History of the Schipperke Breed
Shipperke - The uncertain history of the schipperke includes numerous theories. Some insist that middle-class families wanted a small vermin hunter and watchdog. The breed may have been produced from the larger Belgian sheepdog. “Scheper” means “shepherd” and could have been a possible origin of the name schipperke. Further adding to this theory is the fact that a breed that also resembles the Belgian sheepdog, but of intermediate size, was once in the area. Another theory is that it was a boat dog of seamen who traveled between Brussels and Antwerp. Schipperke or schip means “little boatman” in Flemish, however the Belgium population referred to the dog as spitz, not schipperke. Belgian writings mention small, black, tailless dogs as early as the 15 th century, however it is unclear if any of these dogs are indeed the schipperke. In 1690, a group of Brussels shoemakers began competing their schipperkes. They were very proud of their dogs and dressed them in decorative brass collars. In the 19 th century, the schipperke became known as the national dog in Belgium and was essentially the only housedog in central Belgium households. After Queen Marie Henriette obtained a schipperke, the popularity of the breed soared. Every class owned what was once only a workingman’s companion. At the same time, the breed became fashionable in England. Many dogs were exported, while schipperke fanciers in Belgium preferred only the more exotic breeds. Since the breed’s numbers were decreasing, a group came together in the late 1880s to save it. They compiled the schipperke’s most desirable points in order to increase high-quality specimens of the breed. Shortly thereafter, the dog came to America, but it was slow to catch the public’s interest. Owners of schipperke are loyal to the breed.
Size and Appearance of the Schipperke
The Schipperke is a square-proportioned small dog with a distinctive coat. Its double coat produces a standout ruff, cape and culottes, which forms a slope from its head to its rump. The breed has triangular ears that stand upright. Its fox-like face appears questioning and mischievous. If born with a tail, it is docked in keeping with the standard. Its coat is thick with longer hair on the nape of the neck and shoulders as well as on its chest and back of its hind legs. In the United States, only black coats are acceptable with a slightly lighter undercoat. Elsewhere, the standard allows for other coat colors such as chocolate, sable or cream.
Intelligent, stubborn, and independent are characteristics that make this breed personable. The schipperke is loving and protective of its family, bonding closely with its master and enjoying the company of children. It has boundless energy, and its innate curiosity prompts it to poke its nose into everything and always seek an adventure. This breed is self-confident and alert, making it a great watchdog. It is reserved with strangers and will stand its ground. It likes to howl and bark, and enjoys playing with other dogs regardless of size. Schipperkes are a good choice for a boat dog.
Schipperke Recommended Maintenance
The schipperke usually grooms itself, however its owner will need to provide regular brushing with a bristle brush and dry shampooing when necessary. This breed sometimes “blows” its coat, which means it sheds its entire undercoat in a short period of time. Professional grooming will help alleviate the excessive hair loss. It will take 2-3 months for the hair to grow back completely. It is not unusual for a schipperke to experience this type of shedding up to three times in a year. This small dog is extremely active and requires both mental and physical exercise to keep it in top shape. It can meet its exercise needs with a moderate walk or a vigorous game of catch or a romp in the yard. Even though the schipperke enjoys spending its time outdoors, it should not live outside. It will remain active when indoors. Even though schipperkes are quick learners, they are stubborn and do not like to come when called.
• Life span: 13 – 15 years
• Major concerns: none
• Minor concerns: Legg – Perthes
• Occasionally seen: entropion, distichiasis, PRA
• Suggested tests: none