Home Breeds Schipperke


Known as Belgium’s “little captain”, the Schipperke has powerful jaws, necks, and forequarters—coupled with a stealthy, catlike hunting style, which make them ideal rat-catching machines. Although created as ratters and watchdogs, they are friendly and affectionate who enjoys spending time with family, whatever the activity, making them spirited companions of family.

Other Names Little Boat Captain, Little Shepherd, Moorke, Schipperke, Spitzke
Color Black
Height Males: 11-13 inches. Females: 10-12 inches.
Weight Males: 12-19 pounds. Females: 12-19 pounds.
Life Span 12-14 years
Personality Confident, Alert, Curious
Exercise Needs Lots of Activities
Popularity #106
Groom Needs Weekly Brushing
Kids Friendly Yes with supervision
Dog Friendly Yes with supervision
Watch Dog
Family Dog Yes
Litter Size 2-7 puppies

Schipperke Pictures

Schipperke Video


The little Schipperke is just a bundle of joy, too adorable with bright alert eyes and a very curious personality. He is often nicknamed LBD, for the little black devil. They are small, measuring up to about 13 inches at the shoulders and weighing around 16 pounds. They’ve got a fox-like head with small feet and no tail. By about 8 months old, they have reached their full size. He has a medium-length outer coat and a thick undercoat; generally solid black in color. Just once a week of brushing is all that is required. They make good companions, but they do need activities to keep them very busy, to avoid them barking excessively, digging, and chewing. They make good watchdogs, but can bark and bark; it’s just their size that prevents them from being good guard dogs. You cannot rough-treat these dogs, and if you tease or startle them, they can snap back. They are ideal for people who want a dog that does not require a large yard – nevertheless, he still needs to be exercised with walks and games – he doesn’t like being left to his own devices. He loves to be the kingpin, not liking to share his space with other pets in the house.

Living with Schipperke

Grooming a Schipperke is simple. The Schipperke’s coat needs only weekly brushing, but during shedding periods, more frequent brushing will help to keep the amount of shed hair under control. It takes about a month for the shedding process to be complete.

Begin accustoming your Schipperke to being brushed and examined when he’s a puppy. And make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you’ll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he’s an adult.

As a clean dog with little odor, it only needs bathing as needed, usually after he’s rolled in something stinky.

Trim his nails once or twice a month, as needed. Short nails keep the feet in good condition and won’t scratch your legs when your Schipperke jumps up to greet you.

Brush your Schipperke’s teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the accompanying bacteria. Daily brushing will be better to keep oral health.

Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth and ears.

Schipperkes are very active, energetic, and busy little dogs, and they need at least half an hour of exercise daily, and more is better. A brisk daily walk or a romp in a fenced yard will satisfy his exercise needs.

Schips can also let off steam racing around the house or apartment. During hot weather, which he doesn’t tolerate well, he enjoys lying in front of a fan or beneath a ceiling fan.

Their people are usually tired before they are. They are always running and playing and will use your house as a racetrack when the mood strikes. Count on two daily walks to keep your Schipperke’s desire for action satisfied. But you should them on leash to prevent a sudden dash toward an interesting animal or object.

They should always be supervised when outdoors, even in a fenced area. Fences won’t contain a determined Schip; the clever escape artist can get out in moments. He’ll also enjoy riding in a basket on a bicycle or cruising the aisles of the pet supply store in a grocery cart.

But Schipperke puppies should never be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing, and too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives. So you should not allow a dog jumping up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs.

The Schipperke needs high-quality dog food to satisfy its nutrition needs and maintain active. The daily amount recommended is about 3/4 to 1/2 cups every day, divided into two meals.

But how much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Also the quality of dog food you buy makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog.

Schipperkes do not tend to guard their food more than any other breed, but children should never be allowed to touch or remove food while any dog is eating.

You can change a puppy’s diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don’t develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it’s best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.

Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be given a lower quality diet. And you must make sure it’s good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. 

Schipperkes love to eat and can easily become overweight. So watch your Schipperke’s calories consumption to keep it in good shape by measuring his food. Remember don’t leave food out all the time. And it’s also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise.

Clean, fresh water should always be available.

Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet or the dog’s breeder if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. 

Schipperkes are generally healthy, but like all breeds, sometimes they may suffer from certain health conditions, such as hip dysplasia, legg-calves perthes disease, hypothyroidism, epilepsy, eye concerns, mucopolysaccharidosis type IIIB (MPS IIIB), etc. Not all Schipperkes will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering this breed.

MPS IIIB is a newly recognized and fatal disease that usually shows up by 2-4 years of age as balance problems. Identify carriers and breed them appropriately to avoid producing the disease.

There are several health and genetic tests considerations specific to the breed, such as thyroid evaluation, patella evaluation and ophthalmologist evaluation.

Regular visits to the vet for checkups and parasite control help to ensure the dog has a long, healthy life. And responsible Schipperke breeders will test their stock for conditions or communicate with other dedicated breeders regularly, working together for breed health and preservation of the breed’s unique qualities.

Total Annual Cost: $2889

Cost is estimated for the first year and may vary depending on many factors, such as dog food, health care, leash, collar, licensing, possible fencing, crates, training and obedience classes, dog-walking, grooming, treats, toys, flea, tick, and heart-worm meds, microchips, etc.

Intelligent but stubborn, the Schipperk wants you to be happy and his idea of how things should be may outweigh any desire to please. They have an independent nature and can be a challenge to train.

But house training can be difficult, and crate-training is recommended. Be sure that this dog is highly understanding of its role in the household during the training, though they will sometimes take to this role somewhat naturally. 

With persistent and patient owners, they can learn almost anything and can excel in sports such as obedience and agility. Some also do quite well at herding.

Don’t test your patience too much in its actual training. Instead, it can be surprisingly responsive, which isn’t always the case in smaller dogs with a lot of energy.

Begin training when your Schipperke is young, and continue to reinforce lessons throughout his life. He responds best to positive reinforcement techniques such as food rewards, praise, and play. Working to minimize barking, socializing with people and other animals, and basic obedience should be priorities.

With watchdog tendencies, Schipperkes can turn into barkers if not taught otherwise. Equally happy in an apartment or a home with a large yard, they should be kept on leash when not in a fenced area and should be taken to obedience classes. 

Schipperkes maintain their hunting instinct and may enjoy participating in barn hunt activities, but they aren’t ideal as a sporting dog for other forms of hunting. They’ve been used as assistance dogs, on search and rescue teams, and as herding dogs.


He originates from Belgium. The official book of the Schipperke says that Mr. Victor Fally, who was a founder of the Belgium Schipperke Club, wrote a story of a tailless dog that appeared in the chronicles of Monk Wenceslas in the 15th century already. 

He was developed to be a small watchdog; often seen guarding the boats that plied the canals between Antwerp and Brussels. He was very popular, this cutie pie, particularly on the barges, that’s why the sailors called him the schipperke, which means “little captain” in Flemish. They are also called “canal boat dogs” because they were popular with the trades-people as well. 

It was in the late 1800s that the Schipperke was given a breed standard.

Remember Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz – they adored the Schipperke and called their beloved one Ginger, and she accompanied the famous actress wherever she went.

Eventually, the Schipperke was imported to the United States in 1888. Miss Isabel Ormiston became very interested in this breed through her Belgium friends. In 1924, she visited Belgium and studied the breed, selecting her first breeding stock. Nearly all the Schipperkes today can trace their ancestry to her stock. She also founded the Schipperke Club of America.

The Schipperke was recognized by the AKC in 1904.

Helpful Information


Breed Club Link:

Breed Club Rescue: Schipperke Rescue Network groups

Breed Club Rescue Link: