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Looking into the eyes of a clone

One of the highlights of my trip to Korea was meeting Snuppy, the world’s first cloned dog.

Snuppy was born in 2005 at Seoul National University — and his name is a combination of the school’s initials and the word “puppy.”

As you can see, he’s a puppy no more. On his hind legs he’s nearly as tall as the researcher holding him, who, by the way, is the same one who manipulated the cells that brought him into existence.

DNA from the ear of the donor dog — an Afghan named Tai, who belongs to another professor at the veterinary school — was inserted into enucleated egg cells of another dog, zapped with electricity, then implanted into a surrogate mother dog.

Snuppy arrived a couple of months later.

Seoul National University has cloned about 30 more dogs since then, many of them in conjunction with a private company, RNL Bio, which last year began marketing dog cloning.

Tai’s owner said that, though his dog and Snuppy are dead ringers for each other, they are totally different dogs, owing in large part to the environments they’ve grown up in — Tai in a private home, Snuppy in a lab. Snuppy’s an excitable sort, and highly vocal, frequently emitting low-pitched moans, while Tai is more laid back. Though he lives in the lab, Snuppy gets out three times a day, his caretakers say. In addition, he makes celebrity appearances now and then.

Snuppy was at the top of my list of things to see in Seoul, being as I went there to research my book on dog cloning. Whatever your opinion is on that topic, and all the other issues it raises, you’ve got to admit that Snuppy is one beautiful dog.

The story of Snuppy, the race to clone a dog and the marketing of the service to the public is told in John Woestendiek’s new book, “DOG, INC.: The Uncanny Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend.”


Comment from Carolyn
Time June 1, 2009 at 3:53 pm

Lovely dog, but pity he lives in the Lab, not much chance of socialising there, he would do better in someones home, send him to me, I would take better care of him and give him love

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