Guide to the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America Collection (1976-2007)

2008:003
AKD 6.5

6 Cubic Feet
Collection Processed by Andrew D’Ambrose

PROVENANCE
A gift from Karen Kleinhans, President (2007) for the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America.

Madeline and Ernest Albright, with Ch. Down-Homes China Souel, the first Shar-Pei registered with the CSPCA

ARRANGEMENT
The collection is arranged into one series with two sub-series consisting of (1) Publications (a) The Barker (b) Stud book Registries.

The publication sub-series consist of the bi-monthly magazine “The Barker”, and the annual stud book registry. The magazine contains issues all the way from 1978, and up until the July/August/September issue from 2007. They are arranged from oldest to newest. Issues from 1978 to 1980 are contained in folders, and are published as a loose-leaf newsletter. Thereafter, starting in April 1981, the publication begins to take on a binded magazine format. The other sub-series is the stud book. It covers the years 1974 to 1993. They are arranged into first alphabetical listings by year, and then by numerical listings by year.

HISTORICAL INFORMATION

Cover of the August 1992 AKC Gazette; Photo taken by Ron Willbie
The Club
Being a fairly new breed, the Chinese Shar-Pei was not recognized by the AKC until 1992. The Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America (CSPCA), which was started by the common interest of the breeds’ first few owners, was the breeds’ only parent club.

The club’s first meeting was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Sanders in Ashland, Oregon, on 26 April 1974. At the time, there were only 13 known owners of the Chinese Shar-Pei, with 27 dogs among them. Members met because of a shared interest in the, at the time, rare and dying breed. At the first meeting, they covered such topics such as: voting on “Chinese Shar-Pei” as being the official name for the breed; wondering whether they should attempt to get the old standard from the Hong Kong Kennel Club (HKKC), or draft a new set of official standards; discussing the two major body-types commonly associated with the breed. Also, during that meeting, the first committee members were nominated and voted in. These positions included: Carl Sanders, President; Lois Alexander (now Lois Alexander Stadt), Secretary; John Purcell, Treasurer; Ernest Albright, Historian; and Dee Seas, Registrar.

Down-Homes Kung Fu, photo taken in 1978. He would have been 5 years old

During the next several meetings, Renee Lew had been elected to be the club representative to the American Kennel Club, and proposed to begin submitting an annual report to the AKC. The first report was produced and submitted in April of 1975. In November of 1974, club members voted to have the Chinese Shar-Pei join the National Rare Breeds Club. It was also during this time that club member Lois Alexander wrote up a set of Confirmation Championship Rules and a points system. In April of 1976, members wrote up a 32-statement “Official Standard of the Chinese Shar-Pei of America”, which later became the basis for the official club registry.

Over the next few decades, the club, along with the breed, gained much attention leading to a rise in popularity. On 17 June 1978, the CSPCA held its first Chinese Shar-Pei Specialty Show in Hinckley, Illinois. Following this show, the CSPCA was supposed to hold its 6th annual meeting, but due to threats of tornados touching down, the meeting was postponed. In January 1988, the Shar-Pei was admitted into the Miscellaneous Group of the AKC. This was the first step in the movement of the CSPCA getting recognition for the Shar-Pei by the AKC. Later, in 1992, the Chinese Shar-Pei was moved into the Non-Sporting group of the AKC, finally allowing the breed to compete for certification points, and to obtain the title of “Champion”. At the American Kennel Club meeting held on 8 June 1993, not but 19 years after they had their first meeting, the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America was elected in as a member. That year, the CSPCA held its 16th annual national specialty show.

Sketch representation of an ideal a Chinese Shar-Pei.

The Breed
Many things set the unique Chinese Shar-Pei apart from every other breed. For one, the name is unique. The words “shar-pei” translates as either sand-skin or rough-skin. This is an accurate description, since the Shar-Pei was bred to have a very rough “horse coat”. Their wrinkles, whether through natural evolution or selective breeding, are unique to this dog. Their face, often described as being like that of a “hippopotamus”, and with their deep set eyes, give the Shar-Pei a look often described as being stern and unmoving. The blue/black pigmentation of the tongue is also a rare trait to have, found in only a handful of animals worldwide.

The Chinese Shar-Pei as a breed may not actually be as ancient as previously thought. Unfortunately, due to many changes in power in China, not much is definite about the history of the breed. One of the more accepted theories is that it was once a multi-talented working dog on lower-class farms, doing various jobs like catching vermin, herding livestock, and even guarding the grounds. Because of its physical properties, the wrinkles, the short and abrasive coat, and its sunken eyes and small ears, it is also commonly accepted that this dog was used for fighting, even bred for it during a time when dog fights were popular. Due to the rise in trade from the Roman Empire in the west, larger dogs, such as Mastiffs, found their way into the fighting ring, proving to be too much for the Shar-Pei and thus leading to the Shar-Pei’s return to guarding and other farm work. Because of the similarity in the rare blue/black pigmentation of the mouth, many are quick to jump to the conclusion that the Shar-Pei is distantly related to the Chow Chow, also from the China region. Aside from the unusual pigmentation, no other evidence holds up this theory.

Matgo Law and Ernest Albright;
Photo by Jane Langdon

When Mao Tse Tung took over the new Peoples Republic of China in 1943, he declared dogs and other pets a luxury, and they became heavily taxed. Many could not afford these expenses, especially those times of hardships. Soon after, Mao Tse Tung declared that pets should be a status symbol of the privileged, and soon after called for the extermination of pets of anyone below elite status. Most dogs were executed, and it was then that the Shar-Pei was almost wiped out. Many people managed to smuggle the animals into British occupied Hong Kong, Thailand, and Canada.

One noteworthy individual is Matgo Law, owner of the Down-Homes Kennel, who was one of the first to import Chinese Shar-Peis to the United States. He was the leader at the forefront of the “Save the Shar-Pei” movement. His letter was published in the April 1973 issue of DOGS Magazine.1 It was his dogs that were some of the first to be imported to the United States. Over 2000 requests in the U.S. were made to adopt a Shar-Pei from Hong Kong.

Back in the 1970s and 80s when inbreeding was used in an attempt to bring back the species. Major problems began to show up, due to poor breeding habits and people trying to bring out negative traits to sell more puppies more quickly. Problems one might see with larger breeds, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, became a major problem with the breed for a long time.

Ch. Sis Q’s Fu Man Chew with owner Jack Small, earning his champion title

Throughout history, there are several Shar-Pei’s that stand out in particular. One of these dogs being Down-Homes Kung Fu, the first Chinese Shar-Pei to be imported to the United States and be registered with the CSPCA. Whelped on 28 May 1973, he was imported by Matgo Law, and arrived in the United States on 6 July 1973, where he was picked up by De-Jon and Victor Seas of Caledonia, Ohio. Another dog of magnitude is Ch. Sis Q’s Fu Man Chew. Whelped on 21 October 1978, he was the first Shar-Pei to receive a confirmation title.

Some fairly common health problems still remain with the Shar-Pei as a side- effect to the frequent use of inbreeding. One problem the Shar-Pei is predisposed to is entropion, or a genetic problem that causes the rolling of the eyelids so that they make contact with the eye ball. It can be a problem if it does not fix itself. While minor surgery is still an option for fixing the problem usually only 1 out of 50 may actually need any procedures. The easiest way of getting rid of these health issues altogether, like any other problem, is to avoid breeding with dogs who have had or whose line has shown signs of this disorder.

The only known picture of Down-Homes China Love, sister of China Souel

With all those wrinkles, one might think that there would be many skin-related problems. While the occasional dog may have a problem directly related to the wrinkles, most of the few skin-related health issues stems from allergies and demodectic mange. While both of these problems were common 20 years ago, they no longer pose as much of a threat.

SCOPE AND CONTENT
Series I consists mostly of the bi-monthly newsletter/magazine, “The Barker”, as well as copies of stud book registries, both going back to 1976. The Barker contains many official reports, such as: meeting minutes; treasures’ reports; the board of directors and standing committees and contact information; president reports; present breed standards; voting updates and results; new member updates, etc. The Barker also houses less official content such as an editor’s corner, health care articles, show information, human interest articles, interviews, as well as pages upon pages of advertising.

When The Barker started (the collection in the archives starts in 1976), it was merely a newsletter typed up in small quantities for the few members that were still around since the start of the club. In the 1980s, the newsletter took on a new, magazine-like look that updated more consistently and on a regular basis. The January/February issue of 1981 was the first bi-monthly issue that started the trend that continues to this day. In 1984, the November/December issue was the first to have a color picture on the cover, as opposed to just black and white or just printed on.

Some things to note with The Barker would be the 15 September 1978 issue, which contains a detailed history of the club’s activities to that date. While the collection only covers the first few years of their activities, one can see how the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America worked at the time, and what trials they had to go through to gain recognition of the breed. Also noteworthy is the breed standard which is printed in each issue of The Barker. One is able to see the evolution of the breed standard as more and more people became interested in the breed, and thus adding their opinion of what the ideal Shar-Pei is.

The stud book registry is arranged into two groups; either numerical order or alphabetical order, both covering the same years. All stud books were removed from any bindings, including staples, plastic snap-on bindings, etc.

Click here for inventory

1- June Collins, “History and Qualities of the Chinese Shar-Pei”, DogWorld, July 1982
2-Alice Bixter, “Meet the Breed: The Chinese Shar-Pei”, DogWorld, June 2006, Pg 32
3 Ibib, Pg 36