Does your Labrador retriever scarf down his dinner, and beg for treats and table scraps?

It’s because Labradors are genetically wired to be obsessed with food!

After studying over 700 Labs, scientists from Cambridge University found that Labradors were more inclined than any other dog breed to beg for food and treats. And it’s because 1-in-4 Labs have at least one damaged gene in the area linked to appetite, weight and obesity. Making their brain quicker to pick up on hunger, and slower to recognize feeling full after eating.

In general, Labrador retrievers are eager to please. And an obsession with food makes them even easier to train and more obedient than some breeds, especially since treats are a crucial part of most training sessions. Which is why Labs are such good service and hunting dogs. But their fixation on food also raises their risk of becoming overweight or obese - which shortens their lives, by making them more likely to develop diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and heart disease.

So, if you’ve got a chubby Lab who’s obsessed with food, what can you do? Talk to your vet about appropriate food portions - and how much exercise they should be get. You can also try an app called Slim Doggy. It lets you track your dog’s calorie intake and exercise, so you don’t end up overfeeding - or underfeeding - them. It includes a database of exercises to choose from, and the calorie content of more than 25‑hundred dog foods and treats. The app is $3 dollars in the iTunes store, and the computer version is free at SlimDoggy.com.