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Small, compact and cobby, the Schipperke is an attractive dog with sparkling, lively eyes and an abundant harsh coat. Sometimes born tail-less, the tailed version carries the thickly furred tail over the back and this in combination with the profuse coat and pricked ears gives them a distinctly spitz-like appearance. 

The need-to-know
  • Dog suitable for non-experienced owners
  • Basic training required
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys walking one to two hours a day
  • Small dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming once a week
  • Non hypoallergenic breed
  • Very vocal dog
  • Guard dog. Barks and alerts
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • May require training to live with kids

Key Facts

Lifespan: 13 – 15 years
Weight:  5.5-7.5kg 
Height:  21-33cm
Colours:  Usually black, the Schipperke also occasionally comes in a cream/gold, and can come in any solid colour, though these are rarely seen
Size:  Small 
UK Kennel Club Groups: Utility


Family-friendly: 4/5
Exercise needs: 5/5
Easy to train: 2/5
Tolerates being alone: 3/5
Likes other pets: 2/5
Energy level: 5/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 3/5


Clever and lively, the Schipperke is said by both breeders and owners to be quick to learn, but also quick to get into trouble! Good-natured and generally amenable, they do like to bark to let their family know about anything they deem suspicious or unusual. As such, good dog socialisation and habituation should help ensure they don’t find too many things suspicious or unusual! 

History and Origins

The Schipperke was originally a barge dog - small enough to live in the tiny space inside a barge cabin but loud enough to make thieves think twice. They were also well equipped to cope with any weather and able to keep barges and their cargo free of rats and mice.
Their origins are a little unclear. Some suggest that the Schipperke is a descendent of the now extinct Belgian Shepherd type, the ‘Leuvenaar’ however unlike this breed, they have a distinctly spitz-like appearance. It is however possible their small size was achieved by crossing the Leuvenaar with the small spitz types from surrounding areas - probably the small German Spitz and Pomeranian. Regardless of their true origins, it is known that the Schipperke dates back to at least the 17th century, as they were first exhibited at the Grand Palace of Brussels in 1690, however they were not given a breed standard until the late 1800’s.

Health and Common Issues

Exercise Needs

Space Requirements

Nutrition and Feeding

Grooming Schipperke

Training Schipperke Dogs

Best Family Dog Breeds

Did You Know?

The breed was made popular as a companion and pet by Queen Marie-Henriette (wife of King Leopold II and first cousin to the then future Queen Mary of England). In 1885 she bought a Schipperke she’d seen at a show in Brussels, named him ‘Black’ after his colouring and was often seen walking and driving with him. They became so desirable as a result that some unscrupulous sellers would try to pass off any suitably sized black dog as a Schipperke.  

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