The Schipperke is a square-proportioned, small, cobby dog with a sharp foxy expression and a distinctive coat. It has a rounded skull with little stop, a muzzle that tapers to a black and small nose. Prominent facial attributes include oval and expressive dark brown eyes and triangular, stiffly erect ears. A short but strong neck rests on a muscular shoulder carries the head proudly and with ease. The front legs are perfectly straight while the back legs are muscular with well-developed thighs and small cat-like feet that provide sturdy support to the broad chested body. The breed may be born without a tail or is commonly docked very short in keeping with the standard. Its double coat produces a noticeable mane and frill, cape and good culottes on the back of thighs, forming a slope from the head to the rump. It is longer on the nape of the neck and shoulders, chest, and back of the hind legs. The usual colour is black but the breed
The Schipperke is a Belgian breed of dog developed in the 16th century. Although its exact origin is a debatable matter, the Schipperke was officially formed as a breed in the 1880s and is believed to be descended from the same sheep-herding dogs as the black Belgian sheepdog. It was bred to become smaller until such time that it became an entirely different breed. The breed standard was established in 1889 and much of the early history of the breed came from the articles written for an early French magazine “Hunting and Fishing,” published in English by “The Stockkeeper.” The name “Schipperke” was officially designated in 1888. Its origin, also rather unclear, was originally thought to have meant “little captain,” although in the 1920s it became widely known in Belgium that the name actually meant “little shepherd” from the Flemish word “Scheperke.” However, just before the official name was established, the breed was also known as “Spitzke” and the name change suggests a distinction between the breed and the German Spitz. The breed was utilized to work aboard canal barges in Belgium as guard dog, ratter, and horse herder, nipping the horses’ heels to get them to tow the barge. Its popularity soared during the 19th century when it was branded as the national dog in Belgium and became essentially the only household dog in Belgian homes. It was made even popular by Queen Marie Henriette when she owned one for herself. At the same time, the Schipperke became a fashionable breed in England and was exported throughout the world. Today, the breed serves primarily as a family companion and a household pet.
The Schipperke is an agile and energetic little breed. This brave little dog is always ready to defend its territory against any threat. Its natural curiosity, intelligence and eagerness to learn make it an easy-to-train breed. However, the Schipperke likes to howl and bark, which may be annoying to many people especially if the dog will live with a family in an apartment dwelling. It has a stubborn and independent streak but loving and protective of this family. Self-confident and alert, it will stand its ground against any intruders which makes it an excellent guard dog. It is also an excellent boat companion and does not suffer from sea sickness.
Training this otherwise stubborn and independent breed requires a firm and consistent hand. Proper and early training should teach the dog not to howl and bark excessively.
Grooming requirement is low as the Schipperke is a very clean breed, often it will take care of its own grooming. However, to keep the coat in excellent form, regular weekly brushing will do. It sheds very little although it “blows” its coat almost three times a year (a sudden drop of the entire undercoat within about a 10-day period) making it literally naked for about 2 to 3 months.
The Schipperke is a particularly healthy breed, with an average lifespan of 14 to 16 years, a particularly long-lived breed compared to other dogs, although individuals that reach the old age of 17 or 18 years are not uncommon. Nonetheless, lack of exercise and over-feeding may be harmful, and can lead to several health problems. One minor inherited disease that occurs in almost 15% of the total breed population however is a medical condition known as Mucopolysaccharidosis type IIIB (MPS IIIB) which is classified as a lysosomal storage disease which causes cells to become sick or die leading to disease related to the brain.
Foods that contain a mixture (in equal amount) of beef blended with fish, wheat, oats, yellow corn and beets are ideal base diet for the Schipperke.
This small breed is extremely active and requires a lot of mentally - and physically challenging workouts in order to stay fit. Daily moderate walks or a session of vigorous game in an open but secured area are ideal exercise routines that will satisfy the Schipperke. It is suitable for an apartment life and is very active indoors.
It is typically wary of strangers but is rather devoted and loyal to its family. It gets very well with children and forms a strong bonding relationship with its owner. It is generally good with other dogs and household animals including the cat.