Dog cloning has made the headlines after Barbra Streisand revealed in a February interview that she created two dog clones of her original 14-year-old dog Samantha.
Dog cloning was first established in 2005 when South Korean researchers announced they had successfully cloned an Afghan Hound.
The star told Variety that cells were taken from the mouth and stomach of the 14-year-old Coton de Tulear dog before she died in 2017.
Others celebrities have also cloned their dogs. Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg cloned their Jack Russell Terrier several years ago
What is dog cloning?
According to Viagen Pets, dog cloning produces a genetic twin of a dog, born at a later date.
The cloned dog will share similar characteristics to the original dog including appearance, behaviour and intelligence.
There are two types of dog cloning: reproductive and therapeutic. Reproductive cloning is making a full living copy of an animal that is genetically identical to its donor through somatic cell nuclear transfer.
Therapeutic cloning refers to the removal of a nucleus that contains the genetic material and is then transferred it into an unfertilised egg where the nucleus has also been removed.
How does it work?
The harvesting of cells from a dog can be completed when the animal is alive or after it has died. According to Money, to clone a live dog a veterinarian performs a “skin punch biopsy on a pet’s abdomen”.
The genetic material is than sent to a lab and scientists remove the “nucleus from eggs harvested from a donor pet”.
A skin cell is than inserted from the dog to be cloned. The “embryo is then given an electric shock” to start the process.
Lastly the “modified embryos” are implanted via surgery into the surrogate dog. This will result in a genetic twin of the dog.
Does dog cloning exist in Australia?
No. It has not been introduced to Australia yet. The first commercial lab to open is located in Seoul, South Korea. ‘Not You But You’ has cloned 895 dogs of different breeds since 2006.
ViaGen was the first company to clone a dog in America. In 2016, they cloned a Jack Russell Terrier and since have cloned “over a hundred” dogs and cats. They orignally started cloning livestock.
How much does dog cloning cost?
As you can imagine, the process can come at an expensive price tag. It costs around $US100,000 ($128,000) to clone a dog.
Some companies also offer genetic preservation for $1600. This involves veterinarian performing a biopsy on the animal to remove tissue. The company than stores the pet’s genetic information, leaving the owner to decide to clone their pet at a later date.
Is dog cloning ethical?
There has been widespread debate about whether cloning is ethical.
Some believe that companies who perform dog cloning exploit grieving families.
The president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Ingrid Newkirk said after Streisand’s revelation that “when you consider that millions of wonderful adoptable dogs are languishing in animal shelters every year or dying in terrifying ways when abandoned, you realise that cloning adds to the homeless-animal population crisis.”
“Cloning has a high failure rate, many dogs are caged and tormented for every birth that actually occurs-so that’s not fair to them, despite the best intentions,” Ms Newkirk said