The Schipperke

The tailless Schipperke hails from the Flemish regions of Belgium and is recognized as having a particularly mischievous expression. His bloodlines are tied to the Leauvenaar and black sheepdog, but he was made smaller over time. He often accompanied tradesmen or worked on riverboats to exterminate vermin. It was the latter activity that led to his name; “Schip” is a Flemish word meaning boat. Schipperkes are also known as “Little Captains.”

The American Kennel Club recognized the Schipperke in 1904.

Sizing up

  • Weight: 10 to 16 lbs.
  • Height: 10 to 13 inches
  • Coat: Double, with a harsh top coat and a dense, soft undercoat
  • Color: Black
  • Life expectancy: 13 to 15 years

What’s the Schipperke like?
The Schipperke is curious, active, and independent. Don’t be surprised to find him sniffing around for the next cool thing he can do (especially if it means causing trouble). He can be adventurous. The same energy that drives him to always be moving, gives him the instincts he needs to be a great watchdog. He loves his family and will want to be involved in everything.

Schips need vigorous exercise, fortunately they will provide much for themselves. Still, they would love a game of fetch or a nice walk.

The Schipperke can be extremely headstrong and likes to march to a beat of his own drum, which is why early training and socialization is so important. You’ll need to be firm and consistent but also use positive reinforcements. Food rewards are another great motivator.

Grooming your Schip is fairly easy with a good brushing about once a week, and maybe a little more often during shedding seasons.

The Schipperke has several health concerns to watch for:

Hip dysplasia

  • One of the most common diseases seen in dogs, with larger breeds being the most affected. It is ultimately a malfunction of the hip joints.

Legg-Calve-Perthes disease

  • A bone disorder and the result of decomposition of the hip joint


  • A condition that clouds the lens of the eye and in some cases can lead to blindness

Progressive retinal atrophy

  • An eye condition that essentially worsens over time and could lead to loss of vision


  • A disease caused by a decrease in metabolism due to an under-active thyroid hormone.

Mucopolysaccharidosis Type IIIb

  • An inherited disease that occurs when an enzyme is missing due to mutations in the gene

Takeaway points

  • The Schipperke makes an excellent watchdog.
  • The Schipperke can adapt to many different living situations.
  • The Schipperke needs to be well trained at a young age.
  • The Schipperke would be a great family dog.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

Reviewed on: 
Wednesday, December 31, 2014