If a Beagle taps you on the shoulder and tells you to give him your lunch money, you might want to hand it over.
Researchers in China have used gene editing to produce a pair of Beagles that have twice the amount of muscle mass than their un-edited counterparts. These impressively muscled dogs (the ones who looked at their littermates and said, “DO YOU EVEN LIFT, BRO?”) had their DNA manipulated to delete a gene called myostatin, a protein which limits muscle growth.
The two swole-as-heck Beagles — a male and a female — were named Hercules and Tiangou (a mythological “Heavenly Dog”).
“[The dogs have] more muscles and are expected to have stronger running ability, which is good for hunting, police [military] applications,” Liangxue Lai, a researcher at the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, told the MIT Technology Review.
The scientists hope to use this gene editing technique (called CRISPR) to create dogs with other gene mutations that mimic degenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and muscular dystrophy, and to use the animals to further study those diseases.
“The goal of the research is to explore an approach to the generation of new disease dog models for biomedical research,” Lai told the Review. “Dogs are very close to humans in terms of metabolic, physiological and anatomical characteristics.”
But don’t order that customized pet accessory that reads “I Flexed and My Collar Ripped Off” just yet. Lai and his researchers say these super-muscular Beagles will not be bred to be pets. You just might keep your lunch money after all.