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Will Cloned Dogs Have Identical Personalities?

Dr. Barchas, I recently read an article about dog cloning. A company asked for essay submissions of why pet owners thought their dogs were "clone-worthy"....

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Aug 10th 2008


Dr. Barchas,

I recently read an article about dog cloning. A
company asked for essay submissions of why pet
owners thought their dogs were “clone-worthy”.
The company also offered to clone a dog with the
starting bid at $100,000- $180,000! I found it
interesting that the chosen dog will be cloned in
South Korea.

What are the chances that the cloned dog is actually going
to have the same personality as the original dog?

Thank you for your time!

Dennis
San Francisco, CA

Cloned dogs now exist. The subject has been getting a great deal of press.

South Korea has been a leader in stem cell and cloning technology for years. In 2005, a South Korean firm created the first intentionally cloned dog. He was named Snuppy. More recently an American firm partnered with South Korean scientists to offer clones of pet dogs to the public through an auction. And this week a woman who paid $53,000 to clone her dog made headlines–as an alleged stalker and rapist.

There is no doubt about it. People are fascinated with clones. But I do not understand why.

A clone is an organism that is genetically identical to another organism. Clones are very common.

If you have ever taken a cutting from a plant, placed it in water until roots sprouted, and then potted the newly independent vegetation, you have cloned a plant. If you have eaten a banana, you have consumed part of a cloned organism.

As well, identical twins are by definition clones of each other. This leads me to the answer to your question. I have two friends, Larry and Michael (names changed to protect the innocent), who are identical twins.

Larry and Michael are both great people. But they are no more alike, in terms of personality, than any other pair of siblings I know. I don’t think either of them will take offense when I say that they are completely unique.

My friends shared the same uterus at the same time. And, unlike most purposefully cloned mammals, they share a type of genetic material called mitochondrial DNA.

In other words, the chances of Larry and Michael having identical personalities are much greater than the chances of an intentionally cloned dog behaving identically to its predecessor.

I hope that you can see where I’m going with this. A cloned dog’s personality may be similar to the original’s. But don’t bet the farm (or $53,000) on it.