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The Schipperke in General

Historically, the Schipperke is a working dog although the American Kennel Club puts it in the Non-Sporting class.  The Schip has been used as a watch dog on barges in Belgium, where it is thought to have originated.  It is also an avid hunter of rats, mice, squirrels, birds and other small animals.


The Schipperke is a fiercely loyal companion and, generally, excellent with children of all ages.  They are highly energetic and wonderful diggers.  The classic description of a Schip is a very BIG dog in a very Small package.  They are fearless, devoted, and will give their all to protect their home and the ones they love.  As a watchdog, they tend to be reserved or suspicious of strangers.


They are great playmates and constantly amaze with their charming antics.  Many are avid pattycakers (standing on their hind legs and waving their paws in synchronization.  Some love to dance.  And they really do smile.


Now for the downside.  Schips are extremely intelligent - sometimes far more than anyone who lives with one would like.  Their intelligence has been measured somewhat comparable to a 7-year-old child.  'Stubborn' and 'independent' are words often used to describe this LBD (little black devil".  They also tend to be territorial and dominant.  The combination can be quite a challenge for the uninitiated.  A Schipperke often must be taught his place in his pack.  If measures are not taken, the Schip will quickly take over the household, which is why so many Schip owners often refer to themselves as "Schip slaves."


Not all Schips are dominant, but often the young ones who end up in rescue are those who were not handled with strength as well as love and ended up ruling the roost, which can create problems for those the Schip perceives to be under them in the household pack.  Do not be discouraged, however, this behavior can be modified if you are willing to take charge and follow through with obedience training.


Because of their high intelligence, Schipperkes are extremely curious, which is why we in Rescue recommend some sort of yard containment.  It is well known that a loose Schip is a gone Schip - not because they run away but because they put their noses to the ground to follow a scent and, by the time they look up, they're 3000 miles away.


Even the most well-trained and obedient Schip can get distracted as many owners have learned to their great sadness, therefore we insist that they be walked on a leash no matter how well trained they seem.  Also because of their curiosity, they can get bored easily, resulting in lots of mischief, getting into things such as the garbage, jewelry boxes, or anything else that seems interesting to them.  The results are often messy and, usually shredded!


Schips require less grooming than most dogs.  They have no "doggy" smell, therefore, regular baths are not required.  A dry shampoo and occasional brushing usually keep their double coat in good shape.  Since they have fur rather than hair and a two-layer coat, they will shed their undercoat (it's called "blowing coat") once or, possibly, twice a year.  Then, several thorough brushings will keep the shedding under control.  But if you can't live with fuzz, don't consider a Schipperke!


If you want more detailed information about Schipperkes, please CLICK HERE to visit Heart- Throb Schipperkes.  We have used their diagram of a Schipperke with their permission.


And for a whimsical, but accurate, "Authoritative Guide to Schipperke Care," check out


Iris the Schipperke's Ten Commandments


The Rescued Schipperke


There are generally two reasons a Schipperke comes into Rescue:


  • Death or major circumstance change of the owner, or

  • The owner did not know enough about the breed before purchase.


In the first case, the rescued dog is usually house-trained and well-behaved and has little difficulty in transitioning to a new home after weathering a short period of stress from the change.  However, these wonderful dogs who are abandoned through no fault of their own also tend to be older dogs, anywhere from 7 to 12 years old or more.  But it is important to keep in mind that Schipperkes are a long-lived breed.  It is not uncommon for them to live 18 to 20 years.  Usually only disease or accident take them much earlier.


Younger dogs usually fall into the second category.  The owner saw the cute, black puppy and purchased it without fully understanding breed characteristics or behavior.


Schipperkes act like puppies, with all the attendant trouble and aggravation until they are as old as 5.  They push the limits just like teenagers do and require discipline and a firm approach to ensure they learn their place in the pack and what is expected of them.


Because most dog owners are not experienced in such training, they train incorrectly or punish improperly or simply throw up their hands in exasperation and turn the dog over to Rescue.


 Many of these dogs end up with issues, which we try to address in foster care.  However, they are likely to revert, to some extent, to old behaviors when first placed in a new forever home.


With a little patience and a lot of love, almost all of the dogs come around within a few months and turn out to be just as loving and bonded - if not more so than any other source.  Even the dogs rescued from puppy mill raids and abusive homes quickly adapt to the love and support they receive from the people who are patient enough to give them a little time to come around.




Like humans and other animals there is a variety of ailments and illnesses that assail Schipperkes.  Some illnesses, like Heartworm and Lyme disease, can be prevented and/or treated.  Some conditions, often those resulting from injury,  may require surgery, steroids or other treatments, for example, patellar luxation.   Others are congenital, meaning, a condition with which the dog was born and the tendency to which was passed down from his/her parents or grandparents through the genes.  Epilipsy, Addison's Disease, Thyroid imbalance and other conditions fall under this category.  For these there is no cure, but the disease can often be treated or managed with good veterinary care.


For more comprehensive information on health issues, please check the following sites:


OFFA - Orthopedic Foundation for Animals


SCA - The Schipperke Club of America


Great dogs for Good Homes

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