By Mashudu Netsianda
SINCE time immemorial, dogs have been known to be man’s best friend.
Naturally, human beings fall in love with dogs for different reasons, based on their varied skills and characteristics.
Some of these pets are intelligent and protective, so some people are willing to part with hundreds of dollars to own a breed of their choice.
Security companies and business people mainly opt for German Shepherds for their noble character, loyalty, curiosity and high intelligence.
Boerboels and Rottweilers are generally valued for their large size, obedience, and territorial nature.
Due to the demand for different breeds, many entrepreneurial people have now turned dog breeding into a viable business that generates thousands of US dollars.
Among the rising generation of these entrepreneurs are two enterprising Dube brothers, Baron (44) and Sifelani (41) from Esigodini in the province of Matabeleland South.
They succeeded in breaking the monopoly of dog breeding, largely dominated by veterinary and security companies.
The two brothers, although operating separately, have established themselves as breeders of quality dogs, which include Rottweilers, German Shepherds and Boerboels, fox-like dog breeds and crosses of British Bulldog and Boerboels .
Baron, father of 14 children, has been in charge of dog breeding in his locality since 2010.
He owns 11 Boerboel dogs and sells the puppies to private individuals, mainly commercial farmers in Kwekwe in the Midlands.
Of the 11 dogs that are of the Boerboel breed, three of them are females. He said a female dog, if given a good meal, can produce quality puppies that can earn him up to $7,000 a year.
“Depending on the quality, a single puppy can fetch up to $400 for a purebred puppy. My market is made up of commercial farmers in Kwekwe. They buy puppies primarily for home protection. I specialize in Boerboels because they are very economical in terms of food consumption,” he said.
“Naturally my dogs produce 20 puppies and when they mature in eight weeks I sell them.”
Dogs give birth three times a year.
Baron says he spends nearly US$700 a month on dog food and dog vaccines.
“I always make sure the dogs are well fed and well cared for. I also soak the dogs once a month,” he said.
Baron says he was inspired by his father who kept many dogs for domestic purposes at his home in Filabusi.
“When I was growing up, my father had a strong passion for dogs and kept lots of dogs. When I was old enough to start my own home, I decided to go into commercial dog breeding “, did he declare.
“Dog breeding is good business. Naturally, I’m into cattle ranching and mining, but lately I’ve realized that dog herding is actually the business that earns me the most money.
Baron said the common breed that is marketable in Zimbabwe is a Boerboel.
He said it is popular because it is easily accessible in neighboring South Africa.
“We have a Zimbabwean breed known as the Rhodesian Ridgeback or lion hound, but they are expensive and now rare. Unlike other dogs, he is very brave and is able to fight off a lion. In South Africa they sell them for R15,000 per puppy, so importing them is expensive,” he said.
Maphala Sox with his Fox/Wolf dogs
“In Zimbabwe, most local breeders prefer Boerboel because he is affordable, especially for people who have properties to defend as he is a vicious dog with a scary physique.”
Baron says he feeds his dogs dog meal and sawdust. However, when it comes to food, Boerboels can even eat Isitshwala unlike some other breeds that require expensive food like German Shepherds who only eat raw meat.
Baron said that due to increased cases of burglary and theft, breeds such as Boerboels and German Shepherds are in demand as security dogs.
Baron’s younger brother, Sifelani, who specializes in Fox breed dogs, says he was inspired by his brother to take up dog breeding. He converted his garden into a space for raising dogs in the township of Habane, Esigodini.
“I was staying with my brother in 2010 and he was into dog breeding and that really inspired me. When I got married then I decided to go into dog breeding full time. Unlike cattle farming, dog breeding is a quick money-making project because a dog gives birth three times a year,” he said. “With a dog-breeding business, you can survive as long as you have a market My market is in Bulawayo I specialize in the Fox breed as they are quite vicious and I am known around Esigodini for breeding the most vicious dogs.
Sifelani said dogs should be constantly vaccinated against diseases such as rabies.
“When my business was in its infancy my puppies died every time a female dog gave birth. At one point I lost 10 puppies after succumbing to parvo. It is important to keep puppies in a healthy environment and kennels must be constantly sanitized,” he said.
“I now have experience in keeping dogs, so I continue the injections and do the vaccinations myself. You need a healthy environment and good food and the Vaccination and injections are expensive.
On average, Sifelani said he made around US$2,000 a good month depending on the quality of the breed. If the quality is low, he is obliged to lower the price. Usually, Fox puppies are sold for US$200 each.