Keeping our companions cool in summertime is a struggle for all dog owners, particularly for those of us whose breed of choice has a dark-colored or black coat, such as the Schipperke. Although not all Schipperkes are black, black is currently the only recognized color included in the breed's AKC standard. Our little black dogs (sometimes referred to as “LBDs”) are full of energy and raring to go most, if not all, of the time. How do we protect them from the heat?
The standard of the Schipperke describes the breed as “a small, thickset, cobby, black, tailless dog, with a foxlike face.”
First of all, be conscious of the ground surface that your dog is walking on. As humans, we wear shoes to protect our feet from hot asphalt or concrete, while dogs use their pads to sweat and cool off. They can easily burn or blister their feet when walking on the same hot surfaces. It is much better for your pet to walk on grass, rather than on the paved walkway of a trail, the hot sand on the beach, or the asphalt parking lot of the pet store. Most Schips will not alert you right away to the pain in their feet, but sometimes they will favor a foot or limp intermittently a few days later.
A Schipperke puppy is ready for an adventure.
Most Schipperkes are fairly clean in nature. During the shedding season, more frequent baths will help encourage shedding of the undercoat and lessen the constant trail of hair left behind. A Schipperke has a double coat, which means he has a topcoat made of guard hairs and an undercoat that is thick and softer. It is not recommended that you clip a Schipperke for the summer. When this is done, they can easily get sunburned because you have removed the barrier that protects them from ultraviolet (UV) rays.
As do most dogs, Schipperkes love to go for car rides. Schipperkes also love the water, and many ride in boats on the lake with their families. It is important to remember that when the dog is outdoors, the black coat absorbs the sun’s rays. It is also very important to remember that the interior of a vehicle will heat up very quickly. A window cracked open a little bit does not provide enough ventilation to cool a car. Unfortunately, each year several dogs lose their lives due to heatstroke, which occurs when a dog’s body temperature rises dangerously high.
The Schipperke was developed several hundred years ago in Belgium, where the dogs lived on the canal barges and also served as all-purpose ratters and watchdogs. “Schipperke” means little captain in Flemish, and to this day the breed makes excellent boat dogs. This Schip checks out the view through a porthole.
Common necessities for your Schipperke during these hot summer months should always include unlimited access to water — preferably cool water. A good source of natural shade is also beneficial, both in your yard and while traveling. Tarps or other items that are put up to create shade can absorb the heat and actually sometimes make it feel warmer.
To learn more about the Schipperke breed and its care, visit the website of the Schipperke Club of America.
Author Diane Ramsey has bred and owned Schipperkes for 30 years. She is treasurer of the Schipperke Club of America and is the club’s AKC delegate (pending AKC approval).