(aka: Spitzkes, Spitskes, Spits)
The Schipperke is a small, sturdily built dog, who looks every bit as mischievous as he is. He has a dense coat with a harsh texture, and the hair on his neck and shoulders is slightly longer giving the appearance of a ruff. He has erect, small ears, that add to his alert expression. The coloring of the Schipperke is solid black. These dogs are around 12-18 pounds in weight, and the height of the Schipperke is around 10-12 inches for females and around 11-13 inches for males.
Loyal, alert, and affectionate, the Schipperke is a small dog with plenty of character and personality. High spirited, playful, and inquisitive, the Schipperke has bags of courage and seems to think that he is much bigger than he actually is. These dogs are best suited to those with some experience of dog ownership, as they can be mischievous, stubborn, and even manipulative - he requires an assertive and confident owner to provide firm, consistent, yet positive training. He is an intelligent dog and this makes him easy to train. The Schipperke is an alert creature and will bark to raise the alarm, making him an effective watchdog. He is intelligent and quick to learn, but his independent streak and willful nature can make training something of a challenge for the more inexperienced. Nevertheless, these dogs are devoted and love to be around people, making them entertaining and loving family pets.
Housebreaking the Schipperke can be difficult in some cases, and some owners may find themselves facing a challenge when it comes to grooming and handling these dogs - again, effective and consistent handling and training is important. The Schipperke is a born climber and digger, and therefore needs proper supervision and a safe, secure place to play and exercise when not on a leash. With gentle, older children the Schipperke should get on well, but he is very way around strangers. Early socialization is recommended in order to promote a more stable and sociable attitude. He tends to get along well with household pets such as cats and dogs, but may give chase to strange animals. He should also not be trusted around smaller creatures that run, or with caged creatures. Although the Schipperke can be a handful, with the right owner and leadership he can make a great pet and companion.
For those with little time for grooming the Schipperke is a good choice, as the grooming requirements for this breed are low. You should brush his coat once a week to keep it in good condition, although this will need to be increased during periods of heavy shedding. The Schipperke is a medium shedder, and sheds more heavily on a seasonal basis, so he is not ideal for those with allergies.
The Schipperke was originally raised in Flanders, Belgium by a canal boat captain named Renssens. They are thought to have descended from the black Belgian sheepdog. Over time, as they were bred to be smaller than the Belgian sheepdog, they became their own breed. They were bred to be small in order to be good watchdogs and hunters for the boats, as well as being good companions for the captains, who spent many months each year at sea. In fact, Schipperke even means "little captain" in Flemish.
By the late 1800's they had become very popular house dogs for the Belgians, and it was around this time that they were introduced to the US and Great Britain. Today, they are mostly used as companion dogs, and still are often favored by those who spend a lot of time on boats. In 1929, The Schipperke Club of America, Inc. was founded. At the first meeting, the club applied for, and was accepted for membership in the American Kennel Club.
Because of their natural intelligence and eagerness to learn, they are usually easy to train, if you are consistent and firm. But they are independent and strong willed, so you must train early and consistently.
The one area where Schipperkes seem to be notoriously hard to train is in the area of housebreaking. For this reason, it's extremely important to be very firm and consistent when housebreaking your puppy. Whenever you're not actively engaging your Schipperke, he should be confined to his kennel to prevent accidents on your floor. Once he has begun to go to the bathroom on the floor, the bad habit has started and it will be very difficult to break.
Never allow your Schipperke to roam freely about the house until he is thoroughly housebroken. This may seem unkind, but it is critical to proper house training. Plus, your puppy will come to love his kennel and feel at home in it.
However, it is just as important that you provide him regular access to going to the bathroom in the appropriate place, and that you praise him effusively when he is successful. If you are consistent at keeping him confined so that he cannot have accidents and provide him regular opportunities to go to the bathroom outside, your Schipperke will master house training, though it may take a bit longer than with some other breeds.
As mentioned before, early and consistent training of Schipperkes is critical. They are smart, but have a tendency to have a mind of their own. So, showing them who's boss early on is important. They tend to bark and howl, so you'll need to break them of this habit from the beginning. They often bark at the first sign of any noise or intrusion and their bark can be high pitched and extremely annoying. It's very important that your Schipperke not be left where he can annoy neighbors with his barking.
Respect training is critical, and you must plan to enforce rules consistently. Because these dogs are independent, if they can find a way to avoid your rules, they will do so. However, once you have firmly established rules, and your Schipperke has learned to obey them, these dogs are great and faithful companions.
Socializing your Schipperke is very important. Since these dogs are naturally wary of strangers, failure to socialize them may make them overly wary of people and of other dogs. Many experts recommend professional training for Schipperkes to ensure that all of the idiosyncrasies of the breed are considered during the training process. An untrained Schipperke can be a nuisance barker, prone to chasing things and may never adapt to people other than his owner. However, a well trained Schipperke will be able to use his natural traits to his advantage without letting them become overpowering and negative.
Schipperkes are great escape artists. If you plan to leave yours outdoors alone, you must ensure that your fence is secure. You'll need a higher fence than you think to keep this little guy in, and he's also a threat to dig under it. Keep a close eye on your Schipperke outdoors until you're certain that your fence is secure.
The life expectancy of the Schipperke is around 13-15 years, and there are a number of health problems to look out for with these dogs. This includes thyroid problems, Legg-Perthes, cataracts, epilepsy, PRA, and entropion. The parents of the Schipperke puppy should have OFA and CERF certificates.