China clones police dog – is this the future?

The “Sherlock Holmes of Police Dogs”.

Kunming puppy, cloning puppies, police dogs, China
Kunxun the cloned police dog puppy. Is this really necessary?  Photo Credit: Sinogene.

It is has recently been reported that Chinese scientists, in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Security, have taken DNA from a 7 year old female Kunming Wolfdog named Huahuangma and produced what they hope will be the first of a line of super police dogs that will reduce both the cost and length of training of them. The media have already dubbed it as the “Sherlock Holmes of police dogs”. Huahuangma was awarded first-class meritorious dog of 2016 for her contributions in investigating murder cases. Is it fake news? – unfortunately it appears not.

The puppy was born by caesarian section from a beagle surrogate on the 19th. December, 2018 and is named Kunxun. The company behind this endeavour is Beijing based SINOGENE BIOTECHNOLOGY who hope it will result in “volume production”, but this anticipated “production” is still in its experimental stage and it could be up to 10 years before mass cloning of these dogs is possible. The scientists plan to establish a national police dog cell bank which they can utilise to produce top-notch police dogs.

Chinese Kunming dog, cloning police dogs
Chinese Kunming Wolfdog.

The Kunming dog is believed to have been created from crossing German Shepherds and Wolfdogs in the 1950’s in Yunnan, China to produce military dogs and was recognised as a breed by the Chinese in 1988, since which time they have been used as police, customs, fire and rescue dogs. It resembles a German Shepherd but is usually taller and lighter. Some are kept as pets, but their temperament can be suspect.

Unfortunately China is a leading exponent of cloning animals for research and spurious commercial projects. Five “genetically edited” macaque monkeys were recently bred with identical mental illness in order to test drugs for mental conditions. And this is not the first of this kind of venture for service dogs as South Korea cloned a dog way back in 2005 and in 2007 cloned Labrador Retrievers to be used as Customs sniffer dogs. Scientists believe that this kind of breeding is far better than “regular” or natural breeding.

The only good news is that it may take years to start producing police dogs in large numbers and to make it economically viable, but cloned dogs can retail at over US$56,000. Breeding animals to order to fulfill whatever uses we might want to use them for is a frightening prospect and perhaps we should be trying to stop it before it gets out of control.