German Shepherds are in high demand among the rich and security agencies in Cameroon. The medium to large-sized working dogs that are known for their intelligence and versatility originate in Germany.
Hundreds of spectators look on as a jury declares Ali as the champion in canine agility and dog sports. The German Shepherd is one of 30 canine contenders from across Cameroon. Dog breeder Taba Boudoulaire, a resident of Bafoussam in western Cameroon, says he brought the one-year-old Ali for the competition because he wanted people to know that dogs can play a role in protecting them amid a high wave of violence in Cameroon.
"We heard that the exhibition was particularly for the German Shepherd dogs. We selected this male for the competition, and we are lucky to see him emerge as the champion."
German Shepherds - from medium to large-sized working dogs - are known for their intelligence and versatility. The breed originates from Germany.
After agility leg of the competition, the 30 canine contenders are taken off to guard their owners' vehicles. In a country where robbery is high, well-trained dogs can play an important role, says Lionel Boudjeke, the promoter of the Cameroon German Shepherd Club. "Our main objective is to market pure breed dogs, particularly the German shepherd because there are many people - many lovers and amateur breeders - who may have good memories of the dog or who have heard about it but who may not recognize or know it."
After his short speech, a six-month-old German Shepard Bosco detects and pins the sweating 'intruder' on the spot until his owner, Authur Pangu, intervenes. "It is still a baby dog. I brought him here to have a taste of the external environment and meet his brothers and sisters."
German Shepherd serves as an ideal family dog. They are considered as good house dogs because of their calm nature and caring temperament. In Cameroon, they can also protect domestic animals and children, Justin Towa, a club member, tells a cheering crowd in Yaounde, Cameroon's administrative capital. "You can leave him with your children without any problem. It can guard them without any problem," Towa said."That is why you also see our police use them at airports. They are susceptible dogs."
In Cameroon, like many parts of Africa, dogs are domestic animals, but little care is given to them. They are mainly used for protection services and hunting. Businessman Ngueh Evans says he opted to use German Shepherds for safety after his night watch organized a robbery at his business premises. "The money that I would use in paying a night watch, I will rather use it to feed the German Shepherd. They are very alert. They sniff out approaching danger or maybe when a thief gets into your vicinity. They quickly alert or make a sign for you to know there is something wrong around your area."
However, affording the dog can be tricky in a country where a third of the country's population lives below the poverty line. One dog costs between $1000 (€ 872) and $2000 in Cameroon; depending on their size, training, and experience. Breeders say one needs a monthly budget of at least $300 to feed at least one dog.