Rearing dogs for a living

By Felix Nenga

Having lost Sh6.5 million through an inferno in Gikomba market in 2008 where he run a timber yard, Cyrus Maina thought his life had come to an end as he had invested all his savings in the business.
The 47-year-old Maina says his life drastically changed from being a wealthy person to a penniless individual, not sure where his family’s next meal would come from.

“The inferno reduced to ashes all the hard work I had started back in 1996. But little did I know it was the end of one chapter in my life and the beginning of a new one,” he says.

What used to be a passion to him of keeping dogs became his business venture after he purchased his first German Shepherd puppy in Eastleigh, Nairobi at a cost of Sh20,000.

"I became jobless after everything went up in flames but in 1996 I had purchased a German Shepherd in Eastleigh which I decided to breed and I got other puppies but it was just a passion I liked, they were not for sale,” says Maina.
He rented a 50x100 plot in Riabai village,  Kiambu County where he decided to rear and breed different types of dogs for sale after realising the market was good.
“I keep German Shepherd, Dobberman, Rottweiler, American Pit-Bull, Ridgeback, Boerbull, Russian Mountain, Terrier, Japanese Spits and the Great Dane. You have to know how to train and bring up each breed because they perform specific roles,” adds Maina.
He adds that he spends more than eight hours daily attending to them.

“When choosing a dog for rearing, you should understand the breed’s needs,” he says.
“You should identify your personal circumstance for example your life at home, available space for the dog, the role it will play, and even the time available for it daily."

With about 32 hounds in his compound, Maina says customers drip on weekly basis.

 He, however, expresses satisfaction with the business.

“Dog keeping might look strange but it is a worthwhile venture. A young German Shepherd goes for between Sh20,000 to Sh25,000 while an adult can fetch between Sh80,000 to Sh150,000 if it is well trained," he adds.
Maina says he prefers the Rottweiler dog which police and the security agencies have discovered to be the best and have high demand. A Rottweiler puppy goes for between Sh40,000 to Sh45,000 while a trained one goes for between Sh100,000 to Sh150,000.
In training Maina says the dogs behave like humans and they take from a month to two months.
Maina says dogs require special feed but such feed can be supplemented by human food.

 He, however, cites the high prices of dog’s feeds as a challenge.
"Though the prices of feeds and medicine have been going up I’ve to bear with the situation as I have a wide range of customers especially security agencies who depend on me to deliver trained dogs,” he adds.
Maina also keeps other types of animals like goats for milk, rabbits, chicken, guinea fowls, Egyptian geese Turkey and pigeon which he breeds for sale.
He concludes that he does not regret losing his business in Gikomba as the dogs have provided him with a steady income. He has been able to purchase a one-acre piece of land in Ruai.
Maina encourages unemployed youth to venture into the business.