Canine Genetic Engineering

Ruppy By traditional breeding methods, dogs vary from as small as Chihuahuas to as large as Great Danes, and all are cross-fertile.

By South Korean laboratory methods, we now have a litter of not only transgenic, but cloned beagle puppies who glow in the dark due to the introduction of a fluorescent gene from sea anemones.  So, it’s a sea-anemone-puppy – named “Ruppy.”  Two years ago, the Taiwanese were busy with injecting fluorescent protein (some of these articles cite jellyfish rather than sea anemones) into cloned Angora kittens.

This past January, a Florida couple, $155,000 lighter courtesy of BioArts, but wealthy in a cloned puppy version of their beloved deceased Labrador Sir Launcelot, were in the news.  BioArts is a biotech company belonging to Lou Hawthorne, whose cloned pets and family were featured in this December, 2008 article in the NY Times.  Mr. Hawthorne’s mother, to whom the “original” dog belonged, hasn’t really warmed up to the two young clones of her deceased pet Missy.  The cloning experiments, in general, were paid for by her boyfriend John Sperling, who can afford this due to being the founder of the University of Phoenix distance/online school.  Neither of the older couple seems terribly fond of the junior clone dogs, MissyToo and Mira.

For some bizarre reason, people have been wanting to make these glow-in-the-dark pets through jellyfish protein for years.  The real genetic basis for dog coat color and texture is fascinating enough without extra jellyfish help (in my opinion).

This series of articles by Dr. Jeffrey Bragg gives a common-sense perspective on canine breeding; most people don’t realize that whether by extreme cloning techniques, or by more old-fashioned breeding, cross-breeding and so-on, there are any number of “transgenic” animals and plants that have been in common use for years.  Dr. Bragg refers to a late 20th Century subculture of purebred dog breeders who believe that their “purebred” animals are genetically superior to any “mutt,” even though common sense tells us all otherwise, especially today with the rapid rise in canine, breed-specific genetic illnesses.

Of course anyone reading here knows what side I’ll come down on: get a rescue dog from a shelter instead of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to “clone” your deceased pet, don’t make glowing sea anemone puppies or jellyfish kitties, and quit breeding your dogs to abnormal, impossible, unhealthy standards!  Best in Show was a comedy, not seriously meant to be a way of life.



Canine Genetic Engineering — 2 Comments

  1. Here, here, Amy. Pure breeding is bad enough, but glow in the dark is just stupid. Glow in the dark anything is tacky, but glow in the dark living creatures (except for those that do it as a survival mechanism) is nothing but sideshow attraction gauche. That’s fine for human beings, but leave the poor beasts alone. Aren’t those pug dogs funny enough?

  2. Sue – Meredith wanted to adopt a pug! The pug rescues are among the more strange rescue organizations, and it actually costs more to adopt a sick or disabled rescue pug than to buy a new, purebred puppy. I said “no thanks.” Some are so inbred they can hardly breathe!