What you need to know:
- What started as a hobby is now a rewarding full-time enterprise for Salome Nyambura, an accountant.
- Nyambura, a mother of one, sought her husband's support to buy her first two female German Shepherd puppies worth Sh40,000 each for breeding.
- She later imported a Caucasian Ovcharka puppy from Romania.
- The mature German Shepherd gives birth twice a year, while the Caucasian Ovcharka gives birth once.
After graduating as an accountant in 2015, Salome Nyambura continued with her accounting job at a local university.
Though she was among the privileged students who got work placement while still in college, Nyambura, a Certified Public Accountant, CPA (K), says her pay was too little, as it could not fully meet her bills in the city.
“My remuneration was Sh25,000 a month. Life in Nairobi is not a walk in the park. My bills were way above what I was earning,” she told Powering SMEs in an interview, adding that she survived on debt to make ends meet.
As time went by, she started scouting for a side hustle to supplement her salary.
Having grown up with dogs, she decided to have one as a pet, as she thought of what to embark on to boost her income.
“In 2016, I bought a St Bernard type of dog worth Sh150,000 from a friend, which I paid for in instalments and through my husband’s support,” she said.
St Bernard is a calm and friendly dog that has been used for rescue work. Although it later died, Nyambura cites an incident where the dog prevented an ‘enemy’ from invading her house.
“There is this day in the month of August 2016, the dog continuously barked. When I went to the balcony to check on it, it was busy scaring a snake away, which was looking for a way in. I screamed, neighbours came to my rescue and we finally managed to kill it,” she recalled.
She said the dog became everyone’s friend. Neighbours began inquiring about the dog. Being a cute and friendly pet, as she took a nature walk with it, onlookers also inquired about it.
Nyambura saw a business opportunity through the inquiries and grabbed it.
She embarked on detailed research to know the best dogs for security. The German Shepherd was her number one answer.
“German Shepherds are widely known for security purposes. It’s aggressive, very intelligent and affordable,” she described.
Nyambura, a mother of one, sought her husband's support to buy two female puppies worth Sh40,000 each for breeding.
Bearing in mind they were living in an estate, breeding dogs in such an environment would have been a major challenge.
“Rearing dogs for commercial purposes in Nairobi requires a permit from the county government among other legal needs. I talked to my parents-in-law, who reside in Murang’a and they equally applauded my project idea. We did some structures back at home and we took the puppies there,” she explained.
Dog breeding services in Kenya are expensive, especially when it comes to security canines. The services are offered according to market prices, and range between Sh30,000 and Sh70,000.
She exhausted all her cash even though she sought the services from a friend who rears German Shepherds.
“We seek services from breeders with viable males. Serving takes a week, and when they give birth the breeder chooses a puppy of his or her choice for every dog attended to,” she explained.
The normal gestation period for dogs is 57 to 63 days from conception. Nyambura revealed that one of her German Shepherd dogs gave birth to nine puppies, while the other bore a litter of seven.
“There were eight males and eight females in total. The friend who offered mating services chose two females,” noted Nyambura.
She remained with 14 puppies. Three months later, she sold them at an average price of Sh30,000, fetching Sh420,000.
“Expenses were less than Sh100,000. Within three months I had made a cool Sh320,000,” she narrated, a move that she says motivated her to embark fully on breeding security dogs.
“I researched further and noted Caucasian Ovcharka dogs are the best for security services. I used part of my earnings to import a Caucasian Ovcharka puppy from Romania,” she disclosed. The price also included an import permit and airline services.
Caucasian Ovcharkas also known as Caucasian Shepherds or Caucasian Mountains are executive dogs in their own class. They are advanced mongrels for their security tenacities, famed for their aggressiveness and intelligence. This makes them pricey.
“One feels proud while walking with it. When mature, it weighs over 100 kilos. It needs good training,” added the breeder.
It is served at two years of age. She said her Caucasian Shepherd gave birth to a litter of 10 puppies last year. Unfortunately one died while she gave one puppy to her fellow breeder and remained with eight puppies.
“I sold seven, at an average price of Sh130,000 each,” revealed the breeder. In total, she banked Sh910, 000, adding that expenses gobbled up less than Sh150,000.
Expenses incurred include those of feeding, vaccination, among other medical requirements. She says her husband, Morris Irungu, who is also a veterinary doctor, has been of a strong pillar for her venture.
“When it comes to feeding and health services, he ensures they are well fed and vaccinated. He also observes their health progress,” she applauded him.
The entrepreneur quit her accounting job in 2017 to embark fully on security dog breeding business. At the same time, they transferred the project to Magogoni in Kilimambogo, a few metres from the Thika-Garissa highway in Kiambu County.
Building modern kennels cost her over Sh250,000.
She stated that proceeds earned from selling puppies are way higher than what she got as an accountant.
Currently, she has seven dogs in total — two Caucasian Ovcharkas and five German Shepherds.
The mature German Shepherd gives birth twice a year, while the Caucasian Ovcharka gives birth once.
“The dog breeding business needs passion, a lot of patience and sacrifice. When they give birth, we frequently wake up at night to check up on the puppies and assist them to breastfeed. If not monitored, a mother can sleep on them, killing them,” she explained.
Since the business is already established, the investor said she is working on acquiring certification for breeding. Nyambura has employed a permanent worker and also contracts an expert trainer to instil discipline in her mongrels.
Other activities done are taking them for walks, trimming their nails, washing and grooming them.
Nyambura revealed that she is currently unable to meet the demand for security dogs.
“Most of my clients make orders before I serve the dogs. Demand is overwhelming,” she said.
What began as a hobby, is a huge investment project, four years later.