Schipperke – Full Breed Profile

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Discover what makes the small Schipperke so unique breed. They are mischievous which is why they need proper training and exercise plans. Read on to discover more about this breed.
Dog Breed Group:
Companion Dogs
10 to 15 inches tall at the shoulder
11 to 18 pounds
Life Span:
13 to 15 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

Schipperke or a ‘little captain’ is a small size dog of big energy. This little black dog is well-balanced and rather robust.

Schipperke is a long-living breed, they can live up to 15 years. If you are not ready to have a decade and more longer commitment do not get this breed.

These small size dogs are full of energy and surprises. They may be agile, but they are equally mischievous. These dogs were built to work. In fact, they were built to work hard. Their primary duties include watching duties.

In their free time, these explosive dogs were used as ratters.

No small size animal could ever escape their eye. This is why they should be on a leash when in the walk, and why you should be careful when they are around small size animals.

It’s most likely that they will try to chase them.

Let’s see what are other interesting information on these energetic dogs.

Quick Facts

Real name: Schipperke
Other names: Spitzke, Spits, Spitske, Little Black Devil (Belgium), Little Captain (Flemish)
Origin: Belgium
Breed type: Companion Dogs
Weight: 11 to 18 pounds
Height: 10 to 15 inches tall at the shoulder
Lifespan: 13 to 15 years
Litter Size: 2 – 7 puppies
Color: Most commonly black, but they may be cream or red/liver
Coat: Double coat

Schipperke History

Schipperke is an old breed. Their roots can be traced back to the 1600s in Belgium.

Originally from this European country, Schipperke is one of the earlier recognized dogs.

In fact, these small size dogs were first recognized in the 1880s, while their first standard was written in 1889. There aren’t many documents on this breed, but we know that the most information on these black dogs can be found in Hunting and Fishing magazines, in articles that were translated from French to English, and later on published by The Stockkeeper, the English magazine.

These dogs were often seen on ships chasing rats which is why working close to humans to them feels natural.

Schipperke means “little boatman” or “little captain” in the Flemish language.

In Dutch they are known as ‘little shepherd.’

Needless to say that this dog was very impressive work-wise. People loved their sharp mind, willingness to complete the task and soft temper.

As for the States, these dogs are best known as “Belgian canal barge dogs” or “Belgian ship dogs.”

During WWII these small size dogs were used to run messages. Thanks to DNA studies, it’s now known that these small dogs are genetically related more to the Pomeranian than they’re related to the Belgian sheepdog.

As expected, they are linked with Spitz-type breeds.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed in 1904, by putting them under the Non-Sporting Group.

Schipperke Physical Appearance

Schipperke is a small size dog of commonly black coat which gives him that fluffy look. These dogs are always packed with pricked ears and gentle expressions.

Overall, they are compact, sturdy, and double coated. Their undercoat is fluffy, while the outer coat is longer and outer. Their long ruff is one of their characteristics.

They are commonly black, but sometimes they may be blonde or cream. Liver-red coloration is rare. In the States, their tail is usually docked the day after birth. In countries where docking is forbidden their tails are up-curled and spiraled.

Schipperke Personality

Schipperkes are energetic dogs who love to be active outdoors and clingy indoors.

They are naturally curious, so be ready for long walks and frequent stops to sniff around.

Schipperke is a great family dog. They will get along with children of all ages as long as they know how to behave around dogs.

Children should be educated on what is allowed around dogs and what are big no-no moments.

For example, they should know not to pull dg’s ears, tail or to disturb them while they are eating, resting, or eating/drinking.

No matter how well children and dogs might get along their interaction should always be supervised.

Schipperkes will get along with other dogs. They tend to be noisy and nothing will stop them from barking either as an alert or as a form of entertainment.

Do Schipperke Dogs Bark A Lot?

Schipperkes are great watchdogs.

As such they are prone to barking excessively. They are highly reserved toward strangers, and they will bark to inform that there is an unfamiliar person there. This is why barking should be addressed during the training phase.

Schipperke Training

Schipperkes are active dogs and they love when there is a job to be done.

Did you know that dogs can master basic commands as of eight weeks of age? This is why training should start as soon as you bring your Schipperke home.

Arm yourself with enough patience, training toys, treats, and a great training structure.

To get the most out of training sessions make them:

  • Fun
  • Short
  • Consistent
  • Reward-based
  • Engaging

Dogs love rewards, especially once they come from a well-performed task.

Always use positive reinforcement and never punish your dog. No dog should experience any harsh training methods or negative reinforcement.

If you feel that you need support training your Schipperke thinks about hiring a professional dog trainer or enrolling your puppy in puppy classes.

Either of these two options can speed up the training process and provide great inputs.

Schipperke Exercise

Schipperkes love being active. For them, additional exercise is a must if you want your dog to be mentally stimulated and physically fit.

They love a good workout, either an intense walk or a good run with other dogs in the dog park.

Exercise is what keeps dogs fit and their joints strong. These small size dogs will thrive in a home with outdoors lovers who will provide the proper care and exercise.

Schipperkes need at least half an hour of exercise daily, and more is even better.

Indoor games are a must to keep this breed engaging.

Are you a jogger? If so, you should know that energetic Schipperkes are great jogging partners. They can run up to five miles.

Just be careful with puppies. They should never be pushed above their limits.

Plus, their joints are developing and they shouldn’t be pushed into an arena of possible injuries, and an intense workout can lead to that.

Schipperke Grooming

The Schipperke’s coat needs regular brushing to remain neat, debris-free, and without tangles. They do shed.

However, weekly brushing should be enough to keep dead skin away. Make sure that you use the right grooming tool to make brushing a fast and easy process.

Use a slicker brush or a dog de-shedding tool to remove loose hair. Brushing your Schipperke twice a week should be enough to get that neat look.

The rest is basic care:

  • Grind or trim nails monthly
  • Bathe only when needed, and make sure that you use shampoo specially designed for dogs
  • Check gums weekly
  • Check eyes daily for any sign of eye discharge
  • Learn how to clean dog’s ears and when to do it

If you have any concerns regarding your dog’s grooming routine, make sure that you talk with your veterinarian.

If grooming your dog is too much work for you, think about professional grooming services. This may be pricey, but it will save you both time and energy.

Schipperke Health

Schipperkes are considered to be healthy dogs.

If you are buying a dog, you should only work with responsible dog breeders. This way you will be sure that you are getting a 100% healthy dog.

Reputable dog breeders will always screen puppies for most common health issues and present you with medical documentation on the puppy.

Plus, they will show you the facilities, let you meet the bitch if not both parents, and provide inputs on possible health issues and overall care.

Some of the health issues that may appear in this breed are:

  • Luxating patellas
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease
  • Eye problems
  • Thyroid problems

Once you get a dog you are directly responsible for his weight.

Obesity in dogs is on the rise across the States, and you don’t want your Schipperke to be part of this growing trend.

Think about nutrition. Provide high-quality food that can only your dog’s health.

Know how much you should feed your dog, how often, and how to read dog food labels. This simple skill will help you choose the best possible food for your Fido.

With so many different dog foods on the market, choosing the best one requires skill and time.

Always provide food that is appropriate to the dog’s size, age, and activity level.

Puppies cannot benefit from food for senior dogs and vice versa. Just like humans, dogs need specific nutrition to keep them active.

If you have any concerns regarding your dog’s diet or nutrition talk with your veterinarian.

Is Schipperke For You?

If you are a first time dog owner, active Schipperke isn’t the breed for you. They are needy, active, and a bit mischievous.

These small fox like dogs are also very curious, which is why they sniff everything around them. They may be small in size, but they will be highly impulsive and independent.

Keeping Schipperke on the leash in not-so-weel secured areas is a must. This breed isn’t for you if you don’t want to deal with possible aggression toward other animals, escape attempts, and lots of barking.

On the other hand, if you have experience as a dog owner, and you want a small size dog who is dynamic, curious, and has great watching skills, a Schipperke may be right for you.

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