Schipperke – Although many people assume that this is a Dutch breed, it is really a descendant of a Belgian black sheepdog, the Leauvenaar. The Schipperke was bred to be a smaller dog than the sheepdog, and although it has been a distinct breed for several hundred years, it wasn’t known as the Schipperke until the late 1800s.
The Schipperkes are small dogs and stand between 10 and 13 inches tall and usually weigh 8 to 14 pounds. The head is foxlike, the eyes are oval and dark, and the ears are upright. The body is square in profile, with a broad, deep chest and no tail. The undercoat is soft and dense. The outer coat is short on the face and the front of the legs, medium length on the body, and longer on the ruff and the back of the legs. The coat is always black. The coat is easy to care for and needs only weekly brushing. When the dog sheds heavily, usually in the spring and fall, more brushing may be needed.
The Schipperke is an active dog breed who enjoys brisk walks, daily playtimes, a run on the agility course, and a chance to play ball. Many Schipperkes have done very well in agility, flyball, and obedience competitions. Early socialisation is important, as this is a very watchful breed.
The Schipperke is wary of strangers and doesn’t realise she is small; she’s ready to protect her family if the need arises. Under-socialised dogs can be overly cautious and fearful. Training can help occupy this very intelligent breed’s mind. The training should be structured and firm, yet fun and positive, and should continue into adulthood.
Although the Schipperke dog breed is small, it is not a toy breed. Schipperkes retain much of their herding dog heritage and are intelligent, watchful, trainable, and at times, challenging. They need an owner who is willing to be a leader and will not spoil the dog; a spoiled Schipperke can be a tyrant. The Schipperke breed is great with children who treat the dog with respect. The primary health concerns are Legg-Perthe’s disease and thyroid problems.