• Passionate dog breeder explains the carnivores’ contribution to farming
By Francis Mukuzunga
A dog has long been considered as man’s best friend. Indeed, but did you know that one can go into dog breeding as a farming venture?
In Lesotho dogs have many uses in protecting the households as a well as pets. However, most farmers consider them guard dogs and place high value on them for herding cattle, sheep or goats and other animals.
One of the more successful dog breeders in the country is Thapelo Mofammere who actually sees a future in dog breeding. What started as a hobby for him has now grown into a thriving enterprise.
Mofammere is currently breeding Lanks Boerboel, St Bernard and Neapolitan Mastiff type of puppies from his kennel at Ha Mots’oeneng that he says are very popular with farmers and individual households in Lesotho. He supplies dogs to the LM Dog Centre in Maseru and is a member of the South African Dog Breeders Society and the Phaka Dog Breeders Association in Maseru.
“My Lanks Boerboel are classified under licence no. SABBS 0697385. This is my identity number as a dog breeder. There are about 600 breeders of this type of dog worldwide and I am fortunate to be one of them,” he says.
The Boerboel, he says, is the best guard dog suitable for Lesotho’s climatic conditions especially at the pastures where cattle, sheep and goats are grazing. The Neapolitan Mastiff is good for guarding the premises while the St Bernard is mostly used as a rescue dog, particularly within the cold mountains where shepherds need to trace lost sheep or goats that may be stuck up the rocky mountains.
“As a farming venture dog breeding can bring good rewards. Many people want to keep dogs as pets or as a source of wealth and are therefore willing to pay a high price for a well-bred animal. However, for one to go into this industry he or she must love the dogs and be passionate about them,” Mofammere says.
He says although he is employed as a fulltime civil servant in a different sphere, dog breeding has become more than a passion for him and is now an income generating project “just like how people grow chicken and other domestic animals for resale.”
“When one takes up dog breeding they must be prepared to spend a lot of money on the dog feed as well as medication in order to come up with a pure breed that can fetch high income. One can spend as much as M3,500 on dog food and M1,000 on medical care per cycle on an average liter of 10 animals but the rewards are very high.
“I currently have 10 females at the kennel and they bear puppies once or twice a year. On average we get about seven puppies from each bitch and the selling price for puppies of small breeds starts from about M2,500 while the top breeds starts from M3,500 and can reach up to M10,000 or more depending on the breed,” says the passionate dog breeder.
Mofammere’s attachment to dogs started off while he was growing as his father always kept a lot of them around the homestead. Many people began to inquire about the puppies and the breeds that came from the kennel and sooner or later he found himself selling them at a good price as they were all well looked after.
“I then decided to go into dog breeding on a large scale in 2016. I did not get any financial support to start the project as I used the savings I had made from my government job. I found a place where I put the kennels and the rest is now history. I learned more about keeping dogs from different sources in South Africa as well as here in Lesotho as well getting the correct certification for the trade,” he says.
While it is a business that is largely driven by passion, Mofammere says dog breeding has its own challenges, especially here in Lesotho.
“The first challenge is that there is very limited space to properly erect dog farms and secondly security is still a problem as some puppies can be stolen by unscrupulous people. In addition, some diseases such as parvovirus are not easily manageable and can be fatal to the animals such that one can lose a lot of money they have invested,” he says.
“Dog food is still taxable in Lesotho. As a dog breeders’ association we intend to approach government to waive duty on dog food as they have done for all agricultural inputs. This will help us to survive as well,” he adds.
However, Mofammere advises those who want to embark on dog breeding as a farming venture to first have the passion for the animals. They should also specialize on one type of breed at a time in order to maintain focus and avoid cross-breeding. Most importantly, one must always do it right every time in order to get good rewards from the venture.
It seems one of Lesotho’s top dog breeders is not stopping there as he has already lined future prospects of his farming venture.
“In 3-5 years from now I want to expand my business to cater for clients across the border. I also want to have three centres where I can offer dog training services for various clients such as the uniformed forces. And lastly, I want to establish the country’s first ‘dog hotel’ where clients can leave their animals in my care when they go out of the country on business or leisure trips,” the dog master says.
Who knows, with such a high passion for it all, Mofammere’s dream may come true. Only time will tell.