South Korea has begun training seven puppies cloned from a Canadian labrador retriever named Chase, reckoned by the country's customs officials to be their best sniffer dog, the BBC reports.
The mutts were produced by an unnamed biotech outfit at a cost of about 300m won (£150,000, $300,000) using the somatic nuclear cell transfer method in three surrogate mothers. The plan is to increase the number of sniffer dogs' offspring to "make the grade" from 30 per cent for natural reproduction to 90 per cent.
It appears to be working, and a customs spokesman said the dogs have "passed the first round of tests for behavioural patterns and genetic qualities and will report for duty in June after completing a second round of training".
The Koreans seem to have got their seven clones at a knock-down price. As we reported back in February, a California woman was prepared to pay RNL Bio a cool $300,000 for a single copy of her deceased pitbull terrier called Booger.
The company's marketing director, Cho Seong-ryul, suggested that, as demand for replicant canines grows, the price may eventually come down to a mere $50,000 a pop. ®