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  • Temperament: Confident, Alert, Curious
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 112 of 192
  • Height: 11-13 inches (male), 10-12 inches (female)
  • Weight: 10-16 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years
  • Group: Non-Sporting Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Schipperke
Schipperke
Schipperke
Schipperke
Schipperke

Find a Puppy: Schipperke

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Find Schipperke Puppies

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Schipperke is an agile, active watchdog and hunter of vermin. In appearance he is a small, thickset, cobby, black, tailless dog, with a fox-like face. The dog is square in profile and possesses a distinctive coat, which includes a stand-out ruff, cape and culottes. All of these create a unique silhouette, appearing to slope from shoulders to croup. Males are decidedly masculine without coarseness. Bitches are decidedly feminine without over-refinement. Any deviation from the ideal described in the standard should be penalized to the extent of the deviation. Faults common to all breeds are as undesirable in the Schipperke as in any other breed, even though such faults may not be specifically mentioned in the standard.

HEAD

Expression – The expression is questioning, mischievous, impudent and alert, but never mean or wild. The well proportioned head, accompanied by the correct eyes and ears, will give the dog proper Schipperke expression. Eyes – The ideal eyes are small, oval rather than round, dark brown, and placed forward on the head. Ears – The ears are small, triangular, placed high on the head, and, when at attention, very erect. A drop ear or ears is a disqualification. Nose – The nose is small and black.

BODY

Neck – The neck is of moderate length, slightly arched and in balance with the rest of the dog to give the correct silhouette. Topline – The topline is level or sloping slightly from the withers to the croup. The stand-out ruff adds to the slope, making the dog seem slightly higher at the shoulders than at the rump. Body – The chest is broad and deep, and reaches to the elbows. The well sprung ribs (modified oval) are wide behind the shoulders and taper to the sternum. The forechest extends in front of the shoulders between the front legs. The loin is short, muscular and moderately drawn up. The croup is broad and well-rounded with the tail docked. No tail is visually discernible.

FOREQUARTERS

Forequarters – The shoulders are well laid back, with the legs extending straight down from the body when viewed from the front. From the side, legs are placed well under the body. Pasterns are short, thick and strong, but still flexible, showing a slight angle when viewed from the side. Dewclaws are generally removed. Feet are small, round and tight. Nails are short, strong and black.

COAT

Coat: Pattern – The adult coat is highly characteristic and must include several distinct lengths growing naturally in a specific pattern. The coat is short on the face, ears, front of the forelegs and on the hocks; it is medium length on the body, and longer in the ruff, cape, jabot and culottes. The ruff begins in back of the ears and extends completely around the neck; the cape forms an additional distinct layer extending beyond the ruff; the jabot extends across the chest and down between the front legs. The hair down the middle of the back, starting just behind the cape and continuing over the rump, lies flat. It is slightly shorter than the cape but longer than the hair on the sides of the body and sides of the legs. The coat on the rear of the thighs forms culottes, which should be as long as the ruff. Lack of differentiation in coat lengths should be heavily penalized, as it is an essential breed characteristic.

HINDQUARTERS

Hindquarters – The hindquarters appear slightly lighter than the forequarters, but are well muscled, and in balance with the front. The hocks are well let down and the stifles are well bent. Extreme angulation is to be penalized. From the rear, the legs extend straight down from the hip through the hock to the feet. Dewclaws must be removed.

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About the Schipperke

Standing no higher than 13 inches, Schipperkes are small dogs built for hard work. Schips were created as ratters and watchdogs. Their powerful jaws, necks, and forequarters—coupled with a stealthy, catlike hunting style—make them ideal rat-catching machines. The black coat is profuse around the neck, shoulders, and legs, giving the breed a silhouette that accentuates a thick, substantial body. The foxy face completes the unique look of a unique breed. If you can’t tell a Schipperke from an ordinary dog, you simply haven’t been paying attention.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Schipperke

Find a Puppy: Schipperke

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Schipperke Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Schipperke should be fed a high-quality dog food appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) and activity level. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet or the dog’s breeder if you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should always be available.

GROOMING

The Schipperke’s coat needs only weekly brushing, though they do go through a shedding season once or twice a year. During these periods, more frequent brushing will help to keep the amount of shed hair under control. As with all breeds, the nails should be trimmed regularly, as overly long nails can cause the dog discomfort.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

Schipperkes are very active, energetic, and busy little dogs. A brisk daily walk or a romp in a fenced yard will provide needed exercise. They love playing and exploring, and they thrive in households that have the time and patience to properly train them and appreciate their playful personalities. Schips can also let off steam racing around the house or apartment.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

Due to their watchdog tendencies, Schipperkes can turn into barkers if not taught otherwise. Equally happy in an apartment or a home with a large yard, they should be kept on leash when not in a fenced area and should be taken to obedience classes. Schips absolutely need to be trained to come when called as early as possible, due to their instinctive urge to go exploring. They have an independent nature and can be a challenge to train. With persistent and patient owners, they can learn almost anything and can excel in sports such as obedience and agility. Some also do quite well at herding.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Independent

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Alert/Responsive

HEALTH

Schipperkes are generally healthy dogs, and reputable breeders screen their breeding stock for health concerns such as luxating patellas (slipping kneecaps), Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (hip problems), eye problems, and thyroid problems. Breeders can also test for MPS IIIB, a newly recognized and fatal disease that usually shows up by 2-4 years of age as balance problems, and avoid producing the disease by identifying carriers and breeding them appropriately. Regular visits to the vet for checkups and parasite control help to ensure the dog has a long, healthy life.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Patella Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Thyroid Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Schipperke
Schipperke
Schipperke

History

​Late medieval Belgium was the birthplace of the Schipperke (correctly pronounced “SHEEP-er-ker,” though many American owners say “SKIP-er-kee”). The breed earned its fame as shipboard exterminators on the canals that crisscrossed the Low Countries. The little black avenger of the Belgian dockyards was also a fearless watchdog on barges and in city shops. It was among the sailors and shopkeepers of Brussels and Antwerp that these quick, agile dogs earned the nickname “schipperke,” Flemish for “little captain.”

Did You Know?

The Schipperke is not derived from the Spitz or Pomeranian but is in fact a diminutive version of the black sheepdog commonly called the Leauvenaar, which used to follow the wagons along the Belgian provinces.
The Schipperke is known for his excellent watchdog abilities.
The Schipperke may claim the first known "specialty show" given for any breed, as in 1690 a show for Schipperkes of the Guild workmen in the Grand Palace of Brussels was held.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Schipperke is an agile, active watchdog and hunter of vermin. In appearance he is a small, thickset, cobby, black, tailless dog, with a fox-like face. The dog is square in profile and possesses a distinctive coat, which includes a stand-out ruff, cape and culottes. All of these create a unique silhouette, appearing to slope from shoulders to croup. Males are decidedly masculine without coarseness. Bitches are decidedly feminine without over-refinement. Any deviation from the ideal described in the standard should be penalized to the extent of the deviation. Faults common to all breeds are as undesirable in the Schipperke as in any other breed, even though such faults may not be specifically mentioned in the standard.

HEAD

Expression – The expression is questioning, mischievous, impudent and alert, but never mean or wild. The well proportioned head, accompanied by the correct eyes and ears, will give the dog proper Schipperke expression. Eyes – The ideal eyes are small, oval rather than round, dark brown, and placed forward on the head. Ears – The ears are small, triangular, placed high on the head, and, when at attention, very erect. A drop ear or ears is a disqualification. Nose – The nose is small and black.

BODY

Neck – The neck is of moderate length, slightly arched and in balance with the rest of the dog to give the correct silhouette. Topline – The topline is level or sloping slightly from the withers to the croup. The stand-out ruff adds to the slope, making the dog seem slightly higher at the shoulders than at the rump. Body – The chest is broad and deep, and reaches to the elbows. The well sprung ribs (modified oval) are wide behind the shoulders and taper to the sternum. The forechest extends in front of the shoulders between the front legs. The loin is short, muscular and moderately drawn up. The croup is broad and well-rounded with the tail docked. No tail is visually discernible.

FOREQUARTERS

Forequarters – The shoulders are well laid back, with the legs extending straight down from the body when viewed from the front. From the side, legs are placed well under the body. Pasterns are short, thick and strong, but still flexible, showing a slight angle when viewed from the side. Dewclaws are generally removed. Feet are small, round and tight. Nails are short, strong and black.

COAT

Coat: Pattern – The adult coat is highly characteristic and must include several distinct lengths growing naturally in a specific pattern. The coat is short on the face, ears, front of the forelegs and on the hocks; it is medium length on the body, and longer in the ruff, cape, jabot and culottes. The ruff begins in back of the ears and extends completely around the neck; the cape forms an additional distinct layer extending beyond the ruff; the jabot extends across the chest and down between the front legs. The hair down the middle of the back, starting just behind the cape and continuing over the rump, lies flat. It is slightly shorter than the cape but longer than the hair on the sides of the body and sides of the legs. The coat on the rear of the thighs forms culottes, which should be as long as the ruff. Lack of differentiation in coat lengths should be heavily penalized, as it is an essential breed characteristic.

HINDQUARTERS

Hindquarters – The hindquarters appear slightly lighter than the forequarters, but are well muscled, and in balance with the front. The hocks are well let down and the stifles are well bent. Extreme angulation is to be penalized. From the rear, the legs extend straight down from the hip through the hock to the feet. Dewclaws must be removed.

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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Black Check Mark For Standard Color 007
Apricot 002
Black & Tan 018
Blue 037
Chocolate 071
Cream 076
Fawn 082
Gray 100
Red 140
White 199

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
White Markings 014

Other Breeds to Explore

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