Schipperke is a delightful breed of dog known for its small size and lively personality. Originating from Belgium, these charming canines have distinctive black coats and fox-like faces that capture the hearts of many. Despite their diminutive stature, Schipperkes are fearless and energetic, making them excellent companions for active families. With their keen intelligence and independent spirit, they often excel in various dog sports and activities. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the Schipperke breed, exploring their history, characteristics, and why they’re cherished by dog enthusiasts worldwide.

History and Origin of the Schipperke


Belgian Heritage

The Schipperke is a small breed of dog that originates from Belgium. This lively and intelligent breed has a rich heritage that can be traced back to the late 17th century. They were primarily bred and developed in the region surrounding Brussels, where they were highly valued for their versatile skills.

Early Development

In the early days, the Schipperke was primarily used as a working dog on barges and canal boats. Their main role was to guard the boats and their cargo, as well as to catch any vermin that might have infested the vessels. Their compact size, agility, and fearlessness made them well-suited for this task.

Over time, the Schipperke’s popularity grew beyond the canals, and they started to become cherished companions in Belgian households. Their intelligence and loyalty made them excellent family pets, and they quickly became known for their charming and mischievous personalities.

Schipperke Name and Meaning

The name “Schipperke” itself holds significance in the breed’s history. It is believed to have originated from the Flemish word “schipper,” which means “boatman” or “captain.” This name pays homage to the Schipperke’s origins as a working dog on the Belgian waterways.

In addition to its historical meaning, the name perfectly describes the breed’s distinctive appearance. The Schipperke is a small, black dog with a fox-like face and a thick, plush coat. Their resemblance to a little black devil is often highlighted by their mischievous nature and lively demeanor.

In summary, the Schipperke’s history and origin are deeply rooted in Belgium. From their early days as working dogs on barges to their current role as beloved companions, these fearless little black devils have left an indelible mark on the hearts of dog lovers worldwide.

Physical Characteristics

Schipperke dog

Size and Appearance

The Schipperke breed is known for its small yet sturdy build. These fearless little black devils typically stand between 10 to 13 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh around 10 to 16 pounds. Despite their small size, Schipperkes have a well-muscled and compact body, giving them an agile and nimble appearance.

Distinctive Coat

One of the most striking features of the Schipperke is its distinctive coat. They have a dense double coat that consists of a harsh, straight outer coat and a soft, dense undercoat. The outer coat is typically black, although other color variations such as cream or chocolate are also seen but less common. Their thick coat provides excellent protection against various weather conditions.

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Tail and Ears

Schipperkes have a unique tail and ear set. Their tail is usually docked to a length of around three vertebrae, which gives them a fox-like appearance. However, in countries where tail docking is prohibited, Schipperkes have a natural, slightly curved tail that is carried high over their back. As for their ears, they are small, erect, and triangular in shape, adding to the breed’s alert and attentive expression.

Overall, the physical characteristics of the Schipperke breed contribute to their distinctive and captivating appearance. From their compact size and muscular build to their distinct coat and tail, these fearless little black devils possess a charm that is hard to resist.

Temperament and Personality

Fearless and Alert

The Schipperke breed is well-known for its fearless nature and alertness. These little black devils are constantly on the lookout for any potential danger or threat, making them excellent watchdogs. Despite their small size, Schipperkes have a courageous and bold personality that allows them to fearlessly protect their loved ones and territory.

Loyal and Protective

One of the most admirable traits of a Schipperke is their unwavering loyalty and protective nature towards their family. They form strong bonds with their owners and are always ready to defend them if the need arises. Whether it’s a loud noise or a stranger approaching, a Schipperke will not hesitate to raise the alarm and protect their loved ones with great determination.

Independent and Intelligent

Schipperkes are not only fearless and loyal but also highly independent and intelligent. These dogs have a mind of their own and are known for their problem-solving abilities. They can quickly assess situations and make decisions accordingly. While their independence may make training a bit challenging, their intelligence allows them to grasp commands and learn new tricks with ease.

In conclusion, the Schipperke breed possesses a remarkable temperament and personality. Their fearlessness and alertness make them excellent watchdogs, while their loyalty and protectiveness make them wonderful family companions. Additionally, their independence and intelligence add an extra layer of uniqueness to their personality, making them an ideal choice for those seeking a dynamic and intelligent companion.

Training and Exercise

Socialization and Obedience Training

Proper socialization and obedience training are crucial for Schipperkes to thrive and be well-behaved companions. These intelligent and independent dogs require early socialization to develop good manners and a friendly attitude towards people and other animals. Exposing them to various environments, situations, and individuals from an early age will help prevent any potential behavioral issues as they grow older. Obedience training is also essential to establish a strong bond with your Schipperke and ensure they understand and follow commands reliably. Consistency, positive reinforcement, and patience are key when training a Schipperke, as they respond best to reward-based methods.

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Mental Stimulation

Schipperkes are highly intelligent dogs that thrive on mental challenges. Providing them with ample mental stimulation is essential to keep them happy and prevent boredom-induced behavioral problems. Engaging activities such as puzzle toys, interactive games, and training sessions that involve problem-solving will keep their minds sharp and focused. Additionally, teaching them new tricks and commands regularly will not only stimulate their intellect but also strengthen the bond between you and your Schipperke.

Physical Exercise

Despite their small size, Schipperkes are energetic and require regular physical exercise to maintain their well-being. Daily walks, play sessions, and off-leash activities in a securely fenced area are necessary to fulfill their exercise needs. These agile little dogs also enjoy participating in dog sports like agility or obedience trials, which provide both physical and mental stimulation. It is important to note that Schipperkes have a high prey drive, so keeping them on a leash or in a secure area is crucial to prevent them from chasing small animals or getting into potentially dangerous situations.

In conclusion, training and exercise play a vital role in the overall well-being and behavior of Schipperkes. Socialization and obedience training should be started early to ensure they grow up to be well-mannered and friendly dogs. Providing mental stimulation through interactive games and training sessions is essential to keep their sharp minds satisfied. Regular physical exercise, including walks and playtime, is necessary to meet their energy levels and prevent any potential behavioral issues. By investing time and effort into their training and exercise routine, you can enjoy a happy and well-adjusted Schipperke companion.

Health and Care

Common Health Issues

One of the benefits of owning a Schipperke is their overall good health. However, like any other breed, they may be prone to certain health issues. It is important for Schipperke owners to be aware of these conditions and take appropriate measures to keep their furry companions healthy.

Dental Problems

Schipperkes are known to be prone to dental issues, including gum disease and tooth decay. Therefore, regular dental care is crucial to prevent any potential problems. Brushing your Schipperke’s teeth regularly, providing dental chews, and scheduling professional dental cleanings can help maintain good oral hygiene.

Luxating Patella

Luxating patella, or kneecap dislocation, is a common orthopedic issue seen in small dog breeds, including Schipperkes. This condition can cause discomfort and may require surgical intervention in severe cases. Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of luxating patella.

Eye Problems

Schipperkes can be prone to eye problems such as cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and glaucoma. Regular eye examinations by a veterinarian can help detect any abnormalities early on and ensure appropriate treatment or management if needed.

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Grooming Needs

Despite their small size, Schipperkes have a thick double coat that requires regular grooming to keep it in top condition.

Coat Care

Schipperkes have a dense, weather-resistant outer coat and a soft undercoat. They shed moderately throughout the year and experience heavier shedding during seasonal changes. Regular brushing with a slicker brush or a grooming tool can help remove loose hair and prevent matting. Additionally, occasional baths using a dog-specific shampoo can keep their coat clean and healthy.

Nail Care

Like any other dog, Schipperkes need regular nail trims to prevent overgrowth. Long nails can cause discomfort and may lead to issues with walking or running. It is important to trim the nails carefully or seek professional help to avoid cutting into the quick, which can cause bleeding and pain.

Dental Care

As mentioned earlier, dental care is essential for Schipperkes. Regular brushing using a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste can help prevent dental issues. Additionally, providing dental chews and incorporating dental health into their diet can contribute to their overall oral hygiene.

Nutrition and Exercise

Proper nutrition and exercise are vital for maintaining the health and well-being of Schipperkes.

Balanced Diet

Feeding your Schipperke a high-quality, balanced diet is crucial for their overall health. Look for dog food formulas that are specifically designed for small breeds and meet their nutritional requirements. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate portion size and feeding schedule based on your dog’s age, weight, and activity level.

Exercise Needs

Despite their small size, Schipperkes are an active and energetic breed that requires regular exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Daily walks, interactive play sessions, and access to a secure, fenced yard for supervised playtime are beneficial for their well-being. Engaging in activities such as agility training or obedience classes can also help fulfill their exercise needs and provide mental stimulation.

Remember to always consult with a veterinarian or a professional dog trainer for personalized guidance on the health, care, and specific needs of your Schipperke. By providing proper health care, grooming, nutrition, and exercise, you can ensure a happy and healthy life for your fearless little black devil.

The Schipperke is a remarkable breed that has captured the hearts of many dog enthusiasts. Its fearless and independent nature, combined with its striking black coat, earns it the nickname “The Fearless Little Black Devil.” This article has explored the history, characteristics, and care requirements of the Schipperke, highlighting its intelligence, loyalty, and energetic personality. Whether as a devoted companion or a competitive show dog, the Schipperke’s unique qualities make it a beloved and admired breed. If you’re looking for a small yet spirited companion, the Schipperke may just be the perfect choice for you.