This dog breed is from Belgium, where the breed has been around for a few hundred years. They were originally called Spitske (AKA Spitz) due to hunting game such as rats and other vermin on farms. The breed was also a great watchdog. As the popularity of the breed grew, the dogs were brought onto barges and boats, and gained the name Schipperke, Flemish for “little captain”.
They embody all of the typical traits of a Spitz-type dog. Their upright ears and curled over the back tail give them an alert appearance, while their plush coats of usually all black fur make them look like small teddy bears. However, this breed is very feisty and brave, far from delicate and cuddly like a toy.
Known for their quick, intelligent, protective and alert natures, they make a great watchdog and farm dog. They have big personalities, often acting much larger than they are. This breed will back down from nothing, especially when it comes to protecting their family. Always alert, this dog breed keeps track of everything, and will gladly alert anyone to his presence.
They live on average 13 to 18 years, a bit above average even the long lifespan of other small breeds. A few health concerns include epilepsy, hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, hypothyroidism and metabolic disease involving the breakdown of glucose chains. Careful breeding can help reduce some of the genetic breed concerns.
Their thick coat should be brushed weekly due to its ability to shed. The undercoat sheds completely a few times a year and takes about a week to fall out, causing quite a bit of loose hair to accumulate unless brushed daily during that week. Beyond brushing, no professional grooming is required.
This dog breed is intelligent but can have a mind of his own when it comes to training. Patience in training, especially in housetraining, is key to ensuring there is no battle of the wills over learning new things. However, some are eager to please and will pick up obedience more quickly.
While small, this breed is active and requires at least a daily long walk or jog. Running around in yards or having frequent play sessions will also keep the breed busy. Hunting and searching for vermin in the yard or on walks will help to keep him mentally occupied as well.