About 15 years, though if kept active, many live to be 18 years old.
Northern, non-sporting group in the American Kennel Club's categorization.
CKC, FCI, AKC, UKC, ANKC, NKC, NZKC, APRI, ACR
The only acceptable color for Schipperkes is all black.
11-13 inches high at the highest point of the withers
10-12 inches high at the highest point of the withers
Because of their size, Schipperkes are good dogs for apartments. Because of their origins, they also love boats and being on the water, making them the perfect companion for boat dwellers! Many fishermen choose these dogs as companions because the dogs love the water as much as their owners.
The Schipperke is a breed that is largely unfamiliar to the average American. But this is a great breed for those who want a watchdog or hunter that's not too big. The Schipperke is a dog of Belgian origin. There has been much debate over the years as to whether Schipperke's are categorized as a terrier, spitz, or miniature sheepdog, though it is fairly certain that they descended from a breed of sheepdog. Many years ago, Schipperkes were also referred to as Spitzkes, Spitskes or Spits. In appearance, they strongly resemble the American Eskimo Spitz breed.
The Schipperke is short and thick. All purebred Schipperkes are black and all are tailless. Most puppies are born with a tail, but they should be de-tailed, rather than docked. Front dewclaws are removed from this breed, as are back dewclaws if the dog is to be showed. Removal of the tails and dewclaws is best performed between 48-72 hours of age, to avoid shock and minimize the discomfort. Removal at this age also ensures a short healing time. Removal of the dewclaws and tails should be performed only by qualified veterinarians.
Schipperke faces resemble that of a fox, and their short thick body makes them have a bit of a square shape, particularly when viewed from the side. Their double coat is very thick, with a ruff that stands out. Because of the way their coat stands out at the shoulders, the Schipperke appears to slope in shape from his shoulders to his croup.
The breed will have a very thick appearance, even when of an appropriate weight. They typically have a very alert and questioning expression, and are some of the most curious dogs you'll ever find. They have small oval eyes that are almost always dark brown. Their ears are small and triangular and are placed very high on the head. Any drop of the ear will be a fault in a Schipperke from a showing perspective. Their noses are small and black.
Medium in length, with a very thick double coat. The hair is soft around the face, but coarser on the body. The ruff stands out, with the body coat being shorter. Schipperke coats go through what is known as a "blow" as often as three times a year for females. When the coat blows, the entire undercoat is shed in about ten days.
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.
While Schipperkes are not a popular family dog in the US, they make great companion animals. They are very good watchdogs are very devoted to their masters. At first meeting, you may find the Schipperke to seem a little aloof. However, this is because he is a bit wary of strangers. This trait is what makes him such a good watchdog. He will alert his owner to anything unusual by barking. He will defend his territory and his master faithfully. However, once he gets to know you, he is friendly and loving.
Schipperkes are confident and independent dogs, as a result of having been bred to be small watchdogs and vermin hunters. Their size, accompanied with their temperament makes them an excellent breed for the apartment dweller who wants a protective dog.
Schipperkes are good family dogs, particularly if your children are a little older. Young, untrained Schipperkes might not be very tolerant of toddlers. They typically will happily accept other pets in the home, except the occasional additional same gender dog. They usually do very well with cats. They are very intelligent dogs, but they can be a bit stubborn. Because of their natural tendency to hunt, you may find them chasing small animals outdoors and they may have a tendency to run from you when let off leash.
Schipperkes are fairly healthy dogs. However the breed is prone to Hypothyroidism, Epilepsy, hip dysplasia and hip sockets that tend to slip. They are also prone to Cataracts, Legg Calve Perthes, Progressive Retinal Atrophy and MPS 111B. MPS 111B is a fairly newly discovered disease, which affects about 15%of the Schipperke population. There is a genetic test is available for this disease, but only through the University of Pennsylvania. If you're considering a Schipperke puppy, ensure that the breeder has had the dog tested.
Due to the tendency for hip problems, it is important not to let your Schipperke become overweight, as carrying around excess weight only aggravates the problem. However, because this breed is so energetic, and loves to run, if you give them the appropriate opportunity to Exercise, they're unlikely to become overweight. Once past the puppy stage, one good meal each day of a nutritionally sound dog food will be all he needs. Avoiding table scraps will reduce the likelihood that he'll become overweight.
Schipperkes have a very thick, medium length coat but it stays fairly clean. You should brush it regularly with a firm bristle brush, and dry shampoo it occasionally. Their coats do not need to be cut or trimmed. They shed very little on a regular basis, but their coats go through what is known as a "blow" as often as three times a year for females. When the coat blows, the entire undercoat is shed in about ten days. During this time, it's a good idea to bathe the dog and either brush them or use forced air to remove the hair two or three times during this ten day period.
The shedding hair is itchy and uncomfortable to the dog, and leaves a big mess in your house, so it's best to groom them outdoors during this period, if possible. Once the blow period is over, Schipperkes look pretty much hairless for about 2-3 months, after which time a beautiful new coat will grow in. Males and spayed females shed less than unaltered females, and all of the dogs have fewer blow periods as they get older. You'll find that your Schipperke requires a lot of grooming attention during the blow period, but very little at other times.
Schipperkes are extremely energetic dogs, and need their fair share of exercise. Giving them the opportunity to run free outdoors for a few minutes each day will keep them healthy and let them release some of their natural energy. If they're not exercised enough outdoors, you're likely to find them running around your house! These dogs really enjoy a play time, whether it's indoors or outdoors. Indoor games of fetch will help give them a bit of exercise between outdoor visits.
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.