Cloning Your Dog: Threat or Menace?

January 31, 2009

You’ll never find me bashing science on this site. It’s my belief that science, broadly defined, is the sole redeeming activity of mankind.  Adequate nutrition, clean water, working sewage systems are more important than all the poetry in the world. I won’t be able to impress you with Shakespeare if your belly is empty.


Cloning is an incredible technical advance and I’m not against it. However, I am against the way it’s being marketed to well-to-do dog owners whose understanding of cloning is more Star Trek than science. Yes, cloning your dog will produce a genetically similar animal — but it will not produce a Xerox copy of your beloved pooch.

Cloning is not reincarnation, your relationship with your new cloned dog will not be identical to your previous dog. Your cloned dog will not duplicate your old dog.

Given that an estimated 3-4 million abandoned dogs will be killed in America in 2009, using cloning to try and recapture what you had seems like an incredible waste of resources.

I also think it can be seen as disrespectful of the unique relationship you had with your previous best friend. Would you consider cloning your wife or husband after their death, (if you could somehow speed up the maturation process so you aren’t changing your spouse’s diapers and dealing with their teenage angst?).

In this economy  if you’ve got money to burn for cloning, consider doing something more useful with it. If you want a great new dog, check out your local shelter or breed rescue group.

And if you want to understand exactly why your cloned dog will not be a duplicate of your previous dog, spend $11 on Steven Pinker’s excellent The Blank Slate, The Modern Denial of Human Nature.

From IPWatchdog:

BioArts International announced today that delivered the world’s first commercially cloned dog, a 10-week old Labrador named Lancey, to Florida residents Edgar and Nina Otto.  According to the press release issued by the company, “BioArts International is a biotech company focused on unique, untapped markets in the global companion animal, stem cell and human genomics industries. The Best Friends Again program is a collaboration between BioArts and the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in South Korea, home to the best and most experienced dog cloning team in the world.”  The technology that makes this animal cloning possible stems from the cloning patents developed at the Roslin Institute for the cloning of the now famous, or infamous depending on your view, Dolly the Sheep.


The Ottos were one of five families to bid and win an auction held by BioArts International in July for a chance to clone their family dog. Lancey’s genetic donor, Sir Lancelot, died in January, 2008, and the Ottos had his DNA stored. By October, samples from the original dog were on their way to the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in Seoul, South Korea, which provides cloning services to BioArts.


Lancey was born on November 18th, 2008, and brought to the US on January 25th, 2009 after being weaned from his surrogate mother.  Lancey was hand delivered to the Ottos on Monday, January 26th by BioArts Chairman Lou Hawthorne. “This is a very special milestone for our company – and great fun for me too,” said Hawthorne, who delivered Lancey personally.  “We can’t believe this day is finally here,” said Nina Otto, “We are so happy to have little Lancey in our family. His predecessor was a very special dog. We are thrilled beyond words!”


BioArts has been granted the sole, worldwide license for the cloning of dogs, cats and endangered species. The license was granted by Start Licensing, Inc. and applies to the somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) cloning patents developed at the Roslin Institute for the cloning of Dolly the sheep.