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Breed overview

  • Breed group — Non-sporting group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height — 10-13 inches
  • Weight — 10-16 pounds
  • Coat length & texture — Straight, thick, and somewhat harsh
  • Coat color — Black is the most common outercoat color for these small dogs. The undercoat may be slightly lighter than the overcoat. Cream, ivory, wheaten, gold, red, white, blue, and chocolate are also permissible colors, according to the United Kennel Club.
  • Exercise needs — Moderate
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — More than average
  • Life span — 12-16 years
  • Temperament — Active, curious, and smart
  • Hypoallergenic — No
  • Origin — Belgium

Schipperke fun facts 

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male Schipperkes Milo; Buddy is the 2nd most popular male name. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Schipperkes love Luna, then Olive.

  • Schipperke were popular watchdogs for barges. Schipperke means “little captain” in Flemish.
  • Queen Marie Henriette of Austria once had a schipperke named Black.
  • These little dogs may be born with a full tail, half tail, or no tail at all.
Three young schipperke dogs

Schipperke temperament and characteristics 

Your schipperke can be your loyal companion but will have a hard time if you leave it alone for too long. In this instance, your dog’s likely to bark, chew, dig, and engage in other destructive behaviors. When this energetic little dog has activities to enjoy, it thrives. Otherwise, schipperkes can be aggressive and bark at strangers and other animals — socialization at a young age is key.

Because your schipperke wants to learn, they’re a good candidate for training. An experienced trainer will know how to handle their stubbornness and teach your dog good behaviors.

Common schipperke health problems 

Like any dog breed, the schipperke is susceptible to common health problems such as obesity or dental disease, while others may be genetic.

  • Epilepsy. Research suggests schipperkes face a high risk of epileptic seizures. Even though they and other breeds suffer from these seizures with no underlying cause, scientists are still searching for the genes or even the intestinal bacterial population that may be responsible.
  • Dental disease. Periodontal disease occurs after plaque builds up on your dog’s teeth. This plaque can harden into tartar and damage your pet’s gums. It can also damage the surrounding bone, which becomes diseased and disappears, leading to loose teeth.
  • Cataracts. Cataracts can cloud your dog’s lenses. If your pet is dealing with cataracts, the black part of their eyes may look white.
  • Obesity. Pet obesity can contribute to joint issues, back pain, and other long-lasting health problems.

Cost of caring for schipperkes

You should always buy a schipperke from a highly reputable breeder. The cost of doing so can total thousands of dollars. Once you bring your dog home, expect your first-year pet expenses to total around $3,000. After that, your pet costs should go down to about $1,000 annually.

Pet health insurance can help with some out-of-pocket expenses. It may not cover your regular vet appointments but it can help pay for a pet emergency. Pet savings accounts are another way to prepare for the unexpected so surgery, medicine, or other costs won’t disrupt your monthly budget.

Schipperke puppy

History of the schipperke

Schipperkes originally came from the Flanders region of Belgium, descendants of the Leauvenaar, an extinct black-shepherd breed. They were prized working dogs on farms, barges, and boats to protect them from intruders.

Thanks to their dark coat and frequent lack of a tail, these fearsome watchdogs earned the nickname “little black devil.” In 1888, the first schipperke arrived in the United States. Since then, this breed has become popular as a sport dog known for its intelligence and agility.

Caring for your schipperke

Caring for a new puppy of any breed can be overwhelming. You’ll need to make your first trip to the vet and get your dog’s vaccinations. We can help you puppy-proof your home and prepare for teething. No one likes to think about losing their new dog, but FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag so you’re prepared just in case. Here are some other basics specific to the schipperke.


Thirty minutes of daily exercise is plenty to help your schipperke feel its best. Bring your pet to play in a fenced-in yard if you have one. You can also take your pet out for a walk or jog. A typical schipperke can walk up to 10 miles and run up to five miles without getting tired. If you go for a walk or run, keep your pet on a leash, since schipperkes can sometimes be aggressive.

When your schipperke’s not exercising, give it the attention it deserves. These little dogs may be able to spend the day alone when you go to work or school, but if you don’t give your pet enough stimulation, it may get bored, which leads to barking and destructive behavior.

Schipperke playing with owner


You can get by with brushing your schipperke’s coat once a week. This dog breed is not considered a heavy shedder but will shed its coat at least twice a year, in spring and fall. Each shedding period is likely to last about a month. An occasional bath should be enough to keep your pet’s coat clean.

In addition to brushing and bathing your pet, watch its nails. If your dog’s nails get too long, it’ll be tough for them to walk comfortably. You can trim your dog’s nails or get help from a groomer. Don’t forget to brush your pet’s teeth at least three times a week and clean its ears weekly. It won’t take long to do either of these things, and each one can help you protect your dog’s long-term health.

Diet and nutrition

Anywhere from 0.75 to 1.5 cups of dry dog food should be sufficient for your schipperke. The amount of food you feed your dog depends on its activity level, age, and other factors. If you need help figuring out how much to feed your pet, consult a vet.

When you feed your dog, split its food into two meals. Or, you can pick up an automatic food dispenser and set a timer so your pet gets food at regular intervals. If your schipperke wolfs down their meals, try a puzzle feeder that allows your dog to work its mind as it gets a meal.

Training your schipperke

First-time dog owners may want to consider breeds other than schipperkes because they require more obedience training than other dog breeds. Even though a schipperke is highly intelligent, it can also be very stubborn. Thus, people unable to commit the time and energy to train their dog may benefit from picking a different breed.

For those who want a fulfilling obedience training experience, advanced training can be beneficial. You can work with a trainer to teach your dog to stand on its hind legs and other advanced tricks. Remember to socialize your pet as well. By doing so, you can limit the risk of excessive barking. Plus, you can help your dog get along well with people and other animals.

Schipperke in snow

Breeds similar to the schipperke

Not quite sure that a schipperke is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started, including those that have the same spunky attitude and fox-like looks:

  1. American Eskimo Dog. Like schipperkes, American Eskimo dogs were once guard dogs.
  2. Finnish spitz. Sometimes mistaken for a fox, the Finnish spitz is a smart, sensitive, and intelligent dog breed.
  3. Keeshond. The Keeshond is a non-sporting dog with an incredibly thick coat that can make this animal look larger than it actually is.

Frequently asked questions

Do schipperkes bark a lot?

Your schipperke may bark a lot, but with proper training, you can teach your dog to keep its barking to a minimum.

Is a schipperke a good family dog?

Definitely. You can teach your schipperke to play with you, your kids, and other family members. On top of that, you can teach your pet to play with other dogs. To do so, you need to socialize your dog when it’s a puppy. This puts your pet in the best position to become the family dog you’ve always wanted.

Are schipperkes destructive?

They can be. Once again, obedience training is crucial. You can teach your dog good behaviors, either by yourself or with help from a trainer. To further reduce the risk of destruction, pay attention to your pet. If your dog’s left alone for many hours at a time, it’s likely to get destructive.

Are all schipperke dogs black?

Most schipperke dogs are black. But some come in cream, ivory, wheaten, gold, red, white, blue, and chocolate, and these colors are permissible.