by Doris Donnerman
(last updated August 17, 2009)
Sometimes erroneously called a Dutch dog, the Schipperke is a dog of Belgian origin. He came from the Flemish provinces of that Country and has long been associated with the barges of that section. Perhaps this association is, in some measure, the cause of the confusion concerning the locale of hi origin. Belgium and Holland were at times united in the early days.
The name Schipperke is Flemish for "Little Captain" and is properly pronounced "skeep-er-ker" (the last r almost silent). The names Spits and Spitske were discarded and Schipperke chosen as a compliment to a well known barge owner, who was largely responsible for the recognition of the breed and was known as "the father of the Schipperke." He owned several barges which plied between Brussels and Antwerp, and many of these little dogs were used as guards on these boats.
Often born tailless (no more than an inch of tail is allowable under the standard), the Schipperke was not always without a caudal appendage. The practice of short docking is said to have started with a shoemaker, who, angered by the continued theft of his neighbor's dog, cut off his tail. It improved the appearance so much that other owners followed the practice, which soon became the accepted custom.
Although the breed was called the Spits and Spitske, and often compared with the Pomeranian, it is said to have descended from the black sheepdog called the Leauvenaar, common in the Flemish provinces. Some authorities are equally positive it is a spitz breed.
The breed makes a splendid house dog. He is affectionate and alert, ever ready to signal the approach of strangers. In appearance he is quite distinctive, resembling no other breed very closely. His fox-like head and keen expression attracts much attention wherever he is shown.
General characteristics and appearance is that of an excellent and faithful little watchdog. The Schipperke is suspicious of strangers. They are active, agile, indefatigable, continually occupied with what is going on about him. He is careful of things that are given him to guard, very kind with children and knows the ways of the household. It seems to be always curious to know what is going on behind any closed door or about any object that has been moved, betraying these impressions by his sharp bark and outstanding ruff. Average height is eleven to thirteen inches from the withers.
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