Dogs | Dog Breeds | Schipperke
  • Schipperke
  • Schipperkes in the UK
  • Schipperke in Great Britain
  • Schipperkes in Great Britain
  • Schipperke in the UK
  • Schipperkes

Utility Group

Exercise Level:
Barking Level:
Good with Children:
Good with other pets:
Average Height: 21 - 33cm | 21 - 33cm
Average Weight: 6 - 8kg | 6 - 8kg
Average Life Expectancy: 13 - 15 Years

Looking for a Schipperke?

Bred to guard barges and canal boats in Belgium and the Netherlands, the Schipperke is one of the ultimate watchdogs and ratters. Schipperkes are nicknamed “little captain” because of their tendency to stand at the front of the boat scanning the horizon. The Schipperke is a joyful pet dog that is now an excellent family companion.

Are you ready to own a Schipperke? Before you decide, here is a brief background of this bright little river dogs.

book icon History

The Schipperke was bred in Belgium and the Netherlands. It is believed to have descended from the 40-pound black sheepdog Leauvenaar, which is the same foundation breed for the Belgian Shepherd. But unlike the Belgian Shepherd, the Schipperke was bred to be a small guard dog.

Originally, they were called Spitske but were given the new name Schipperke (which translates to little captain or little shepherd) when a breed club was established in 1888. Back then, the Schipperkes were often seen guarding the boats between Brussels and Antwerp, hence the name. However, the little watchdog was already a celebrated success when Queen Marie Henriette favoured the breed after seeing a show in Brussels in 1885. Its popularity reached the United States in 1888, and a breed club was formed there in 1929.

Though not as widely popular today, the Schipperke is known to be a highly intelligent, loyal and affectionate companion and family pet. Today, the Schipperke is considered a rare breed. Anyone who wants to buy a Schipperke puppy will have to register their interest and agree to be put on a waitlist.

comb icon Appearance and Grooming

The Schipperke is a lithe, small utility dog with a face resembling a fox. They have cobby bodies, which means short and square, standing 25 to 33 centimetres and weighing 11 to 18 pounds. The Schipperke has a broad, flat skull and a moderately long and pointed muzzle. The nose is black, and the eyes are dark brown, oval-shaped wearing a bright expression. The ears are triangular and sit atop the head.

Most Schipperkes, if not all, are without tails since these are traditionally docked at birth. However, this practice is slowly becoming unpopular and being phased out by most breed clubs except for the American Kennel Club.

The Schipperkes have thick double coats that are rough, moderately short and form a thick ruff around the neck. In addition, they sport thick culottes or long and thick hair at the back of a dog’s thighs. The Schipperke wears a distinctive black coat that forms a sloping silhouette over its body. Since Schipperkes were bred to be river dogs, their coats are dense and water-resistant. In other words, the breed is low maintenance with respect to dog grooming. It will only require weekly brushing, except when they start shedding their undercoats.

During shedding season, which is two or three times a year, grooming can be labour-intensive and time-consuming. With that said, most owners will hire a professional groomer. However, the rest of the dog grooming routine is manageable (e.g. nail trimming, dental care and ear cleaning).

bulb icon Temperament and Intelligence

Curious, alert and confident, Schipperkes have been admirable watchdogs for centuries. Until today, they still excel at the task of guarding and protecting their family. They are happy little pets that thrive in a family environment and bond deeply with their owners, including young children. These dogs are wary of strangers and can quickly bark an alarm, which is one of the reasons it is one popular watchdog.

However, since the Schipperke is a small dog, it tends to compensate and act dominant when left unchecked or when its place in the pack is not established. With this said, Schipperkes can be difficult to housetrain. They can also be horrible and persistent barkers. These tendencies can be curbed given proper training and early socialisation.

Schipperkes are great with children in the house because they are naturally gentle, albeit a little enthusiastic. However, always bear in mind that interaction between the two should be supervised regardless of the dog’s disposition. Just like people unknown to then, Schipperkes are also skittish around children they don’t know, so care should be taken when other kids come over to play. They also get on well with other dogs, especially when socialised. But since this is a protective and territorial breed, it pays to be careful, including around smaller animals.

food icon Nutrition and Feeding

A typical serving for an adult Schipperke is 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 cups of high-quality dry dog food per day. Unless stated otherwise, the amount of serving is the total that is recommended over a 24 hour period. But without a doubt, there is no easy way to determine exactly how much a dog should be eating since it depends on several factors. It is best to consult a veterinarian about the dog’s diet instead of relying on guesstimates. Here is a typical daily calorie need of an adult Schipperke that weighs 18 pounds:

  • Senior and less active: up to 540 calories daily
  • Typical adults: up to 610 calories daily
  • Physically active/working dogs: up to 670 calories daily

All dogs require a certain amount of energy to sustain their daily activities. Energy is generally measured in terms of calories which are found from three dietary components such as protein, carbohydrates and fats. In addition, dogs should also consume food rich in vitamins and minerals and most importantly water. When you buy commercial dog food, make sure all the necessary ingredients, especially protein, are listed for the dog’s optimum health.

stethoscope icon Health and Exercise

Just like humans, dogs can get sick. In the case of the Schipperke, health issues may include the following, either genetic or acquired:

  • Legg-Calve Perthes Disease
  • Autoimmune Thyroiditis
  • Epilepsy
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Tracheal Collapse
  • Cryptorchidism

When it comes to exercise requirement, the Schipperke will require daily workouts (at least 40 to 60 minutes). They will love to take long, brisk walks and run off-lead. Exercises help dogs burn off extra energy, so it is helpful to engage the Schipperke in intense play sessions. Without the necessary exercise, trust that this active dog will wreak havoc around the house.

pound icon Cost of Ownership

How much do Schipperkes cost? Before moving on to answer that question, know that this dog breed is rare (only a few litters bred each year in the UK). So if you don’t have plans to wait months or a year(s) for a dog, it is best to move on to another that is readily available. Now, since that has been settled, let’s answer “how much does it cost to buy a Schipperke puppy?”

Schipperkes cost around £400 to buy from a reputable breeder. While buying pet insurance for this breed will make you shell out £20 a month for a basic cover, whereas a lifetime insurance cover costs around £40 a month. Although pet insurance can significantly help with veterinary costs, you will still need to spend for veterinary care (vaccinations, boosters etc.) which will cost around £800 per year.

When it comes to food, the cost will depend on what type of food you’ll feed a Schipperke whether commercial dog food or home-made diet. Whichever is the case, feeding a Schipperke may set you back £20 to £30 a month. Overall, a Schipperke will cost you £50 to £80 a month to raise.

Is a Schipperke Right for You?

  • The Schipperke is a lithe, small utility dog with a face resembling a fox.
  • It is low maintenance with respect to grooming.
  • Schipperkes thrive in a family environment and deeply bond with their owners.
  • Their barking tendencies make them great watchdogs.
  • Schipperke is a rare breed in the UK.
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The information, including measurements, prices and other estimates, on this page is provided for general reference purposes only. Use caution and seek the advice of qualified veterinarians and/or professionals when attempting anything related to buying or caring for a pet.

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