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Adopt a Schipperke

Schipperke Dog Breed

Picture: Yann Arthus-Bertrand/Corbis


Sheepdog, Spitz, Northern (companion)

Area of origin:


Original function:

barge dog, watchdog, ratter

Average size of male:

Ht: 11-13, Wt: 12-16

Average size of female:

Ht: 10-12, Wt: 12-16

Other names:


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    Friendliness towards dogs

  • Friendliness towards other pets

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    Friendliness towards strangers

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    Ease of training

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    Watchdog ability

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    Protection ability

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    Cold tolerance

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    Heat tolerance

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Schipperke Dog Temperament

The Schipperke is a bold companion, even though it can be an independent and headstrong one. This little dynamo is happiest when busy, poking his nose into every cranny and ever on the lookout for adventure. He is reserved with strangers and an alert watchdog. He can make an amiable and pleasant house dog but needs daily exercise.

Schipperke Dog Care

The active nature of this breed makes exercise, both- mental and physical -imperative. His small stature makes getting that exercise fairly easy, however. Either a vigorous game in the yard or a moderate walk on leash will usually suffice to meets his needs. The Schipperke should not live outdoors. His double coat needs weekly brushing, more when shedding.

Schipperke Dog Health

Major concerns: none
Minor concerns: Legg - Perthes
Occasionally seen: entropion, distichiasis, PRA
Suggested tests: none
Life span: 13-15 years

Interested in the history of the Schipperke dog breed?

The origin of the Schipperke is controversial. One plausible theory is that he originated as a dog of the boatmen who traveled between Brussels and Antwerp. The Flemish word for boat is schip, and Schipperke is thus thought to mean 'little boatman'. The breed was less commonly called Schipperke by Belgian townspeople, however, who more often referred to it as Spitz. The other plausible theory of origin is that it was a dog of tradesmen guilds and middle-class households who wanted a small watchdog and ratter. The breed resembles a miniature Belgian Sheepdog, and it is possible that Schipperke derives from the word Scheper, or Shepherd. In fact, a breed of dog intermediate in size was one known in the region. Although small, black dogs are mentioned in Belgian writings of the 15th and 16th centuries, definite evidence of Schipperkes is not found until 1690. A group of Brussels shoemakers organized regular Schipperke competitions, taking special pride in adorning their companions with ornate brass collars. By the 19th century the breed was so popular in central Belgium that it was virtually the only house dog found there, and was acknowledged as the national dog. In 1885 Queen Marie Henriette acquired a Schipperke she saw at a dog show. After people saw the little dog with her, it sparked great interest in the breed from people of all classes, and the workman's companion thus became companion to the elite. At the same time, the breed's numbers were depleted by exports to England, where they had become extremely fashionable. Most people in Belgium considered the breed common and preferred more exotic breeds. In the late 1880s, a group of Belgian Schipperke fanciers grouped to try to save the breed, setting forth the breed's desirable points. Soon after, the first Schipperke came to America. The breed aroused little interest at first, but has since amassed a modest but loyal following.

Copyright © 1998, 2005 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. based on

Shelters with Schipperke Dogs

Some animal welfare organizations with Schipperkes ready for adoption:

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