Life & Work

Kenyans hunt for rare dog breeds as companions - VIDEO


Darren Peters (center) with some of his dogs named Frank Irene Disel (right) and Teleois Sheba during the 5th Conformation Appraisal 2022. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

For years, Kenyans who love dogs as pets and companions have kept German Shepherds or Japanese Spitz. Now rare breeds of dogs are finding homes on apartment balconies or bedrooms of pet lovers.

Since owning a pet dog is no longer frowned on as bourgeois affection in Kenya, there is a small group of devotees willing to pay lots of money and go to great lengths for the privilege of owning a Boerboel, or Dachshund, or Tibetan Mastiff or Great Danes.

Samuel Amenya is one of them. He is in love with the Boerboel, a type of dog that has thick muscles, powerful jaws and that grows up to 90 kilogrammes, so much so that he is the chairman of Boerboel Association of East Africa (BAEA).

At Nairobi’s Jamhuri Grounds, I meet him with a group of dog lovers who have come to showcase the beauty and strength of their Boerboels.

The Boerboel club was started with the motive of teaching people all there is to know about the particular dog breed and its basic handling.

“One of the reasons we started the club is to teach people how to socialise Boerboels because these are not dogs that like to be locked up in cages all day. They want to move around and interact with people because they are social dogs,” says Samuel.

He says Boerboels are gradually gaining praise in Kenya because of the sense of security they bring.

“People mostly go for Boerboels because of security. Its size will repulse people. Then it’s a family dog. It’s friendly based on the setting in which it is raised, calm but that does not mean that it is docile. The other quality that people love about the dog is its short coat, which is low maintenance,” Samuel says.

Because the dog is huge and strong, obedience is the first thing taught to a Boerboel. Without it, the dog can prove to be dangerous.

“The reason we advocate for obedience first is that the dog is big and strong. You can’t wrestle with it. With obedience, a Boerboel protects you with its life,” he adds.

Adil Butt, also a Boerboel owner and breeder is the secretary of BAEA. He has kept Boerboels for 13 years now.


Boerboel Association of East Africa (BAEA) Honorary Secretary Adil Butt poses with one of the dogs during the 5th Conformation Appraisal 2022. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

“I have eight Boerboels. My family and I live on a farm in Laikipia where we keep them. I’m a breeder as well. My son is two years old and he interacts quite well with the dog. The key factor is to raise children with dogs. Many people have the misconception that a dog is not part of the family, if you keep a dog in a kennel outside, there’s no way he will be part of the family,” he says.

Cost of Boerboels

Being exceptionally big, they eat more and have a higher cost of care compared to a German Shepherd or a smaller dog breed. “But then again, for people who are passionate about the dog, they do not look at the cost, it’s passion,” Adil says.

The cost varies in terms of quality.

“Top breeders will always charge higher prices regardless of the breed, and we know there are German Shepherds that sprint for around Sh100,000 to Sh120,000. The price factor is not about the breed, it’s more about the quality of the dog. Some Boerboels go for Sh10,000 and some go for Sh100, 000,” he added.

Darren Peters is another Boerboel owner, breeder, and member of the BAEA club. He got his first Boerboel in 1998 and currently owns three; two males and one female.

“Once you have a Boerboel, you can’t go back. They are very good family dogs, and their temperament is quick fantastic. I like getting my dogs from top breeders so that I can be able to replicate the bloodlines and the lineage,” said the breeder.


Judge Jan Daniel Human (left) watches over as Darren Peters pets down his Beorboel named Frank Irene Disel during the 5th Conformation Appraisal 2022. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

Darren who bought his first puppy from a veterinarian in South Africa says just like every other mammal, you can train Boerboels to be whatever you want. They say there are no bad dogs, just bad owners.

“You can train a dog to be a monster, to be aggressive. But naturally, a Boerboel is not a Rottweiler. If I have a guest and I tell him to sit he’s not just going to get up and attack. My children’s friends come and play with them,” he says.

However, having a Boerboel for a pet is quite costly because of importing or buying from local breeders. Feeding is another expensive factor because being a large dog means it feeds a lot, and not just any food. A lot of meat has to be incorporated into its diet.

“For instance, a puppy that is 12 weeks old could cost you about Sh458,200 ($4,000) or even more if imported, and all of mine are imported. Feeding is also very expensive because I feed my dogs steak, chicken, rice, and also high-quality kibbles, every day,” Darren says, adding that if there is something new Boerboel owners need to know is that a Boerboel can eat more portions of food and water than a German Shepherd, otherwise the dog will never look as impressive as it should.

“In the morning, I feed them kibbles and meat, or raw eggs, in the afternoon they eat cooked chicken and rice. I also feed them raw meat for breakfast three times a week.”

Boerboel must also be exercised every day.

“I pay a guy Sh10,000 to walk them every day for an hour. They also have clean blankets, their kennel is cleaned every day, and every weekend they have a wash,” Darren says.

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