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Schipperke: Breed Characteristics, Training, Care & Nutrition

The Schipperke dog breed has many strong characteristics. The breed portrait reveals what these are and what the pet owner should keep in mind with this dog breed. The Schipperke belongs to group 1 of the herding dogs and cattle dogs. He is assigned to section 1 with standard no. 83.

Schipperke dog breed

Size: 25-33cm
FCI group: 1: herding dogs and cattle dogs
Section: 1: German Shepherds
Country of origin: Belgium
Colors: chocolate, blue, cream, apricot, black-brown, black
Life expectancy: 13-15 years
Suitable as: guard, family, and companion dog
Sports: –
Personality: Confident, Fearless, Loyal, Agile, Independent, Curious
Leaving requirements: high
Drooling potential: low
The thickness of hair: medium
Maintenance effort: low
Coat Structure: Dense, straight, hard, of a firm texture with a dense and soft undercoat
Child friendly: yes
Family dog: rather yes
Social: rather no

Origin and breed history

The origin of the Schipperke is not entirely undisputed. On the one hand, its parent form is assigned to the Central European shepherd dogs, in particular the Belgian shepherd dogs. Hence the Flemish word “Schipperke”, which is translated as “little shepherd dog”. In this context, the Leuvenaar is considered the ancestor of the Belgian Shepherd Dogs. On the other hand, the name could also have its roots in Low German. The notoriety of the dog is also based on its use on inland waterways and riverboats. For this reason, the names Spitzke and Schifferspitz are also common.

In 2017, genetic researchers examined his exact parentage. For the gene analysis, the researchers included over a hundred dog breeds. The genes of more than 13,000 dogs have been researched. Genetic proximity to the Belgian shepherd could not be determined. Rather, the study arranges the Schipperke in the series that also includes small spitz (e.g. Pomeranian).

Whatever the reality of his descent may look like – the fact is that the dog Schipperke already existed at least in the Middle Ages. Over time, varieties developed in individual Belgian regions. He did not have large offspring. During the Second World War, the animal was even threatened with extinction. A large distribution is not the case even today.

How many puppies does a Schipperke get?

A litter of five puppies can be expected.

Essence & temperament of the Schipperke

The Schipperke is characterized by a strong will, agility and intelligence. While he’s not particularly tall, his confidence inspires respect from larger dogs. As an active dog with demanding character traits, it presents its owner with challenges. Due to its self-confident and fearless nature, it must be stopped, especially when barking. The dog itself should not be the authority, but its mistress or master. When it comes to education, this can mean several attempts. The parent shouldn’t give up on this.

Anyone who thinks that the agile little friend doesn’t need a lot of human contact is wrong. Emotional bonding, a healthy relationship and joint activities with their favorite people are extremely important to the little German Shepherd. Like most dogs, this dog breed is very attached to its owner. He loves trips into nature and places where he can let off steam with his friend.

Although he can be very demanding on the one hand, he can also be very frugal on the other. Especially when it comes to his home. The Schipperke doesn’t need a big house to feel good. Even in a flat in a big city, he is happy with the space he has available. Because it proves to be adaptable even in small spaces, walking through the city with a lot of people is no problem. You can also take it with you on public transport without any problems.

The appearance of the Schipperke

The Schipperke is one of the smaller dog breeds, growing to an average height of around 20-30 centimetres, with males usually being slightly larger than females. Depending on the size, the weight is between four and seven kilos. However, due to their medium-length fur, they often appear somewhat larger and heavier. Color-wise, they often come in black, chocolate, blue, and cream, with black Schipperkes being the most common.

Schipperkes are characterized by a very friendly-looking face with a long nose and pointed ears.

How big does a Schipperke get?

The height at the withers can be up to 33 cm.

Upbringing and keeping of the Schipperke – this is important to note

The Schipperke is a dog that needs loving and at the same time straightforward leadership without neglect. Because of his intelligence, the little four-legged friend knows how to use his advantages cleverly. Once the time has come, the dog can develop into a barker. Dog owners should therefore bring strength of character with them when training such a dog. His fearlessness and self-confidence sometimes make him forget about his tasks. He should not see himself as a belligerent being who constantly has to assert himself.

As an original herding dog, he is also often used as a small guard dog. Here his animal instincts are unmistakable. Even if he is small, the Schipperke is able to put house and apartment on alert.

As an agile creature, the animal also needs an active dog owner. It may be cozy inside, but it’s even nicer outside. The Schipperke likes to exercise in nature and also enjoys active interaction with its owner. Daily trips are necessary and there is nothing wrong with longer walks.

The beginner may now believe that the dog is not suitable for them because of its sometimes restless nature. But that’s not true. Beginners can get along with the dog if they go through consistent and loving training. Once it is established that man is the only authority figure, there should be no difficulty with his character.

Nutrition of the Schipperke

In principle, the Schipperke does not make any special demands on its diet. Because the dog consumes a lot of energy due to its strong urge to move, it is not uncommon for it to be very hungry. He likes to eat and eats a lot. The temptation to overfeed the dog because of its loving, pleading and hungry eyes is great for some animal lovers. Obesity can be the result if people keep feeding the dog snacks out of pity. The dog’s weight should be checked in the meantime using a scale.

When the Schipperke is fully grown, it gets two meals a day. The optimal meal contains about 30 percent vegetables, 60 percent meat and 10 percent rice per day. The amount should not be decisive, but the composition of the dog food. Which vitamins and nutrients the dog needs depends on various factors. These are

  • age
  • weight
  • size
  • health
  • activity

If dog owners want to be on the safe side when it comes to nutrition, they can have a veterinarian draw up a nutrition plan for them.

Health – life expectancy & common diseases

The life expectancy of the Schipperke is up to 14 years. This dog breed generally enjoys robust health. Diseases typical of the breed are not known. If an illness occurs, it can be the hereditary disease “mucopolysaccharidosis III”, in which the cellular metabolism is disturbed. When purchasing this dog, the buyer should consult the reputable breeder about hereditary diseases of the dog’s parents.

If diseases are excluded, they do not have to be caused by overfeeding. That is ultimately in the hands of the people. The dog has a tendency to become overweight if certain dietary factors are ignored. The Schipperke is an active animal and consumes a lot of energy. The result: constant hunger. The animal’s owner should therefore keep one point in mind: hungry eyes do not mean that every hunger has to be curbed with snacks.

Even cold days cannot harm the health of the robust little German Shepherd. Due to the dense undercoat, this dog breed is not considered sensitive to cold. The undercoat offers protection against wind and cold. Even very warm days do not bother the four-legged friend. In extreme heat, however, protective measures must be taken to avoid heat stroke.

How old does a Schipperke get?

A Schipperke can live up to 14 years.

Care of the Schipperke

The Schipperke does not have a coat that requires intensive grooming. The coat is extremely easy to care for. The animal sheds twice a year due to the change of fur. The pet owner should then brush the dog regularly. It is not necessary to bathe the animal after a trip to nature.

Schipperke – activities, and training

The daily rounds in nature in the form of walks can be sufficient. Nevertheless, the Schipperke loves a lot of exercise. Mistress and master should therefore also consider places for excursions where the agile animal can really let off steam. The animal is described as very powerful. In order to keep the dog physically and mentally fit, several dog sports should be considered. Dog owners make the right choice with agility or obedience.

Agility is arguably the number one canine sport. Here the Schipperke can improve his skills and increase his speed. The dog course is about getting through as error-free as possible. The Schipperke has to run through tunnels, master a slalom and take various other hurdles. With good training, the Schipperke is a dog with good basic obedience. It is therefore ideally suited for this type of dog sport.

Not only the dog is part of the sport, but also the human being. The dog is only successful in overcoming obstacles if it is in constant communication with its owner. In this respect, it is about teamwork that strengthens the bond and relationship between humans and dogs.
Obedience, on the other hand, is not as famous as agility. The dog sport comes from English and means “obedience”. The different exercises must be carried out precisely and quickly. The exercises begin with the basic exercises seat, foot and space. Such exercises are very important at the beginning for the training of the Schipperke, because otherwise the animal does what it wants. Even the beginner has the opportunity to learn how to successfully train his little German Shepherd. A clicker is often used here for more effective training. This canine sport can be a good addition to the agility program.

Good to know: special features of the Schipperke

The dog was made famous by Queen Marie Henriette of Belgium, who bought a Schipperken at a Brussels exhibition in 1885.

How much does a Schipperke puppy cost?

Breeders are happy to charge up to $1500 or more for a Schipperke puppy. However, there are only a few breeders of this breed.

Disadvantages of the Schipperke

The dog is not fraught with disadvantages. He is a healthy and robust dog and he has not struggled with any diseases. Even if his type is more self-confident and rather restless, he can be trained well. It is possible even for a beginner.

Does the Schipperke suit me?

The Schipperke may be the right choice for active dog lovers. The dog needs a lot of exercise outside. Your own home, on the other hand, can be small. This is also an attractive point for the interested party. Finding a dog that is also suitable for an apartment sometimes proves to be difficult. If you take a closer look at the Schipperken, you will quickly realize that this is the right dog.

The dog breed is not a lap dog. Animal lovers with a high need for activity are well served by choosing a Schipperken. The animal is agile, curious, restless and follows a strong urge to move. Therefore, short walks can quickly become boring for the animal. In order not to understrain the mind and body of the animal, the practice of dog sports is important. For the animal owner this means: He must and should participate.

If the animal sees its urge for a lot of exercise satisfied, a balanced behavior in the house or apartment can be expected. Ideally, the dog can therefore also be kept in a smaller apartment. If the animal owner lives in a town or city, there should be at least one park where the animal can let off steam to its heart’s content. Otherwise, a targeted search should be made for locations where dog sports can be practiced.

Before making a purchase, anyone interested should consider whether they themselves lead an active life that can do justice to the dog. If you want a Schipperke, you should like to be outside, like to exercise and want to participate in teamwork with the dog. It’s a good idea to ask yourself a few questions. When choosing, it should be ensured that the desire for a dog does not blind the interested party to unsuitable characteristics.

Seniors who are restricted in their freedom of movement should not get a Schipperken for the reasons mentioned. Slowness is something this dog does not do well with. And even older people would be overwhelmed with this animal. Seniors who understand exercise as a leisurely walk will not make a Schipperken happy in the long run. Active seniors, on the other hand, can have fun with the animal. By practicing dog sports, the dog also has an animating effect on older people. Active seniors who enjoy exercise may even be able to improve their exercise skills with this dog. At least the animal also keeps the body of an older person fit.

The Schipperke makes an excellent family pet when properly trained. As a guard dog, he works perfectly. Despite its size, it effectively protects family and home with its unfailing vigilance.

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