Schipperkes are cute, clever, and versatile enough to live in just about any environment. They're funny enough to keep you entertained and stubborn enough to be a little challenging and earn the nickname "little black devil." This small breed grows to be between 10 to 13 inches at the shoulder and typically weighs between 11 and 18 pounds.
Schipperkes may be small, but they make great watchdogs. The breed is not overly friendly and welcoming, but they create strong bonds with their families. Schipperkes are fearless and protective, with a natural wariness and suspicion of strangers. They are also devoted to their families and are willing to do whatever they can to protect them.
Schipperkes live a long time, and adding one to the family is usually a 13 to 15-year commitment. They are generally healthy, but they are prone to developing a few conditions. These include hip and joint deformities, hypothyroidism, epilepsy, displaced knee caps, and a genetic disease called Sanfilippo syndrome that causes difficulties with balance and walking.
Schipperkes are smart and like to please their owners, but they are also stubborn and like to entertain. Training this breed can be difficult, and they are better suited for experienced dog owners. Positive reinforcement is key to successfully training a schipperke, and their owner must be patient and consistent.
Schipperkes were originally bred to guard boats in the canals of Brussels, and the breed still likes to work. They're used in search and rescue and can be trained as drug- or bomb-sniffing dogs. Schipperkes are high-energy dogs that need at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise every day as well as playtime and a job to do, or they can get destructive.
Schipperkes are used to living in and around small boats, so they can be kept in an apartment as long as they get enough daily exercise. A home with a small fenced-in yard to run around in is great, too, but remember that these dogs are infamous escape artists and pay no attention to cars and other dangers. They are also prone to chasing after and hunting small animals like squirrels and chipmunks. Make sure the fence is secure and always keep them on a leash when on a walk.
Despite being so active, schipperkes love to eat and have a tendency to gain weight. They should have about 3/4 to 1 cup of high-quality kibbles twice a day. This breed should not free feed, and be careful they don't get too many treats. Because schipperkes are prone to joint problems, it is particularly important to keep their weight under control.
Schipperkes have a unique coat that creates an interesting sloped silhouette from the shoulders to the hips. Their thick double coat is shorter around the face with longer tufts behind the ears, around the neck, and across the chest and legs. Schipperkes only come in black, and their coat is well-suited to keeping them warm in extreme temperatures.
Schipperkes are clean dogs that only need bathing when they get into something stinky or messy. Most of the time, weekly brushing is enough, but they shed heavily for about a month twice a year. During this time, more frequent baths can help remove some fur, and daily brushing can prevent it from getting all over the furniture.
Schipperkes usually bond well with the entire family and are great dogs for kids. They're small, but not too small, and they're sturdy with a lot of energy. The breed also plays kinder and gentler with younger children, though children and dogs should never be left alone together without adult supervision.
Schipperkes can be kept in a home with other pets, but it does take some work. The breed is more likely to accept both cats and dogs if they are raised together. Bear in mind that schipperkes are territorial breeds, and problems can arise with other dogs, especially if the schipperke and the other dog are introduced to the home at different times.
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