Ex banker turns a hobby of breeding dogs to a lucrative business
By Brenda Wambui
If sowed on a fertile land, entrepreneurial seeds can sprout into invincible shoots capable of weathering even the worst of droughts. Such is the story of Ambrose Mwachilumo, a forty year old corporate trainer who also breeds dogs. His business is located along Limuru road. Before venturing into business, Mwachilumo worked with blue chip financial institutions including: Standard Chartered Bank, Old Mutual and ABC Bank. He quit formal employment to become a cooperate trainer. Mwachilumo breeds dogs as a side hustle. Having been brought up in a family that reared dogs, he developed an interest in that field at an early age. “In order to succeed in the business, one requires a considerable amount of thought, research and learning,” says Mwachilumo adding that entrepreneurship is not for the faint hearted. Breeding dogs as a business is quite rewarding since it is not a trodden path. The demand for pedigree dogs in particular is quite high and they fetch premium prices in the market. Breeding dogs is quite delicate. Newly born puppies for instance cannot see, hear or walk and they depend entirely on their mother for survival. The canine mother nourishes the puppies besides meeting all their basic needs in the first ten days of their life. It is therefore the responsibility of the farmer to feed the canine mother so that it can in turn take care of the puppies. The journey The first step is selecting a breed with a high demand in the market. “Most customers prefer purely bred dogs as opposed to mixed ones (otherwise known as mutts),” says Mwachilumo. In the same breath, some breeds are hard to rear because of their aggression – examples being Pit Bulls and Rottweilers. Secondly, it is important to locate the business near the target market. “If your business is not accessible to the potential customers, then generating income becomes a tall order,” he emphasizes. The breeding process starts by mating selected dogs with the intent of maintaining or producing specific qualities and characteristics. When dogs reproduce without such intervention, their off springs’ characteristics are determined by natural selection. Breeding relies on the science of genetics. Therefore, the breeder with the knowledge of canine genetic, health and the intended use of the dog stands a good chance of achieving his goals.
What started as a hobby has turned out to be a very lucrative business for Mwachilumo. He is a proud owner of three male dogs – two Bullmastiff and one Italian Mastiff. Bullmastiff is a breed of dog that is very big in size and grows at a very slow pace. In addition, it has a solid build and a small muzzle. Moreover, it is highly protective, reliable, loyal, reserved, alert, docile, calm, powerful, loving and courageous by nature. On the other hand, Italian Mastiff is a dignified and good-natured dog. Loving and affectionate towards its family, its calm demeanour makes it a good companion for older children. “I started rearing these breeds in 2009 and I sell one at Kshs. 40, 000,” he says.
Mwachilumo is very passionate about this business and that is why it has been thriving over the years. He gets customers on a regular basis because his dogs are healthy and very attractive. “I take my dogs for a walk in the neighbourhood and in the process, prospective customers see them,” he says adding that the walk has proved to be a very effective way of marketing his business. Standing out “The secret of my success in this business lays in the fact that I take utmost care of my dogs,” says the entrepreneur. To start with, he feeds them very well. “I personally cook for my dogs and I do not feed them with leftovers,” Mwachilumo observes.
The Bullmastiff breed for instance does very well on raw diet like apples, bananas and strawberries. They also love high quality food that is sold at premium prices in the market. Nevertheless, one should not feed them with acidic fruits because it causes them to diarrhoea. Mwachilumo also observes that dogs should be fed with several small meals (instead of one big meal) in a day to prevent them from bloating. In the same breath, they should not be fed with salty food. He also personally grooms his dogs. To that end, he uses a leash, washcloths, shampoo and towels. “To start with, one should wet the washcloth and clean the dog’s face with water, before cleaning its ears with dry ear powder,” Mwachilumo advises. “Then, wet your dog from the back of its head to the tail and pour shampoo down its spine,” he adds. “ Afterwards, rinse the dog from the back of its neck to the tail and dry it carefully from head to toe,” he emphasizes. There is a shampoo that is specially made for grooming dogs and one should therefore not use the one that is meant for human beings. Mwachilumo also applies a pesticide at the back of the dogs’ necks in order to free them from ticks and fleas. It lasts for up to two months. In the same vein, he takes them for a walk daily and occasionally, he jogs with them. “You should neither cage the dogs nor tie them because they prefer roaming around the compound,” he cautions. When he travels, he either engages a caretaker for the dogs or takes them to a boarding facility which costs him a lot of money. Mwachilumo further points out that it is important to engage the dogs in physical exercises because it stimulates them mentally, hence keeping them happy. Most importantly, their kennels should always be clean and warm. One should also take the dogs to veterinary doctors on a regular basis to ensure that they are in good health. Over and above everything else, Mwachilumo gives his customers exemplary experience and this has contributed to the fast growth of his business. “Delighted customers give me repeat business as well as referrals,” he says. To create more awareness about the business, he is planning to embark on a serious online marketing campaign. In a world that is characterized by a lot of hustle and bustle, pets (for instance cats and dogs) offer one an opportunity to unwind through their unconditional love and faithfulness. Consequently, there is more to this business than just making money.