People who own larger dogs such as Great Danes and Bullmastiffs are more likely to walk them, a new study has found.
The findings suggest that people who are looking to lose weight could benefit from owning a larger dog – as they would feel more motivated to get out and about.
Researchers from the University of Liverpool and University of Western Australia have dubbed it the ‘Lassie effect’.
They said the findings may help provide targeted interventions “to increase and maintain physical activity levels of both people and pets”.
There are more than eight million dogs in households across the UK, however not all of them are taken for regular walks.
As such, researchers set out to examine why some people felt motivated to walk their dogs regularly, while others didn’t.
They found that people with larger dogs felt more motivated to take them for regular walks than those with smaller dogs.
“A strong relationship or attachment to the dog and reporting feeling that their dog enjoys walks is also motivating to owners,” explained lead author Dr Carri Westgarth from Liverpool University.
People were less likely to get out and about with their dogs if they perceived their pooch was “too old or sick” or “if other family members usually walked the dog instead”.
One in four British adults is obese, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. Meanwhile a 2014 report from the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) found that almost half of dogs are obese too.
Dr Westgarth told the Mail Online: “Dog ownership is associated with increased physical activity through walking.
“The benefits arising from owning and walking a dog are of particular public health interest due to their potential for a positive and long-term sustainable effect on the maintenance of physical activity behaviour and associated reduction in cardiovascular risk.”