There are many misconceptions about this feisty black dog. Some are led to believe that he is a relative of the Spitz breed, while others argue he is a descendant of the Pomeranian. Neither are correct, nor did this unique little dog originate as a Dutch dog, as some are prone to thinking. In fact, the Schipperke is a descendant of a black sheepdog, known as the Leauvenaar.
Originating in the Flemish provinces of Belgium, the Schipperke is a downsized version of the Leauvenaar, a 40 pound sheepdog that was commonly used to tend flocks in neighboring Louvain. Bred down in size, the Schipperke was specifically bred to be a miniature watchdog, prized for his loyalty and attentive nature. The Schipperke can also claim that the very first “specialty show” was for their breed. Held back in 1690, in the Grand Palace of Brussels, the show was especially for the Schipperkes of the Guild’s workmen. Of course, back then, the breed was known as the Spits dog, or the Spitske; they did not earn the name Schipperke until their specialty club was formed in 1888.
The name “Schipperke,” means “little captain,” and suggests that these unique little black watchdogs were popular with the workmen along the canals. In truth, however, they were just as popular with shoemakers and other members of the working class as well. Tired with the repeated thieving of the neighbor’s dog, a shoemaker cut off the animal’s tail. Noting the improvements that this made to the dog�s appearance, it is said that this is the reason why all Schipperke tails are cut off at a young age. Contrary to popular belief, the Schipperke breed are not always born without a tail.
Possessing a square profile, the Schipperke stands between 10-13 inches high at the shoulder. Their face is decidedly fox-like in appearance, though their body structure and rich black coloring tend to make them resemble a little bear. Possessing a thick neck ruff, as well as longer, thicker fur along the back, at the chest and along the backs of all the legs, the Schipperke appears to drastically slope off from crown to hindquarters and they appear to be strong and solidly built little animals.
The Schipperke is not a high-strung, nor a yappy dog, as one might be prone to think. In fact, if they have been socialized properly and come from calm and stable breeding stock, the Schipperke is generally a pretty laid back and accepting individual. They are known to be very tolerant of children and other animals alike, though there is some need for establishing a pecking order in Schipperke of the same sex that are kept in the same home.
Schipperke Exercise Info
The Schipperke is an active little dog who does best if allowed the liberty of roaming his own fenced-in back yard. In fact, many Schipperke breeders will not even sell a puppy to a home where they do not have a fenced yard at the very least. Due to the activity levels of these little dogs, mere walking alone fails to cut it – they would far prefer to race and jump and roll in the grass cheerfully. A sedentary lifestyle is not for them.
Schipperke Grooming Info
Grooming your Schipperke isn’t as hard as it looks. Shown in a natural state, they require no special clipping or trims to look their best. In fact, a good brushing once a week is about all that your own “little captain” should require. A wire brush works best for this, but you have to be very careful not to scratch the skin. For inexperienced pet owners, a comb may be a safer route, ensuring that the coat remains mat-free.
Also be sure to keep your pet’s toenails clipped and be sure to watch his teeth for any signs of decay. If started at a young age, many dogs will allow you to brush his teeth, helping to promote healthier mouths.
Schipperke Training Info
The Schipperke is a highly intelligent and willful little dog; while they do respond well to positive reinforcement, their insatiable curiosity and independence can sometimes make the simplest of tasks appear daunting. Slow to mature, the Schipperke takes patience and guidance. More often than not, Schipperke owners usually remark that their dogs suddenly became more cooperative at 18 months of age, and that they were surprised by what all the dog had apparently learned but chose to play dumb with. Apparently, like many teenagers, the Schipperke has selective hearing.
Schipperke Health Info
Like any breed of dog, the Schipperke is not immune to his own variety of health concerns. For this reason, when deciding to choose a new Schipperke dog or puppy, check around with several breeders and ask about the various health issues that can affect these beautiful little dogs. A good breeder should be well-versed in the health concerns and should be able to give you more details, as well as showing you the sire and dam of your potential puppy. Some of the health problems that can affect the Schipperke include:
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
Schipperke Right Breed Info
The Schipperke is a wonderful family pet and yet he is still not the dog for everyone. Highly active and sometimes aggressive to dogs of the same sex, he can be quite the handful at times. If you don�t mind finding your way around dealing with these problems and have a lot of time and dedication to devote to a small dog, a Schipperke has a lot of love to give you in return.