Table of Contents

The Schipperke is a small, agile breed known for its curious and lively nature. Originating from Belgium, they were historically used as watchdogs and vermin catchers on barges, hence their nickname “little captain.” They are characterized by their fox-like face, pointed ears, and distinctive black coat, which is dense and has a ruff around the neck.

Schipperkes are intelligent and independent, often described as having a big-dog personality in a small-dog body. They are active and require regular exercise to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. Due to their inquisitive nature, they benefit from early training and socialization. Schipperkes are loyal and protective of their family, making them excellent companions and watchdogs. Their small size makes them suitable for various living environments, as long as their exercise and mental stimulation needs are met.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

12 to 14 years



Maintenance Level:


Shed Level


Best For

Schipperkes are well-suited for active owners who can cater to their high energy levels and need for mental engagement. They thrive with consistent training and early socialization, given their curious and independent nature. Excellent as vigilant watchdogs, they fit best with families that have older children, due to their lively temperament. Schipperkes adapt well to various living environments, including apartments, as long as their exercise and stimulation needs are met.

Schipperke Traits

Breed Characteristics

Schipperkes are small, agile dogs with a distinctive fox-like appearance, characterized by their pointed ears and dense black coat. They are known for their curious and lively temperament, often displaying a big-dog personality in a small body. Schipperkes are intelligent and independent, requiring regular mental stimulation and exercise to stay content.

Their alertness makes them excellent watchdogs, and they are loyal and protective of their family. Despite their strong-willed nature, they can be affectionate and are known to form close bonds with their owners.


Exercise Needs
Health Issues
Barking Tendencies
Grooming Needs
Shedding Level
Training Needs
Good With Kids
Good With Cats
Good As A Service Dog
Good For Apartments & Small Homes
Biting Tendencies
Energy Level
Good With Other Dogs
Sensitive to Cold Weather
Sensitive to Warm Weather
Good For First Time Pet Parents

Breed Appearance

Schipperkes are known for their small, robust frame and unique black coat, which is dense and includes a prominent neck ruff. They possess pointed ears and expressive eyes, contributing to their alert, fox-like appearance. Often featuring a docked tail, their all-black coat and lively demeanor give them a distinctive and striking look.

1. Ears
Small and pointed, set high on their head, adding to their alert and inquisitive expression.
2. Eyes
Dark, almond-shaped, and expressive, reflecting their lively and curious nature.
3. Nose
Typically black, complementing their all-black coat.
4. Height
About 10 to 13 inches at the shoulder.
5. Coat Length
Medium-length with a dense, straight texture and a distinct ruff around the neck.
6. Coat Color
Predominantly black.
7. Tail
Traditionally docked, giving them a unique profile.
8. Weight
Typically weigh between 10 to 16 pounds

Schipperke Temperament

Schipperkes exhibit an independent and curious temperament, combined with high energy and playfulness. They require regular exercise and enjoy engaging in active play. Intelligent yet willful, they benefit from consistent, positive training. Loyal to their families, they can be cautious around strangers, making them effective watchdogs. This combination of traits makes Schipperkes a lively and devoted companion.

  • Independent and Curious: Schipperkes are known for their independence and inquisitive nature, often displaying a lively curiosity about their surroundings.

  • Loyal and Protective: They form strong bonds with their family, being protective and sometimes reserved around strangers.

  • High Energy and Playfulness: These dogs are energetic and enjoy active play, requiring regular exercise to keep them stimulated.

  • Intelligence and Trainability: Schipperkes are intelligent, which makes them trainable, but their independent streak can sometimes pose a challenge.

  • Alertness and Watchdog Ability: They are naturally alert and make excellent watchdogs, often vocal when they perceive something unusual.

Understanding and catering to the Schipperke’s temperament requires patience and consistency, along with providing them with enough mental and physical stimulation.

How to Care for a Schipperke

Caring for a Schipperke includes regular exercise to channel their high energy, routine grooming for their dense coat, and consistent training to manage their independence. Early socialization is important for their development, and a balanced diet with regular vet check-ups ensures their health. Understanding and catering to their curious and energetic nature is crucial for their well-being.

Caring for a Schipperke’s grooming needs includes routine brushing to manage their thick coat, occasional baths, regular nail trims, and ear cleaning. Dental hygiene is also important with frequent teeth brushing. This regimen helps maintain their distinctive appearance and overall health.

Regular Coat Brushing

  • Frequency: Brush the Schipperke’s coat several times a week to prevent matting and tangling.
  • Tools: Use a slicker brush or a fine-toothed comb for effective grooming.


  • Schedule: Bathe your Schipperke every few months or as needed, depending on their activity level.
  • Shampoo: Choose a gentle dog shampoo to maintain their coat’s health and shine.

Nail Care

  • Trimming: Regularly trim their nails to prevent overgrowth and discomfort.

Ear and Dental Care

  • Ears: Check and clean their ears regularly to prevent infections.
  • Teeth: Brush their teeth frequently to maintain dental health and prevent tartar buildup.

Proper grooming is essential for maintaining the health and appearance of a Schipperke’s coat, as well as their overall well-being.

Training a Schipperke requires patience and consistency, as they are intelligent but can be independent. Positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, work best. Early socialization is crucial for their well-rounded development and to curb their strong curiosity and prey drive.

  • Understanding Schipperke Temperament Recognize their independent nature to tailor an effective training approach.

  • Consistency in Training: Maintain consistent commands and routines to establish clear expectations and build trust.

  • Positive Reinforcement Methods: Utilize treats, praise, and play as rewards for good behavior, as Schipperkes respond well to positive reinforcement techniques.

  • Early Socialization: Expose them to various environments, people, and other animals early to develop social skills and reduce their natural wariness.

  • Managing Prey Drive: Address their strong prey drive with specific training exercises, focusing on recall and leash behavior.

  • Keeping Training Engaging: Incorporate short, varied training sessions to maintain their interest and prevent boredom, leveraging their intelligence and curiosity.

  • Patience and Understanding: Be patient and understanding, recognizing that their independent streak might require additional time and effort in training.

With consistent, positive training methods and early socialization, Schipperkes can be well-behaved and enjoyable companions. Their intelligence and independent nature make training both a challenge and a rewarding experience.

A Schipperke’s diet should be well-balanced, tailored to their small size and high energy levels. Monitoring portion sizes is important to prevent obesity. Ensure they have access to fresh water at all times, and consider incorporating healthy treats during training. Regular veterinary consultations can help adjust their diet as needed, particularly as they age or if health issues arise.

Balanced Nutritional Needs

  • Ensure the diet meets the energy and health requirements of Schipperkes, with appropriate levels of protein, fats, carbohydrates, and essential vitamins and minerals.

Portion Control and Feeding Schedule

  • Monitor portion sizes to prevent obesity, a common issue among small, active breeds.
  • Establish a consistent feeding schedule, typically twice a day for adults.

Treats and Supplements

  • Use treats judiciously, preferably healthy ones, especially during training.
  • Supplements can be considered based on age or specific health needs, as advised by a vet.

Fresh Water Availability

  • Provide constant access to fresh, clean water.

Special Dietary Considerations

  • Be alert to any signs of food allergies or sensitivities.
  • Adjust the diet for life stages, health status, and activity levels.

Regular Veterinary Check-Ups

  • Routine vet visits are important for dietary recommendations and to monitor for any health issues related to nutrition.

A well-planned diet is crucial for the health and well-being of a Schipperke, considering their size, energy levels, and specific nutritional needs. Regular veterinary advice can ensure their dietary requirements are appropriately met.

Schipperkes require regular exercise to match their high energy levels, including daily walks and playtime. They benefit from activities that engage both their body and mind, such as interactive games or agility training. It’s important to provide them with enough physical activity to keep them healthy and prevent behavioral issues stemming from boredom.

Regular Physical Activity

  • Daily Walks: Essential for their physical health and to satisfy their curiosity.
  • Play Sessions: Engage in play sessions to cater to their energetic nature.

Mental Stimulation

  • Training Exercises: Incorporate training exercises into their routine for mental engagement.
  • Puzzle Toys: Use puzzle toys and games to keep their mind active.

Balance of Activity and Rest

  • Moderate Intensity: While active, Schipperkes don’t require excessive physical activity. Balance exercise with periods of rest.
  • Adaptability: Adjust exercise routines based on the dog’s age, health, and energy levels.

Regular and balanced exercise, combining physical activity with mental challenges, is key for the Schipperke’s overall well-being and health.

The ideal environment for a Schipperke is one where they can have ample space for play and exploration. They adapt well to various living situations, including apartments, as long as their exercise needs are met. A secure, safe area for outdoor activities is beneficial, and they thrive in an environment where they receive consistent attention and mental stimulation.

Space for Activity

  • Play Area: Provide a space where they can play and explore, as Schipperkes are active and curious.
  • Outdoor Access: A secure backyard or regular access to parks is ideal for their physical and mental stimulation.

Suitable Living Conditions

  • Indoor Comfort: They adapt well to indoor living, including apartments, as long as their exercise needs are met.
  • Safety Measures: Ensure the living space is safe and escape-proof, as they can be escape artists.

Social Environment

  • Family Interaction: Schipperkes thrive in environments where they are involved in family activities.
  • Mental Stimulation: They require mental engagement through interactive toys and games.

Creating an ideal environment for a Schipperke involves balancing their need for physical activity with a safe and engaging living space. Regular interaction and mental stimulation are key to keeping them content and healthy.

Schipperke Health

Schipperkes are generally a robust breed, but they have specific health concerns to be aware of.

Common Health Issues

  • Patellar Luxation: Dislocation of the kneecap, common in small breeds.
  • Eye Problems: Including progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts.
  • Hypothyroidism: A condition affecting the thyroid gland, leading to various health issues.
  • MPS IIIB (Mucopolysaccharidosis): A rare genetic disorder affecting the breed.

Preventive Health Care

  • Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for early detection and management of health issues.
  • Vaccinations and routine parasite control contribute to overall health.

Diet and Exercise

  • A balanced diet and regular exercise help prevent obesity, which can exacerbate health issues.

Monitoring and Early Detection

  • Be vigilant for signs of discomfort or illness, especially in eyes and mobility.

By being proactive about health care and aware of the common issues that can affect Schipperkes, owners can help ensure their pets lead a long, healthy life.

Schipperke Breed Comparison and Consideration

Schipperkes stand out for their high energy and need for engagement, ideal for active owners. They are more independent and require consistent training compared to some more easy-going breeds. Their small size makes them suitable for various living situations, including apartments, but their strong prey drive and curiosity set them apart from less active or more sociable dogs.

Schipperke vs. Other Breeds:

Schipperke vs. Belgian Malinois:

  • Schipperkes are much smaller and suitable for apartment living, unlike the larger, more demanding Belgian Malinois.
  • Schipperkes have higher adaptability to various environments and less intensive exercise needs.

Schipperke vs. Pomeranian:

  • Both are small breeds, but Schipperkes are more energetic and require more exercise.
  • Schipperkes have a higher prey drive and are more independent compared to the more sociable Pomeranian.

Considerations Before Choosing a Schipperke:

  • They suit active owners who can provide ample mental and physical stimulation.
  • Early socialization and consistent training are crucial due to their independent nature.
  • Their small size makes them adaptable to various living spaces, but they need a secure environment due to their curiosity and prey drive.

Choosing a Schipperke requires understanding their high energy, need for stimulation, and independent temperament to ensure they fit well into your lifestyle.


Schipperkes are known for their energetic, curious, and independent nature. They are intelligent and can be strong-willed.

They require regular exercise, including daily walks and playtime, to meet their high energy levels.

They can be good with children, especially if raised with them, but their interaction should be supervised due to their energetic play.

They shed moderately and require regular grooming to maintain their coat.

Common health issues include patellar luxation, eye problems, and hypothyroidism.

Training can be challenging due to their independent nature, but they respond well to consistent and positive training methods.

Top Takeaways

The Schipperke breed, known for its distinctive appearance and personality, offers several key takeaways for potential owners. Firstly, their energetic and curious nature makes them well-suited for active individuals or families who can provide adequate physical and mental stimulation. Their small size belies a strong, independent character, requiring consistent and positive training methods to manage their willfulness.

Secondly, Schipperkes are adaptable to various living environments, including apartments, as long as their exercise needs are met. Their grooming is moderate but necessary to maintain their dense coat. Health-wise, awareness of breed-specific issues like patellar luxation and eye problems is important for preventive care.

In conclusion, owning a Schipperke can be a rewarding experience for those who appreciate their unique blend of independence, energy, and loyalty. Their suitability for various lifestyles, combined with their distinctive appearance and spirited personality, makes them a beloved breed for many dog enthusiasts.

Top Schipperke Names

For a Schipperke, names that reflect their lively and spirited personality or their Belgian heritage could be ideal. Here are some top name suggestions.

Female Names











Male Names











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