Schipperke looking forward

Quick Facts


10 to 16 pounds


11 to 13 inches (male)

10 to 12 inches (female)

Average Lifespan:

12-16 years

Known For:

Born to be watchdogs, very curious, lively and great companions.


Welcome to the delightful world of the Schipperke! Known for its curious nature and fox-like appearance, the Schipperke is a small breed hailing from Belgium. Its name means “little captain” in Flemish, a nod to its history as a watchdog on canal boats. 


This spirited little dog has captured the hearts of many with its playful, energetic demeanor and unyielding loyalty, making it a popular choice among dog enthusiasts and families alike.

History and Origin

The Schipperke has a fascinating history, originating from Belgium in the early 16th century. Initially bred for herding and guarding livestock, this diminutive dog quickly found a place on canal boats, earning its nickname “little captain.” Its keen senses and alert nature made it an excellent ratter and guardian of the boat’s cargo.


The breed gained popularity in the 1880s when Queen Marie Henriette of Belgium became a fan of the Schipperke, which significantly increased its presence both in Belgium and abroad. The first Schipperke in the United States was recorded in 1888, and the American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed in 1904.


One of the most notable events in the Schipperke’s history is the “Schipperke Crisis” in 1897. A dispute arose over whether tail docking (a common practice for the breed) should be standard. This disagreement led to a temporary division among enthusiasts, but eventually, both tailed and tailless Schipperkes continued to be embraced by the dog-loving community.

Breed Characteristics


Barking Tendency

Dog Friendly

Health Issues

Shedding Level









Cat Friendly

Exercise Needs


Social Needs








App. Friendly

Child Friendly


Energy Level

Stranger Friendly

Watchdog Instincts







Appearance and Size

With its foxy face and spirited eyes, the Schipperke is undeniably charming. This small, yet sturdy breed typically weighs between 10 to 16 pounds and stands about 10 to 13 inches tall at the shoulder. Its distinctive silhouette, characterized by a sloping backline and a full, plume-like tail (or lack thereof in some), is one of its most recognizable features.


The Schipperke sports a dense double coat, with a soft undercoat and harsher outer coat, giving it a distinctive ruff around the neck, cape over the shoulders, and culottes on the back of the thighs. This breed comes primarily in a striking black color, although it can occasionally be found in shades of blue, chocolate, or fawn.


The Schipperke’s alert expression and pricked ears give it a lively and inquisitive appearance, reflecting its energetic and curious nature. Its small but robust build makes it well-suited to various activities, from guarding to agility, demonstrating the versatility of this captivating breed.

Personality and Temperament

Step into the world of a Schipperke, and you’ll find a bundle of joy filled with energy, intelligence, and a touch of mischief! These little captains are known for their alert and curious nature, making every day an adventure. Schipperkes are characterized by their independence and confidence, but they also form strong bonds with their families, showcasing a loyal and protective side.


Schipperkes are often described as “big dogs in small bodies” due to their bold and fearless disposition. They are naturally inquisitive, often exploring their surroundings and being on alert for any unusual activity. This makes them excellent watchdogs, as they won’t hesitate to alert their owners to strangers or potential threats.


However, beneath their spirited exterior lies a loving and affectionate companion. Schipperkes thrive on human interaction and enjoy being part of family activities. They get along well with children, offering playful companionship, but their interaction with other pets may require careful supervision due to their strong prey drive.

Health and Lifespan

Owning a Schipperke is a joyful and rewarding experience, and with proper care, these little dogs can lead a healthy and happy life. Schipperkes have a lifespan of approximately 12 to 14 years. Like all breeds, they can be prone to certain health conditions, but being informed and proactive can help ensure your furry friend stays fit and well.


Some of the common health issues that may affect Schipperkes include hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, eye disorders such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and a genetic disorder called MPS IIIB, which is specific to the breed. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and proper exercise are essential to maintaining their health and wellbeing.


Reassuringly, many Schipperkes live long, healthy lives when provided with the right care and attention. Regular grooming, dental care, and a balanced diet can help prevent common health issues and contribute to their overall wellness. Being attentive to any changes in behavior or appearance can aid in early detection and treatment of potential health concerns.

Care and Maintenance

Schipperke grooming

Caring for a Schipperke is a delightful responsibility that comes with rewards aplenty! Their dense double coat does shed, particularly during the shedding seasons, so regular brushing is essential to keep their coat healthy and reduce loose hair around the home. Despite their energetic nature, Schipperkes adapt well to apartment living as long as they receive sufficient exercise and mental stimulation.


Schipperkes are active and intelligent, requiring daily exercise and engagement to keep them happy. A combination of walks, playtime, and interactive games can help channel their energy positively and strengthen the bond between pet and owner. Training and socialization from an early age are crucial for a well-mannered Schipperke, as their independent nature can make them a bit stubborn at times.


Feeding your Schipperke a balanced and nutritious diet is fundamental to their overall health. Portion control is important as they can be prone to weight gain. Regular veterinary check-ups, vaccinations, and parasite control contribute to a happy and healthy life for your Schipperke companion.

Training and Behavior

Embarking on the training journey with a Schipperke can be an exciting and rewarding experience! These small but spirited dogs are known for their intelligence and agility, making them quick learners when motivated. However, their independent streak can sometimes lead to a touch of stubbornness, so patience and consistency are key.


Positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, work wonders with Schipperkes. Early socialization and exposure to various environments, people, and other animals help in developing a well-rounded and adaptable dog. Addressing any signs of territorial behavior or excessive barking early on is crucial to ensure harmonious living.


Schipperkes thrive on mental stimulation, so incorporating puzzle toys and games into their routine can help keep their minds sharp. Consistent boundaries and clear communication are essential in fostering a respectful and trusting relationship with your Schipperke, ensuring a happy and well-behaved companion.

Schipperke and Families

Schipperke with people

Schipperkes and families can form heartwarming bonds filled with joy and companionship! Their loyal and protective nature makes them excellent family members, and their playful and energetic disposition can bring laughter and activity to any household.


While Schipperkes are known for their affection towards their human family, interactions with young children should always be supervised to ensure the safety and comfort of both the child and the dog. Teaching children how to approach and handle dogs is essential in fostering positive relationships.


Schipperkes can coexist peacefully with other pets when properly introduced and socialized, but their strong prey drive means that interactions with smaller animals should be monitored closely. With proper guidance and supervision, Schipperkes can be loving and playful additions to families of all shapes and sizes.

Adopting a Schipperke

Thinking about welcoming a Schipperke into your life? Adopting one of these charming little captains can be a joyful and life-enriching decision! Start by researching reputable breeders or rescue organizations and spend time interacting with different dogs to find the right match for your lifestyle and personality.


Consider your living environment, daily routine, and the amount of time you can dedicate to training, exercise, and companionship. Schipperkes are adaptable and can thrive in various settings, but they do require engagement and attention to keep them happy and healthy.

Before bringing a Schipperke home, ensure that you are prepared for the responsibilities of dog ownership, including veterinary care, grooming, nutrition, and exercise. 


Providing a loving and stable environment will help your new furry friend settle in and become a cherished member of the family.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the temperament of a Schipperke?

Schipperkes are curious, energetic, and confident. They are known for their watchdog abilities and are loyal to their family, often displaying a mischievous streak.

How much exercise does a Schipperke need?

They have high energy levels and require daily exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom. Activities should include walks, play, and training sessions.

Are Schipperkes good with children?

They can be good with children, especially if raised with them. However, their energetic nature may be overwhelming for very young children.

What health issues can affect Schipperkes?

They are generally healthy but can be prone to conditions such as hypothyroidism, epilepsy, and eye problems. Regular health screenings can help manage these conditions.

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