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The craze for exotic breed of man’s best friend, the dog, has become a lucrative business in Ghana in recent times. Unconfirmed reports indicate that there are over 150 dog breeders engaged in the dog business in Accra alone.

Young boys are seen in traffic intersections with puppies in hands while areas near the Achimota forest, Cantonment, East Legon and Teshie are the main centres for the dog trade.

City & Business Guide checks revealed that the price for a puppy depending on the breed sells between GH˘500 and GH˘2,000.

“The dog business is a growing one. More people are appreciating the price of a puppy which until recently was compared to the price of a cow when mentioned,” said Robert Nicole, owner of Roni’s Kennel, one of the leading breeders in the country.

Mr Nicole, who had his first set of dogs- a German shepherd and a Rottweiler- in his teens, never thought of keeping dogs for business.

“It was more of a hobby,” he said but after he crossed his female dogs with the male dogs of the same breed of a friend, he had seven puppies. Though he lost five of the puppies, he later sold them for GH˘100 each when they were eight weeks old.

For the second time, he had eight puppies of which six survived and then when they were old enough to be weaned off their mother, he sold them.

Then he realized his passion for dogs could turn into a profitable business. Today, Mr. Nicole owns a big kennel with over 36 breeds of dogs ranging from Boerboel, Mastiff of different types such as Miniature Bull Terrier, Neopolitan, and the English Mastiff to the American Pit Bull, Great Dane, Chihuahua and the Japanese Tosu.

Since the dogs need enough space to exercise, they are reared on two plots of land in Dansoman, East Legon, Koforidua and Weija where 12 employees handle the care and sales of the dogs. The company also makes use of the services of external trainers and private service providers who groom the dogs.

From four outlets in East Legon, Osu, Kasoa and Spintex, the dogs are sold to anybody who loves dogs. Mr. Nicole’s customers include government officials, former presidents and their wives, expatriates, ministers, entrepreneurs and the general public. The company also sells to security companies who prefer older dogs and specific breeds such as the Boerboel and the Ridge Buck. The price for a puppy depending on the breed sells between $200 and $300, Mr Nicole stated.

To attract customers, Roni’s Kennel resorts to various marketing strategies including word of mouth such as recommendations from customers to others. Besides, the CEO also researches constantly to keep trend with the bred in the system.

He advised buyers and potential buyers to make purchases from recognized breeders who would give them quality for their money.

Among other business such as Roni’s Properties and Roni’s Cleaners, the 33-year-old also owns a dog food outlet, which is the main agent of an American and a British company for Ghana and West Africa.

In future, Mr Nicole wants to expand his business to Takoradi in the Western region, Ghana’s oil hub and Kumasi in the Ashanti region.

“I also want to bring in a plant that would manufacture and process dog food,” said the young CEO who also plans to set up a Ghana Kennel Club which would seek to wipe out breeders who are not “doing the right thing.”

More demand is expected from the growing desire of individuals to buy dogs for keep as pets or for safety and the increasing security companies in the country.

But the President of the Private Veterinary Association, Dr Jonathan Amakye-Anim, is worried that some dog breeders keep dogs in terrible conditions and are not following best practices in the business. “They do not keep the pedigree. They just cross any type of dog,” he said and cautioned dog breeders to register with qualified veterinary officers as well as ensure that vaccination was done by certified vet surgeons.

Dog owners must feed their dogs with the right kind of food, “the sick and energetic dog must not be fed on the same food”, he advised.
A dog trainer, B. J. Kofi Cole, who has been taming dogs for years, believes the dog business would get better with more education.

The expert, who can make wild dogs calm and vice versa, said, “There are five commands a dog can obey but I can generate over 500 commands out of this.”
Source: Emelia Ennin

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