Schipperkes are rare dogs. However, they are recognized by the American Kennel Club, and the breed is quite old — they just aren’t nearly as popular as other breeds, which affects how well-known they are.
These small dogs were created to be watchdogs and ratters. They have an extremely high prey drive coupled with strangely cat-like hunting skills, which make them great rat-catching machines.
10 to 13 inches
10 to 16 pounds
13 to 15 years
Families looking for a small, playful dog
Loyal, playful, alert
Today, they can make robust little companions for those who don’t want the typical toy dog. They can be extremely active and intense, so they aren’t necessarily best for all dog owners. However, they can be the perfect pet for certain families.
They have foxy faces, which makes them look unique compared to other dog breeds. They are easy to tell apart from other dog breeds, even if you have little to no experience with them.
You typically can only find these dogs at a breeder. They are not common enough to show up at rescues and shelters. However, if you do find one up for rescue, you can likely save quite a bit of money. That said, these dogs are cheap in general. Therefore, you won’t save quite as much money as you would for another breed.
Temperament & Intelligence of the Schipperke
While they are small, this breed is still a working animal, and it shows through their temperament.
They are easy to train due to their eager-to-please nature. They aren’t particularly stubborn and often just want to make their people happy.
While they are energetic dogs, they are not as hyper as some other breeds. As far as energy goes, they fall in the middle of the pack. They won’t lie around all day, but they also won’t run around uncontrollably like some other small dogs.
They do tend to be quite vocal, which may be a problem. However, they can make good watchdogs if necessary. They tend to only bark at strangers and things that “aren’t right.” They are not as yappy as some other small dogs.
As decently intelligent dogs, these animals do require a bit of mental stimulation. You cannot leave them home all day without anything to do. They need some sort of activity or they can become destructive. You don’t want them trying to make their own fun.
These dogs aren’t the friendliest with strangers, but they aren’t aloof either. They are not people-obsessed like some other breeds, but they will accept attention from most people. Be sure to socialize them from a young age to ensure that they are used to being around people of all sorts. Otherwise, they may be a bit too wary, which can cause aggression.
These dogs are extremely playful. You should expect to play with them for quite a while each day. It isn’t just that they are active and therefore have plenty of energy. They also connect to their people through play. Instead of just curling up on the couch next to you, they may bring you a toy instead.
Overall, these dogs are adaptable. They can live in a variety of different situations without problems. If the schedule changes, they typically don’t mind much.
Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪
These dogs are affectionate with their people specifically. They love to cuddle and tend to follow their people around the house. If you’re looking for a companion that will never leave your side, this dog may be the best option for you. However, they can also be prone to separation anxiety because of their sensitive nature.
You should plan on crate training them early on to ensure that they are used to being alone. A puppy that is allowed to always be with someone will grow into a clingy and insecure adult dog.
That said, this breed may not be suitable for those who don’t spend much time at home. They need attention to thrive and do their best in households with multiple people.
They are moderately good with kids. Their playful nature makes them a good choice for young children. However, they are small, so kids can easily injure them if they are rough. Therefore, they may be better for older children or those who are gentle with animals.
Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?
The Schipperke can get along with other dogs as long as they are socialized from an early age. This is not a breed that has a herd mentality, so they won’t automatically get along with other dogs. However, they can be taught to accept other dogs into their space.
Early socialization is key to this, though. Puppy classes are highly recommended. Otherwise, you may run into problems later.
However, these dogs have a strong prey drive. They will chase just about anything that might be seen as a prey animal, including cats that are larger than them and butterflies. They love to chase; it is in their blood. You cannot train this out of them, so they are not good in homes with cats or other small pets.
Things to Know When Owning a Schipperke
Food & Diet Requirements 🦴
These dogs do not have strict dietary requirements. They typically do good on any high-quality commercial dog food. However, their small size does mean that small breed dog food is often the best decision. Otherwise, the kibble may be too large for them to eat.
Since these dogs tend to be active, they may do best on high-protein food. This will support their muscles and help them keep their energy levels high. Of course, it is best to base it on your particular dog’s energy level, as some tend to be more energetic than others.
These dogs are not particularly prone to obesity. However, it can happen.
Controlling their diet can help. Be sure to feed them only as much food as they need. These dogs can be food-oriented, which can make them overeat if they are offered too much. This can further increase the risk of obesity.
These dogs are energetic. Therefore, they will need plenty of exercise if you want them to stay controllable and well-behaved. Otherwise, they can become a bit too excited, which can cause them to become destructive. A hyper Schipperke is not a well-behaved animal.
These dogs love to chase just about anything. Therefore, they love games like fetch. Anything that involves chasing will make them happy.
They typically require a brisk daily walk or playtime outside. You cannot simply put them in a fenced-in area and expect them to thrive, though. They are people-oriented and often need to exercise with their owners. Otherwise, they can become quite the handful and may not get the appropriate amount of exercise.
Most dogs that are placed in a fenced-in yard by themselves don’t move around that much.
Schipperkes have naturally playful personalities, so they will often exercise more than they really need to. Therefore, they do best in homes that can appreciate this playful personality, instead of ones that are only looking for a dog to cuddle.
While you don’t necessarily need to be super active to take care of this small dog, that would be ideal if you’re looking for a playful animal.
The Schipperke is a playful, energetic dog. Therefore, to keep them well-behaved, they require plenty of care and training. Otherwise, they’ll likely run around your house all the time. This is not a breed that is naturally well-behaved indoors, though that doesn’t mean they can’t learn.
Fortunately, these small dogs are attached to their people and eager to please. Training them is not difficult. They are not one of the most intelligent breeds out there, but they are smart enough to learn all the basic commands and even a few advanced options.
Furthermore, they are good at performing in real-world situations. Unlike some other breeds, they won’t perform well in class and then ignore you in the real world. They tend to be good listeners all the time.
That said, there are a few things that you simply can’t program out of these dogs. For instance, they love to chase. They will chase just about everything, ranging from cats to plastic bags. Some dogs may even try to chase things that are much larger than them.
This is an instinct that you cannot train out. Many of these dogs will chase things even if you tell them not to. They simply cannot control themselves. Therefore, we highly recommend never letting them off-leash. You never know when they’re going to see something and run away.
These dogs do not require substantial amounts of grooming. In fact, they only need a quick brush-through once a week to help keep their coat clean. These brushing sessions are more about removing dirt and dust than about removing hair, as these dogs don’t shed that much during most of the year.
However, they do have a “shedding season” once or twice a year. During this time, they lose most of their hair and will often need to be brushed extra often because of it. You’ll need to up your grooming session to every other day to control the amount of hair that they’re losing.
Luckily, if you keep up with your brushing sessions, these shedding seasons don’t seem to last long.
Like for all dogs, you will need to keep their nails clean and in shape. Long nails are uncomfortable for dogs to walk on, and they may be more prone to splitting, causing severe problems.
Health and Conditions 🏥
Generally, these dogs are on the healthier end of the spectrum.
However, that doesn’t mean they are completely healthy. These dogs are prone to eye conditions like progressive retinal atrophy, though this is true of most modern breeds. This canine may also develop hip dysplasia. However, since they are small dogs, this does not happen nearly as often as it does in large breeds. They simply don’t have the extended growth time that big dogs have.
Schipperkes are also prone to hypothyroidism. However, this is often tested for breeding dogs before they start producing puppies, which helps ensure that the condition is not passed on. That said, it is still possible, especially if you purchase from breeders who don’t perform health testing.
Male vs. Female
There are no significant differences between the males and females of this breed. Any sizing difference would be so small that you wouldn’t notice it at all.
There also aren’t any personality differences. The only true differences are those that come with the territory, such as females going into heat.
Therefore, sex isn’t likely to play a major role in your decision on which puppy to get.
3 Little-Known Facts About the Schipperke
Many people take one look at this breed and assume that they are related to the Pomeranian. However, this is not the case. In fact, these dogs are derived from a black Sheepdog called the Leauvenaar. They aren’t even related to Spitz dogs.
2. The Schipperke is a great watchdog.
These dogs can be excellent watchdogs. However, this also means they are quite noisy, which you’ll need to keep in mind if you live in an apartment or prefer quieter animals.
3. They are an old breed.
This breed has been around for a while and was recognized early, despite their continued rarity. There was even a show for these canines held in 1690 at the Grand Palace in Brussels.
The Schipperke is a rare dog breed that can make a great companion for the right family. If you’re looking for an active dog that is also small, this may be the best option for you. This dog was bred to chase rats, so they are quite active.
However, they aren’t uncontrollable. They’re great if you’re looking for a more playful companion instead of a lap dog.
We highly recommend these dogs for families, as they need plenty of attention to thrive. They are not great in homes with cats or other small animals, though. They have serious chase instincts and will run after anything that looks like a prey animal.
- You may also be interested in: Skip-Shzu (Schipperke & Shih Tzu Mix)
Featured Image Credit: Al_Er, Shutterstock