A Schipperke is a small Belgian breed of dog that originated in the early 16th century. There has been a long informal debate over whether this type of dog is a spitz or miniature sheepdog.

Schipperke Appearance and temperament

Their small, pointed ears are erect atop the head. Schipperkes are double coated with a soft, fluffy undercoat that is covered by a harsher-feeling and longer outer coat. One of the breed characteristics is a long ruff that surrounds the neck and then a strip trails down towards the rear of the dog. They also have longer fur on their hind legs called culottes.

Dogs of this breed usually weigh 3–9 kg (7–20 lbs). Puppies are born with tails in different lengths; and, in Canada and the United States, the tail is usually docked the day after birth. In countries that have bans on docking, Schipperkes display their natural tails, which curve over the back of the dog (if the dog is happy and the tail is long enough).

Known for a stubborn, mischievous, and headstrong temperament, the Schipperke is sometimes referred to as the "little black fox", the "Tasmanian black devil", or the "little black devil". They are naturally curious and high-energy dogs and require ample exercise and supervision. Schipperkes are very smart and independent; and sometimes debate listening to owners, instead choosing to do whatever benefits them the most. First-time dog owners would be well advised to familiarize themselves with the breed prior to purchase. Schipperkes require training and a secure, fenced-in space to run. They are formidable barkers and can be aggressive with other dogs.

Schipperke Health

The Schipperke has no particular health problems, and individuals often reach the old age of 17 or 18 years. Nonetheless, inactivity, lack of exercise and over-feeding are very harmful, and can lead to joint and skeletal problems and tooth, heart, lung or digestive conditions.

The one caveat to the Schipperke's good health is MPS IIIB, a genetic mutation that occurs in at most 15% of the total breed population. The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine has developed a test for the disease and began accepting samples in April 2003.

Schipperke Grooming

The Schipperke does not need expensive or excessive grooming. This breed is a moderate shedder, however. A brush that can reach the undercoat is the best. Regular weekly brushing is usually enough to keep the coat in good condition. There is no need for cutting or trimming and the ruff (hair around the neck) fluffs up naturally.

Schipperkes can "blow" their coats up to several times a year, and usually females more frequently than males. When this happens, they lose their undercoat. Owners typically find warm baths helpful during this time to remove the undercoat, rather than getting fur all over the home. Blowing their undercoat can last several days or weeks, and can take up to 2–3 months for Schipperkes to grow back.

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