Did you know America has the highest google searches on ‘how to clone my dog’ than any other country in the world? We all want to extend the years of our beloved pets or have an exact replica that will always remind you of Bingo. However, is dog cloning something you should actually consider?
The business of dog cloning is a booming one. Middle Eastern royalty, celebrities, and wealthy businessmen are paying huge monies for it. It can take at most 60 days to successfully clone your dog and professional vets promise you won’t get backlashed by the #adoptdon’tclone crusaders.
However, before going all Barbra Streisand on your pooch, here is the nitty gritty of cloning your dog you should know about.
The Science of Dog Cloning
After the successful cloning of Dolly the Sheep, stem-cell researchers started experimenting with other farm animals such as pigs and cows. It wasn’t long before the whole cloning craze showed up at our doorstep in the city teasing us with striking replicas of our cats and dogs as well.
A branch in genetics and developmental biology known as Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer has made it possible to clone our dogs. A vet surgeon removes the original nucleus, where DNA is stored, by making a microscopic insertion on the donor egg. They will then replace this nucleus with an old one from the dog that is being cloned.
Surgeons induce cell fusion in the egg by passing electric currents through it. When cell division occurs, an embryo is formed which the genetics researcher implants in the surrogate womb. The embryo gradually develops into a pup which, if all goes well, is ‘born’ within 60 days. The vet surgeon has to surgically remove the pup from its mother, wipe the fluids of its face, and induce breathing. If the pup squeals, the cloning process is successful.
Not as Easy as it Seems…
While the process sounds straightforward in writing, the reality of it is totally different. There is a lot that happens behind the scenes before a pup is born from a somatic cell. Successful dog cloning may require at least 1000 embryos and 100 surrogate wombs just to induce pregnancy.
Surrogate dogs are treated with hormonal injections to mold their wombs to accept the fertilized egg being planted. These are the same injections used in IVF procedures in humans. It may take at least three embryos to finally have one that will implant on the surrogate womb. Even then, vet-surgeons cannot guarantee whether the pregnancy will be carried to term. A lot of dog cloning attempts end up in stillbirths or the pup dies within days of being born.
As if that is not enough, finding the egg a healthy dog is also a hassle. A dam ovulates twice a year and the egg has to be surgically extracted from it when it’s ready. So your chance of finding a viable egg donor is like the proverbial needle in a haystack. Stem cell researchers are now considering growing their own donor eggs in a lab to take care of the scarcity. So there might be hope in the near future.
In the meantime, with such odds, you can begin to guess how much it will cost to have your pooch replicated.
Dog Cloning Costs
To be honest, cloning your dog can be really expensive. The likes of Barbra Streisand are able to do it without a blink. For the average Joe, it may take years of saving or selling a few assets to revive the memories of your dog.
In the USA, there are a few genetic research companies that are cloning dogs for their clients. It can cost as much as $50,000 just to clone one dog. Dog cloning clients are expect to pay this amount in full or equal installments before taking their new pup home. Moreover, cloning companies can charge as much as $1600 to store DNA samples for their clients. Expect to cough another $150 to give the cloning company the green light to replicate your dog.
Alternatively, you can opt for oversea cloning companies. Currently, there is a South Korean company that is cloning dogs from DNA samples for at least $100,000. Insane right? And this process will only be successful under certain conditions.
If you just lost your pooch, you must collect a DNA sample from the dog’s body within 5 days of its demise. In addition, you have to pack the DNA sample in a properly sealed container to prevent contamination while transport it. Then you have to think about shipment charges and the hopes that the DNA will test free of contaminants when it arrives at the Asian lab.
Might be a bit of a hassle for the average Joe.
What they don’t tell you…
As you consider dog cloning, understand that you are not getting an exact copy of your former dog. You might see the eyes and coat of your beloved Bingo in this new pup but its temperament will be totally different.
We also have to consider the epigenetics of it all. Cloned dogs are more likely to have the undesirable traits of their predecessor. The new pup may develop health issues or carry the defects of the old DNA.
Then there is the issue of whether one is violating bioethics when cloning a dog. Genetic researchers have to experiment with thousands of embryos before they successfully clone a dog. You also have to repeatedly inject the surrogate dam with IVF medication to induce ovulation and prepare its womb for embryo implantation. Repeated injections could end up hurting the dog’s health.
Cloning companies subject the surrogate dogs to a lot of stress while cloning new puppies.
Is Dog Cloning Worth it?
It all depends on how you will take the sad news of your pooch leaving you. Will you find it hard to cope with the loss of your pup and wish you could have him back? Would you love to have a living reminder of your beloved pup to help you get through days? Are you ready to foot the enormous bill associated with dog cloning?
If you tick yes to all these questions, then dog cloning is for you. Remember, you are only creating a DNA copy of your former pup. You will not be dishonoring the memory of your good old pooch by playing Dr. Frankenstein.
However, if you find dog cloning quite expensive for you, your next option is to adopt a new pup to love and cherish. News reports show that shelters receive over 5 million dogs each year. So there is hope in finding canine love once more.