x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Guard dogs snapped up by wealthy Emiratis

A Czech company that provides guard dogs for Hollywood stars says the UAE is one of its fastest-growing markets.

Miroslav Syrovatka, centre, co-founder of K9 Ambassador, training two of the Czech company's dogs.
Miroslav Syrovatka, centre, co-founder of K9 Ambassador, training two of the Czech company's dogs.

ABU DHABI // A Czech company that provides guard dogs for Hollywood stars says the UAE is one of its fastest-growing markets. K9 Ambassador has delivered five dogs to the UAE in as many months and receives at least one call a week from someone in the Emirates seeking to buy one. "When we started the business, we focused on residents from America and Europe, thinking that these would be the main source of customers," said Bohus Mica, the company's director and chief trainer. "But, in fact, most of our enquiries come from high society in the Emirates. It is a fast-growing market for us and I see it as one of our largest purchasers in the future."

The trend towards purchasing guard dogs in one of the safest countries in the world was due in part to "the world ... getting dangerous in all parts", as well as people wanting "something extra" to protect themselves and their families. "People want to feel safe and the dogs instinctively sense danger. They have a better nose, they hear and see things better than humans," said Mr Mica. One customer - "a very big businessman" - who purchased one of the company's dogs in July, "had many security cameras and TV systems around his property. When I asked him why he wanted a dog he said he wanted something extra; that the dog would stop someone jumping over the fence because it would start barking."

However, the company's customers in the Middle East are "first and foremost, looking for a good companion, an obedient pet with a guarding instinct. It is very important that this well-trained and protective dog is a good companion, able to stop a potential threat. Someone who is away a lot wants to know his family is in good hands." Mr Mica, who appeared as a police handler with his dogs in the 2006 film Children of Men, starring Clive Owen and Julianne Moore, said the dogs were carefully selected for training. They include Belgium shepherds, rottweilers, Dobermans, labradors and giant schnauzers, and sell for 6,000 euros (Dh32,500) to 15,000 euros.

"We buy only very social dogs because only these dogs have steel nerves for protection work. We test if they are intelligent, friendly, what their behaviour is like around the house and in public places as well as around other dogs and animals. Weak dogs which show aggression without reason don't have the strong nerves required." Mr Mica, who launched his business only last March with a long-time friend and dog trainer, added that most of the time the dogs were used as "alert and watch dogs" and rarely had to fend off an attacker with their teeth.

He added that dogs headed to the UAE, which has not traditionally embraced dog ownership, "must be very intelligent and clean". "He must do his business in one agreed spot almost on command, he cannot use the pool or go inside the house. Families are also large and the dog must know who is who." He also cautioned: "I see a lot of problems with people who buy big, so-called danger breeds and give them a bad name because they are not experienced dog handlers and don't know how to control them."

loatway@thenational.ae