Breed Type:  Non-Sporting Dog
Country of Origin: Belgium
Size:  Small
Also known as:  Little Black Fox
Males and Females: Height: 21-33 cm Weight: 5.4-7.3 kg
Exercise Requirements:  Medium
Care Requirements: Medium
Lifespan: 14-16 Years
Best Suited as:  Family Dog

The Schipperke is a headstrong dog with a mischievous expression and a fox like face. Not easily outsmarted, this breed needs an intelligent owner that will find many outlets for his pet’s boundless energy and playful antics.

Appearance
The Schipperke is a small, cobby dog with a fox like face.  They have a smooth, graceful gait. Sometimes referred to as a “little black fox” or “little black devil” these names fit their looks and curious nature. Square in shape, they have usually have a black coat, but their coat may also come in other solid colors as well.  They have a double coat, which forms a standout ruff, cape and culottes. The coat on their face, ears, front of the forelegs and on the hocks are normally clipped shorter. The undercoat is fluffy and soft while the over coat tends to be more rough. Schipperke puppies are born with differing tail lengths but in countries where it is legal to dock their tails, the Schipperke appears tailless.

Their ears are small and pointed and stand erect on the top of their heads. Their expression is curious and questioning, but not aggressive or mean.  They have dark brown eyes that are small and oval shaped.

Temperament
The Schipperke is highly intelligent, independent, bold, and active.  He is not the dog for a couch potato.  Requiring constant mental and physical stimulation, anyone considering this dog needs to be ready to provide their pet with lots of adventurous activities.  When given the proper outlet, he can be a loyal and amiable pet.

When the Schipperke does not want to do something, his headstrong nature can get him into trouble.  Known for ignoring commands that do not please the Schipperke, an experienced dog owner is usually the best trainer for this dog. When trained properly, the Schipperke will prove his loyalty through obedient behavior.

The Schipperke is a great watchdog. You can count on them to bark at all visitors who come to the door and are often slow to warm up to strangers. They are also uncannily aware when something is amiss. Owners have reported that their Schipperkes are often unnerved when they notice that belongings that are “out of place”. Despite this rigidness, they are excellent travelers and are always ready for a long road trip.

History
The origin of the Schipperke is unknown. Manuscripts discovered from the 15th and 16th centuries in Belgium mention that there were small, black, tailless dogs but is unknown whether these are Schipperke ancestors.  In the 19th century, the breed became increasingly popular in Belgium.  They were used as watchdogs and vermin hunters on barges.  Almost every Belgium household that had a dog, owned a Schipperke, and it was later acknowledged as the national dog.

Although many commoners owned a Schipperke, they were not popular with the upper class until 1885 when Queen Marie Henriette adopted a Schipperke she saw at a dog show.  Many were also exported to England and the United States at that time which made them harder to come by in Belgium.  The Schipperke standard was written in the 1890’s and was first recognized as a formal breed in the 1880’s.

In the Second World War, Schipperkes were used to run messages between various resistance hideouts in the Belgian Resistance.  Due to their bravery and love of the water, Schipperkes are world sea travelers and make excellent first mates. Today Schipperkes can be found in Europe, the United States, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Care and Grooming
When it comes to grooming, the Schipperke is a low-maintenance dog. They shed moderately and should be bathed occasionally. Their coat should be brushed several times a month.Schipperkes can “blow” their coats (losing their undercoats) several times a year.  Owners recommend during this time giving their Schipperkes a warm bath to help keep the shedding to a minimum. Blowing their undercoat can last several days or weeks and can take up to two to three months to grow back.

Due to their active nature and high-energy, your Schipperke needs the opportunity to exercise its mind and body. Your Schipperke will love playing a vigorous game in the yard, any kind of a hunting game, or a going for a walk.

Health
Schipperkes tend to be healthy animals, but like all dogs, they can suffer from some health issues. Australian Schipperkes tend to be healthier than their brothers across the seas, particularly when it comes to eye disease.  Some Schipperkes (about 15%) are also affected by MPS IIIB, which is a genetic mutation that can cause serious problems. Usually the symptoms of the disease start exhibiting themselves when a Schipperke is between two to four years old. The symptoms include: tremors, difficulty walking, losing their balance and developing a reddish cast to their fur. Most dogs need to be euthanized after two or three years of the onset of symptoms. A test has been developed to test for the gene and your breeder should order one before you purchase your puppy.

Suitability as a Pet
This intelligent, quick-witted breed is not for the inexperienced dog owner. A Schipperke needs a strong human leader with experience training dogs. With the right training, a Schipperke makes a loving pet and is good in most families including those with primary school aged children, elderly people and people with small yards.  A Schipperke puppy needs to be socialized early with all family members and family pets. They do well with other dogs and some cats but care must be taken around smaller furry animals (Schipperkes are known for hunting them).

When ignored or mistreated, Schipperkes can be aggressive towards other dogs and destroy property inside and outside your home. Because he is easily bored, someone considering a Schipperke needs to carefully consider the time and energy this breed needs.

A Schipperke can live in just about any environment including an apartment as long as they get ample exercise. They are excellent travelers and do very well on long boat and car rides. If you are an adventurer, this dog will fit right into your lifestyle.