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Schipperke Breed Fact Sheet

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Schipperke Breed Information

Group 7: Non Sporting

Energy Level: Moderate to high

Original Function: barge dog, watchdog, ratter

Temperament: Amenable, intelligent and faithful.

Characteristics: Intensely lively and alert.

Recommended for: Families with primary school age children, elderly people and people with small yards may be especially attracted to the Schipperke. This observation is not intended to rule out people who don't fit into these groups.

Be Aware: They are a watchdog & will "raise the alarm" when the doorbell rings or some other disturbance occurs. A gradual introduction to strangers may be prudent.

Lifespan: 13-15 years


Weight: Adults weigh about 5.4 - 7.3 kilograms (12 - 16 pounds).

Colour: Black (the dominant colour) but other whole colours can occur and are acceptable.

Coat: The coats should be harsh and have a frill and a mane, and good cullottes on the back of the thighs.

General Appearance: Schipperkes are small cobby dogs with a sharp foxy expression. Their eyes should be dark brown. Feet should be cat-like, and the tail curled over the back.


Schipperke is pronounced skipper-key and means little boatman in Flemish. They are also known as the "Belgian Barge Dog", "Little Captain" and "Little Black Devil". Originating in Belgium, Schipperkes were first noted in the writings of the monk Wenceslas in the fifteenth century. In 1690 a show for Schipperkes was held in Brussels - believed to be the first specialty show for any breed.
In the 1800's Belgian gentlemen would craft special brass collars for their Schipperkes and proudly walk their dogs through town. Schipperkes also served as watchdogs and ratters on barges, keeping an eye on the cargo and befriending the horses that towed the barges.
Exports to England in the late 1800's and two World Wars reduced the number of Schipperkes left in Belgium. Today Schipperkes can be found in England, the United States, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as Continental Europe.

Breed personality, characteristics & temperament
A Schipperke should be active, very lively and alert, and its temperament should be amenable, intelligent and faithful. Schipperkes are strongly loyal to their family and friendly to children, but are distrustful of strangers.
Schipperkes are extremely curious dogs, inspecting every inch of the house and yard and objecting to anything out of order, like moved furniture. When you have got their attention their ears will be at the alert and they will tilt their heads from side to side with a quizzical look.
They enjoy their food and a food treat often holds their attention. They are instinctively efficient killers of rats and other vermin.
Schipperkes are wonderful travellers, having started with the horse and carriage and graduated to the automobile. They are great companions on long trips and holidays

Compatibility with other pets
Schipperkes can co-exist with cats and other dogs. Socialising from an early age may be required to achieve this. It's sensible to supervise the introduction of Schipperkes to other dogs so that their behaviour towards each other can be observed.
In the absence of humans, Schipperkes enjoy the company of other dogs - often other Schipperkes!
Pet rabbits, guinea pigs, and mice etc should be well fenced so that Schipperkes cannot reach them.

Grooming- Schipperkes are low-maintenance dogs. They don't need regular bathing, but may be brushed or combed occasionally. The coat is fairly short. It drops once a year (twice for intact females). Nails should be monitored for clipping. Schipperkes do not have a "doggy odour".

Exercise- A Schipperke can be walked several kilometers a day, but will be equally content spending a day in the backyard. Schipperkes are very intelligent dogs and this needs to be considered when planning their training and housing.

Health- The incidence of eye disease in this breed is not known as a health problem here in Australia but it is a problem in the U.S.A. At present, this breed is very healthy with no particular genetic disorders being a problem. A popular Australian vet stated that Schipperkes were "a very healthy dog - in fact, they have such a low incidence of inherited diseases that it's not worth discussing".
For Diet and other general dog health information Health/Nutrition

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