OVERVIEW OF THE SCHIPPERKE
Schipperkes are of Belgian descent and although they’re known as a smaller version of a sheepdog, they were famous for guarding boats and their remarkable ratting capabilities. They have lots of energy, a big-dog attitude, and are wonderful family watchdogs. They take their duty of protecting their human family and property pretty seriously and are incredibly loyal furry family members.
They get along well with children. Schipperkes can be aloof with strangers at first, but when they warm up to you, they are friendly and affectionate. These pups are intelligent and have a stubborn streak. When they’re ready for an adventure there’s no stopping their escaping capabilities so it’s best to keep them in a well-fenced yard and on a leash when walking. They’ll be oblivious to cars and other dangers when their adventure or squirrel chase drive kicks in.
These dogs need plenty of physical activity and play. If they’re left alone for too long and get bored due to a lack of daily activity they’ll create their own entertainment. This will generally involve some sort of destruction to your garden and excessive barking. If you live an active lifestyle and can give your pup all the exercise and stimulation they need, you will however have an incredibly happy, loyal, and protective friend for life.
Schipperkes stand 10 to 15 inches tall with a weight of 11 to 18 pounds. They should be trained from a young age to teach them good canine manners and to hone their stubborn nature. They may add their own twist to training, but with consistency, patience, and lots of positive reinforcement, they’re generally eager to please.
Schipperkes are also good working dogs with search and rescue teams and sniffing out drugs. They enjoy having a job to do, agility, and dog sports.
These beautiful black pups will keep you entertained. If you’re welcoming one to your family, these tips will help you give your Schipperke a happy and healthy family life
SCHIPPERKE FOOD AND HEALTH
It is very important to get health clearances from your breeder when buying a Schipperke. MPSIIIB (Mucopolysaccharidosis Type IIIB) or Sanfilippo syndrome is a disease caused by a gene mutation. It can eventually lead to tremors, difficulty in balancing, walking, and navigating obstacles. Before getting a Schipperke puppy, ensure to get a DNA clearance certification from the breeder to verify that the parents are healthy. Other clearances you should get from your breeder are hip and elbow dysplasia (from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) as well as an eye health certificate. These health clearances can be verified on the offa.org website.
Although not all dogs will experience disease, some common conditions to be aware of in Schipperkes are patellar luxation, Legg-Perthes Disease, and epilepsy.
Patellar luxation is a common condition in dogs of all breeds. It is caused due to poorly aligned leg bones or joints and although present at birth, symptoms may only appear much later. The dog will experience lameness in the affected leg or gait imbalance causing limping or a hop-skip walk. The condition can lead to arthritis as well as bone degeneration.
Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease appears between 6 to 9 months of age and also affects the dog’s hind leg joints. Pups that undergo surgery early on to fix the condition can go on to live a happy pain-free life after rehabilitation.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for dogs suffering from epilepsy, however, it can be treated with medication and managed, to an extent, with a healthy lifestyle.
Your Schipperke needs a healthy diet and plenty of nutrients to sustain its active lifestyle. Of course, the amount of food your pup should get daily will depend on how active they are and their age. It could vary from just over one cup of food daily to just under two cups of good quality dry food. This should be divided into two meals and served at more or less the same time every day.
Puppy formulas contain special nutrients needed for healthy growth. Adult formulas contain nutrients for good health and weight maintenance as well as to support certain body functions as they get older. This is why it is important to feed your pet pal dog food that is age appropriate. Follow the guidelines on the packaging to determine the quantity according to their weight.
LEASHES AND COLLARS FOR YOUR SCHIPPERKE
Make sure your Schipperke starts training and socialization early in life. They can have a stubborn streak and are ready to guard against any people they don’t know if not socialized and comfortable with having others around. Despite their occasional stubbornness, they are eager to please their pet parents and learn new things. Avoid negative or harsh training methods as they will become obstinate. With lots of positive reinforcement, rewards, praise, and play, your pup can be a pleasure to train.
Schipperkes need to be kept on a leash in public areas and when going for walks. When their prey instincts kick in there’s little stopping them from getting over-excited and taking off on a squirrel chase. Use a back-clip, V-neck harness instead of a collar. The pressure from a collar against your puppy’s neck can cause neck, throat, and trachea damage as well as thyroid and eye problems. Since a harness does not fit around their throat, you don’t have to worry about your pup getting hurt.
A collar is still a great idea for wearing an identity tag. Something that is too loose can easily hook onto items while playing whereas a collar that is too tight will cause strangulation and difficulty breathing. Make sure the collar is lined and lightweight and that it doesn’t place any strain on your puppy’s throat. Puppies grow quickly so if your new pet pal is wearing a collar make sure to check daily that it has not become too tight.
BEST CRATES, BEDS, AND DOG HOUSES FOR SCHIPPERKE
Since your Schipperke takes their role in your family very seriously, they will want to spend evenings sleeping inside the home. Crate training is recommended from the puppy stage and will make life going forward much easier for everyone.
If you decide to make their crate their own little bedroom, make sure that there is enough space for them to stand, turn around and stretch out when the bed and any other accessories are in the crate. A crate should be well ventilated, however, a crate cover can make it a cozy space for the evenings. Alternatively, you can also cover it with a blanket. Your pup should know that the crate is a happy space for them so never use it for punishment.
If you purchase a crate for a puppy, keep in mind that they will outgrow it quickly. If you don’t want to have to upsize later, buy an adult-size crate and section it off inside until they are bigger.
A dog bed should be soft, yet supportive. Your pup should fit on the bed without having any limbs dangling off the edge or over bolsters. Getting a mattress or bed with a machine washable and removable cover is highly recommended.
BEST TOYS FOR SCHIPPERKE
With all the energy your Schipperke needs to expend, they will love a range of active play toys.
Your Schip will enjoy playing tug of war, fetch, and agility exercises. The unpredictable bounce of an erratic ball or snowman-shaped Kong will keep your pup engaged as they set off to retrieve the toy. Ball launchers with regular tennis balls or rubber balls allow you to give them great distance when playing at the beach or at an expansive park.
While your Schip is still small, we recommend stocking up on some teething toys. This helps relieve itchy gums and soothes aches. Some varieties are flavored while others have raised nodules or can be frozen. Older dogs will need some durable chew toys which are also available in many types and sizes from beef-flavored toy bones to rope toys and noduled rubber squeaky toys.
For intellectual stimulation, try a puzzle toy that dispenses treats. After a day of lots of activity, they can keep themselves busy while trying to get to the hidden treats in hide-and-slide boards or mazes.
A companion toy can be a good option for puppies. When you need to go out, give your pup a companion toy to snuggle with in their crate. These come in the form of a teddy, small pillow, or other soft toys. Some companion toys warm up while others simulate the sound of a heartbeat so that your pup doesn’t feel alone or become anxious.
GROOMING INSIGHTS FOR SCHIPPERKE OWNERS
The Schips’ beautiful black double coat is short on their face and ears and mid-length on the body. Their coat forms a ruff around the neck and extends into what is referred to as their cape. They have a short, dense undercoat which serves to protect them from extreme temperatures.
Once or twice a year your Schip will blow their coat for up to a month. During this time you’ll want to brush them regularly and give them a warm bath to help loosen dead hairs and prevent fluff from getting all over your furniture. Other than this time, weekly brushing is generally enough to keep their coats healthy.
Using a slicker brush is the best way to remove any dead or loose hairs from the undercoat and evenly distribute natural skin oils that keep the coat clean and healthy. Schips don’t need to be bathed often. Wash them only when they are dirty.
While doing their weekly brushing, check their paws, ears, eyes, and skin for any irregularities or infections. Dogs are very sensitive about having their paws handled and having their face touched. Get your Schip used to being groomed from a young age. Always make it a positive experience with affirmations and encouragement. Grooming can be a great bonding time for you and your pup when done correctly and with care. It will also make veterinary check-ups easier when they’re older.
Another essential part of grooming is daily teeth brushing. This is essential to avoid gum disease, remove bacteria, prevent tartar build-up and avoid bad breath. Use a toothpaste specifically formulated for dogs to ensure it is pet safe.
Your pup may wear down its nails naturally with a lot of outdoor play. If they make a clicking sound while your pet pal is walking, it is, however, time to trim them. If you have never trimmed your dog’s nails, get advice from your vet first. Their nails contain blood vessels which make them a sensitive area to groom and they can easily get hurt. You may prefer getting a professional groomer to do this for you.
BEST SCHIPPERKE ACCESSORIES
Schips love the water, whether they’re sailing with you, or swimming. If you’re taking your pet pal down to the beach or lake, you may want to get them their own drying coat. This fitted towel wraps around your dog after a swim so they can dry quickly, stay warm and so they don’t wet your vehicle upholstery with their furry wet coat. It’s also easy to pop into the washing machine when you get home.
For hiking and long days out exploring, get a foldable water and food bowl. These come in different varieties. Some fit over a water bottle while others can be folded entirely flat. The point is that they are compact and easily fit into a small bag or backpack. This means your pup can stay hydrated without you having to carry a bulky water bowl around all day.
A training pouch is another great accessory to keep waste bags, dog treats, your phone, keys, and other small items for long walks or hikes. The pouch clips around your waist and has a D-ring, O-ring, or fabric loop to attach a leash for hands-free walking. Many pouches are waterproof with zipper pockets and adjustable to fit anyone’s waist.
To learn more about breeds like Schipperke check out our breed hub page.