KUNMING, March 25 (Xinhua) -- A cloned dog, believed to be the first of the kind in China, has started training in Yunnan Province in a program to reduce the cost and time needed for training police dogs.
Kunxun, a female of the Kunming wolfdog breed, was born on Dec. 19 last year in Beijing and arrived on March 5 for training at the Kunming Police Dog Base of the Ministry of Public Security.
She was cloned from a 7-year-old female dog, known as Huahuangma, that has been in service in the city of Pu'er, Yunnan, by Sinogene, a Beijing-based biotechnology firm. The cloning is part of the ministry's research program.
Huahuangma played important roles in helping detectives with dozens of murder investigations, and was accredited the first-level merit in 2016, said Wan Jiusheng, an officer who is responsible for training Kunxun.
Huahuangma's outstanding abilities as a police dog made her an eligible donor of genes, Wan said.
"It takes four to five years to train a meritorious dog such as Huahuangma, and costs hundreds of thousands of yuan," he said.
Police dogs serving in real tasks are not usually used for breeding. The cloning program helps researchers copy their excellent genes and reduces the time and costs needed for training, researchers familiar with the program said.
Wan said the 3-month-old Kunxun has shown remarkable abilities in adapting to different situations, responding to emergency, hunting, hearing and sniffing. "She has scored a couple of A's," Wan said.
Wan and other trainers are focused on fostering its qualities as a good sniffer dog. "As a cloned dog, Kunxun does not have brothers or sisters. She is rather independent," said Wan.
Being able to work with others, however, is also an important ability of a good police dog, and that takes experienced and well-sourced trainers to help her, said Zhang Song, a police dog training specialist.
Two other more mellow dogs are arranged as neighbors to train Kunxun, he said.
As the country's first cloned police dog, Kunxun gained huge public attention after her birth. Though she has huge potential, trainers and researchers said it also will take a lot of training and actual assignment experience for her to be as successful as Huahuangma.
When Kunxun is six months old, she will be assigned to training programs in following and tracking, crowd control or searching for explosives, based on her specialties. She is expected to enter service at around 10 to 12 months old.
In the future, Kunxun will be trained by Li Hua, head of the police dog squad with the public security bureau of Pu'er City, who trained Huahuangma, Wan said.
"We are not sure about her future. I hope she can fully develop her abilities in training," said Zhang Song, the police dog training specialist.
Cloning is only an ancillary method to train police dogs with outstanding abilities, but it can not replace natural breeding, researchers said.
"This is only a trial, a lot more scientific research is needed," said Zhang.