A small Schipperke
Schipperke Quick Summary
Also Known As
Height (at withers)10-13in (25-33cm)
Weight12-18lbs (5-8kg)
Hair Colour(s)Black
Lifespan13-15 years
Energy LevelHigh
Litter size3-7
Barking TendencyMedium
Exercise requirementsMedium
Ease of trainingMedium
Suitability for kidsMedium
Animal compatabilityHigh
Aggression levelsLow
Distress if leftMedium

The Schipperke is a small and sturdy Spitz or fox-like dog. The body is square in shape with a level topline, straight equal length legs and a docked tail. The head has a tapered muzzle like that of a fox, a black nose, triangular upright ears and oval brown eyes. The distinctive double coat consists of a soft undercoat and a harsh outercoat, with a ruff around the neck, and the colouring tends to be solid black.


Schipperkes are spirited and playful little dogs brimming with character and courage. Alert and inquisitive in nature, they are also quite attentive, affectionate and loyal and so make good companion dogs and family pets, although early socialisation is recommended so as to promote more stable and sociable attitudes. Being intelligent and quick learners means they can be fairly easy to train; however, these dogs can also be stubborn, manipulative and downright mischevious, which can make housebreaking and even grooming a challenge. For this reason they are best suited to those with some experience of dog ownership and training as assertiveness will be required in owners. Schipperkes get along well with older, more considerate children, and really well with other household dogs and cats, although should not be trusted with caged or small pets that may run and they may also chase unfamiliar animals. Around strangers these alert dogs tend to be wary and will bark to raise the alarm, making them effective watchdogs.

History & Skills

Schipperkes originate from Flanders, Belgium, where they were bred in the 1800s to vermin, such as rats, to act as guard dogs on canal boats and also to herd sheep. Although their origins possibly stretch back even further to the 1600s, Shipperke translates as Little Skipper or Little Captain in Flemish, a reference to their use on canal boats and their development by a canal boat captain called Renssens. Once used by the Belgian Resistance during World War Two to run messages, these days they make good companions dogs, especially for fishing and boating trips, and are still good vermin hunters as well as watchdogs.

Breed Specific Ailments

Schipperkes tend to live between 13-15 years, and some of the health problems noted in this breed includes PRA, Legg-Perthes, thyroid problems, cataracts, epilepsy, entropion, and possibly a new disease called MPS 111B.


Schipperkes are medium shedders that also shed more heavily on a seasonal basis, and so are possibly not best suited to those suffering with allergies. However, the bonus is that their grooming requirements are pretty low and they will self-groom to a degree. The coat will need brushing around once a week to keep it in pristine condition, although this will need stepping up during periods of heavier shedding.

Exercise & Environment

Schipperkes tend to live indoors and can be suitable for smaller homes such as apartments. They are quite active and will need a daily walk on the leash to run off some of their energy, plus access to a yard or garden area, which must be secure as these dogs can be escape artists as they love to dig and climb.


FCIFCI - Federation Cynologique Internationale
KCThe Kennel Club (UK)
AKCAKC - American Kennel Club

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