The Schipperke (pronunciation Skip-er-kee) is the little shepherd of Belgium. In this brief guide about the Belgian breed, we will trace its origins and history, followed by its spread to the United States. We will also discuss its temperament, intelligence, social qualities, and much more.
So, without further adieu, let us find out if the Schipperke is the right dog for your needs.
Cool facts about the Schipperke
- Details about the breed’s name and ancestry are murky.
- Schipperke is a very old breed that has been known for hundreds of years. Monk Wenceslas has described this dog breed in the 15th century. Schipperke is a Flemish word and the Schipperke Club of Belgium bears the country’s flag colors.
- Queen Marie Henriette, King Leopold’s wife, made this breed famous in 1885. It was F.Reusens who bred these dogs and who came to be known as the Father of the Schipperke.
- These dogs are lovingly nicknamed Schip or affectionately also called the ‘little black devil’.
- The Dutch term for a ship is ‘schip’ and ‘Schipper’ can be translated as ‘Skipper/captain/bargeman’. This means that Schipperke can mean ‘little barge dog’, or ‘little captain’, or ‘little boatman’.
- The Pomeranian may have been one of the ancestors of this breed, though this is unclear.
- In Belgium, the breed’s popularity has remained more or less constant over the last 10 years with an average of 27 litters per year being recorded. The size of one litter is approximately 3 puppies.
- Schipperke is smaller than most shepherd dog breeds. However, it is blessed with strong and sturdy construction in proportion to its size.
- Many books describe the Schipperke as a vulpine or fox-like dog. They have small erect ears, a pointed muzzle, and a lupine or wolf-like expression.
- This highly charming dog has a unique and distinctive coat that forms its elegant silhouette. It is little wonder that these dogs attract attention wherever they go.
- The average height standard for Schipperke size in male dogs is 13.2 inches or 33.6 cm and for bitches, it is 12.3 inches or 31.2 cm. They come in small and standard varieties with weight ranging between 12 lb and 20 lb.
- FCI and other Clubs’ standard acceptable color is back. Schipperke is also available in other colors like yellow, chocolate, blue, and, rarely, in gray and white. Their coat is dense and hard and, at times, presents a rusty appearance.
Although smaller than most shepherd dog breeds, the Schipperke is more fearless and less emotional. They are lively, active dogs that like to keep busy. A Schipperke is quick, agile, curious, alert, and interested in everything. Their intelligence makes them easy to train. They have a multi-faceted personality in that; they have the stamina and energy of a large working dog as well as the loving affectionate nature of a small, companion, family dog.
The curious little Schipperke will want to investigate everything near him; nothing will escape him that goes on within his dwelling. He will inspect every nook and corner and instantly warn his owners if something is amiss with a shrill, piercing bark. With children, these dogs are gentle, loving, playful, and affectionate. Their stable disposition makes them excellent family pets as well as alert watchdogs. If socialized properly, they can get along well with other pets including the family cat. Rodents and rabbits may be viewed as prey.
Take your inquisitive pet to the beach and he will have a great time digging through the sand. They also have a bit of terrier blood in them that makes them excellent at hunting vermin and rats. The words used for describing the Schipperke temperament are: lively, courageous, inquisitive, self-confident, attentive, tenacious, cheerful, and indefatigable.
Where to find a Schipperke
You must begin your Schipperke puppy search by finding a qualified breeder first. Ask a local veterinarian or other Schipperke owners for references to qualified breeders nearby. You can also visit the official website of the Schipperke Club of America. Shortlist a couple of breeders and make sure you visit their facilities. Observe the kennels and premises; are they clean and well-maintained? Ask the breeders to introduce you to all of his/her dogs. A good breeder who is committed to the well-being of the breed will not keep more than one or two breeds.
When you get a chance to see the litter, observe all of the pups. Select one that appears curious, alert, friendly, and well-fed. Good breeders will not hesitate to show you the medical records of their dogs. In return, they might even ask you several questions about your household to ensure you are indeed a good potential owner for their pups. The average cost of a Schipperke puppy is about $700. Expect to pay anywhere up to $4000 for a Schipperke based on its pedigree and the breeder.
Since the Schipperke was bred to be a ratter; they are active and energetic, and need daily exercise. Walk your dog twice a day and also introduce him to swimming. Always watch your dog when he is swimming. Do not force water-based activities on your pet; not all dogs take to the water. If, however, your Schipperke does take to the water, you can include swimming as part of his daily exercise. After all; it is an excellent low-stress activity which is great for dogs. These dogs do not tolerate heat well; so walk or play with your pet only during the cooler parts of the day.
Training your Schipperke
One of the most basic principles of training any dog is: start young. There is a big difference in training an adult and training a puppy. At 8 weeks of age, your Schipperke puppy is observing and absorbing everything. So teach him the house rules. Also, teach him where to eliminate right from the time he comes home. Crate training and house-training go hand-in-hand. Always praise the puppy and reward him when he does something you want him to do. Timing is crucial. These dogs are quiet but excitable. Therefore, early training and socialization are a must.
The medium-sized coat needs once-a-week brushing except during the shedding season when your dog will need daily brushing.
Schipperke is prone to ophthalmological issues as well as problems like collapsing trachea. The latter can cause increased coughing. MPS 111B is another issue that affects many small breeds including Schipperke. The breed is otherwise healthy and hardy and has an average lifespan of 12-15 years.