While dogs are man’s best friend and a common pet across the world, the dog breeding business is an actual science, which covers topics such as genetics, reproduction, puppies, behaviour, care and accommodation. When well executed, dog breeding businesses have the proven potential to reduce unemployment among youths.
In Botswana, Kedidimetse Van der Westhuizen breeds and trains dogs for security, tracking and sniffing, and sports purposes, joining the very few male breeders practicing. After investing BWP 300 000 into the business, she now reaps the benefits. GP caught up with Kedidimetse Van der Westhuizen to learn more about her trade and initial source of motivation.
Q.1 What exactly is dog breeding?
A. It’s just a commercialized form of farming. For a very long time Batswana have viewed dogs as just pets. But what we don’t realise is that there is a huge market in dog breeding.
Q.2 Your dogs have since attracted special forces among other top clients, which types of dogs do you breed?
A. I mainly do the working line breeds, dogs that are used for sniffing, tracking, guarding homes and farms. Some of my clients use them to guard their complexes, their malls. We have Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Rottweilers, Belgian Malinois, German Shepherds, and Duchess.
Q.3 When did you start dog breeding and what inspired you?
A. I started my business three years ago. I wasn’t really a fan of dogs when I started this. I hated dogs I must admit. And then one day as life would have it, I had some personal issues, so I started therapy as I am a person who takes her mental health seriously. One of my therapists introduced me to a dog, telling me I should keep a dog because that is the best company you can always have. Wherever you go, you put it in a car, you drive around with it, when you go for a walks, you take it for a walk, you put it on a leash. So that’s how the bond grew, I started falling in love with this animal. As time went on my therapists advised me to start breeding dogs, as I had bonded well with my dog. She not only wanted me to breed them for sale but to share with others on the importance of having a dog for mental health.
Q.4 So how did you get started?
A. In starting, I read a lot and visited some dog farms in the country in an effort to acquire more knowledge. The business has become a major and stable source income, with 14 birth kennels, and over 20 production dogs.
Q.5 You began as a breeder, now you train as well, tell us a little about that?
A. As time went on I increased the scope of my business, venturing into dog training. Which is where we teach your dog obedience and then we teach it to guard. How does it know that this person might be a thief coming inside, what are those things that the dog should look out for? Obedience is teaching it manners, you don’t want it all over the kitchen when you are busy dishing food.
Q.6 You are probably the first woman in this country to venture into this type of business synonymous with men, how has the experience been for you?
A. I am one person who loves challenges. I have always loved doing unique things. Which is why I was attracted to farming from the start. I started as a sheep breeder. Something most women shunned because many men were into. They did not want to be overpowered, but I tried showing my sisters that its possible to pursue any passion as a woman. Do what you love, regardless of male domination. If you do things based on gender roles you end up being frustrated and you eventually fail.
Q.7 So other than customers buying dogs, what new trends have you witnessed?
A. When going on holiday, or just travelling for other reasons, some people love renting our dogs, so they guard their homes in their absence. During festivals there those who want their cars watched too, we get really busy. Sales since inception have been consisted though, when we have a litter, we are always certain that they will all be sold out.
For those who want to go into dog breeding, Van der Westhuizen emphasised the need for avid research and consultation as dog breeding is just like any other business. Once done, she said passion breeds success