As the cost of dog cloning drops, here’s which breeds lead the pack
Chihuahuas are finally getting the respect they deserve.
They may not be the most popular dog breed in America, but they have something else to bark about.
The pint-sized pets lead the pack when it comes to the breeds most commonly selected for cloning, said Ron Gillespie, founder of PerPETuate, the aptly-titled Hawaii-based service that preserves dogs’ genetic material so they can be cloned.
Though there’s no hard data on dog cloning, Gillespie has noticed some patterns in his 20 years in the canine copying business.
“Based on the number of cells we’ve banked, generally speaking there are a lot more smaller lap dogs than larger dogs, and if there’s one breed that would seem to be dominant, it would be the chihuahua or maltese,” Gillespie said.
The animal rights group PETA frowns on replicating your beloved Fido, but the practice of dog cloning has seen intense interest since Barbra Streisand revealed that she made two clones of her beloved pet, a Coton du Tulears named Samantha. (Streisand recently posted a photo of her two dogs looking at her late dog’s gravestone.)
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It costs about $50,000 to clone a dog in the U.S. — down significantly from the $100,000 price tag in 2008, when dog cloning first became available to consumers, Gillespie said. The price has also dropped in South Korea, which pioneered the practice. Sooam Biotech Research Foundation used to clone dogs for $150,000 but will now do it for $100,000, spokesman Jae Woong Wang told MarketWatch. The most commonly cloned breeds at Soaam are Labrador retrievers, Yorkshire terriers and Jack Russell terriers, Wang said.
The price could drop even further if more people knew about pet cloning, but Gillespie estimates that only about 2% of all pet owners and vets are aware that it’s possible. One hurdle: many people think it’s a scam, he said.
But happy clients — including Streisand, media mogul Barry Diller and fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg and, perhaps, “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Lisa Vanderpump — will tell you otherwise.
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The process takes genetic material from an existing dog and inserts it into an egg, which is implanted into a surrogate that births the puppy. The new dog has the same DNA as the old dog and is essentially its identical twin.
Chihuahua lover Cathy Ratcliffe of Virginia Beach, Virginia would jump at the chance to clone her pup Lucas, if she could afford it, she told MarketWatch. Ratcliffe is the founder of a blog and Facebook group for chihuahua owners with more than 25,000 members globally.
Both chihuahuas and maltese have fallen in popularity in recent years, with chihuahuas dropping from No. 22 to No. 30 on the American Kennel Club’s most popular breeds list between 2013 and 2016, and maltese dipping from No. 27 to No. 33. Maltese are known as “sweet and intelligent,” but they demand a lot of attention from their masters and, if they don’t get enough, they can become “destructive,” according to the dog enthusiast website Dogtime.
Though they have a reputation as a “crazy, yappy little rat dogs,” chihuahuas are actually smarter and more complex than they appear, Ratcliffe said. “They don’t even seem like dogs,” she said. They’re incredibly loyal companions, and despite their diminutive stature, they will try to battle much larger dogs if they think their owner is in danger, Ratcliffe said.
And they live a long time, more than any other breed, according to Ratcliffe, with some dogs reaching 18 or 20 years of age. That could explain their owners’ propensity to clone them. “Having a dog that just adores you and would do anything for you, I can see why you would want to keep that around,” Ratcliffe said.
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