South Korean researchers in August reported that they have succeeded in cloning a dog — the first time that species has been successfully cloned.
Veteinarian Woo-Suk Hwang led the team that cloned the Afghan hound. Hwang had previously cloned cows, pigs, and a variety of cows that are resistant to mad cow disease.
Unlike those animals, however, cloning dogs is a bigger challenge since dogs don’t respond ot the hormons used to stimulate ovulation. Cloning dogs required monitoring more than 100 female dogs. In all, 1,095 embryos were transferred to 123 surrogate dogs resulting in just 3 pregnancies. Only two of those were carried to term, and one of those dogs died from aspiration pneumonia at 22 days old.
The puppy that did survive, however, appears to be a completely normal Afghan puppy and is now 3 years old.
Hwang is also an expert at stem cell production, and in 2004 successfully derived stem cells from a cloned human embryo. His research on dog cloning will soon shift to developing a line of embryonic dog stem cells which could potentially be used in understanding and treating human diseases.
Animal rights groups weren’t exactly happy about the announcement. Despite the enormous difficulty in cloning dogs, Humane Society of the United States’ Wayne Pacelle told the Associated Press,
This technology could lead to a brave new world of puppy production if it were hijacked by profiteers seeking to use cloning to supply the pet trade.
South Korean scientists clone dog. Peter Gorner, Chicago Tribune, August 3, 2005.
Snappy response to Snuppy’s birth. Joseph Verrengia, Associated Press, August 5, 2005.
Dog cloned in South Korea. Bryn Nelson, Newsdady, August 2005.