Schipperke Overview

Dog Breed:
Breed Group:
Agile, active, confident, curious, and fearless.
10-13 inches
10-16 pounds
Life Span:
12-14 years
Coat Colors:
Area of Origin:
Best For:
Active families/ Owners with interest in training/Fenced in yard
Adult Food:
Best Dog Food for Schipperkes
Puppy Food:
Best Puppy Food for Schipperkes

Schipperke Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Schipperke

  • Small black dog from Belgium

  • Strong working heritage

  • Excellent choice for a performance dog sports


Schipperkes are eye-catching small black dogs originating from Belgium. Bred for independence and working ability, this is not a companion dog who will want to sit quietly on your lap for long!

If you’re wondering how to correctly pronounce their name, well, that’s quite controversial with there being many different opinions. However, one of the most popular pronunciations seems to be SKIH-puhr-kee.

The Schipperke’s size and easy-care coat make them an excellent choice for many families. Add in their love of children, and they could come close to the top of your shortlist. Do, however, remember that this is a working dog with high energy. They do need daily walks and the opportunity to run off-leash. If they get bored, they will let you know!

Schipperke Breed History

  • Descended from the Leauvennar, a black sheepdog

  • Took on the role of barge watchdog

  • Arrived in the US in 1888

Although the Schipperke may look as if it comes from the Spitz or Pomeranian family of dogs, it’s background can actually be traced to the Leauvenaar, a black sheepdog who followed the wagons along the highways in Belgium.

The breed became a popular choice as a watchdog on the boats that traveled the canals between Brussels and Antwerp. And this is how they got their name, because Schipperke, comes from the Flemish for ‘little captain.

The Schipperke was one of the very first breeds to have their own “specialty show.” Taking place in 1690, owners were invited to display their Schipperkes in the Grand Place of Brussels.

The popularity of the breed as a pet saw a sudden surge in 1885 when Queen Marie Henriette saw one at a Brussels dog show and became besotted. She bought the dog, which she named ‘Black,’ and he was often seen out in public accompanying his new owner.

The Schipperke finally arrived in the United States in 1888, with the official breed club being formed in 1929.

Schipperke Size & Weight

  • Males up to 13 inches and 16 pounds

  • Females up to 12 inches and 14 pounds

  • Can be born with a full tail or none at all!


Males measure between 11 and 13 inches while females are a little smaller, being 10-12 inches. Although there is no weight mentioned in the breed standard, most males weigh between 12 and 16 pounds, with females being between 10 and 14 pounds.

Pups can be born with different tail lengths including full, half-length or none at all. In some parts of the world, dogs with full tails are docked, though this is now illegal in many countries.

Schipperke Personality & Temperament

  • Confident and curious

  • Suspicious of strangers

  • Generally great with children


The Schipperke sees their size as being no limit to anything they want or need to do. They’re a confident and curious breed, so if they can’t get over something, then they’ll try digging under or, if needed, try going straight through!

The breed is very affectionate and loving with their own family but do tend to be naturally suspicious of strangers. You will definitely know if someone is walking past your house as they take on the watchdog role in fearless style.

This can be an excellent choice for a family with children, the sturdiness of character means that they can usually cope and enjoy what can be a chaotic environment of children running around. As with all breeds, interactions between dogs and children should always be supervised.

The Schipperke can be an independent breed, so owners may find that their relationship is a series of negotiations rather than one of blind obedience. That said, with the right techniques, this is a breed that can excel in advanced obedience and competition.

With adequate exercise, the Schipperke can adapt to apartment living. Likewise, they can also learn to cope with being left for short periods during the day. It’s recommended that you gradually introduce being alone so that your dog learns to relax in their own company over a slowly increasing period of time.

When well socialized, the Schipperke can get along well with other dogs. They also get along with cats, especially when introduced when young, The Schipperke prefers a moderate climate as opposed to extremes of hot and cold. Given a choice, they would prefer a cooler environment as opposed to a warmer one.

Schipperke Health & Grooming

  • Generally, a healthy breed

  • Ensure the breeder has their dogs’ health screened

  • Quick and easy grooming


Schipperkes are generally healthy dogs. This is assisted by reputable breeders screening all their breeding stock for health concerns before being bred from. This includes checks for –

  • Luxating patellas (slipping kneecaps)
  • Eye problems
  • Thyroid problems.

It’s also now recommended that breeders test their dogs for MPS IIIB. This is a newly recognized disease that shows up in dogs between the ages of 2-4 years. Symptoms are balance problems, tremors, and difficulty in walking. Sadly, this is a progressive condition for which is no cure.

The Schipperke needs minimal grooming to keep their coat in good condition. Weekly brushing, increasing during twice a year shedding seasons, is all that’s required.

Schipperke Training

  • Independent thinker, so partnership approach to training needed

  • Use rewards rather than punishment to get great results

  • Can be a noisy breed


The Schipperke was bred to be an independent thinker, a watchdog who would sound the alarm when they sensed that strangers were nearby. That streak is still there in today’s dogs, and while that means they are not a needy type of dog, it does mean that training needs to be approached as a partnership process.

Finding the right reward and training with fun and compassion will get you much better results than trying to dominate because that’s going to get messy! If you’re looking for a small dog for agility or other performance dog sports, then the Schipperke could be a great choice.

Barking is another trait needed for the watchdog role, and the Schipperke still has a reputation for being a vocal breed. Early training is required to help them to learn a ‘quiet’ command.

Schipperke Exercise Requirements

  • Independent thinker, so partnership approach to training needed

  • Use rewards rather than punishment to get great results

  • Can be a noisy breed


This is a busy and energetic little dog who will need at least an hour’s exercise every day. One they’ve had the chance to run free and stretch their legs, then they’ll be able to come home and settle quietly. If their needs don’t get met, then watch out because they’re going to come up with their own version of fun!

The Schipperke can have a strong hunting desire, so care is needed that they’re only exercised off lead within a securely fenced area.

If you’re looking for a playful companion, then these guys will join in the fun for as long as you can keep going!

Schipperke Diet & Feeding

  • Chat to your vet for advice on your dog's nutritional needs

  • Select food suitable for your dog's age, size and exercise intensity

  • Can easily become overweight


For personalized advice on your dog’s nutritional needs, we recommend chatting to your veterinarian. Generally, most dogs start off on a specially formulated puppy food, this ensures they receive all the nutrients their developing bodies need.

Then at around 6 months, they can move across to adult food. When choosing from the hundreds available, make sure you select one which is suitable for your dog’s size, age, and exercise level.

You may also be interested in:

Schipperke Rescue Groups

There are times when Schipperkes find themselves in need of a new home. If you’re interested in offering a place in your family for a dog in need, the following organizations will be able to provide help and advice.

Schipperke Rescue. Net, Inc. –

Angelsgate Schipperke Rescue and Animal Education –

For further information on the Schipperke, take a look at the web site for the Schipperke Club of America –