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Originating in Belgium, the Schipperke was recognized by the AKC in 1904. While they are now a relatively small breed of dog, they were originally quite big and looked very similar to a black sheepdog before being bred down. Their history is somewhat interesting and largely points to boating, whereby the Schipperke was renowned as a guard for canal barges throughout Belgium. The dogs were very often taken on boats, most often as the Captain’s dog and their name is also related to boating, with “schip” translating to “little sailor” in English-speaking nations. Other roles that the breed became used to included herding, hunting and guarding. Unlike many breeds, the Schipperke has stayed quite close to its history and is still regarded as a dog that is taken, or lives, on boats.
Despite what it originally started at, the Schipperke is nowadays a small dog and usually stands between ten and thirteen inches tall, with the weight varying around twelve to eighteen pounds. One of the main features of the breed is its bushy coat, which is only acceptable in black according to AKC standards. The coat is double and extends in length around areas such as the neck and shoulders. Some Schipperke’s are born tailless and if not, the tail is usually docked if legal in that country. Another feature the breed possesses are its ears, which stand fully erect and in a triangular shape. The head and muzzle are well proportioned and this makes these large ears stand out even more.
The Schipperke has been used as a companion for much of its history, with many sailors taking the breed along on boat trips. To this day the breed is still perfectly suited to boats, although the Schipperke can also make a brilliant house pet. They get along very well with children and other pets and their loyal, playful and sociable attributes mean they become an adorable companion. A lot of households tend to use them as watchdogs as well with the breed having a tendency to bark frequently. The breed is full of courage and will not hesitate to raise the alarm if strangers are sighted. However, there can be drawbacks and the Schipperke can be a real handful if they are not trained properly from an early age. They can become hot-tempered and their independent nature means that at times they have a tendency to go off on their own tangents. For this reason and to get the best out of the breed, experienced owners are generally recommended.
The breed is renowned as being highly active and therefore needs plenty of exercise, preferably a long, daily walk. Despite this, the Schipperke can still live without a yard and will happily suffice the rest of their exercise needs themselves. In terms of health problems, the breed can suffer from many including hip dysplasia, Cataracts, epilepsy and thyroid problems to name a few. While there are a number of health issues that affect them, their life expectancy is very good with most living over fifteen years.
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