Could Synthetic Cadaver Dogs Mean the End to Live Animal Testing?

It’s not very pretty, but a synthetic cadaver dog could be beautiful news for live animals used for training veterinary school students.

“The product will immediately end the need for terminal surgery labs in veterinary medical schools and represents the beginning of the end of animal testing in general,” SynDaver Labs, which created the synthetic dog with the help of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, said in a recent press release.

The “terminal” in terminal surgery means the dogs, which are often chosen from kill lists at animal shelters, are euthanized after the procedures.

The Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine is among the veterinary schools that use terminal surgeries to teach students emergency procedures, according to “Dying to Learn,” a 2009 report by AnimalLearn, the educational division of the American Anti-Vivisection Society, a nonprofit working to end the use of animals in science.

“The dogs’ chests are cut open, and the students squeeze their beating hearts while euthanasia solution is injected into their veins,” AnimalLearn reported.

Not at all surprisingly, a “significant number of students do not care to be involved in terminal surgery procedures or the use of live animals when there is an alternative,” said Dr. Michael Blackwell, former chief veterinarian of the U.S. Public Health Service and now chief veterinary spokesman for the Humane Society of the United States, in the press release. “I am so happy to have this change because that is where we need to be today.”

It should be noted that in many cases the surgeries performed on animals in veterinary schools are not terminal. For example, to help make shelter animals more adoptable, students at schools like Penn Vet spay and neuter dogs, or perform surgeries that improve their health. Afterward, the animals are returned to the shelters and hopefully find forever homes.

The state-of-the-art SynDaver Synthetic Dog has lifelike tissue, functioning bodily systems — including a beating synthetic heart — and can simulate diseases, illnesses and medical complications (such as an eaten sock). It even “bleeds” when it’s cut with a scalpel. The synthetic polymers it’s constructed of are created using water, salt, fiber and other compounds.

SynDaver Labs is already the world’s leading manufacturer of synthetic human cadavers used in medical schools, and now it hopes to earn that title for synthetic animal cadavers as well. The company has launched a crowdfunding campaign with the ambitious goal of raising $24 million, in part to distribute up to 20 of the synthetic dogs — which usually cost $28,000 each — free of charge to accredited veterinary colleges worldwide.

“If we launched this product organically, it might take us a decade to put canine cadavers into every veterinary college and many more animals would die needlessly as a result,” stated Dr. Christopher Sakezles, chief technology officer and founder of SynDaver Labs. “With the help of the crowdfunding campaign, we can do this practically overnight, and start to put an end to terminal labs for good.”

If SynDaver Labs meets its $24 million donation goal, it will develop a synthetic cat cadaver, and eventually ones for horses and cows. The ultimate goal is to eliminate the use of live animals in veterinary training and research.

You can find out more about the SynDaver Synthetic Dog on its crowdfunding page.

Photo credit: SynDaver Labs


Mari S
Mari Sabout a year ago

SYNTHETIC ANIMALS for lab testing and research is an EXCELLENT idea -- let our LIVE animals LIVE!

Beth M
Beth M2 years ago


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Coll Prin
Coll Prin2 years ago

they could also use this if organ transplants for animals start. somehow. how would you have organ donation for dogs and cats?

seeing how some people will/would do that and not euthnasia, if their dog needs a new heart

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H2 years ago

It's about time. Human synthetics have been around for a while.

Melania Padilla
Melania P2 years ago

Please do! Enough testing on animals! Sharing

Marie W.
Marie W2 years ago

Ugly, but if they do the job.

Danuta Watola
Danuta W2 years ago

Thank you for sharing

Rosslyn O.
Rosslyn O2 years ago

Debbi. You sounded just like me at school and vet nursing...I too enlisted the one of the the other students to stretch my rat out and pin it into place... I felt like I was crucifying it, and that freaked me out, even though it was dead. I went there to learn how to save animals, and I later found the video of dissection far more understandable, than having me freaking out! ......... But as you said "if you want to pass the exam....." I'm happy about these cadavers.......... Just shocked that they kind of look too much like the horrific add for the Yulin Festival...Uggg!

Miss D.
Shari F2 years ago

HI RK.R - I am not sure I really understand your post - could you explain it?