It’s no secret that obesity has become a major health concern in over the last several decades. Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975, with almost 40% of people being considered overweight according to the World Health Organization.
And while those statistics are alarming, our canine friends are even more likely to be overweight. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, pet obesity rates in the United States have been steadily increasing for decades, reaching 59% of dogs classified as overweight or having obesity in 2022.
With those surprising statistics in mind, we asked a veterinarian about the dog breeds most likely to become obese.
With a degree in Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Shahzaib Wahid is an Associate Veterinarian at an animal clinic in Islamabad, Pakistan. Dr. Wahid enjoys giving advice to pet owners and helping them care for their animals.
According to Dr. Wahid, here are the 10 dog breeds most prone to obesity.
10. Cocker Spaniel
“Though an active breed, Cocker Spaniels need exercise on a regular basis, otherwise, they can gain considerable weight because they can consume a lot of calories in a day,” says Dr. Wahid.
Originally bred as hunting dogs, Cocker Spaniels have a lot of energy and need daily activity and exercise. Without enough physical activity, they are prone to obesity and other health issues.
Their soft, expressive eyes beg for treats, which owners are quick to give. But with their love of food and potential for weight gain, it’s important that owners monitor their diet and exercise.
“Boxers are prone to develop hypothyroidism which can result in obesity,” explains Dr. Wahid.
Boxers are brachycephalic (short-nosed) dogs that can have trouble regulating their body temperature with exercise. This makes them prone to laziness and weight gain. They also have a genetic tendency to develop hypothyroidism, which is a hormonal disorder that can result in a slowed metabolism and obesity.
Boxers love to eat, so their food intake needs to be monitored. Owners should take them on daily walks and make sure they get adequate playtime. Mental stimulation with treat puzzles is also important for this bright breed. With proper diet and exercise, Boxers can maintain a healthy weight.
8. Border Collie
“Collies are genetically predisposed to gain weight, with approximately 4 out of 10 dogs becoming obese at some point,” says Dr. Wahid.
Originally bred as herding dogs, Border Collies are highly energetic and need a lot of activity and stimulation. However, they are genetically prone to weight gain. Without sufficient exercise, they are likely to become overweight.
Border Collies love to eat and will overindulge if given the chance. They also have a tendency to gain weight as they age and become less active. Daily walks, playtime, and activities that engage their minds are essential for Border Collies to remain at a healthy weight throughout their lives.
Owners need to monitor their food intake and make sure they get adequate activity.
7. English Bulldog
“Obesity is a common problem in English Bulldogs due to their limitless eating habits, and they fact that they are anatomically not fit for strenuous exercises,” says Dr. Wahid.
The English Bulldog’s stocky body and pushed-in face make them prone to obesity. Their body shape and structure limit their mobility and ability to exercise.
English Bulldogs love to eat and will overeat if given the opportunity. They also cannot tolerate heat well and are inclined to be couch potatoes. With their predisposition for weight gain and laziness, Bulldogs need a strict diet and exercise regimen.
Food intake should be measured, and they need to be motivated to take daily walks and have regular playtime.
6. Basset Hound
“Basset Hounds are prone to gain weight due to their lazy laid down nature and a strong appetite,” explains Dr. Wahid.
The Basset Hound’s long, low-slung body is not built for strenuous exercise. The breed is prone to laziness and couch potato behavior. Bassets also love to eat and will readily overindulge if given the opportunity.
With their big appetites and inclination to stubbornly lay around, Basset Hounds frequently become obese. Daily moderate walks and playtime are essential to keep their weight down.
Their food intake needs to be monitored and limited. Bassets will eat as much as they are given. Keeping these easygoing dogs trim requires strictly controlling their portions and motivating them to move on a daily basis.
“If fed in moderation and exercised regularly Beagles can maintain a healthy weight. However, they are prone to obesity because of their big insatiable appetite that is linked to their genetics,” Dr. Wahid notes.
Beagles were originally bred as hunting dogs and have a strong food drive and tendency to overeat. They will eat as much as they are given access to. With their big appetites and energetic nature, Beagles are prone to obesity if they do not get enough exercise.
They need daily walks and opportunities to run and play. Without vigorous activity, they easily gain extra pounds. Beagles also have a genetic predisposition for weight gain.
Monitoring their food intake and providing adequate exercise is key to preventing obesity in this breed. Their determination to eat must be managed for Beagles to stay trim.
4. Labrador Retriever
“Notorious for their eating habits, Labs are prone to develop obesity which often leads to arthritis in older dogs,” says Dr. Wahid.
America’s most popular dog breed is also one of the most food-motivated. Labrador Retrievers are genetically prone to overeat. They will gorge themselves if given the chance. With their big appetites, many Labs end up obese.
This extra weight puts them at risk for orthopedic problems like arthritis. Preventing obesity in Labs requires strictly controlling their food intake and ensuring they get adequate activity.
Labs need daily walks, playtime, and opportunities to swim. Keeping them trim and fit should be a priority for their health and longevity.
“The Dachshund is a unique breed with an elongated body and short legs which makes it difficult for them to effectively exercise enough,” says Dr. Wahid.
The Dachshund’s long, low body shape is not conducive to mobility and exercise. Their short legs also make it difficult for them to move enough to burn calories. Dachshunds love to eat but their anatomy prevents them from being very active.
With their big appetites and physical limitations, Dachshunds are prone to obesity. Owners need to strictly limit their access to food and motivate them to move.
Daily walks and play sessions are essential even though Dachshunds may resist due to their structure. Care must be taken not to overfeed or under-exercise Dachshunds.
2. Golden Retriever
“Similar to the Labrador Retriever, Golden Retrievers are quick to gain weight due to their eating habits,” says Dr. Wahid.
Like their close cousins the Labs, Golden Retrievers love food and will overeat if given the opportunity. They have a genetic predisposition to gain weight. With their big appetites, obesity is common in this breed.
Preventing weight gain requires monitoring their diet and ensuring they get adequate exercise. Golden Retrievers need daily walks, play sessions, and chances to swim.
Their food intake should be carefully controlled. Keeping a Golden lean and fit requires effort from owners. But it is important for their long-term health.
“The Brachycephalic anatomy and small stature of Pugs makes exercise difficult for this breed. If not fed in controlled amounts, they can quickly gain weight,” explains Dr. Wahid.
With their squished faces and compact bodies, Pugs struggle to be active and exercise adequately. The shape of their mouths and noses makes strenuous activity difficult for them. Their small size also limits mobility.
Pugs love to eat but their structure prevents them from burning calories properly. Owners must be very careful not to overfeed them. Strict portion control is essential.
Pugs should be motivated to take short daily walks and have play sessions. Their weight must be monitored closely. With their physical limitations and big appetites, Pugs easily become obese if their food intake and activity are not managed properly.
Tips for Preventing Obesity in Your Dog
- Healthy Diet – Choosing the right dog food and making sure your dog is not overeating can go a long way in helping maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise – Some dogs need more exercise than others, but all dogs need daily exercise.
- Low Calorie Treats – Switching out your dog treats for low-calorie dog treats will allow you to continue treating your dog without them packing on the pounds.
- No Table Scraps – The benefits from providing high quality dog food and low calorie treats can be undone by feeding your dog your leftovers.
Keeping your dog at a healthy weight is so important for their overall health and longevity. While some breeds may be more prone to obesity, all dogs require proper nutrition and exercise.
Speak with your veterinarian to develop a weight management plan tailored to your dog’s specific needs. They can advise you on the ideal diet, exercise routine, and ways to keep your pup fit.
With some planning and effort, you can help your dog maintain an ideal body condition no matter their breed.