The world's smallest dog, a chihuahua named Miracle Milly, has 49 clones, making her the most cloned dog in the world.
The world's smallest dog made waves worldwide for her incredibly tiny stature, but now she has made it to the record books for a completely different reason this time - she has the honor of being the most cloned dog in the world, with 49 clones to her credit, the Daily Mail reported.
A miniscule Chihuahua known as 'Miracle Milly' was of great intrigue to scientists when she managed to survive against all odds describe being incredibly tiny. In an attempt to study the genetic makeup that caused her to be so small, they created 49 dogs genetically identical to Milly using her cells.
The six-year-old dog was said to have weighed less than an ounce when she was born in 2011, and she was small enough to fit inside a teaspoon when she curled up. Due to how small she was, vets said that she would not be able to survive.
Despite the poor prognosis, Vanesa Semler, 38, from Kissimmee, Florida, decided to take care of Milly and fed her milk every two hours using an eyedropper. Her efforts paid off, as Milly continues to thrive and live a healthy life at less than 10 cm (3.8 in) tall.
For her tiny stature and her weight of 1.2 pounds, Milly was given the Guinness World Record for Smallest Living Dog, a record she has held since 2012. Her size drew attention from around the world, in particular from the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in Seoul, South Korea.
Researchers from the facility requested Vanesa if they could clone Milly to figure out the genetic code that contributed to her miniature size, for the purpose of which they extracted cells from the chihuahua, transplanting the nucleus of the cells to donor egg cells.
Once the nucleus had been successfully transplanted, the developing embryos were placed inside a surrogate mother who then birthed the pups. In August of 2017, Miracle Milly's first clones were born to the surrogate mother.
The Semlers took 12 of Milly's clones home, and they were named Molly, Mally, Melly, Molly, Mila, Mela, Mumu, Mimi, Mini, Moni, Mary, and Mulan. They said that the 12 clones have Milly's personality and looks, though some of them are slightly larger than her.
The Academy of World Records gave the Semler family the award for 'Most Cloned Dog' for Miracle Milly. Vanesa's husband, who is a chihuahua breeder, said that "The original idea was to make ten clones in total, nine for research and one for us, but they decided to clone her more times.
"She was chosen for being the smallest dog in the world. They want to find out why she was so small and then study her genes to find out what makes her so tiny. It's amazing to be around all of her clones, they are so smart, very playful like Milly and have really similar personalities.
"We love them, they are all our babies. But it's a lot of hard work having 12 clones of Milly. The clones all look like her, but they aren't her, they are slightly different in size. They are sweet and loving, but Milly is unique, while they have the same eyes and markings on their coats, in my opinion, you could never reproduce her."
Milly was born to the family in 2011 in Dorado, Puerto Rico, and was so tiny, vets believed that she wouldn't be able to survive. Vanesa dutifully fed her milk with an eyedropper every two hours, and managed to keep Miracle Milly alive.
Vanesa said, "She was really small and was so tiny she could fit onto a teaspoon. We saw this puppy on TV who was competing for the Guinness World Record who was four times bigger than Milly. I did an interview about her that went all around the world and then Guinness contacted me."
Milly's record gained her notoriety, and she has since traveled the world and racked up over 300,000 followers online. Vanesa said, "She travels around the world for shows and everything else, she's been to China, Thailand, everywhere. It's nice a lot of people want to know how she is doing, what she is eating and how she is feeding."
Vanesa shared, "We believe she has no idea she is a dog, because she never barks and only cries when she wants something. She is like our baby child. She only eats fresh chicken and salmon, she tells me if she doesn't like anything by not eating it.
"You have to change her food to whatever she wants, every day it's something different. We call her a diva because while being filmed, when she was hungry she would turn her back on the camera and start crying. After we fed her she started playing and doing tricks for the camera again. She's so funny, she tells you exactly what she wants."
Miracle Milly has managed to stay remarkably healthy over the years despite her miniature stature. Vanesa added, "At first her getting hurt was my biggest concern, but the longer she has lived the less I worry. She's a really smart dog, she never runs around and instead waits for you to pick her up. I'm more worried about other people."
David Kim from the Sooam Foundation said, "We will be working together with the Director as well as four specialists from the world renown Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) as well as other collaborating scientists to characterize the genetic and epigenetic factors of the of the cloned Milly and the original Milly. The research data will be analyzed to prepare to publish a scientific article."
The World's Smallest Dog is a female Chihuahua named Miracle Milly, who is 3.8 inches tall. pic.twitter.com/9Kc9NkdFro— World Records (@WorIdRecordss) April 8, 2014