The Schipperke hails from Belgium in late medieval times, where it was bred primarily for its abilities as a watchdog and ratter on canal boats. Its name, pronounced "SKIP-er-key," means "little shepherd" in Flemish. The breed was first officially recognized by the Belgian Kennel Club in 1888. Although it was initially bred to guard barges, the Schipperke quickly found favor as a companion dog, thanks to its lively personality and diligent work ethic.
The Schipperke is generally a healthy breed, though it can be prone to certain health issues, such as hip dysplasia, eye problems like progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and a rare genetic mutation known as mucopolysaccharidosis (type IIIB). They may also be susceptible to Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (LCPD), epilepsy, hypothyroidism, entropion, and distichiasis.
Schipperkes are known for their energetic, curious, and alert nature. They are confident, independent dogs with a strong instinct to guard their family and property. While they can be a bit reserved around strangers, they are generally very affectionate with their family. Despite their small size, they require plenty of mental and physical stimulation due to their working dog heritage.
Schipperkes were originally bred to hunt rats and other small vermin, which is why they're often called "little black devils" due to their energetic, almost tireless nature.
Their fox-like face and small, pointed ears give them a mischievous expression that many owners find endearing.
Traditionally, their tails were docked, giving them a distinctive "rumpless" appearance. However, tail docking is becoming less common and is illegal in some places.
They are known for their “mane” of longer hair around the neck, the “jabot” on the chest, and “culottes” on the rear thighs.