Kunxun, China's first cloned dog, has already shown great potential. Photo: Science and Technology Daily of China

China’s first cloned police dog is set to report for duty this year at a police dog breeding and training base in the southwestern province of Yunnan, according to Chinese media reports.

The three-month-old wolfdog puppy nicknamed Kunxun was cloned from a seven-year-old female police dog that also served in Yunnan. The donor had famously helped close 12 murder cases and was known as the “Sherlock Holmes” of canine law enforcement in the province.

The rationale behind the pioneering program to clone well-trained police dogs is to save money and time, by ensuring excellent genes are replicated and passed onto future working dogs. It normally takes up to five years and 500,000 yuan (US$74,480) to select and train a police dog step by step.

To clone Kunxun, a few millimeters of skin samples were taken from the donor dog and sent to a laboratory in Beijing for cell cultivation. The contents of the somatic cell were then implanted into an egg cell that had its nucleus removed to form an embryo, which was subsequently transplanted into the womb of a surrogate mother.

“The surrogate mother was a gentle beagle. To prevent obstructed labor and improve survival chances, we performed a cesarean section,” technicians of the clone project told Xinhua.

Kunxun weighed 540 grams and was 23 centimeters long when she was born in December last year. Her DNA is 99.9% identical to her cell donor.

The project was jointly conducted by Yunnan Agricultural University and Sinogene, a Beijing-based company specializing in cloning pets and animals for commercial use.

Kunxun is reportedly active and friendly and can quickly find hidden objects thanks to her strong sense of smell. She is also an excellent hunter who shows “better potential” than her non-cloned peers. She is expected to commence working as a police dog at 10 months old after completing her training.

China is not the only country to enlist cloned police dogs. In 2007, South Korea cloned the country’s first canine and since 2011 has been using an elite army of cloned and well-trained Labrador retrievers to search for contraband at Seoul’s Incheon airport, according to CNN.

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