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- Can My Dog Be Cloned?
Can My Dog Be Cloned?
Cloning is, by all means, a new concept, but it still is controversial. Just mention the word and you open the door to a minefield of scientific research and human values. It also conjures up images of Frankenstein and re-invented versions of people and pets having a lifespan beyond the grave.
The line is drawn deeply in the sand as some say mankind is playing God while others see an opportunity to defy mortality. It's not an easy subject and it's one that requires a gentle hand, with public opinion so deeply divided as to the ramifications of cloning people and pets. We promise an intriguing read as we lift the lid on cloning man’s best friend and whether it’s actually possible to duplicate your beloved dog.
Will My Dog's Clone Have The Same Personality?
Meet Snuppy an elegant, Afghan Hound and the first successfully cloned dog. He’s beautiful and every inch a living, breathing canine replica, designed in a laboratory. This ethereal event took place in North Korea at the Seoul Nation University, back in 2005 when a somatic cell was extracted from a Male Afghan Hound called Tai.
Over a hundred surrogate mothers were involved in the making of Snuppy and out of three pups born, he was the sole survivor. Both Tai and Snuppy lived until their elderly years, hitting the ages of 10 and 12 respectively, a reasonable lifespan for this grandiose breed.
The dog cloning revolution has begun!
If you are willing to pay, you can have your pooch cloned. "The Telegraph" recorded a mind-blowing story about a British couple who had their eight-year-old Boxer cloned. What is even more interesting is their dog, named Dylan, had passed and the grief-stricken couple hearing he could be cloned, contacted South Korean, Biotech firm (Sooam). The company offered no guarantees, but as luck would have it, two healthy pups in the spitting image of their beloved Dylan were born.
If you’re feeling a little apprehensive at the thought of duplicating Billy, your playful, Bichon Frise, it will come down to a question of your personal beliefs. Losing a revered family dog is gut-wrenching - but what if you could order a puppy that had the same genetic code as Billy? Would this new bundle of joy have the exact mannerisms and characteristics of your gentle-natured Bichon? Or will you see differences in behavior and look.
Once you open a door to the unknown be prepared for a roller-coaster ride!
There’s no certainty that Bailey, your newly cloned pup will have an identical blueprint, like his donor Billy. He’ll have the same DNA but his donor daddy is six years old and his clone will be a puppy emerging into an ever-changing world with new experiences to encounter. How many Sci-Fi movies depict clones as people who finish each other’s sentences and look a mirror version of the other?
Sounds perfectly correct in theory, or an epic “Dr Who” episode but the truth is Bailey may have the same DNA as your Bichon, although environmental factors could evolve his personality, the way identical twins may look the same but act very differently. Scientists refer to this as “Nature Versus Nurture” and it asks the question “can you truly trick Mother Nature?”
The History of Dog Cloning
Surf the net and you’ll find it fairly hard to find many websites proclaiming they can clone your dog (which we now know to be possible). We heard the first mammal to be cloned was a sheep named Dolly back in 1996 but beyond that, the business of cloning animals is under a shroud of mystery and you can google all day long to search for cloning conspiracy theories - and apart from the fearful, Nazi regime, it’s generally a closed book.
Digging deeper, we find that in the later 1800's the theory was hypothesized with some interesting attempts to clone sea-urchins and salamanders in the early part of the 20th century. Finally, a Eureka moment was achieved in 1952 when a group of scientists in Philadelphia managed to clone a frog with the techniques we see today.
So how do they clone a dog?
The process involves taking a tissue sample from a donor dog and then extracting the DNA from a cell. Next, the DNA is inserted into an empty, fertile egg provided by another dog - then electrically fused and placed surgically in the surrogate mothers womb. The result is a clone of the original, donor dog.
A real-life story of dog devotion told by “The Daily Mail,” records the journey of a scriptwriter who lost her Pitbull named Booger to cancer and dreamed of recreating him through the cloning process. Citing Booger as her partner and friend this determined pet lover sold her house to pay the Sooam team and became the proud mom to five Pitbull puppies.
She told the newspaper Booger had saved her life when she was mauled by a Mastiff, making the loss of her courageous canine more than she could bear. Tests have proven these are actually clones and this was the first commercial dog cloning performed by the Biotech lab in Korea. This marks another historic moment in time, as mankind takes a giant step, where no man or dog has gone before.
Let's get back to our real-life tale about Snuppy, the cloned Afghan hound, also named Time Magazines “Invention of the year." We find he has fathered puppies of his own and been re-cloned with the birth of three healthy pups still alive today.
The Science Of Cloning Your Dog
The science of cloning Rover is a technique being perfected by the Sooam Company in South Korea with the much-publicized Snuppy story, heralding the way for pet lovers who want to resurrect their dog. It costs a pretty penny, but some dog owners believe it’s worth every cent. Others may prefer to let their doggy-pal rest in peace.
In order to get your dog cloned, you’ll have to go to your local vet and obtain a biopsy sample from the dog’s abdomen measuring around 8 millimeters. The canine cargo is placed in a foam-filled box with an ice pack and then jetted off to Sooam.
If your precious pooch has departed this earth for no more than five days you are requested to send plenty of skin samples to the company. What follows is a procedure referred to as a "somatic cell nuclear transfer" (SCNT). Biologists go to work isolating cells and weeks later they are ready for cloning. Suitable dogs are rented by a local provider and used as an egg donor and surrogate mom. It takes six months to a year to clone a dog.
The author of DOG, INC goes inside the world of canine cloning in, Korea and paints a controversial picture of visual replicas behaving in ways the former dog probably wouldn’t. He says many clones were rejected by their new owners, as they didn't measure up to their donor dog. John Woestendiek, a Pulitzer Prize winner for investigative reporting states in his captivating book, that the visuals of the original and clone woofer tick all the right boxes but what you get is a twin and they can vary in temperament.
This is a good question and one that’s easily answered by the virtual example of Anna, a toy poodle who is getting on in years. Like her namesake she is indeed “full of grace” and a one-in-a-million doggo, with the psyche of a saint. Anna was about to have her 12th birthday when a friend suggested having her cloned. As her doting owner you considered this an exciting and viable choice. You could afford the hefty price tag and immortalize Anna so you would never be apart. After nervously waiting you were rewarded with three clone puppies, you were surprised had variances in the markings on their coat.
These clones are nothing like my dog!
As the puppies grew, you also noticed their personalities were not quite the same as Anna. You had been under the illusion that these little fluffy pups would be the epitome of your perfect poodle, but instead, they had mannerisms of their own.
One consideration might be that Anna was a rescue dog who had been found abandoned and in pretty bad shape. The scars from her former life ran deep and had made this darling girl a quiet, timid dog. The new Anna clones were typical pups, rolling around on the floor, playing and getting into all kinds of mischief. Anna had come to you at the age of four, so you had never known her as a pup and it was then you realized these adorable clone-pups might have the same genetic code - but could turn out to be entirely different dogs.
Science has taken leaps and bounds in the universe of cloning man’s best friend but as nature would have it, the replica may exude a personality far removed from the original
Can You Train Your Cloned Puppies To Be Like Their Donor?
We are now in the precarious age of dog cloning and of course, many folks would be thinking this is a prelude to the first human clone.The concept itself brings a myriad of reactions from those who believe you are tampering with evolution to those who are simply horrified at the thought.
It has to be said many of the respected animal charities including the RSPCA have voiced their disapproval quoting “serious ethical and welfare concerns,” relating to this new technology. At this stage, there are no regulations to protect pets being cloned, although it is still illegal to clone a human.
If you are considering cloning your Rottweiler, Collie or Chihuahua, it’s relevant to note the importance of your environment in shaping the behavior of the pup-stars you receive. You want to create a perfect match, so training the puppies to be like Sam your loyal Labrador, will take a bit of work. Sam will have to become the puppy’s role model, showing them the way. The irony is Sam might discount the similar genetic code and reject them completely.
In time he will see they are not going away and begin his job as chief trainer to get the clone-babies behaving. Puppies are basically rule-free and will jump all over each other without a care in the world. Your positive supervision of Sam and the puppies will enable a bond to develop, as the off-spring respond to their look-a-like Lab and start to emulate his moves.
When the pups are old enough, you can begin the serious stuff by getting Sam to sit and teach the pups to follow. As they watch their daddy, dogster responding to what their mom has asked, you can put the pups in the sitting position, offering treat rewards and praise. When it comes to teaching them to come, stay, lie down or fetch - you will find learning by example to be an invaluable tool. Perhaps their shared DNA will finally kick in as the pupsters become more like Sam.
If you are adamant you want the pups to be a reflection of your trusty Lab, work closely with the older dog and puppies and you might get the match you want!
By a Japanese Chin lover Linda Cole
Published: 02/01/2018, edited: 04/06/2020
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