Type: Companion Dog

Height: Females: 9 - 12 inches; Males: 11 - 13 inches.

Weight: 7 - 18 lbs.

Life Span: 16 - 18 years. This is a long lived breed.

Litter Size: 3 - 7 puppies.

Country of Origin: Belgium

Activity: Medium - High

Watch-dog: High. Nothing escapes their attention.

Guard-dog: Medium. Their small size does not make them the best guard-dog, although they will defend if possible.

Description: The Schipperke is an independent little dog who makes a well-behaved, loyal and affectionate pet. They are undemanding and devoted to their owner, enjoying being a part of the family. Curious about everything in their surroundings, the Schipperke is lively, alert and at times independent. They can be excellent watchdogs as well as excellent guards. Small as they are, they were once used for guarding canal boats in Europe. The Schipperke is watchful, courageous and perky. They are sharp, kind in nature and a joy to own. A naturally clean dog, Schipperkes will take care of their own grooming and need minimal attention from their owners. They are a small dog, covered in abundant, harsh, black fur. They have perky ears, and a short, thick body. They have a foxy expression. The tail is docked or, when natural, creates a thick plume. They are quaint-bodied and very adaptable to most environments.

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Colors: Black, but the undercoat can be slightly lighter. Outside the USA other solid colors are permissible. The FCI allows for chocolate, sable, or cream as well.

Coat: Abundant and dense, with longer hair on the neck, shoulders, chest and back of rear legs. It is dense, straight, with a ruff, cape, jabot, and culotte (this means there is stand-off fur on parts of the body, with the ruff describing the neck, the cape for the shoulders, the jabot for the chest, and the culotte for the backs of the rear legs).

Temperament: Schipperkes are alert, loyal, and curious. They are perky and attentive. Alert and watchful, the Schipperke makes an excellent watchdog. They are courageous. Schipperkes are wary with strangers and naturally have tendencies that alarm dogs have. They have instincts to hunt small animals, and are not good with smaller pets. They get along well with children as long as they are socialized. Schipperkes are affectionate with family and friends. They have great endurance, and are highly adaptable to different environments.

With Children: Yes, if properly socialized and supervised.

With Pets: Yes, if properly socialized and supervised.

Special Skills: Vermin destroyer and family pet.

Care and Training: Comb or brush a Schipperkes coat regularly with a firm bristle brush, dry shampoo when necessary. They do not require much coat care, as they are catlike in their cleanliness. Exercise should consist of a daily walk and free play in a yard or park. Training must begin early as Schipperkes are intelligent, curious and stubborn and do not like to come when they are called.

Learning Rate: High. Obedience - Low. Problem Solving - High.

Special Needs: Exercise, grooming, and socialization.

Living Environment: Schipperkes are suited for city or country living. They do best with a fenced back yard and plenty of exercise. They are highly adaptable to many places, and do well on a boat. They make excellent ship-mates.

Health Issues: Hypothyroidism, epilepsy, Legg-Perthes disease, hip dysplasia and hip sockets which tend to slip.

History: There are several theories of the Schipperke's origins. Some say the Schipperke is only about 200 years old and may have come from the Belgian Sheepdog. Others say they could have existed since the mid-1500s, and that the Schipperke was the breed that rescued William of Orange from an assasin in 1533 - 1584. Others say it was bred down from the Leauvenaar, a large black sheepdog that can be traced back to 1690. Coming from the Flemish provinces of Belgium, they were used to to herd sheep. The breed was first named Spits or Spitske, but the name was changed to Schipperke in 1888. Schipperke can be translated as a Flemish term for "Little Captain", "Little Skipper", "Little Boatman", or even "Little Corporal." The reason for the name change is also in debate. One theory states that the name is in honor of an advocator of the breed named Reusens. He lived in the 19th century and owned a barge, using his dogs for guarding the canal boats in Flanders. Schipperkes in Brussels and Antwerp were also used in the same fashion, by which the second theory for the name arises. Some believe the name was because of the job that the Schipperkes did by guarding the boats everywhere, not just in honor of Reusens. Regardless, in 1885 Queen Marie Henriette, wife of the Belgian King Leopold II obtained a Schipperke and created its popularity. Today the breed is a popular little housedog and makes an excellent guard, companion and can even be used as a hunter.

First Registered by the AKC: 1904

AKC Group: Non-Sporting

Class: Non-Sporting

Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 1), KC (GB), UKC