Scientists in China are already on the case. According to a report on the state-owned news site Global Times, genetic researchers in Beijing have successfully used the DNA from a murder-sleuthing sniffer dog named Huahuangma — a veritable "Sherlock Holmes of police dogs," Reuters wrote — to create a clone puppy with a prodigious criminal justice career ahead. The idea is that by ensuring the "offspring" have the same strong sniffer and other sleuthing genes as the mother, these pups will also be top performers on the force. [8 Animals That Have Been Cloned Since Dolly the Sheep]
By all accounts, Huahuangma is a very good girl. The 7-year-old Kunming wolf dog — a German shepherd-like dog-wolf hybrid often employed by the police and military — has helped crack multiple murder cases as a sniffer for the Yunnan province police, the Global Times reported. Her contributions to keeping the peace have earned her the title of "first-class meritorious dog," and hopefully many tasty treats.
Huahuangma's mini-me — a now-3-month-old puppy named Kunxun — was born in a lab at the Beijing-based Sinogene Biotechnology Co. in December, following experiments conducted in tandem with researchers from the Yunnan Agricultural University and with support from the Ministry of Public Security.
Tests show that Kunxun and Huahuangma are a "99.9 percent" DNA match, and the clone-pup has already outperformed other traditionally bred wolf dogs on several tests. Kunxun will now begin training in drug detection and crowd control, and is expected to be a full-fledged police dog at 10 months, the Global Times reported.
If Kunxun has as bright of a future on the force as expected, it'll mean a huge reduction in the typical police-dog training time, which usually takes about 5 years and costs the equivalent of $60,000, the Global Times said. The ultimate goal, a Sinogene representative told the site, is to mass-produce high-performing police puppies that can be trained in a matter of months instead of years — however, the current costs of cloning present a "bottleneck" to achieving this vision.
Whether or not the plan proves viable in the long term, Huahuangma is not the first doggy detective to share her DNA with a new generation of cop pups. In South Korea, a litter of six cloned police dogs began patrolling the streets in 2008. In 2009, the same company produced five clone puppies from a German shepherd named Trakr — a rescue dog who discovered the last survivor of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. The pups were reportedly trained as search-and-rescue dogs themselves.
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Originally published on Live Science.
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Brandon is the space/physics editor at Live Science. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Reader's Digest, CBS.com, the Richard Dawkins Foundation website and other outlets. He holds a bachelor's degree in creative writing from the University of Arizona, with minors in journalism and media arts. He enjoys writing most about space, geoscience and the mysteries of the universe.