AKC Dog Breeds: Schipperke

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Non Sporting  Group
Height:10-13 inches   Weight: 12-18 pounds  Color: black

The Schipperke is an agile, active watchdog and hunter of vermin. A high spirited and energetic breed, the Schipperke is somewhat protective. Very loyal and devoted to his master, this alert little fellow will protect his territory. This breed barks at the sight of strangers, and loves to howl. The Schipperke was originally raised in Flanders, Belgium by a canal boat captain named Renssens. They are thought to have descended from the black Belgian Sheepdog. Over time, as they were bred to be smaller than the Belgian Sheepdog, they became their own breed. They were bred to be small in order to be good watchdogs and hunters for the boats, as well as being good companions for the captains, who spent many months each year at sea. In fact, Schipperke even means "little captain" in Flemish. By the late 1800's they had become very popular house dogs for the Belgians, and it was around this time that they were introduced to the US and Great Britain. Today, they are mostly used as companion dogs, and still are often favored by those who spend a lot of time on boats. In 1929, The Schipperke Club of America, Inc. was founded. At the first meeting, the club applied for, and was accepted for membership in the American Kennel Club.

General Appearance
The Schipperke is a small, thickset, tail-less dog with a thick double coat and a ruff around his neck. In color the Schipperke is solid black, which is the only color accepted by the AKC, however, the breed also comes in a handsome range of tans and fawns which are acceptable abroad. The body is short and compact and should look square when viewed from the side. When viewed in silhouette, the topline appears to slope gently down from the withers. The chest should be wide and should reach to the elbows. The head is shaped like a fox's - a wedge with a pointed muzzle. It has a wide, slightly rounded forehead. The small oval eyes are dark brown with a mischievous, questioning and alert expression. The small, erect ears are triangular in shape. If born with a tail, the tail is docked. The nose is always black. The teeth should meet in a scissors or level bite. Dewclaws should be removed from the front legs and must be removed from the hind legs if you wish to show the dog.

Loyal, alert, and affectionate, the Schipperke is a small dog with plenty of character and personality. High spirited, playful, and inquisitive, the Schipperke has bags of courage and seems to think that he is much bigger than he actually is. These dogs are best suited to those with some experience of dog ownership, as they can be mischievous, stubborn, and even manipulative - he requires an assertive and confident owner to provide firm, consistent, yet positive training. He is an intelligent dog and this makes him easy to train. The Schipperke is an alert creature and will bark to raise the alarm, making him an effective watchdog. He is intelligent and quick to learn, but his independent streak and willful nature can make training something of a challenge for the more inexperienced. Nevertheless, these dogs are devoted and love to be around people, making them entertaining and loving family pets. Housebreaking the Schipperke can be difficult in some cases, and some owners may find themselves facing a challenge when it comes to grooming and handling these dogs - again, effective and consistent handling and training is important. The Schipperke is a born climber and digger, and therefore needs proper supervision and a safe, secure place to play and exercise when not on a leash. With gentle, older children the Schipperke should get on well, but he is very way around strangers. Although the Schipperke can be a handful, with the right owner and leadership he can make a great pet and companion.


For those with little time for grooming the Schipperke is a good choice, as the grooming requirements for this breed are low. You should brush his coat once a week to keep it in good condition, although this will need to be increased during periods of heavy shedding. The Schipperke is a medium shedder, and sheds more heavily on a seasonal basis, so he is not ideal for those with allergies.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy
Schipperkes are fairly healthy dogs. However the breed is prone to hypothyroidism, epilepsy, hip dysplasia and hip sockets that tend to slip. They are also prone to Cataracts, Legg Calve Perthes, Progressive Retinal Atrophy and MPS 111B. MPS 111B is a fairly newly discovered disease, which affects about 15% of the Schipperke population. There is a genetic test is available for this disease, but only through the University of Pennsylvania. The breed was registered with the AKC in 1904.

Activity Level

A fenced yard would be best for this high-energy breed, but will do well in apartment life. The Schipperke loves to run and is tireless, so they do require regular walks and play times, preferably off lead in a yard or park.


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