Meet the Schipperke: Clever, Curious & Devoted

Published March 10, 2021
Schipperke puppy dog

The schipperke originated in Belgium and is also known as the "Belgian Barge Dog." This small breed is used for ratting and guarding by farmers and was popular with boatmen on Belgium and Netherlands waterways. This a lively breed and a great candidate for a family pet.

Schipperke Breed Overview

The Flemish riverboatmen once used this breed to guard barges and keep down rat populations onboard. The Schipperke shared an ancestor with a breed of the black sheepdog and was developed to be a watchdog. This dog's likable personality makes him an excellent companion animal. Schipperkes are small, thickset dogs and described as cobby.

Origin and History

The schipperke originated in Belgium in the sixteenth century, and this breed shares ancestors with the Leauvenaars, a type of black sheepdog. This breed was originally a working dog until 1885 when Queen Marie-Henriette owned one, instantly elevating the dog into high society.

Schipperke Temperament

This breed is known to be energetic and highly intelligent. The schipperke is also a dog pet parents must spend time with, as this little breed demands to be part of the daily routine. The breed barks at strangers, so he may need to be trained if pet parents do not want a watchdog!


The natural coat pattern consists of a ruff, cape, and culottes with a thick undercoat and a slightly harsh outer coat.

  • Coat colors: The breed comes in a variety of colors, but black is the most common. Other solid colors include shades of cream, ivory, wheaten, gold, red, white, blue, and chocolate.
  • Height: This breed is between 10 and 13 inches tall.
  • Weight: The schipperke weighs between 13 and 18 pounds.
Two Schipperke breed dogs

Low-Maintenance Grooming

A good brushing once a week may take care of the coat. Twice a year, pet parents may need to bathe this breed as the undercoat typically dies out.

Health Conditions

The Schipperke is a generally healthy dog breed. Breeders may screen for a few health conditions, and the tests include a patella evaluation, ophthalmologist evaluation, and thyroid evaluation.

  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis
  • Patellar luxation


Animal lovers may also need a fenced yard as this breed enjoys playing with the ball and excels at dog sports, including flyball. A brisk daily walk is also required, and the dog needs to remain on a leash! Other dog sports the Schipperke enjoys are herding and drafting.

Best Diet for Small Breeds

There are many diets specially formulated for smaller breeds. Watching your small breed's weight to make sure he does not become obese is extremely important.

Caring for Your Senior Schipperke Dog

The lifespan of this herding breed is 15 years or more! This small active breed may develop arthritis and achy joints as he ages. Two vet visits a year are appropriate for small breeds, and supplements or medication may be necessary for senior dogs.

Black Schipperke Breed Dog

Top Schipperke Mixes

The small breed mixes are almost as adorable as the purebred schipperke.

  • Border Schipper: Border collie and schipperke mix
  • Corgischip: Corgi schipperke cross
  • Schippershund: Doxie and schipperke mix
  • Affenschip: Affenpinscher schipperke cross
  • Schiphuahua: Chihuahua and schipperke mix

About the Non-Sporting Group

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the schipperke in 1904. The Non-Sporting dog group comprises diverse breeds with varying sizes, coats, and overall appearance. According to the AKC, the breeds in this group come from various backgrounds, so it is hard to generalize about this group of dogs.

This Schipperke Is Also the "Belgian Barge Dog"

The schipperke breed originated in the sixteenth century and controlled vermin populations. Pet parents need to spend time with this active breed, and some dog sports are fantastic options, including flyball and herding. This intelligent dog is a wonderful companion animal, and The Schipperke Club of America is a resource for pet parents interested in puppies.

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Meet the Schipperke: Clever, Curious & Devoted