Cloned Korean Guard Dogs Work Russia’s Largest Prisons

These pups didn’t do well in the beginning, but all they needed were some snow boots.

By Justyne Yuen-Lee

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Besides being one of the coldest cities in the world, Yakutsk is also a major supplier of diamonds.


The second coldest city in the world is Yakutsk, Russia. The warmest it gets in the summer is about 67 degrees Fahrenheit and can reach cold temps as chilling as -40 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter! Yakutsk grew as a city in the late 1800s after the discovery of gold, then during World War II, it grew even more under Stalin’s regime through forced labor camps. Sadly, these forced labor camps still exist today.

Guards are never seen without rifles and are constantly on watch over prisoners and visitors. Russia has one of the highest number of convicted prisoners in the world. According to a Daily Mail article, it is thought that about 850,000 convicts are incarcerated. Some of these prisons are not like the others and although there has been attempt at shedding the horrors of the Gulag, there are still reports of the inhumane treatment of prisoners. Nonetheless, in Forced Labor Camp Number One, there is a need for high security in both human and canine form.

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Credit: Daily Mail / Semyon Grigoryev


Dr. Hwang Woo Suk of Seoul gifted two dogs cloned from “Korea’s best sniffing” Belgian Malinois to law enforcement authorities in Siberia’s Yakutia region. The dogs, Tom and Jack, are responsible for guarding 720 male prisoners at Forced Labor Camp Number One in Yakutsk. Inmates include Oleg Sentsov who is serving 20 years for plotting terrorist attacks.  Earlier in their training, the dogs didn’t do as well as expected, but experts believe that they didn’t have enough time to adjust to the cold climate.

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Credit: The Siberian Times / FSIN in Yakutia via Daily Mail

After a pair of snow boots were given to keep their paws warm, the pups excelled in their training. Trainers say they do well in sniffing out the trails of escaped prisoners. According to Irina Babikova, the senior dog instructor, the cloned pups do their job well, are gentle in nature and are smart! The dogs have successful tracked the trail of an escapee and completed an obstacle course without distraction.

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Credit: Daily Mail

Dr. Hwang Woo Suk is one of the world’s leading international cloning experts. In Seoul, cloning these dogs occur at the world’s first cloning center, Sooam Biotech Laboratories. Currently Dr. Hwang Woo Suk is in Siberia looking for wooly mammoth remains in hopes of cloning them back to life, but that’s another story.

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Credit: The Siberian Times / FSIN in Yakutia via Daily Mail

Tom and Jack are two of five hundred cloned puppies and are valued at £75 000 each! A price tag at first glance seems to be heavy, but when there are animals that are worth over $300 000 like a Texel Ram, it’s a small price to pay to maintain prison security.  Will we see more specially cloned working animals in the future? Maybe Dr. Hwang will gift a wooly mammoth next time if he succeeds in his project.