Schipperke is a breed of dog that has become popular with pet owners as family dogs because of its size and unique personality traits. The dog is not native to the United States, but it has become more prolific in the past few decades as people have gained exposure and discovered the benefits that this sturdy and often entertaining pet can bring to a family environment. If you’re not familiar with the breed, it’s worth learning about. Schipperke’s make wonderful family dogs because they bring a lot of love and devotion to the mix. Here are 20 things you didn’t know about the Schipperke to help you decide if it’s the right dog breed for your household.
1. Schipperkes are small and agile
According to The American Kennel Club, Schipperke’s grow to a maximum height of 13 inches when fully grown. They’re small dogs but they’re sturdy and agile. They are capable of moving quickly, so it’s important to keep your Schipperke puppy on a leash until he is fully trained to obey your commands. You never know when he’s going to dart off and get lost.
2. They’re excellent ratters
This breed was created to help get rid of rat problems. Although it’s not a sporting breed, it’s in their DNA to hunt down rats and other burrowing rodents. Don’t be surprised if you see your Schip with a ring of dirt around his nose from digging into a molehill. He’s small enough to chase down rodents and root them out. This came in handy for farmers with grain products, to keep the rat population down and protect their harvests.
3. Schipperkes are sturdy and strong
Although a Schip isn’t very big, he is very powerful for his size. These dogs have a strong and firm musculature with powerful necks, jaws, and forequarters. These features made them suitable for use in rodent control. Their bodies are thick and substantial, but unless you’re overfeeding your Schip, it’s all muscle. When you combine strength and catlike agility, you have yourself the perfect mouse and rat-catching machine.
4. Schipperkes are recognized as an official breed
The American Kennel Club recognizes the Schipperke as an official full-fledged dog breed without provisions in 1904. The Schipperke Club of American was established in 1929 as the official AKC Parent Club for the Schipperke breed. This gives them vetting if you’re interested in a dog breed that comes with all the rights and privileges of pedigree status.
5. Schipperkes are an ancient Belgian breed
The first record of the Schipperke is in the latter part of the medieval period in the country of Belgium. This makes them an ancient breed. These dogs were bred to serve aboard ships to help exterminate the rats that would stow away on board the vessels. They were also used to help rid the canal areas of rats in the low countries. As the fame of their usefulness as ratters spread, Schipperkes became a more desired breed throughout the world.
6. They’re fearless watchdogs
When you first take a glance at a Schipperke, he looks like a small dog. Indeed, he isn’t very big, but the breed is by nature fearless. They’ve served on barges as well as in city shops to help protect merchants from intruders and theft. When you have a Schipperke on the job, he will let you know if an intruder wanders onto the premises. These dogs guard their homes and surrounding areas without fear.
7. Schipperkes are competitive dogs
The Schipperke breed is a favorite at AKC and other sponsored dog shows and competitions. The breed is deemed eligible for competition in track, rally, agility, obedience, and conformation. They often place in these events, confirming that they are dogs that can be easily trained for competition with other dogs. They love to be the center of attention so if you have hopes of showing off your dog’s unique skills and abilities, get yourself a Schipperke and train him well.
8. They’re great for apartment living
Schipperkes are adaptable dogs that can live in small houses or apartments because of their small size according to Dogtime. They don’t take up a lot of space and they do well in a smaller home as well as large ones. You can easily train your Schipperke to conform to apartment living so they don’t bark at every little noise with a little time and patience. This helps keep your neighbors happy. While they’re excellent watchdogs and will let you know when a stranger is nearby, the Schipperke will learn in time who should be nearby and who should not.
9. Schipperkes are curious
This breed has a natural instinct for curiosity. They love to explore and learn new things. This dog has earned the nickname little black devil because of his natural curiosity. He may get into your personal items and play with them if you don’t keep them up when he is a puppy.
10. Schipperkes are loyal and devoted
A few of the traits that make Schipperkes so popular are their loyalty to their pet parents and families, as well as their fierce devotion. They are willing to do whatever it takes to guard and protect their loved ones from danger. Schipperkes are vigilant pets and they constantly keep their eyes and ears open for any hint of danger.
11. They are low-maintenance
Schipperkes are small and their coat is easy to maintain. They don’t require a lot of work aside from a few brushings of their coat. They also benefit from an occasional bath to keep their coats looking black and shiny. These dogs are easy to care for and it doesn’t take a lot of work to keep them looking well-groomed and spiffy. They are moderate shedders but an occasional brushing will help to keep the shedding in your house at a minimum.
12. They have an independent streak
Schipperkes are intelligent dogs and most of them have an independent streak. Because of his curiosity and desire to learn about his environment, he may get into trouble every now and then. It’s not a lot different than a 2-year-old exploring his new environment. They tend to have an independent nature and the desire to strike out on their own. You need to train your Schipperke very well to help him learn about what is acceptable and what is not. This might make him a poor choice for a novice pet owner. It takes someone who understands the nature of dogs and knows how to properly train them. It does require time and patience. If you stick with it, you’ll have a great family dog that will look after your family for his entire life.
13. They need daily exercise
Your Schipperke has firm and sturdy muscles. He is well-built and he needs to have daily exercise to keep up his firm muscle tone. If you live in an apartment take him for a walk around the block. It will keep him in the excellent physical condition and also provide a time for you to bond with your Schipperke.
14. They’re great with kids
While every dog and child interaction must be supervised regardless of the breed, Schipperkes are great with children when they are properly trained and socialized from puppyhood. They are gentle with children. Also, Schipperke’s natural protective nature makes them great guard dogs to watch over the children and protect them from any dangers in the environment. If a stranger comes too close they will sound the alert to let you know that there is a potential for trouble. This is the watchdog coming out in them. When a Schipperke is on duty, they will give all that they’ve got to protect their loved ones, but they have a special place in their hearts for children.
15. Schipperkes are friendly, but with a few exceptions
Overall, Schipperkes are friendly dogs that get along well with most people, once they get to know and trust them. There are, however, a few exceptions. Schipperkes are not fond of total strangers most of the time. This is because of their fierce loyalty to their owners. They have a need to know that their pet parents are comfortable with a stranger before they are very tolerant of their presence. If they sense something off in a person who has been hanging around, it may take a while for them to tolerate their company. They do not tend to get along well with other dogs unless they are either raised with them from puppyhood or are socialized to accept a new dog into the family. Again, this is due to their protective and sometimes territorial nature.
16. Schipperkes are vocal
According to Petfinder, Schipperkes like to talk. You can train them to keep the barking and yapping to a minimum but it does take a lot of work. They are capable of learning to obey your commands to stop barking in most instances though. They love to talk. You will find that your Schipperke, when properly trained will respond with low vocalizations when you carry on a conversation with him. This is just one more endearing quality that makes it so much fun to own a Schipperke.
17. Schipperkes are energetic
Your Schipperke is full of energy from the time that he is a puppy until he is too old to move around. This agile dog loves to get out and go for a run. When he is leashed he might have a tendency to pull you along with him because he wants to get out and explore, and his energy levels are high. It’s a good idea to let your Schipperke go out in the backyard and kick up his heels every now and then.
18. Schipperkes are playful
One thing that Schipperkes love to do is play in the yard. Because of their high energy levels, they enjoy playing a game of fetch. They can even be trained to catch a frisbee. This is some of the best possible fun for a Schipperke because it helps him to burn off some of his excess energy. After a round of strenuous play, he will be ready to come indoors for a time of quiet relaxation.
19. They’re sensitive to heat
All Schipperke owners need to know that this dog breed tends to be sensitive to heat. When the sun is hot outside, he needs to have a place to get in out of the direct sunlight and heat. If he gets too hot he is prone to sunstroke or heat stroke. If you must leave him outside in a fenced yard over the summer a good solution is to make sure that there is a constant source of shade, and it’s also a great idea to leave a small wading pool with a few inches of water for him to jump in and cool off when he gets too hot.
20. The lifespan of a Schipperke is moderate
According to Hills Pet, Schipperkes live an average of 12 to 16 years. They grow up with the children in the home and become valued members of the family. This is a breed that has an average lifespan that can range between 12 to 16 years. In most cases, they are a healthy breed that can live past their projected lifespan if they are well cared for and fed a nutritious and balanced diet, get plenty of exercises, and regular vet checkups are recommended. One of the saddest days of your life will be saying goodbye to a family member that has lived to the point of old age and passes on.