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Richard Eichhorn | DRAKYI Tibetan Mastiffs

Richard Eichhorn, Breeder of DRAKYI Kennel


Interview with Richard Eichhorn, Breeder of DRAKYI Tibetan Mastiffs

Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?

Richard Eichhorn: I live outside Los Angeles, on five acres in the mountains overlooking the Antelope Valley in Palmdale, California. While growing up with and owning dogs all my life, I have been “in” purebred dogs for 50 years, breeding and/or exhibiting in the Toy, Hound, Non-Sporting, Herding, and Working Groups.


What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?

Richard Eichhorn: My kennel name is DRAKYI, an amalgamation of Dokyi (native name for the breed) and Dragonquest (my founding co-breeder’s kennel name). Translated as “Dragon Dogs.”


Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?

Richard Eichhorn: Hard to choose, but the short list would have to include MBIS/BISS MULTI CH Formosa Dreamer, MULTI CH Formosa-Drakyi Simba, “Simba,” CH Timberline Barni Drakyi, “Barnes,” MBIS/BISS GCH Drakyi Gold Standard, “Midas,” and MBIS/MBISS GCHS Drakyi Dreamland’s Big Red Dog, “Clifford.”


Which have been my most influential sires and dams?

Richard Eichhorn: The aforementioned Simba and his grandson Barnes have set what has come to be known as my signature DRAKYI type.


Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?

Richard Eichhorn: After 20 years in dogs, it became clear that I needed to expand and move from my suburban home to a larger facility where I could do dogs properly. I live in a log cabin on five acres in a rural, remote area in the foothills of the Angeles Forest. It is a higher and dryer climate, which works well for the breed, with colder weather and occasional snow in the winter months. Pups are whelped in a guest/whelping room, and raised indoors for the first 3-4 weeks with consistent socialization and hands-on attention. They transition to an indoor/outdoor kennel building and yard for exposure to different surfaces and weather conditions.


What is my “process” for selecting Show Puppies? Performance Puppies?

Richard Eichhorn: Evaluations begin on Day One and continue all the way through to the 8th week when final selections and recommendations are made. Having raised 25-plus generations, I know what to look for in conformation and temperament, and how to best fulfill the expectations of owners by their preferences expressed when pairing a puppy to its forever family.


Do I compete in Performance Events? In Parent Club Tests & Trials?

Richard Eichhorn: Personally, I stick to owning, breeding, and judging these days, and occasionally handling a special dog in the Conformation ring. I have provided owners with dogs that have excelled in Performance Tests and Trials over the years.


Is “performance” part of my decision-making when it comes to breeding?

Richard Eichhorn: Yes, insofar as temperament and performance doing the job the breed was meant to do. I pair top-quality dogs with outstanding bloodlines with a focus on health, temperament, structure, and correct movement. Final breeding choices are made with compensation as the priority.


How would I define “conditioning” as it relates to my breed?

Richard Eichhorn: Conditioning includes selection, socialization, nutrition, and exercise in a spacious yard with canine companions.


Are there any health-related concerns in my breed? Any special nutritional needs?

Richard Eichhorn: In Tibetan Mastiffs, there is not a particular health-related concern that is pervasive in the breed. Thanks, in part, goes to Mother Nature in Tibet, and to conscientious breeders who have selected for generations of healthy breeding dogs. Nutritional needs, no… but the breed does best with a naturally supplemented diet and a premium dry food that is void of wheat, corn or soy products.


Do I think my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?

Richard Eichhorn: No. The Tibetan Mastiff is not an easy breed when it comes to ownership and reproduction. The size, coat care, and stubborn, independent disposition are not for the average or inexperienced owner. The irregular and extended annual heat cycles, combined with choosy females, and males that can be reluctant to collect for artificial insemination, make for iffy breeding program results and progress. There tends to be fad wannabe breeders who are in and out of the breed in five years and a couple of generations, not set up or prepared for all it takes to manage such a breed.


Is my breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?

Richard Eichhorn: Yes and no. Yes, in that they are known to be “the defenders of women and children” and reliable guardians, but no when it comes to strangers and guests in the home despite any amount of socialization owners may do. They consider the home, property, family, and animal charges to be under their purview, and need a “time-out” secure side yard/run for when guests are visiting in the home or are outside in the yard. They are not aggressive, but they do prioritize protecting what is theirs.

They also may not appreciate neighborhood children roughhousing with their own family’s children, so not a breed to interact and play with visiting children. Good common sense and responsible ownership are a must. This breed would rather stay home and guard the property than be dragged along to family errands or outings. The best candidates to own the breed are experienced large-dog owners, in a moderate to colder climate, with a spacious fenced yard and a canine companion. They are never apartment, townhouse or condominium dogs.


What is the biggest misconception about my breed? What is my breed’s best-kept secret?

Richard Eichhorn: The biggest misconception is that they are NOT gentle giants and NOT big, fluffy, huggable puppies. They want to be with you and be loved, but tend to interact on their own terms, and can be cat-like in their intelligence and independent thinking. The best-kept secret is that once you have had one, you are going to want more.


They want to be with you and be loved, but tend to interact on their own terms, and can be cat-like in their intelligence and independent thinking.


If I could share a comment or two with judges of my breed, what would I like to say to them?

Richard Eichhorn: Avoid generic type and safe working dog movement. This was a dog of great mastiff type, and more stationary guardian movement. Reward type first, then structure and movement.


Do I have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?

Richard Eichhorn: It’s going to be a bumpy road. If and when you are successful in getting a litter, the greater job is going to be finding the right homes for your puppies. This is NEVER a starter breed when it comes to breeding or ownership. Be mentored by and trust the experts. Keep several generations as close by as possible to evaluate type and the direction of your breeding program, and never outcross to an outcross.


For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Working Dog?

Richard Eichhorn: Back in the days when the Tibetan Mastiff was in the rare breed world, the American Rare Breed Association (ARBA) was having their big annual event in the Atlanta area. The competition was stiff, and my big male, Simba, had been pulled out in front for the final lineup for Best of Breed. On the last go-round, the only thing he wanted was the fragrant, slated Best of Opposite Sex bitch behind him, and despite my best efforts, he flipped over on the ground THREE times to let her catch up, much to the amusement of the judge and crowd (and to my horror). He finally did complete the last leg of the competition and went on to Best of Breed. Tibetan Mastiffs do things on their own terms!