorgiaGirl52 Tue 05-Jan-21 09:27:37

Honeyroar

They weren’t bred for retrieving game. They were fishing dogs retrieving fish from icy cold waters (in places like Labrador, I guess..). They would’ve used up a massive amount of calories keeping warm. So they could probably eat huge amounts and not put weight on. Nowadays we keep them in centrally heated houses with little walks so they don’t need half as many calories, but the drive to eat is still there.. That’s my take on it anyway!

That's my take too. Which explains why spaniels (when they were working dogs instead of pampered pets) could eat so much. I have a Cavalier who looks like a small Shetland pony. Throw a saddle on her and you could ride!

Peridot1 Tue 05-Jan-21 09:33:49

Because nobody ever feeds them. They are starving poor things. Wasting away. They need to be on constant watch when the fridge is opened in case some food falls. Every plastic bag rustling might be food for them. They need to lie right in front of the stove when people are cooking and maybe one day someone will actually feed them.

Maybe that’s just mine? I swear she thinks nobody ever feeds her!

Honeyroar Tue 05-Jan-21 09:36:54

Mine too @Peridot1!

These two were sandwich watching at Badminton horse trials!

JollyAndBright Tue 05-Jan-21 09:50:34

@Honeyroar
Your golden is the spitting image of mine,
We joke she rubbed the black off her nose sniffing for food. 😂

Ours doesn’t eat non food items and doesn’t steal but has perfected ‘the stare’ and is definitely a food monster.

WildRosie Tue 05-Jan-21 09:58:36

I expect Christmas can be a tricky time for Labrador owners, making sure they don't pinch the turkey, goose, beef joint, liqueur chocolates and so on.

Honeyroar, your two have incredible looks of concentration.

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KarmaNoMore Tue 05-Jan-21 10:03:05

I do think they must be genetically programmed to be a little bit fat.

I know someone who trains purebred working labs for competition. Seeing one of his dog made me realise that up to that day I had not met a single lab that wasn’t overweight.

SomeoneInTheLaaaaaounge Tue 05-Jan-21 10:04:54

Two beauties there Honey

The poor buggers never get full, it breaks your heart really.

AriesTheRam Tue 05-Jan-21 10:06:26

My chihuahua is a greedy little swine so I'm not sure how much is size or breed related grin

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