Schipperke is a small dog breed with a fox-like face that is known for his beauty and pleasant temperament.  Originally bred to serve as a shepherd, guard dog and ratter, this clever dog is adaptable and has a long lifespan.


Although this breed is called the Dutch Dog, the Schipperke was developed in Belgium and not in Holland. He is descended from a Leauvenaar, the foundation dog for the Belgian Sheepdog. 

He was first named the Spitske or Spits and received the name Schipperke in 1888. Schipperke means little shepherd or little captain. 

In the beginning, the Schipperke was used to guard the boats that worked the canals between Antwerp and Brussels.

The shoemaker’s guild in the 17th century displayed their hammered brass collars on Schipperke dogs giving the breed the honor of being a speciality show dog.

In 1885 Queen Marie Henriette fell in love with a Schipperke and adopted one. This grew the breed’s popularity and it was imported to other parts of the world as a fashionable pet. 

The Schipperke Club of America was founded in 1929. 

Physical Characteristics

This dog has a small thicket body frame and has what looks like a sloped back. This tailless dog has a fox-like face that has an alert and mischievous expression. 

The Schipperke has a distinctive double coat. The undercoat is soft and fluffy and is harsher than the longer outer coat. The fur creates ruff, cape and culottes which create a unique silhouette. 

The coat color is black. 


Fully grown, this small dog measures 10 to 15 inches (25 to 33cm) tall at the shoulder and weighs 11 to 18 pounds (4 to 8kg). 

Character & abilities

The Schipperke is a clever dog that is devoted and affectionate.  He is curious and has a sly sense of humor. He views any closed door as a challenge. 

This small dog breed acts like a troublesome puppy until he is over 4 years old. He is loyal and creates strong bonds with his immediate family. 

He is feisty, affectionate and a people pleaser. He however does like to get his way and can confidently boss everyone around when he is allowed to. 

The Schipperke is fearless and protective, making him an excellent watchdog. He is always alert and can patrol the home. He is suspicious of strangers and will confront any perceived threat. 

This sturdy dog is a good companion for children of all ages. He is gentle and compassionate with toddlers.  When brought up together, he gets along with felines and other dogs. He can however be territorial and defensive against strange dogs and people. 

Trainability & Intelligence

The Schipperke is an intelligent dog that is stubborn and mischievous. He is a quick learner when trained using positive reinforcement techniques and he is eager to please. 

For a well-rounded dog, early socialization should begin when the Schipperke is young. He needs to be exposed to various situations, people and pets. 

Bred to work, this dog loves to be given a job to do. He can be trained to work for the hearing impaired, search and rescue, and find drugs and explosives. 

The Schipperke excels in dog sports like agility and obedience. 

Exercise Needs & Nutrition

The Schipperke is an active dog that behaves like a big dog. He needs at least half an hour of regular exercise in a secure yard where he can safely burn energy. 

He is always playing and running, even indoors. Many people may not be able to keep up with this dog’s energy. He likes to keep busy in the yard hunting furry animals. 

It is best to walk him on a leash to make sure he doesn’t get into trouble when dashing after something that has caught his eye. 

Two or more walks a day will keep the Schipperke happy. He also enjoys bicycle rides. 

The Schipperke loves to eat and is prone to excess weight gain. To prevent this, an adult dog should be fed two meals a day with a maximum of two cups of dog food that is formulated to provide complete nutrition.

Tests can be conducted to check if the Schipperke is overweight. By sight and touch, the dog’s waist should be visible and his ribs can be felt without pressing too hard. 

If unsure, confirm with the dog’s vet who can also recommend the best diet to keep the Schipperke fit and healthy.


The Schipperke has an easy to care coat and moderate shedder. Once or twice a year he will experience heavy shedding. 

Regular brushing will remove dirt and dead hair. Warm baths can also help loosen and remove dead hair, especially during the shedding process which can take about a month to be complete. 

Other necessary grooming processes include:

  • Dental hygiene – the teeth need to be brushed daily to prevent the build-up of tartar and bacteria
  • Paw care – the nails should be trimmed once or twice a month to keep them short and prevent scratching and injuries
  • Eye and ear care – cleaning the dog’s face and ears will remove dirt and prevent infections

Living Conditions & Adaptability

The Schipperke is adaptable but not suited for apartment living because he needs a small to medium-sized yard to be able to run freely. He also barks a lot and neighbors might not be tolerant. 

If there are moles in the yard, this small dog might dig to get to them. When exploring the outdoors, the Schipperke is oblivious to vehicles and should be kept on a leash.  


This small dog breed is susceptible to specific health concerns and it is important to know which ones before adopting a Schipperke:

  • Patellar luxation
  • Epilepsy
  • Sanfilippo syndrome type IIIB
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease

The lifespan of the Schipperke is 13 to 15 years. 


The Schipperke is a highly active family dog. He is best suited for homes with a yard and recommended for experienced dog owners because of his stubborn nature. With proper training and plenty of exercises, this good-humored dog can live a long and happy life as a loving companion. 

Choosing to bring a dog home is an important step in the journey of pet ownership. Here at All The Small Dog Breeds, we provide detailed small dog breed descriptions to help new and existing dog parents find the ideal companion. We recommend adopting from your local shelter or reputable breeder.  


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