Lose Weight with the Help of Big Dogs


Did you know that owning a dog could help you lose weight? This is especially true if the canine is a large breed. Of course dog ownership regardless of size is not the primary cause in assisting people with weight loss, but rather a motivating factor.

A study conducted by researchers at Liverpool University studying why some pets are exercised more than others found that owners of large breeds are more motivated to walk their dog than smaller breed owners. Although some canine breeds require more exercise than others, the size of the dog really does not matter with some smaller breeds requiring just as much exercise as their larger counterparts.

The Liverpool University researchers polled more than 600 dog owners regarding what inspired them to exercise. A total of 66% responded that owning a dog encouraged them to walk more. This phenomenon has been called the “Lassie effect.” Liverpool University researcher and population health expert Dr. Carri Westgarth said the health-boosting aspect of the dog-human relationship has been dubbed the Lassie effect “due to the iconic television character’s ability to perform life-saving acts.”

Interestingly, large breeds were walked more often than smaller breeds, and more often than dogs that were sick or overweight. The study also revealed that owners who believed their dog enjoyed exercise were more likely to take their dog out as were owners very attached to their animal. According to the journal BMC Public Health, owners that felt exercise would keep their dog healthy or would stop it from barking were more likely to take their dog for a walk. “There appears to be something special in the way owning a pet dog makes people feel motivated or obliged to go for a walk compared to other factors that can encourage us to exercise,” said Dr. Westgarth.

The researchers also point out that approximately 40% of people living with a dog do not walk their pets and that many could walk them more regularly. Per Dr. Westgarth, “[The] team’s findings could be used to encourage more people to walk their dogs…by changing perceptions of the amount of exercise older and smaller dogs require.” This article was adapted from an October 4, 2016 story in the IOL Property Lifestyle section titled “Big dogs can help you lose weight.”