The Dog Duchess helps you celebrate your pets special occasion with tasty treats and custom cakes

Pet bakery chief executive Kaylee Barbosa with her dog Zara, the pet that inspired her to start her entrepreneurial journey. Image: Supplied.

Pet bakery chief executive Kaylee Barbosa with her dog Zara, the pet that inspired her to start her entrepreneurial journey. Image: Supplied.

Published Feb 15, 2024


The pet sector in South Africa, valued at about R7 billion by one of the largest retailers in the country, Shoprite, is seeing opportunities mushroom for small businesses.

This was the case for Kaylee Barbosa, chief executive of her pet bakery business “The Dog Duchess”, based in Fourways, Johannesburg.

The Dog Duchess provides a range of handcrafted custom cakes, treats and kibble boosters made from natural ingredients.

Barbosa says running the business is now her full-time job, after having worked in the classic automotive industry for nine years.

On starting her business journey, she told Business Report: “The Dog Duchess began in 2021, inspired by the challenges we faced when our beloved dachshund, Zara, underwent a back operation at a young age. After her back op, we were left with very little information to go on, and we were put on a path of mountains of medication that racked up bills. That only fixed the problem at hand, but did not help with prevention, and that’s when we noticed there was a massive gap in the pet industry for natural and cost-effective remedies that provided prevention and natural treatment.”

Chief executive of The Dog Duchess, Kaylee Barbosa. Image: Supplied.

“Through consultations with experts, extensive research and a lot of love for animals, we decided to open our knowledge to the world and we dedicated ourselves to preventing such hardships for other dogs and their owners. We embarked on a mission to revolutionise the pet treats industry by offering a delightful range of handcrafted custom cakes, treats and kibble boosters made from only the finest and natural ingredients that are not mass produced and that actually contain nutrition,” she said.

On the challenges she faced in setting up the business, Barbosa said: “A mix of ingredient sourcing and trying to find reliable suppliers with high quality, pet-safe ingredients, as well as recipe development and creating recipes that met our nutritional goals and dietary requirements (making it a huge trial-and-error process). And making sure our website/online store was suitable and user-friendly.”

As with many businesses in the food industry, Barbosa says the constant food price increases are currently one of her biggest challenges.

“Economic uncertainty will always be a big challenge, while trying to maintain the same high-quality products at the best possible price for our clients. We are also constantly watching the current trends so that we can keep up with them and stand out from the rest of our competitors. We also like to give back to our community, and even though we want to save and help every organisation, we find it to be challenging on who we choose and who we help next,” she said.

The pet industry in the country has shown massive growth in recent years, but Barbosa’s resilience keeps her business thriving.

Kaylee Barbosa’s pet, Zara. Image: Supplied.

She said: “The pet industry has always been big, but over the past three years we have noticed a lot of people and companies have now jumped on the bandwagon for gourmet treats. What once was a luxury product for dogs has become a mass-produced product, which makes it difficult for small businesses that are building a company from scratch and that don’t have the financial aid such as these bigger company’s have access to.”

Barbosa said she hopes to open her own Dog Duchess store one day.

“We hope to constantly keep growing and constantly build new relationships, and our dream is to one day have our very own store... where pets and their owners can come and enjoy a doggy-safe facility while enjoying our freshly-baked treats,” she said.

One of the Dog Duchess creations.


She said all products were made with the highest quality A-grade 100% organic ingredients.

“Even though a lot of our ingredients can be consumed by humans, a lot of people don’t realise that every ingredient aids in a specific ailment. Such as sweet potato, if peeled and boiled with no added ingredients, it makes for fantastic healthy bowel movement, it provides natural collagen, which naturally promotes joint and bone health, naturally decreases inflammation and boosts the immune system. Fresh basil, rosemary and oregano, if taken moderately, may naturally strengthen the heart, naturally slow down the ageing process and may naturally protect against cancer,” Barbosa said.

“At The Dog Duchess, we understand that pets deserve the same level of quality and attention as any other family member. That is why we uphold rigorous standards in all aspects of our work, ensuring that every product we offer is not only drool-worthy, but also packed with essential nutrients to promote their overall health and well-being.

“We take pride in our commitment to providing excellent customer service, going above and beyond to satisfy the needs of both pets and their owners. Our team of dedicated pet lovers and nutrition experts is driven by a common goal – to enhance the lives of dogs and celebrate the magic they bring into our world.

“As a company, The Dog Duchess pet bakery stands for more than just culinary excellence; it represents a genuine and unwavering love for animals. We believe that every dog deserves the royal treatment, and that is precisely what we offer – a regal dining experience for our precious canine companions,“ Barbosa said.