A small, cobby, spitz-looking dog (with an abundant, harsh coat, curled tail over the back – unless born tail-less, a foxy face and prick ears), the Schipperke is usually black, but the coat can come in any solid colour. Adult dogs usually stand at 21-33cm and weigh approximately 5.5-7.5kg.
Some say the Schipperke dog breed is a miniature sheepdog, a smaller version of the Leauvenaar, a black sheepdog from Belgium. Others are convinced the Schipperke is a Spitz breed, and he certainly looks more like the latter. Regardless, it is known that he dates back to at least the 17th century, as a Schipperke show was put on in 1690 at the Grand Palace of Brussels. He was used on the canals of Belgium, guarding the barges, was a popular companion of shoemakers, and a renowned killer of rodents.
A lively, alert little dog, the Schipperke is loyal, amenable and good-natured. He can be stubborn and mischievous, especially around other dogs if insufficiently socialised when a puppy.
The Schipperke dog is generally quite a hardy breed, but they can suffer some inherited neurological conditions, and hip disorders
About half an hour's daily exercise is needed as a minimum, though this active little dog would happily accept more if you can offer it.
Small dogs have a fast metabolism, meaning they burn energy at a high rate, although their small stomachs mean that they must eat little and often. Small-breed foods are specifically designed with appropriate levels of key nutrients and smaller kibble sizes to suit smaller mouths. This also encourages chewing and improves digestion.
The profuse coat is thick and dense. It is generally smooth and lies close, but there is a mane around the neck, where it stands off, and 'culottes' on the back of the thighs. A thorough groom once a week will keep it in good order.