Dog Health & More
Curious and clever, the Schipperke dog breed is often nicknamed LBD, for little black devil. He's fearless and devoted, always on guard to protect his family from harm. His small size and easy-care coat are attractive qualities, but his intelligence and curiosity can lead him into trouble.
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Schipperkes are beautiful small black dogs with pricked ears and a coat that gives the impression of a sloped back. They're known for their beauty and feisty nature.
Beware if you think he's simply a sweet little companion dog; the Schipperke has the "small dog...big personality" persona down pat. In 1882, a writer in the breed's homeland of Belgium described the Schipperke as "a little all-black devil, but minus the cloven hoof and the tail." He's changed little since then.
The loyal and intelligent Schipperke originated in Belgium as a small version of a black Belgian sheepdog known as the Leauvenaar. The name Schipperke is thought to have come from a word meaning "little shepherd," but the dogs were best known for guarding the boats that plied the canals between Brussels and Antwerp. Shoemakers and other tradesmen kept them for their ratting abilities.
Today the Schipperke is a companion who captains his family in much the same way as he once led canal boats. Always alert, he patrols his home and property, barking warnings as needed and seeking out and destroying any mice, squirrels, or other vermin that dare invade his space.
He wants to be involved in all family activities and loves children of all ages, playing pattycake and smiling all the while. He's protective of and devoted to his people and can be aloof toward strangers until he decides they're okay.
The Schipperke's size and easy-care coat are popular characteristics. He doesn't shed excessively, except for seasonal heavy sheds once or twice a year. Weekly brushing keeps his coat clean and free of dead hairs.
This is an active dog who was bred to work. These days, Schipperkes have been used for such diverse jobs as hearing dogs, search and rescue, and sniffing out drugs and bombs. The family Schipperke will occupy himself by hunting squirrels or other furry beasts in the yard, but he also needs daily playtime and walks to help burn off his energy.
Give the Schipperke a job to do, or train him for agility, obedience, or other dog sports, and you have a well-behaved friend for life. Let him create his own entertainment or occupation and, well, don't say we didn't warn you.
Keep the Schipperke in a securely fenced yard when he's outdoors. He's a notorious escape artist and oblivious to cars and other dangers when he takes it into his head to go exploring. For the same reasons, always walk him on leash.
Training can be a challenge with this intelligent but sometimes stubborn and always humorous dog. You can always count on him to add his own touch to an exercise when he's performing in the agility or obedience ring. Nonetheless, he's generally eager to please, so with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement you can have a well-trained Schipperke. Socialization is a must with this breed as well. They can be territorial even with training and socialization and may not get along with dogs they don't know.
Having spent his formative years on the confined quarters of a boat, the Schipperke can do well in just about any type of dwelling, including an apartment, as long as he gets a good 30 minutes or more of exercise daily. However, the ideal setting is a home with a small fenced yard where the Schipperke can work out some of his energy. If you live in an apartment or area with strict noise restrictions, the Schipperke may not be ideal since they will bark at visitors and noises.
While he's incredibly cute, smart, and funny, the Schipperke can be a handful for a first-time dog owner. If you have patience, time, and a great sense of humor, however, you may find that he's the only dog for you. There's no doubt that with this little breed as a companion, your life will never be dull.