What is a Schipperke?
What is a Schipperke?
By Mary Casey
What kind of dog is at home on a farm, in the city, or on a boat? A schipperke!
Schipperkes are small black dogs originally from Belgium, probably bred down from the now extinct Belgian sheepdog. In the 1700’s, only wealthy people and royalty owned large dogs, so the common folk like the farmers and the fishermen, decided to breed a small dog to suit their needs. By the 1880’s, the schipperke was the most popular dog breed in Belgium because the Queen took a fancy to the rowdy little devils and had many of them at her palace. There is a famous painting of the royal hunt with the usual assortment of hunting dogs, and in a corner is seen a tiny all black dog with upright ears and one paw up in expectation from that time period.
The name schipperke has been translated to mean both ‘little captain’ because of their reputation as being wonderful boat dogs, to ‘little shepherd’ because of their possible herding dog genealogy. Whatever the word means, any schipperke owner can tell you they have distinctive personalities. They are the meaning of a ‘big dog in a small dog’s body’!
Schipperkes are usually all black, the only color recognized in the USA for show dogs, although different colors can be seen in Europe. The tails are docked off when the dogs are young, except in Europe, where the long, curling tail is left in place. Schipperkes have a cobby shaped body, meaning they are short and sturdy on low legs. They have a foxy face, with upright ears and bright brown eyes. The coat of a schipperke is water-repellent since it is a double coat. The undercoat is a soft, fluffy gray, with the top coat being a harsh, shiny black. The coat is beautiful and gives the schipperke its unique look. The coat has a stand out ruff, a cape and culottes and needs no maintenance except for a brushing once a week and the occasional bath. Schipperkes have been compared to looking like little foxes, bears, and even pot-bellied pigs!(must have been a fat Schip). Schipperkes weigh between ten to eighteen pounds and they stand about ten to thirteen inches at the withers.
Personality is what makes a schipperke so special. They are as curious as cats and are the original circus dogs. They love to be with their family, and are good with children if raised with them. Schipperkes have been known to be good farm dogs because they are natural ratters and enjoy being around horses and even cats. Because schipperkes are smart and curious, they tend to make great watchdogs, barking in alarm when they sense something isn’t right with their world. They like to be with other dogs as long as they can be the boss. Schipperkes don’t realize they are small, and will challenge the biggest of dogs if given the opportunity. They also can’t be trusted off leash unless well trained. Schips love to explore and will run off without realizing they don’t know where they are going. A responsible schipperke owner will keep the dog on a leash, or in a fenced yard.
Schipperkes tend to be wary of strangers and will take some time to get used to new people. They can be one person dogs, and will follow their chosen person around like Mary’s little lamb. They don’t like closed doors, and will notice if you change the furniture arrangements or add something new. They can also jump, but are not quite as agile as a terrier. Some well trained schipperkes have won agility contests and others have won the Canine Good Citizen award, but they all need a firm hand and firm training.
Schipperkes can live for a long time, sometimes up to fifteen years. They do not have many health problems and are hardy little dogs. The main health issues they have include epilepsy, hypothyroidism, Legg Calves Perthes disease, hip dysplasia, PRA, cataracts and a new disease called MPS 111B. There is a genetic test for MPS so be sure to ask the breeder if the dog has been tested for it.
Schipperkes do well wherever people live. They will fit in on your boat, on your farm or in your apartment. If you can take the time to train a dog and give lots of loving, the schipperke may be for you.
This article has been submitted in affiliation with http://www.PetLovers.Com/ which is a site for Pet Forums.
Mary Casey is a writer and has been owned by a schipperke for nine years.
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