Physical characteristicsThe Schipperke is a small tailless dog with a sturdy compact build. The body is cobby, short and square-shaped. The topline can be level or slightly sloping down from the withers. The deep chest reaches to the elbows. The fox-like head is a wedge with a pointed muzzle and full underjaw. The stop is distinct but not prominent. The small oval eyes are dark brown. The small triangular ears are set high and carried erect. The nose is black. The teeth should form a scissor or level bite. The tail is usually docked so that it cannot be noticeable at all. The gait is smooth, well-coordinated and graceful.
The Schipperke weighs up to 18 pounds. The height is 12 to 13 icnhes.
TemperamentLoyal, protective, energetic, curious, and agile. Affectionate with its family and good with children. Wary with strangers, so this breed makes very good watchdogs. Highly intelligent and may be quite wilful, mischievous, and impudent. Needs a firm, calm, confident owner who is able to provide proper human leadership. Easy to train using the positive reinforcement approach, but the dog can become bored with too much repetition. Friendly with other dogs if properly socialized at an early age. Should not be trusted with other small pets such as rodents. Usually fine with cats of its own family. The Schipperke should always be kept on-leash (as this is an extremely fast, agile, and independent chaser of anything that moves) or in a secure yard, preferably supervised.
Coat and groomingThe abundant double coat is straight, dense, and somewhat harsh in texture. Short hair covers the face, ears, the front of the forelegs and the hocks. The neck is covered with longer hair that forms a prominent ruff. The undercoat is softer than the outer hair; it is very thick around the neck making the ruff stand out. Regular brushing is necessary to keep the coat in good condition. Schipperkes come in only one solid colour - black.
HealthUnfortunately, there is a whole row of health conditions this breed can suffer from. This includes hypothyroidism, epilepsy, hip dysplasia, slipping hip sockets, Legg Calves Perthes, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Cataracts, and MPS 111B (Mucopolysaccharidosis). Don't overfeed as this breed is prone to obesity. The lifespan is 12 to 15 years.
Other interesting factsSchipperkes were first recognized as a formal breed in the late 19th century. Translated into English, the name "Schipperke" means "Little Skipper," or "Little Boatman". It is no surprise the Schipperke has developed such a fiercely independent streak, given all the ratter work the breed had to do on the Belgian barges.
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