SchipperkeBreed Type: Debate whether it is Spitz or Sheep dog
Country of Origin: Belgium
Popular Names: “Little Boatman,” “Little Black Fox,” “Tasmanian Black Devil”
Size: Small
Height: (At the withers) Males 27.5 – 32.5 cm, Females 25 – 30 cm
Weight: 5.5 – 8 kg
Best suited as: Pet or hunting dog with an active owner or family
Lifespan: 15 – 17 years

The Schipperke is descended from an ancient sheepdog. They look very similar to the American Eskimo breed.

The Schipperke is a small, black, double-coated breed with a long ruff around the neck and a longer strip of hair that runs down the back towards the tail. The guard hairs are long and harsh while the undercoat is fluffy and soft. The fur on its face tends to be a bit softer than that on the body. They have culottes, which is longer hair on their hind legs. Most are born with a tail, but in countries that permit it, the tail is usually docked or de-tailed the day after birth. The Shipperke’s ears are small and stand up straight on the head.

The Schipperke dog is short and stocky, with a fox-like face. Even slim dogs look thick due to the way their coat stands. Their eyes are small, dark, and oval-shaped, with a placement very high on the head. They have small black noses.

Shipperkes were bred in Belgium, in the Flemish province in the early 1500s. Not much is actually known about their origins, other than that they descend from an ancient miniature sheep dog. They were used to hunt vermin, both on land and sea. Bargemen used the dogs to nip at the heels of towing horses to get them going, as vermin hunters on board, and as security dogs that would bark when anyone approached the boat. These little dogs took to the water so well that they were called “Little Boatmen” by the sailors. To this day, Schipperkes love water and are often found aboard seafaring vessels of all types.

The Schipperke dog was successfully used by the Belgian Resistance to deliver messages between resistance cells and hideouts during World War II. 

The Schipperke may be a small dog, but it has loads of personality. Full of curiosity, enthusiasm, and spunk, this dog always wants to play. They are smart and stubborn, so some basic dog training experience would be beneficial for people wanting a dog of this breed.

Schipperke dogs can adjust to life in the city or the country, in a large house or a small apartment. If they get enough exercise, they are happy living wherever their owner lives.

The Schipperke make great guard dogs since they are suspicious of strangers, but do need strictly enforced barking rules to avoid them getting carried away. Schipperkes can get along with cats and other dogs if raised with them, but early and often socialization is needed to ensure the dog doesn’t develop dog aggression, especially with dogs of the same sex. Never trust a Schipperke with a pet rodent, since their hunting instinct will cause the rodent’s demise.
Because of the Schipperke’s dominant personality and quick temper, they are sometimes untrustworthy around small children.

Always keep your dog on-leash when in an unfenced area, because the Schipperke’s vermin-hunting instincts will have it chasing after squirrels and rabbits, which can be dangerous and unsettling. Do make sure your dog comes when called.
Training must be consistent and fair. Their strong-willed personality will assert itself during training, but all owners must be patient – especially when trying to housebreak your Schipperke puppy. It is very important that you not allow your untrained Schipperke to roam your house, because if he decides that the floor is the best place to relieve itself, it very quickly becomes a bad habit. Teach him early to do his business outside and keep him crate trained until he learns it. Consistent praise when he uses the outdoor bathroom will help you with your endeavor. Be prepared for it to take a bit longer for him to catch on compared to other breeds.

Care and Grooming
As mentioned, the Schipperke needs lots of exercise or else he will develop destructive, hyper-active tendencies. At least one hour of vigorous exercise each day is required to keep a Schipperke happy and busy. They love obedience and agility trials, flyball, scent hurdle, and conformation shows. One would also make a great jogging or rollerblading companion.

The Schipperke is a moderate shedder, with the tendency to “blow” its coat several times a year. During this time, warm baths may help remove the loose undercoat – which in turn shortens the shedding period. Otherwise, these dogs need brushing once a week to keep their coats in good condition.

If you live on a houseboat or other enclosed space with limited play area, a small investment of a treadmill for your dog – and you – will be worth its weight in gold. You can easily teach a dog to run on a treadmill for exercise, and this will fulfill his daily exercise requirements if you are not in sight of land.

On the whole, the Schipperke breed is healthy and mostly free from genetic disorders. They are prone to hip problems, so owners should pay careful attention to their dog’s food intake to ensure they don’t get overweight – this can exacerbate these issues. Other diseases and disorders that affect Schipperke dogs are cataracts, hypothyroidism, Legg-Calve-Perthes, and progressive retinal atrophy. Most live an average of 16 years or more, without incident. Always get a dog from a reputable breeder to avoid health problems in your dog.

Suitability As A Pet
Some Schipperkes do perfectly fine with small children, as long as they are raised from a pup around babies and toddlers. But because of their quick temper and intolerance toward irritation, they are not to be trusted alone around small children. They do fine around respectful older children.

These dogs need to be in a household where all of the human companions have asserted their “pack leader” status.

Schipperke Dog Organisations in Australia
 No club information listed

Schipperke Dog Organisations in the UK
Schipperke Breed Rescue

Schipperke Dog Organisations in the US
Central Rockies Schipperke Club of Greater Denver

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