Little boatman

Despite his many qualities, the Schipperke is mainly used today as a companion dog. His good character and excellent temperament make him a dog appreciated by all kinds of families, wanting to benefit from the presence of a four-legged friend who is kind, gentle, sociable, affectionate, cheerful, a great player, patient and present, while benefiting from an excellent watchdog.

Height 20 to 30 cm
Weight 3 to 9 kg
Life expectancy 13 to 15 years
Home country Belgium

Quick Overview of the Schipperke


  • Agile and alert
  • Untiring
  • Active, lively and very curious
  • Great joy de vivre


  • Solidly built
  • Short and stocky silhouette
  • Rather fine bone structure
  • Very elegant overall appearance


  • Robust and solid
  • No particular pathology
  • Generally in excellent health
  • Very appreciable life expectancy

Temperament of the Schipperke

Agile, alert, restless, tireless, active, lively and very curious, the Schipperke exudes a joie de vivre and a very communicative cheerfulness. He is the perfect companion dog.

Intuitive and very intelligent, he is easy to train. His education must however be carried out with gentleness, and in the greatest peace and quiet. It does not generally pose any issue.

Used for guarding, despite his small size, as well as company, the Schipperke is appreciated for his constant and communicative joie de vivre.

He loves everyone and always seems to be in an equal mood, making the entire family happy.

Adapting to all possible situations, he doesn't seems to be disturbed by the slightest change. This small dog, very gentle with toddlers, loves to play and uses his cheerfulness to entertain the crowds.

Breed Appearance


Solidly built, the Schipperke is a true shepherd dog, but in reduced size.

His short, stocky, but still rather large silhouette is harmoniously built.

In spite of a strong structure, his limbs have a rather fine bone frame.

Physically, he looks very much like a Belgian Shepherd, but small and without a tail. Well muscled and built, he offers a very elegant general appearance.


Between 20 and 30 cm (7.87 to 11.81 inches) for the male
Between 20 and 30 cm (7.87 to 11.81 inches) for the female


Between 3 and 9 kg (6.61 to 19.84 pounds) for the male
Between 3 and 9 kg (6.61 to 19.84 pounds) for the female


The official color of his dress is a beautiful zain black. However, in America, some farms have specimens with a fawn or liver-colored coat.


His long, usually black coat hair is waterproof. It is abundant, hard, straight, dense, firm and rather dry.

It forms a full plastron on the breeches, as well as a pretty mane. It has a close but very soft undercoat.


His head has a broad forehead and a well defined stop. His eyes are dark brown and almond shaped.

His small, straight, triangular ears are pointed and set high. His nose is completely black.

His tail is usually cut, but when it is natural, it is rather long, reaching the hock.

According to the FCI breeds nomenclature, this breed belongs to group 1, section 1 and is #83

Tips About this breed

Excellent companion dog, he makes a very good guard dog. Even if he is small, he does not hesitate to sanction any abnormal situations with thunderous barking. He prevents the intrusion of malicious people, dissuading them with his strong bark. He is an outstanding warner.

Rather reserved with strangers, his socialization should not exacerbate his natural distrust of strangers.

This small dog is not aggressive at all, but he does defend his own against all odds, barking loudly at the slightest unusual situation.

He can live anywhere, adapting very well without the slightest problem.

However, his thunderous voice can sometimes bother the neighbours.

If he lives in the city, but enjoys a large garden, he will be uncompromising with pests daring to venture into his territory.

Health of the Schipperke

His coat, usually all black, requires regular brushing, at least once or twice a week.

Regular brushing and combing protects the coat and helps it stay clean, healthy and beautiful. No other maintenance is necessary.


Rather robust and solid, this small dog is not affected by any particular pathology or genetic disease.

The breed is not related to any congenital defect, and the specimens generally enjoy excellent health, very rarely ill. His life expectancy is also very appreciable.

History of this breed

The Schipperke is of very old origin. As early as the 17th century, documents speak of a dog, closely resembling the Schipperke, living with the shoemakers working in the Saint-GĂ©ry district of Brussels.

These same shoemakers organized dog shows at that time, where dogs were judged by their copper collars, made by local craftsmen.

It appears that a shoemaker that received a bad result at a show, would have, in rage, cut the tail of the dog that won the competition.

The docked dog would have had quite an effect and from that day on, the owners of Schipperke started to cut off their dog's tail.

Originating in the Brussels-Leuven region of Belgium, the Schipperke got his name from the Dutch word for "little navigator," but in Flemish dialect it translates as "little shepherd".

During the 17th century, companion of boatmen and living on barges at the same time, he is the smallest sheepdog known. He was much appreciated for his ability to hunt mice and other rodents.

It seems that he is related to the Belgian Groenendael Shepherd Dog, but it is possible that the Nordic Spitz is also one of his distant ancestors.

He is the small size of a pure Lupoid. Having retained many pure characteristics, he is not one of the so-called "manufactured" varieties.

His small size is the only representation of his evolution. He would apparently be the reduction of the Leuvennaar, or Louvain Dog, having kept the same type, but in a reduced format.

First exhibited in 1882 at the SPA, he emigrated five years later to Great Britain and the United States.

The first official breed standard was established in 1888, as was the Club responsible for the breed, which is now the oldest breed club in Belgium.

At the time, there was talk of different varieties, including those from Brussels, Leuven and Antwerp. In the following years, the breed was unified to become the unique specimen of the Schipperke.

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