Russia testing cloned 'designer' dogs with enhanced sniffing abilities in drugs, explosives war

The three dogs in a screenshot from an online video report.
The three dogs in a screenshot from an online video report.PHOTO: RT.COM

Russia has unveiled its new weapon in the war on explosives and drugs - cloned 'designer' dogs, genetically modified to have enhanced sniffing abilities.

The three Belgian Malinois - worth US$100,000 (S$140,000) each - were cloned by a South Korean professor who also aims one day to restore extinct woolly mammoths to Siberia, according to a Daily Mail report.

Dr Hwang Woo Suk has given the hounds as a gift to the police forces and FSB secret service in Yakutia - also called Sakha Republic - the coldest inhabited region in the world.

This is the same part of Siberia where he is collecting samples from extinct woolly mammoths - preserved for thousands of years in the permafrost - with the aim of bringing the species back to life in their native habitat, the Mail said.

Belgian Malinois is a breed of shepherd dog and the trio were reportedly cloned from the cells of South Korea’s most revered sniffer dog. The scientists claim the genetic duplicates have inherited the Korean dog’s unique abilities.

The dogs were unveiled at the Mammoth Museum in regional capital Yakutsk and are also said to be stronger and more muscular than dogs conceived naturally..

They were officially handed over to the All-Russian Military-Historical Society which will deploy them as needed to law enforcement services.

Museum director Semyon Grigoryev said: "These dogs have been recreated from the cells of the best Korean sniffer dogs, inheriting their unique abilities.

"They will be the first cloned service dogs in Russia."

They are among 500 cloned puppies from the Sooam Biotech laboratories in Seoul, the world's first animal cloning centre, reported the Mail.

"These dogs are very young. In Korea they went though a basic training, so handlers here will decide what best to choose for them depending on their abilities and talents," said Dr Grigoryev.

'The military-historical society works in co-operation with Russian police and special services, and provides dogs as ordered.

"I know that the society's trainers are usually most keen on explosive sniffers, so I would guess this is the field where the cloned dogs will be used."

The dogs are a "present to Russia" from the South Korean laboratory, he said.

The mammoth museum has long been working closely with Dr Hwang and Sooam Biotech "on the much more ambitious project of mammoth cloning," reported The Siberian Times.

However, cloning is seen as controversial by some authorities, who claim it amounts to interference with nature.

Yakutia is a treasure trove of mammoth biological material with remains of the extinct creatures preserved in the ice.

The dogs' first task will be language retraining, as they only understand orders in Korean at present.