A Schipperke dog, pronounced like “skip-er-key” in the U.S., is a distinct-looking, small-sized breed that makes an excellent choice for families.
However, before aspiring dog owners begin the search for a Schipperke puppy of their own, it’s essential to consider the commitment and care this small breed demands.
Schipperke dog breed information
The Schipperke, often called a “Schip” or “Skip” for short, only stands about 13 inches tall, but it’s a vigilant, active breed.
It doesn’t look like any other dog breed; the breed is one-of-a-kind.
Schipperkes have foxlike faces, stocky bodies, and cute, pointed ears. Their fluffy-looking coats are solid black, though the fur is sturdier than it looks.
The dogs don’t have much variation in color or markings; black is by far the most common color for this breed.
Schipperkes may be small, but they are hard workers. They’re strong, too, with powerful jaws and sturdy necks.
They like to hunt and keep watch; you will know if there’s an intruder in your house — the breed’s bark is high-pitched and impossible to miss.
Schipperkes are descendants of the Leauvenaar, a sizeable black sheepdog from Belgium that has gone extinct.
Like their Belgian sheepdog ancestors, Schipperkes love having a job to do and are tenacious. They were popular working dogs in Belgium throughout the 16th through 18th centuries; Schipperkes were best at guarding boats and chasing rats.
They are also hardy and companionable, making them excellent dogs for long trips at sea.
The breed appeared in dog shows as early as the late 1800s.
People fell in love with their spunky personalities and endearing, foxlike features, and Schipperkes soon became a household breed.
According to the American Kennel Club, the Schipperke is “the best house dog.”
They’re curious and brave; these fuzzy instigators make effective guard dogs despite their small size. They love to bark and run excitedly toward the door when owners leave and return home.
When it comes to interacting with other dogs and people, early socialization is critical.
Schipperkes are vigilant and protective, so their territorial instinct will kick in when faced with unfamiliar guests, whether human or canine.
Be mindful at the dog park; the breed can be aggressive with strange dogs. Even with plenty of socialization and training, your Schipperke may not engage well when meeting new dogs.
However, this breed is loyal once trust is gained.
If you’re bringing a new Schipperke into your home, it can learn to get along well with other family dogs, who are surprisingly good with cats.
Schipperkes are relatively low maintenance as far as grooming goes. They have a double fur coat; the bottom layer is a soft undercoat, while the outer layer is longer and coarser.
The breed does shed, and owners should give them a nice weekly brush to keep their coats healthy.
While grooming requirements are minimal, Schipperkes are high maintenance regarding activity level. A fenced yard is a must if you consider bringing this breed home.
This breed needs plenty of time to play and exercise; otherwise, your dog may bark non-stop or become destructive.
Bored dogs can also become anxious or suffer from other mental health concerns.
Schipperke training guide
Obedience training is vital to raising a well-behaved Schipperke.
However, Schipperke training isn’t the easiest — these willful pups require plenty of patience. They’re active and alert and tend to bark excessively without consistent training.
Puppies need short but frequent bouts of exercise with plenty of positive reinforcement.
For first-time dog owners, the breed can be a real challenge.
These dogs are stubborn and independent, so you must also be determined.
Don’t raise your voice; the breed likes to bark, and they’ll only get louder if you do too.
Schipperkes are curious and like to find ways outside, so invest in a microchip or at least have your phone number on the collar.
Schipperke health issues
Schipperkes are pretty healthy dogs who live as long as 15 years.
Besides regular check-ins with your veterinarian, flea and tick medications, and a nutritious diet, most don’t require additional medical care.
However, purebred Schipperkes occasionally have health concerns for which breeders will likely screen with genetic testing.
Luxating patellas is a condition in which the kneecap slips out of the normal position. It’s not uncommon; many toy-sized and tiny dog breeds (like Chihuahuas and Bichon Frises) are predisposed to this defect.
If your dog has luxating patellas, it may occasionally run on three legs because the kneecap has dislocated from the fourth. The dislocation is usually temporary and should pop back in on its own.
This is a relatively minor health concern but can cause arthritis and mobility issues as the dog ages.
If your Schipperke is still young and you notice its mobility is suffering, your vet may recommend surgery.
The dogs may have a genetic predisposition for hyperthyroidism. When dogs suffer from this condition, you’ll notice a distinct change in their energy levels and behavior.
Your Schipperke will be lethargic, and its weight may change.
Dogs with hyperthyroidism will experience thinning fur and dry skin. You should visit the vet if you notice any of these symptoms in your dog.
Schipperkes might also inherit Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA); dogs with PRA will eventually go blind, and symptoms will start as young as three.
This condition is gradual and not painful, but no cure exists.
If your dog has PRA, it can still live a long, happy life (don’t move the furniture around too much).
Choosing your Schipperke
Schipperkes are a special breed of small dogs, and the people who own them tend to fall in love.
If you’re ready to find your pup, check out the Schipperke Club of America’s lists of official breeders and rescue organizations (and maybe even consider attending the annual conference or purchasing some official swag).