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Schipperkes (pronounced Skip-Er-Kee)

By Janet Legg, Breed Co-Rep for SPDR


Personal Observations

As the Schipperke Co-Rep with SPDR, I have to sing loudly the praises of this lively, smart and entertaining breed. They are delightfully funny, a true comedian who loves to make their owners laugh out loud. Between dancing in circles and jumping high in the air, they make an eager performer and a dog that would excel as a “trick” or event competition dog. One can almost see these dogs wearing big grins and laughing along with you as they dance and twirl around.

Never underestimate the high intelligence of this breed, as they are smart as a whip and can learn anything you wish to teach them (using positive methods) and they remember everything.Although eager to entertain, expecting them to be always be obedient can be a challenge, they do have a strong sense of “self” and a desire to please themselves first. They are easy to housebreak and are excellent indoor family pets.The Schipperke typically does well raised around other dogs and cats, tends to adore children, but dislikes closed doors.

Schipperkes are very devoted to their owners yet are not clingy or over-demanding for attention. They tend to be very curious, interested in everything around them, and are an excellent and faithful little watchdog. They are typically reserved with strangers and ready to protect their family and property if necessary, yet are not known to be aggressive in nature. The breed displays a confident and independent personality, reflecting their original purpose as watchdog and hunter of vermin.

Schipperkes are notorious escape artists who will seek out any opportunity to take off running away from home, not looking back no matter how loudly you call to them. Many of these dogs will look for weak spots in fencing and take advantage to disappear through any open doorway, gate or car door. Diligence is required when owning a Schipperke to keep them safely confined. Dogs must be kept on leash when not in a securely confined area, and not trusted to run loose at any dog-off-leash park that is unfenced. With training, the Schipperke can learn to “stay back” from open doorways, but the owner must be very observant and demanding of compliance. “Wait” or “Stay” are very important words to teach your Schipperke so that you can prevent escape, as is “lay down” to possibly re-leash your escaped buddy. Numerous Schipperkes have ended up in rescue due to running away from their owners.

Don’t let the escape issue discourage you from adopting or recommending a Schipperke to adopters. Many Schipperkes enjoy traveling with their owners and even camping in the wilderness.


Schipperkes are adorable with their small, square-shaped cobby-type bodies, thick stand-off black coat, small pointed ears up on top of their head, their fox-like face and “no tail” appearance. Schipperkes can be either single or double coated with a soft, fluffy undercoat that is covered by a harsher-feeling and longer outer coat.  Most have a long thick ruff surrounding the neck and also some feathering around their rear end. This is a small sized dog standing between 10 and 13 inches tall (7 to 20 pounds). They are born with long over-the-back curled tails which are typically docked in the United States.
The Schipperke has been referred to as the "Tazmanian black devil" and "little black devil," often because they can be stubborn, mischievous, and headstrong , as well as naturally curious and high-energy dogs. When Schipperkes are bored, they can damage property and wreak havoc, so regular daily exercise and training is important. Schipperkes are very smart, and sometimes debate listening to owners, leaning towards doing whatever benefits them the most.
AKC Standard Disqualifications include: A drop ear or ears plus any color other than a natural black. They are occasionally seen in brown or a wheat/apricot (cream) color but those colors are fairly uncommon.


Schipperkes were first recognized as a formal breed in the 1880s, their standard being written in 1889. The breed name of "Schipperke," officially taken in 1888, in English-speaking nations to mean "little captain". It has been suggested that the idea of "little captain" was an invention of the English, who mistook the Schipperke for a Dutch barge dog. With Belgium too often being mistaken for Holland which is in the Netherlands, not Belgium, some reports say they were found frequently as working dogs aboard barges in the canals, with three jobs onboard: security (barking vigorously when anyone approached the barge), keeping the barges free of vermin, and nipping at the towing horses' heels to get them moving to tow the barge. Due to their bravery and adventurous character, not to mention low center of gravity, Schipperkes are to this day known as excellent boat dogs, and are often found cruising the world aboard sailing yachts and powerboats. They are not prone to seasickness.
In summary, the Schipperke is a really fun little dog that some owners find to be ideal. Schipperkes have been successfully trained in Agility, Flyball, Obedience/Rally and even herding.



The suggested height at the highest point of the withers is 11-13 inches for males and 10-12 inches for bitches. Quality should always take precedence over size.  Square in profile.   Thickset.



AKC Shows allow only black color, but the Schipperke can be seen in brown and apricot colors as well as black.


Energy Level:

The Schipperke is an agile, active watchdog and hunter of vermin, but can be quiet and settled inside the home. They do not require excessive amounts of exercise to be calm housedogs.


Life expectancy:

12-15 years



Can be good if well-trained and supervised.


Other animals:






The Schipperke requires just minimal grooming that can easily be done by owners, no professional groomer required. Bathing only occasionally required. This breed is a moderate shedder, however. A brush that can reach the undercoat is the best. Regular weekly brushing is usually enough to keep the coat in good condition. There is no need for cutting or trimming the feathers around the neck or rear area. However, you must keep those toenails trimmed and you may need some “help” to get that done.
Schipperkes can "blow" their coats up to several times a year, and usually females more frequently than males. When this happens, they lose their undercoat. Owners typically find warm baths helpful during this time to remove the undercoat, rather than getting fur all over the home. Blowing their undercoat can last for several days or weeks, and can take up to 2-3 months for schipperkes to grow back.



The Schipperke is a healthy breed with few genetic problems. Dogs of this breed often reach the old age of 17 or 18 years. Nonetheless, inactivity, lack of exercise and over-feeding are very harmful, and can lead to joint and skeletal problems and heart, lung or digestive conditions.
The one minor caveat to the Schipperke's good health is MPS IIIB, a genetic mutation that occurs in only approximately 15% of the total breed population. More information on this condition can be obtained on the following website . If you are seeking a Schipperke from a breeder, be sure to ask if they have tested for this condition. A large effort is underway by many responsible breeders to eliminate this fatal and debilitating disease from the population.


Best with:

Lots of attention and companionship.


Not for:

Toddlers, busy families.



Entertaining & funny, happy, inquisitive, intelligent.



Escape artists, stubborn/defiant, vocal.


Further Information:

For more information about the Schipperke breed, please check out the following websites:
American Kennel Club page for Schipperke
Dog Breed information about the Schipperke
Schipperke Club of America
Breed Details

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