Obese or not obese?

Am pondering…following on from the interesting discussion regarding a genetic study to check if some dogs - in this instance labradors - are predisposed to obesity (link here : https://www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk/forum/general-dog-chat/10/obesity-in-labradors/1334/ )

plus a greater awareness of many dogs now being ‘labelled’ as obese, I’m wondering how others view their dogs in this respect.

Is this similar to the saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and we see our dogs as in fine fettle, no fat on mine! Or are we really seeing our dogs?

Perhaps we are correctly seeing our dogs, knowing they are appropriately cared for, exercised and fed and seeing them running quickly, jumping high, twisting freely and yet with muscle weighing heavier than fat are they still labelled as obese? So are your dogs really obese or not?


I have a breed that is prone to weight gain and this is usually more problematic in neutered dogs. I rarely see dogs of the same breed but when I see close relative breeds they are almost invariably overweight. It is very sad because they are a small breed and even a comparatively tiny amount of excess weight can cause problems.

One of my dogs has a tendency to easily gain weight too so I have to watch her carefully. She has recently been on a diet and it has been successful but taken a couple of months just to lose 300g. This amount seems trifling but is of some significance due to her size. She had a blood test last week and all is well, including thyroid. I think she just has a slow metabolism. I have tried various foods to try to keep the weight in check and also satisfy her appetite - it is not easy. :frowning:


I tend to be guided by the charts which help you visually assess weight. At her last check, the vet said my dog was still a healthy weight but she would advise not to let her gain anymore. She had a very slight waist visible but it wouldn’t have took much more of a gain for it to disappear. She is half a pound down now and looking more of a good weight to me. However when she has been this weight before, people have commented that she looks thin. The vet never has so I am not worried. She is bouncier on her walks at the weight she is now and that makes me happy.


You make a good point re perception of weight. Some of us are so used to seeing overweight dogs that when we see one of the correct weight we think they are too thin. It’s a fine line but I do think that body condition scoring is a great tool to help us keep our pooches at a nice weight.

1 Like

It seems apparent, that in certain world areas, the population of humans and their dogs are getting heavier. I think this will have a bearing on what is perceived to be normal weight. I have also been told, on several occasions, that I need to gain weight but I am well within the BMI chart healthy range and I have a small frame. I take it with a pinch of salt. I know the BMI scale is not without limitations. EG athletes may well be classes as overweight if they are muscly even if they have low body fat. I am sure the same is true for dogs which is why IMO the visual method of assessing is a good option.


I accept we can all occasionally be guilty of having rose tinted spectacles in respect of our own dogs, but…

Obesith is a pretty clear term.

Surely only daft owners would regard a genuinely obsese dog as being or appearing healthy.

That is not to say that many regard their dogs condition as okay when others might not.

I read a really interesting report the other day it is the PDSA 2016 report.

In it they mentioned 78% of vets have seen an increase in pet obesity the past 2 years - really worrying stuff.

They also think it could be one of the biggest health and welfare implication in 10 years’ time if not tackled right now.


Does anyone know how obesity is defined? What is the definition?
Please no offence is intended, this is a question I’ve pondered for some while.

A large boned dog with plenty of muscle may look to some as obese, may also weigh heavily too! Yet may run and leap and dodge, without getting significantly out of breath. So is that dog obese?

I don’t think there is a cover all definition. All the calculators seem to have limitations. In humans, there seems to be a recognition that some people are what is termed as ‘skinny fat’ they have a high percentage of body fat around the abdomen and internal organs but appear lean. This is associated with diabetes and possible heart problems. Even is body fat is used as a marker, the health implications may vary depending on where the fat is laid down.

1 Like

Yes I totally am in agreement with what you are saying Tinyplanets, and in reality it is not easy to define obesity in humans, and dare I say… it often consistently seems even harder to define obesity in dogs.

Obviously there are useful breed weight charts, picture guidelines and written text to help, yet up till now I’m aware of quite a number of dogs which have been wrongly classed as obese - with ‘excess’ neck and ‘excess’ around the spine/tail area - and these dogs were later classed as not obese because the muscle groups (Trapezius and Gluteals) were highly pronounced. Dogs with full lateral thighs (which are where the extremely strong biceps muscles are) can also be wrongly classed as obese, particularly when the dog is in full coat!

The hands-on approach can be a useful way of feeling your way along a dog to decide whether a dog feels overweight, though unless the same person is used for all dogs, the individual conclusions of obesity are bound to be contradictory.

Might I add that when a label is given to a dog (“obese” for example) there are connotations, and in this case the inference is unfortunately (current and/or) future ill health. So it is important that this label is used accurately.

1 Like