The Schipperke is an old breed that was developed in Belgium. He has often been erroneously called a “Dutch Dog,” but the breed is not associated with Holland in any way. The Schipperke is believed to be descended from a black sheepdog called a Leauvenaar, the same breed credited with being the foundation dog for the Groenendael (the Belgian Sheepdog). While the Groenendael was developed to be a herding breed, the Schipperke was developed to be a small watchdog. They were often seen guarding the boats that plied the canals between Brussels and Antwerp. The Schipperke has the distinction of having one of the first “specialty shows.” This show took place in 1690, when members of the shoemakers guild were invited to display their Schipperkes and their hammered brass collars, which were a custom at the time, in the Grand Place of Brussels.
Originally known as the Spitske or Spits, the Schipperke was given its current name when the breed club was formed in 1888. The word Schipperke may mean “little shepherd” or “little captain,” either of which would be appropriate given this breed’s heritage. The Schipperke became a fashionable pet after Queen Marie Henriette saw one at a Brussels dog show in 1885. The popularity of the breed grew and the Schipperke was eventually imported to the United States in 1888. The first United States specialty club for the Schipperke was formed in 1905, but the official breed club, the Schipperke Club of America, was not founded until 1929. Today, the Schipperke is loved for his cleverness, devotion, and versatility, as well as his sly sense of humor. He ranks 82nd among the 155 breeds and varieties recognized by the American Kennel Club.
Male Schipperkes are 11 to 13 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 15 to 18 pounds; females are 10 to 12 inches and weigh 11 to 15 pounds.
The Schipperke is the proverbial “big dog in a little dog’s body.” He’s active, confident, and curious. A closed door is simply a challenge to be overcome.
The Schipperke retains his puppylike qualities–including the troublesome ones–until he’s 4 or 5 years old.
He loves his people and wants to please them, but he also likes to have his own way. If he’s allowed to, the Schipperke will soon be running the household. Protective, fearless, and naturally suspicious of strangers, he makes an excellent watchdog and will take on anyone who seems to have evil intent.
Schipperkes are selective in offering their friendship, generally limiting it to family members, with whom they create strong bonds. When it comes to training, they’re mischievous and can be stubborn, but with positive reinforcement they learn quickly.
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22 May, 2016
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