The Schipperke is among the smallest of the Spitz-type breeds being native to both Belgium and the Netherlands where they have always been highly prized "canal dogs" because they were so skilled at guarding barges. They are not so well known in other parts of the world even though they are known to be affectionate and loyal companions and family pets. With this said, their breed numbers are slowly rising with more people becoming aware of these charming and devoted little dogs. With this said, anyone wishing to share their home with a Schipperke would need to register their interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list for the pleasure of doing so.
The Schipperke is an old breed and one that was developed in Belgium and the Netherlands where they have always been used to guard barges and canal boats, a job these little dogs proved to be excellent at. They were also very popular with Flemish cobblers who would parade their dogs on Sundays and they were exhibited at a “one-breed” speciality show in 1690 when the shoe-makers guild organised an event that was held in Brussels’ Grand Place.
The breed is thought to be a descendant of a Leauvenaar, a black sheepdog which is the same foundation breed for the Belgian Sheepdog. However, the Schipperke was bred to be a small guard dog unlike their Belgian Sheepdog cousins. They were originally called Spitske or Spits, but were given their new name Schipperke when a breed club was established back in 1888. Translated, Schipperke means "little captain" or "little shepherd".
The breed first gained popularity when Queen Marie Henriette took a fancy to one of these charming dogs when they were being exhibited at a dog show held in Brussels in 1885. Three years later, the breed was imported to the United States and in 1929 a breed club was founded over there. The first breed standard was drawn up in 1859 and thirty years or so later, the Schipperke was officially recognised as a breed in its own right. During the Second World War, these charming and unusual dogs were often used by the resistance to carry messages between underground bases and hideouts without the Nazis knowing about it. Later, a Schipperke was featured in one of Beatrix Potter's stories "The Pie and the Patty Pan".
Today, although not as widely popular as other breeds, the Schipperke has earned the reputation of being a highly intelligent, affectionate and loyal companion. However, anyone wishing to share their homes with one of these fascinating little dogs would need to register their interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list for the pleasure of doing so.