The Schipperke was bred in Flanders in the 16th century as guard dogs and ratters for canal barges (in Flemish, the word “schip” means boat, hence the name “Schipperke”). It was descended from the bloodlines of the Leauvenaar which was also the ancestor of the Belgian Sheepdog. This small and fox-like breed weighs about 12 to 18 pounds and stands from 10 to 13 inches in height. Its skull is slightly rounded when viewed from the side and the muzzle is slightly shorter than the length of the skull. The eyes are small and oval-shaped and the ears are erect, high set and triangular in shape. The nose is small and black in colour. The coat is made of double layers of a soft and fluffy undercoat and a harsher and longer topcoat. The Schipperke’s unique characteristic is a long ruff on the neck and a strip that trails down towards the rear of the dog. They also have a longer coat on their hind legs. The only accepted coat colour is solid black, however, fawns and tans also occur.
The Schipperke is known for its stubborn, mischievous and headstrong temperament. They are energetic little dogs that are alert and self-confident. As companions they are devoted and loyal and they bond well with their master and family. They do exceptionally well with children and are easy to train. This breed likes to howl and may become willful if not trained and socialized properly during puppyhood. They are good for apartment dwellers but will need to be taken on a daily long walk or jog.