Schipperkes are loyal, affectionate family dogs with charming personalities. They are small, energetic and have a mischievous sense of humour. Schipperkes are always alert, are suspicious of new people and will protect their owners if they feel threatened. Some highlights:
Loving family pets
Very healthy with long life spans
Low maintenance coats
As with all dog breeds, there are characteristics of the Schipperke that should be considered when deciding if this is the best-suited breed for your home and lifestyle. Schipperkes are not the best dogs for first time owners as they are strong-willed and stubborn, they require an owner who is firm, experienced and confident. Some downsides to the Schipperke:
Suffer from separation anxiety
Become destructive and loud when bored
Schipperkes were developed in Belgium and the Netherlands where they were used to guard canal boats and barges, provide companionship and keep rats away. It is thought that this breed descended from a Leauvenaar, a black sheepdog. Originally known as Spitske, or Spits, they were named Schipperke in 1888 when a breed club was established for them. The breed caught the eye of Queen Marie Henriette during a dog show in Belgium in 1885 and this was the beginning of their increasing popularity. The breed was first seen in the USA three years later and an official breed club was founded there in 1929. The Schipperke was used to carry messages between bases during the Second World War. Today, the breed remains loved for their versatility, intelligence and devotion but they are not as widely popular as they used to be. Schipperkes have been called ‘little black devil’, a nickname that comes from their curious nature and mischievous antics that often get them into trouble. Anyone wishing to bring a Schipperke into their home will likely need to go onto a waiting list.
The Schipperke is a small stocky looking dog with a fox-like head. They have long muzzles, black noses and dark brown oval eyes that always look alert and expressive. Their pointed erect ears are long, their coat is dense and the bulk of their body is exaggerated by their hair that stands out around the limbs, neck and shoulders. Traditionally, the tail of a Schipperke was docked but these days, most dogs have a long tail that may be curled over their back.
Fully-grown females are 25 – 30cm at the withers, males are slightly larger standing at between 28 – 33cm.
An adult Schipperke weighs between 3 – 9kg.
Schipperke come in black, cream and gold but black is the usual colour.
Schipperkes are full of energy, love to play and need to be kept entertained to prevent boredom. They are courageous, often suspicious of strangers and love to know exactly what is going on around them. Schipperkes are convinced they are big dogs and walk around with pride and confidence.
Yes, Schipperkes are always on high alert so they are excellent watchdogs. They will guard and protect by standing their ground and barking.
Schipperkes are one of the breeds that tend to like the sound of their own voice, they seem to enjoy barking and it can be difficult to stop them from voicing their opinion. Training them when they are still a puppy can move them away from this behaviour.
As an intelligent dog, Schipperkes are quick learners and respond well to short training sessions. The downside to their intelligence is that they become bored easily and they can quickly pick up bad habits. Short sessions with fair, consistent training should do the trick with a Schipperke.
Yes, Schipperkes are playful, mischievous and very entertaining to be around. The breed remains puppy-like well into their senior years so you can expect their playful nature far beyond their puppy years.
Schipperkes are great around children although they can be quite lively so it is important to supervise any interactions to ensure playtime doesn’t get too boisterous. Schipperkes can also be wary of children they don’t know so be cautious of this.
Generally, Schipperkes are good with other dogs but they can be very territorial. When it comes to small animals, Schipperkes are likely to chase them so it is better to avoid contact with smaller animals altogether.
Schipperkes can be left alone for short periods without problem but they do not handle being left alone for long periods well, they can become destructive when alone. They are best suited to living in a household where there is always someone at home with them.
Most Schipperkes enjoy swimming, particularly when the weather is warm.
The average lifespan of a Schipperke is 13 – 15 years,
The high energy Schipperke requires between 40 - 60 minutes of exercise each day, preferably off lead in an extremely secure area (these dogs seem to have a way of finding weakness in a fence and escaping).
Schipperkes are generally healthy, hardy dogs, there are a few health issues that affect the breed including:
Muscopolysaccharidosis (all dogs MUST be DNA tested for this)
Schipperkes can live happily in an apartment as long as they get enough physical exercise and mental stimulation. If you have a garden, make sure it is very secure as your Schipperke will test every part of the fence looking for a way to escape.
It is important to stick to the breeder’s feeding schedule when you first bring your Schipperke home. Any changes you make to your dog’s diet need to be made gradually. As a rough guide, an adult Schipperke weighing 6kg can be fed 95 – 110g of high quality dog food each day.
Schipperkes have a double coat that is very low maintenance, weekly brushing is enough to keep their coat in good condition.
Yes, Schipperkes are light shedders year-round and heavier shedding is seen in Spring and Autumn.
As a rough guide in pricing: Cost to buy: roughly £650+ for a well-bred Schipperke puppy Other costs (Vet, Food etc): £60 per month
You can read our general buying guide here (/advice-on-buying-a-puppy/), with the most important thing being going to view your Schipperke Puppy, seeing it with its mother, and checking the quality of the breeder. More specifically, here is some Schipperke puppy buying advice:
Avoid buying an extra small Schipperke puppy as they often suffer from serious health issues and very small puppies can be a sign of poor breeding practices.
Some Schipperkes are naturally tailless, it is very important to ensure your puppy has not had its tail docked as this used to be common practice but is now illegal and should only be performed as a result of a health issue. Any tail docking requires proper documentation and authorisation.
Avoid online scams by meeting the breeder in person and confirming they are legitimate and can provide the relevant paperwork for the puppy before paying any money towards buying the dog.
As Schipperkes numbers are low you may need to be put onto a waiting list for a well-bred puppy.
A big thank you to the following sources who helped to shape this article: