For dog lovers here are the dog breeds available in Kenya. Among the popular breeds are the German Shepherd Dog (GSD), the Rottweiler, the Labrador Retriever and the English Springer Spaniel. There are hundreds of dog breeds but we shall discuss only those that are being bred in Kenya by well-known breeders.
Dog breeds can be divided into three broad categories: large, medium and small breeds.
The German Shepherd Dog
As the name implies, this breed originated from Germany. They weigh about 35 to 40kg and are 55 to 65cm in height. Three varieties of the breed are recognized i.e. the longhaired, the double and the plush coat. The coat is usually black and tan but can have other color combinations. Regular brushing and occasional bathing is recommended for grooming.
They are very strong animals loved by the police for various duties. Best trained from an early age, they are intelligent and obedient animals that easily learn. They are faithful to their masters and easily mingle with children and other pets, cautious with strangers, and always ready to protect their masters. They don’t bark at people aimlessly and only does so under aggression.
But they can become timid and fearful if not firmly trained and socialized, resorting to fear biting. Training should therefore be confident, firm and consistent or else they become rude once they sense that their handlers are weak. Having an independent character and being very energetic the breed is not good indoors, always needing space to channel their excess energy. A daily exercise is recommended for the breed to avoid tendencies to becoming ruthless and destructive.
They are used as guard dogs, for police work, guide for the blind, search and rescue services, and in the military. The GSD also excels in tracking and sports. It has a fine nose useful for sniffing out intruders, drugs, gas leaks and underground mines.
This breed also has its origin in Germany. Being very devoted companion they were used for patrol and guarding the household. The breed is muscular and massive with a powerful body. They weigh about 38 to 59kg and height 56 to 69cm. The color is predominantly black and sometimes with brownish patches. Grooming is easily done by brushing and occasional bathing when necessary.
This is an intelligent breed with high capacity for training. A well trained Rottweiler is very cooperative, mixes well with children, relatives, friends and pets, and very aggressive with strangers, especially those with ill intentions. It has a tendency for unconditional devotion to the family and especially one person. Because of their big size and having a dominant attitude to other dogs, training ought to concentrate on the dog being a pack leader and should start early when the dogs are puppies.
Owners must assert their authority over the dogs. They must be strong minded, calm and firm to be able to handle the big animal. The breed needs a lot of leadership and socialization.
The breed thrives on lots of exercises and is not contented in the backyard. Daily walks, jogs, running in the wood or along a bicycle makes them very happy.
One of the oldest breed in the world, Neapolitan Mastiff is a natural guard dog originating from Italy. Used as war dogs, it was one of the favorites of Alexander the Great.
With the largest male weighing up to 90kg, it is a very serious, massive and powerful dog. The average weight is 74kg and height 65cm. The hair is short and easy to groom. Color ranges from black, brown, grey, or blue-grey.
The breed can be intimidating but is actually affectionate, calm and peaceful, loving especially with children, enjoying family and friends but reserved with strangers. They tend to dominate other dogs and do not socialize with other animals if not brought up together as a puppy. The dog only barks when necessary. Drooling is a common characteristic.
The dog needs a dominant owner who must control them properly.
When indoors the dog is rather inactive. In warm weather shade and water should be provided if at the backyard. Regular exercise is recommended.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback
The breed originated from Zimbabwe where it was used for hunting lions. This fine hunter is a large muscular dog weighing between 29 to 41kg and measures 61 to 69cm in height. Its color ranges from white to red. The short hair is easy to groom, simply requiring brushing once in a while.
The dog is very intelligent and possesses very high stamina which should be nurtured through training and socializing from an early age for them to get along with other pets. A well trained Rhodesian Ridgeback is gentle and very obedient, loyal, devoted to family, independent and aloof to strangers, but sometimes can be rough with children. If bored they can be very destructive displaying a wide range of behavioral problems. A lot of mental and physical exercise is required to prevent their penchant for being uncontrollable and combative with other dogs.
Not everyone can own this dog because they can be very stubborn if they sense that they are stronger in character than their masters. They are not active indoors and are used for hunting, guarding, retrieving, taking care of children and herding animals.
The Labrador Retriever
This is a highly trainable breed that originated from Labrador in England where it was used for pulling fishing nets from water. The average weight is 25 to 34kg and height 53 to 61cm. The smooth coat is black, yellow or chocolate in color, easy to care for by regular brushing and bathing when needed.
The breed loves to play a lot especially in water, their webbed feet assisting them in swimming. This dog has special relationship with people. They make excellent family dogs because of their loyal nature, loving and patient, good natured and very eager and willing to please. But they are indifferent to strangers and can become destructive if they are left too much on their own without physical and mental exercise.
They are moderately active indoors but need an active daily exercise used as a watchdog and rarely as a guard dogs. Being intelligent and easy learning the breed can be trained in a wide range of activities such as tracking, detecting weapon, narcotic and explosive, hunting, retrieving, guiding the blind, service for the disabled, search and rescue and other duties.
The English Springer Spaniel
Originating from England, this is a compact medium sized breed weighing 18 to 25kg reaching a height of 56cm. Because they show the hunter when ready to yell or lurch, they were used for flushing out and springing on game during hunting expeditions and consequently got their name there. The coat color is predominantly black and white but there are other variations such as dark red with white. The bushy fur requires regular grooming including trimming the hair under the ears and feet to avoid infections.
A well trained dog is gentle, friendly and sociable accepting strangers easily. But without clear rules the dog can become frustrated and destructive, where it barks a lot especially if left alone. Sometimes they can get into serious argument with other dogs.
The dog habitually tests the leadership position and does not respond well to harsh discipline. It is sensitive to the tone of the owner’s voice and will not listen if the handler is weak in character. In that case it can easily resort to biting in a bid to take over the leadership role. Therefore the owner must consistently exercise a lot of calm authority and guidance.
Although they get along well with other pets, they are naturally fowl hunters and should not be trusted with birds. The breed easily adapts well to town life and does well indoors if provided with enough exercise. They are trained for hunting, tacking, detecting explosive and drugs, search, agility and performing tricks.
The Doberman Pinscher
A compact and muscular medium sized breed weighing 30 to 40kg and growing to a height of 61 to 71cm. It originated from Germany. The color varies from black, red, blue and fawn. The fur requires little care but regular disinfection is recommended to prevent inflammation and irritation.
They are keen and aggressive animals with lots of energy and strength. They like the company of people but not being isolated in the backyard. Adaptable, highly skilled and versatile, they have been used as watchdogs and guard dogs. All family members need to be firm, consistent and authoritative over the dog, as they can become stubborn if they are allowed to have their own way.
The dog requires regular mental and physical exercise to be well balanced. Their sensitivity to cold makes them unsuitable for outdoor activities. Their excellent sense of smell makes them ideal for tracking, search and rescue, guarding, watching and police and military work. They also make good therapy dogs.
Basenji from Zaire has been used for hunting since early civilization. They weigh 9 to 12kg and measure 38 to 43cm in height. Considered to be the cleanest, they are smooth athletic dogs with pure shiny black, copper, red or a combination of those coat colors. They wash themselves like cats, do not have dog smell therefore very little grooming is required.
The dog is alert, strong, loving and curious. They don’t bark but make some other noises like screaming or howling depending on the mood. Tireless at play, they like climbing fences and chew a lot, so does well with lots of toys if kept at the backyard. They have a strong desire to please but somehow reserved with strangers. They dislike wet weather and cold temperatures. Children should be trained how to handle them.
Differences with owners often arise from mistaking noiselessness for inactivity. The dog frequently and cleverly gets its way by being stubborn as opposed to being charismatic. Mainly used for hunting the dog is recommended to persons with lots of dog experience.
Daily exercises are important for the well balanced dog. Although they are active indoors, they do well when there are two or three more of their kind.
This smallest of all the dog breeds originated from Mexico where it has been used as companions. It has an average weight of 1 to 3kg and a height of 15 to 23cm. Two types are known, one with long furs and another with short hair. Color varies from white, black, silver, blue, tan and fawn. Occasionally brushing the short haired or daily brushing the long haired keeps them well groomed.
Preferring warm weather and enough space for exercise the dog is intelligent, quick to learn and respond well to training. Although very loyal and form good companions they sometimes can be strong willed if not trained and handled well. Because humans tend to treat them differently from bigger dogs, as in babysitting, they develop a habit of being attached to the owner. In the presence of strangers they become suspicious keeping as close as possible to the owner. If given a lot of leeway they become jealous and start fighting with visitors and other dogs. Sometimes even children are not spared. Eventually the dog becomes stressed and untrustworthy. This condition is called small dog syndrome.
Training with positive reinforcement is recommended starting right from an early age. Regular walks and exercise should be done to prevent the tendency of becoming hot-tempered, protective and untrustworthy with kids. The dog is not recommended for children if training is not done properly.
The breed has its origin in Germany. The interest by Queen Victoria for this breed led to its popularity. They weigh 1 to 3kg and 18 to 30cm height. Common colors are black, white, orange, grey and brown. They have long coats which should be brushed frequently.
The dog is intelligent, learn easily, loyal and very noisy. Eating can be a problem at times because of their picky nature. They are well liked because of their proud and lively nature. They get along well with other dogs and domestic animals if properly socialized and guided with clear rules and limits. Very good at learning tricks, they can be trained to perform certain routines like barking a number of times when a certain event occurs. But their independent nature and excessive courage towards bigger dogs requires owners to offer them protection. Likes other tiny dogs they can easily fall victim to small dog syndrome where they become demanding and exhibit unwanted behavior such as aggression to humans and other dogs, separation anxiety, nervousness and excessive barking in a bid to tell the owners what they need to do. The owner must therefore exercise authority. They make good watchdogs and indoor companions for the elderly.
This is a small breed that originated from Malta where they got their name. Royalty all over the world loved and owned this breed.
They weigh between 3 and 4kg and measures 20 to 25cm in height. They either have long white or ivory colored silky hair which must be combed daily. Some owners opt to clip the long hair to ease grooming.
Being highly intelligent dogs they learn tricks quickly and are always ready to sound an alarm in case of any suspicion. They love to play outdoors and go easy with other domestic animals. Like other tiny dogs, they can develop the small dog syndrome and be jealous and irritable with children if over-pampered.
This breed with roots from Australia is a sturdy short little dog. The weight varies from 4 to 6kg and the height 23 to 28cm. Their stiff long coat with different shades of blue and need no clipping is usually easy to care, requiring just a few brushings a week.
The Terrier is an intelligent tough cheeky dog that has the courage of a big dog, very energetic, loyal and affectionate to the owners. It can be independent preferring to follow its own ideas therefore the owner should always be strict. They get well with other dogs but like to chase small animals outside the house. Their keen hearing and eyesight, high responsiveness and protectiveness make them excellent guard dogs. Although they like to bark and must be stopped from barking, the dog is hardly irritable.
Again like other small dogs care should be taken to avoid developing the small dog syndrome. Children should be taught how to lead them. Fairly active indoors, they are good dogs to travel with, but care should be taken not to let them roam freely because of their affinity to chase. Other uses include the control of rodents and snakes, shepherds, companions and watchdogs.
This breed originating from Japan has long hair that is always white giving it an elegant look. They weigh between 5 to 10kg and measure 30 to 38cm. The hair should be combed regularly and the dog bathed only when necessary.
The dog is a playful intelligent and high spirited animal that is always alert and obedient. Quite cautious with strangers, they make good watchdogs alerting its owners of any suspicious activities. Easy to train, they are normally good with children and mixes well with other dogs and pets. If allowed they can really bark. They are also prone to small dog syndrome so care should be taken when handling. They are good indoors and easily adapts to the owners lifestyle because of their submissive nature. Mostly they are used as companions or in canine games such as fly-ball contests and agility.