The scientist who created Dolly the sheep believes anyone tempted to have their pet cloned should think again.

Even a genetically identical dog or cat would probably be disappointingly different from its original counterpart, claims Sir Ian Wilmut.

Ian and Dolly
Professor Sir Ian Wilmut with Dolly the sheep.

He said: “Before they start they should recognise it won’t be the same.

“I have a dog. If we had a clone that had been brought up under different circumstances, its personality would be different, apart from anything else.”

No guarantees

Cloning could not guarantee producing a carbon copy, even in appearance, he added.

His dog was a tri-coloured cavalier King Charles spaniel, which was “white, brown and gingery”.

However, Prof Wilmut explained: “If she was cloned, almost certainly that coat pattern will be different, even if it was a genetically identical twin, because it all depends on movement of cells during foetal development.

“In appearance, and certainly personality, it’s very likely to be different.”

On a superficial level, a new animal bought from a pet shop would probably be as good a match for a lost companion as a clone, he added.

Mini-Winnie

Prof Wilmut led the team that created Dolly, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell, at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute on 5 July, 1996.

Britain’s first cloned dog, a dachshund named mini-Winnie, hit the headlines in 2014. She was copied from her “mother”, a 12-year-old dachshund nearing the end of her life, by scientists in South Korea.

Owner Rebecca Smith won a contest to have the £60,000 procedure carried out for free.

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