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, depending on their varied skills and characteristics
Some of these pets are intelligent and protective such that some people are willing to part with hundreds of dollars to own a breed of their choice
Security companies and businesspeople mostly opt for German Shepherds for their noble character, loyalty, curiosity and high intellect.
Boerboel and Rottweilers are generally liked for their large stature, obedience and territorial nature.
Due to demand for different breeds, many people with entrepreneurial minds have now turned dog breeding into a viable business that generates thousands of United States dollars.
Among the rising crop of those entrepreneurs are two enterprising Dube brothers, Baron (44) and Sifelani (41) from Esigodini in Matabeleland South province.
They have managed to break the monopoly of dog breeding, which was largely dominated by veterinary and security companies.
The two brothers, albeit operating separately, have established themselves as breeders of quality dogs, which include Rottweilers, German Shepherds and Boerboels, Fox-like dog breed and crossbreed of British Bulldog and Boerboels.
Baron, a father of 14 children, has since 2010 been involved in breeding dogs in his locality.
He owns 11 dogs of the Boerboel breed and sells the puppies to individuals, mostly commercial farmers in Kwekwe in the Midlands.
Out of the 11 dogs which are of Boerboel breed, three of them are bitches. He said one bitch, if it gets a proper meal can produce quality puppies which can give him up to US$7 000 per year.
“Depending on quality, a single puppy can fetch up to US$400 for a pure-breed puppy. My market are commercial farmers in Kwekwe. They buy puppies mostly for home protection. I specialise 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.”
The dogs give birth three times a year.
Baron says he spends almost US$700 a month on dog food and inoculations for the dogs.
“I always make sure that the dogs are well fed and properly looked after. I also dip the dogs once a month,” he said.
Baron says he was inspired by his father who used to keep many dogs for domestic purposes at their home in Filabusi.
“When I grew up my father had a strong passion for dogs and kept many dogs. When I was old enough to start my own home, I decided to venture into commercial dog breeding business,” he said.
“Dog breeding is a good business. Naturally, I am into cattle ranching and mining but lately, I have realised that dog breeding is actually the business that generates more money for me.”
Baron said the common breed that is marketable in Zimbabwe is a Boerboel.
He said it is popular because it is easily accessed in neighbouring South Africa.
“We have a Zimbabwean breed commonly known as the Rhodesian Ridgeback or lion hound, but it’s expensive and now scarce. Unlike other dogs, it is very brave and is capable of fighting a lion. In South Africa they sell them for R15 000 per puppy hence importing them is expensive,” he said.
Sox Maphala with his Fox/ Wolf dogs
“In Zimbabwe, most local breeders, prefer Boerboel because it is affordable, especially for people who have properties to defend because it is a vicious dog with a scary physique.”
Baron says he feeds his dogs with dog meal and saw dust. However, when it comes to food, Boerboels can even eat isitshwala unlike some other breeds which require expensive food such as German Shepherds that only eat raw meat.
Baron said due to rising cases of burglary and robbery, breeds such as Boerboel and German Shepherds, are on demand as security dogs.
Baron’s young brother, Sifelani who specialises in Fox-like breed dogs, says he was inspired by his sibling to venture into dog breeding. He has converted his backyard into a dog breeding space in Habane Township, Esigodini.
“I was staying with my brother in 2010 and he was into dog breeding and that really inspired me. When I got married, I then decided to venture into dog breeding full time. Dog breeding is a quick money-spinning project unlike cattle farming because a dog gives birth thrice 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 specialise in the Fox breed because it is quite vicious and I am known around Esigodini for breeding the most vicious dogs.”
Sifelani said dogs require constant vaccination against diseases such as rabies.
“When my business was in its initial stages, my puppies would die each time a bitch gave birth. At one time, I lost 10 puppies after succumbing to parvo. It is important to keep puppies in a healthy environment and kennels should constantly be disinfected,” he said.
“I am now experienced when it comes to dog breeding such that I keep injections and do the vaccinations myself. You need a healthy environment and good diet and vaccination and injections are expensive.”
On average, Sifelani said he makes about US$2 000 on a good month depending on the quality of the breed. If the quality is low, he is forced to reduce the price. Usually, Fox puppies are sold for US$200 each.