First cloned sniffer dogs put to work

by Leanne Thompson on July 21, 2009

clonedsnifferdogsThe customs service in South Korea has announced the world’s first cloned sniffer dogs, six Labrador puppies, have now been put to work checking for drugs in the airport and at the border controls.

The pups were cloned from a sniffer dog in 2007 and following a 16 month training program, they are now ready for duty.

What seems quite sad is that apparently all six cloned Labradors are called ‘Toppy’, a name derived from combining ‘tomorrow’ and ‘puppy’.

The justification for cloning sniffer dogs is the customs say it saves money; actually, the phrase was ‘lowers crime-fighting costs’ but it means the same thing.  Reportedly, good sniffer dogs are difficult to ‘sniff out’ if you excuse the pun.

Only 30 per cent on average of naturally-born dogs make the grade to become professional sniffer dogs and the scientists in South Korea say this percentage could be as high as 90 per cent using cloning.

South Korea seems to be doing a lot of cloning on the quiet if you keep up with this sort of news, although I’m unsure why creating glow-in-the-dark cloned dogs is either useful or welcome.

Cloning professional dogs is not new either; as we reported one police dog that worked in the 9/11 disaster was cloned earlier this year.

This new sniffer dog pack is part of an original litter of seven puppies; one had to drop out of training when he suffered an injury.  The litter was cloned from a ‘magnificent’ Californian Labrador sniffer dog called in Chase.

Park Jeong-Heon, a customs spokesman at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport, told AFP news agency:  “They are the world’s first cloned sniffer dogs deployed at work.  They showed better performances in detecting illegal drugs during the training than other naturally-born sniffer dogs that we have.”

All seven puppies are genetically identical and the cloning work was done at Seoul National University in Korea, where the glow-in-the-dark puppies and the world’s first cloned dog, Snuppy, an Afghan Hound, were cloned.

This sniffer dog cloning project cost the state around 300m Korean won (£146,000).

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