Schipperke

Schipperke

Schipperke are spirited companions who need plenty of opportunity to run and play—exercise is a top priority for this high-energy breed. Without enough activity to burn off their energy, they can become difficult to manage. The intelligent Schipperke has a persistent independent streak and can be stubborn if he doesn’t see the value in your request. Give him a job to do and you’ll earn yourself a tired out Schipperke—which equates to a better behaved Schipperke. First-time dog owners may want to look elsewhere, as the Schipperke needs to have plenty of time dedicated to training. Without an experienced trainer, it may be the dog who trains the human. With appropriate training and socialization from puppyhood, the Schip is a friendly and affectionate breed who enjoys spending time with family, whatever the activity.


Other Names

chipperkes are nicknamed Schips, and have previously been known as Spitzke. The pronunciation of the name is SHEEP-erk but SKIP-er-kee is also acceptable.

Physical Description

Coat

The Schipperke's coat is a defining feature of the breed; it consists of a harsh overcoat and a soft undercoat. The coat should be solid black.


Height

Average Height: 10-13 inches


Weight

Average Weight: 10-16 pounds

Breed Standard & History

The Schipperke is a thick-set, square dog with a balanced appearance. Small, oval eyes and erect, triangular ears give the breed a questioning, mischievous expression. The neck is slightly arched, but balanced with the rest of the body. An abundant black coat is slightly harsh to the touch, with a softer undercoat. A variation in coat length is required as an essential breed quality—a ruff around the neck blends with an impressive cape and apron, and culottes are present at the rear thighs, with flat hair along the back. The coat should be kept in a natural state, with no excessive trimming allowed. The presence of a tail is considered a fault. Well-muscled hind and forequarters suggest a hardworking, rugged dog. The Schipperke is curious, interested, and loyal. – AKC Breed Standards


The origin and intended use of the Schipperke have been the center of debate for decades. The breed is from Belgium, one of the few undisputed facts about this fox-like dog. Some stories claim the dog resided on barges to hunt vermin, while others claim the breed was kept by shoemakers who competed annually to decorate their Schipperke with the most impressive brass collar.


The most widely accepted theory holds that the development of the Schipperke began with Belgian shepherd dogs, specifically the now-extinct Leauvenaar. In the 14th century, France ruled Belgium and restrictions were placed on dog ownership. Because only the aristocracy could own large dogs, the small shepherd dogs were developed to do everything the large shepherd dogs could—but were kept by common families to tend flocks and hunt vermin.


The Schipperke earned a royal fancier when Queen Marie-Henriette of Belgium discovered the breed at a dog show in 1885 and had to have one of her own. They made their way to America in 1888 and the AKC accepted the breed in 1904.


AKC Breed Category

Non-Sporting Group

Personality

General Temperament

The bold little Schipperke is known for its mischievousness and curiosity, two traits that can make for a challenging canine without training from a consistent owner. Confident, headstrong Schipperke require early socialization and training to ensure the strong personality is harnessed in acceptable ways. Schipperke are affectionate family companions, and often get along with new people if given the chance to warm up to them.


Family Life

Are Schipperke Good with Kids? Schipperke may be able to live with older kids and teens, but toddlers and babies aren't ideal for this breed. They will not tolerate rough handling or rambunctious behavior, and may nip or bite if they feel mistreated.


Are Schipperke Good with Other Pets? If introduced early, Schipperke may be able to live with other dogs, but they aren't likely to back down from a confrontation in the home or at the dog park. Plenty of socialization can help prevent scrappy behaviors with other dogs. They are likely to chase, so cats and small animals aren't ideal companions for the Schip.


Protective 

Schipperke are alert and loyal. Their protective nature and tendency to bark ensure you'll know the moment a stranger or critter sets foot on your property—or the property next door, or down the road. They're too small to be effective guard dogs, but they're dependable watchdogs. They may be standoffish, but polite, with newcomers.


Energy Levels

The Schipperke is an energetic dog, but with enough exercise can be a relaxed companion.


Specific Concerns

  • Barking is in their nature.
  • The Schipperke requires plenty of socialization.
  • The Schipperke does better with adults or older children, and not babies.
  • They’re not ideal for first-time dog owners.
  • The Schipperke is headstrong and independent.
  • He is an escape artist and wanderer.
  • Schipperke are door dashers.

Requirements

Indoor

This breed can adapt to many living situations, including apartments and small houses, if provided adequate exercise and time outdoors. They’re natural barkers, but with gentle correction from puppyhood, you may be able to minimize this behavior. Schips are known to attempt to bolt through open doors—take precautions to prevent escapes.


Outdoor 

Schipperkes appreciate time outdoors, but they are not meant to live outside full-time. They should be contained within a fence and walked on a leash when outdoors. They should always be supervised when outdoors, even in a fenced area. Fences won’t contain a determined Schip; the clever escape artist can get out in moments.


Exercise 

At least half an hour of exercise per day is required to keep a Schipperke happy and healthy—more is better. A fenced area for play and plenty of long walks on-leash are ideal to keep a Schip safe.


Endurance 

Schipperkes are likely to outlast their owners and they're often ready to go at any moment. They have no shortage of stamina and appreciate an active lifestyle.


Activity distance rating

  • Running Miles: Energetic Schipperkes make great jogging partners, and may have the endurance to run up to five miles.
  • Hiking Miles: Schipperkes may enjoy a hike of up to 10 miles, but leashed excursions are best for this wander-prone canine.


Food 

The recommended diet for most Schipperkes is about ¾ to 1½ cups of high-quality dry food daily, based on the dog’s average weight and activity level. This amount should be split between two meals, or can be offered in a food-dispensing puzzle toy.


Schipperkes do not tend to guard their food more than any other breed, but children should never be allowed to touch or remove food while any dog is eating.


Alone Time 

Given enough exercise and attention, Schipperke may be able to stay home alone for five to eight hours during the day. With too little exercise, the breed may become destructive or bark. Crate training can help keep a Schipperke safe while he is home alone.

Health and Grooming

Life Expectancy

13-15 years


Grooming

Schipperkes don’t require excessive grooming or regular trips to the groomers, but weekly brushing—more during seasonal shedding—and occasional baths will help keep the coat healthy. Trimming nails regularly will help prevent painful splitting, cracking, or a broken nail. Schipperke can be sensitive about having their paws touched, so getting them accustomed to nail trimming early can make it less stressful.


Common Health Issues

Though generally healthy and long-lived, breed-specific concerns in the Schipperke can include:


  • Hip dysplasia
  • Legg-Calves Perthes disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Epilepsy
  • Eye concerns
  • Mucopolysaccharidosis type IIIB (MPS IIIB)

You can minimize serious health concerns in a Schipperke by purchasing him from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.

Trainability

Basics

Early, consistent training is the best way to create a well-behaved Schipperke. The intelligent breed is often stubborn, and convincing them to cooperate can be a challenge without proper motivation. Working to minimize barking, socializing with people and other animals, and basic obedience should be priorities.


Advanced Training

Giving the Schipperke a job to do is a perfect way to win good behavior. Agility, advanced tricks, and obedience can give the Schip a sense of purpose. Many Schipperkes like to stand on their hind legs, which can make a good starting point for advanced tricks. They've been used as assistance dogs, on search and rescue teams, and as herding dogs.


Sporting Dog Training

Schipperkes maintain their hunting instinct and may enjoy participating in barn hunt activities, but they aren’t ideal as a sporting dog for other forms of hunting.

Breed FAQ

Here are a few commonly asked questions about Schipperkes.

Explore Other Breeds

Schipperkes are born with either a bobtail, a short tail, or a full tail. The breed standard states that a tail should not be present, but it is not required that the tail be docked. The presence of a tail is only a fault, and not a disqualification in the show ring. Full-tailed Schips display an impressive curled tail that begins to curve over the back from a few weeks after birth.

While the AKC breed standard requires Schipperkes be solid black, the gene pool does include a variety of colors. The United Kennel Club (UKC) requires only a solid color to compete in show, regardless of the color. After much debate, the Schipperke breed standard for the AKC was written to require solid black coloring only. Schips can display a variety of colors including blonde, brown, black and tan, tricolor, and dilute. A breeder charging extra for a ‘rare’ color Schipperke should be scrutinized before purchase—and because the colors are considered against breed standard, breeding for the trait is irresponsible.

MPS IIIB is a rare condition that has been diagnosed in humans, dogs, and emu—and other types of the disorder have been observed in other animals. Though rare, between 15 and 20% of Schipperke appear to present the disease—a significantly higher rate than any other breed. The heritable disorder, also known as Sanfilippo syndrome type IIIB, is caused by a gene mutation that affects the storage of enzymes, which leads to an accumulation of enzymes in the lysosomes. Affected Schipperke will often begin showing clinical signs—lack of balance, difficulty walking or using stairs, and tremors—between two and four years of age. There is no cure, and the disease will get progressively worse over a span of one to two years. While management of the condition is possible, euthanasia is necessary within a few years.


The recessive gene-linked disorder occurs when both parents are carriers of the gene. A carrier will not have symptoms of the disease as they are not affected, but they can pass the mutated gene to offspring. Offspring of carriers will develop the disease if both parents were carriers, or will pass the mutation to their offspring if they receive only one copy of the gene. A DNA test is available to check whether dogs are affected or are carriers of the gene. Carriers and affected dogs should never be bred.