Page last updated at 16:28 GMT, Monday, 21 April 2008 17:28 UK

S Korea trains sniffer-dog clones

Police officer walking with cloned labrador puppies, 17/04
The cloned sniffer puppies have already shown their potential

The world's first cloned sniffer dogs have begun training in South Korea.

Seven puppies have been created using cells taken from a labrador considered by customs officials to be their best sniffer dog.

The puppies were born last year after the country's customs service paid a biotechnology company to reproduce a Canadian Labrador Retriever.

Their handlers say they are already showing the same high level of skill as the original dog.

Only about 30% of naturally-born sniffer dogs make the grade, but South Korean scientists believe that could rise to 90% using the cloning method.

The puppies were born to three surrogate mothers after scientists used the nuclei of somatic cells from a sniffer dog called Chase. The state-funded project cost about 300m won ($300,000; 150,000).

A spokesman for South Korean customs said the pups 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.

Sniffer dogs on nightclub doors
18 Apr 08 |  Northern Ireland
First order for pet dog cloning
15 Feb 08 |  Science/Nature

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