The White Schipperke

White SchipperkeThis tiny buy energetic dog originated in Belgium and gets its name from the Flemish word for boat, which is “schip.” That’s because it was first bred by the captain of a canal boat, and Schipperke means “Little Captain.” Dog fanciers are still not quite sure if it’s a type of terrier or a sheepdog. It certainly has the terrier’s energy and tenacity and the sheepdog’s intelligence.


About the White Coat

The white schipperke is a rather rare dog, for the standard American Kennel Club coat color is black. Indeed, the dog’s nickname is “Little Black Devil.” A white schipperke cannot be shown at a dog show they sponsor. Other kennel clubs may tolerate a fawn or cream colored dog being shown, but the number who accept white is vanishingly small.

A white coat comes about because of the way the dog’s genetic code works. Some schipperke fanciers claim that a dog with a white coat actually does have a black coat, but it’s masked due to the action of a gene or something like that.



A male Ship stands between 11 and 13 inches at the shoulder and weighs from 12 to 18 pounds, and the female is just a bit smaller. This dog resembles a little fox with its erect, triangular ears, curious eyes and long muzzle. It has a double coat, with the top coat being slightly harsh. The undercoat is dense and a bit softer but not too soft. The fur is short on the face, long around the neck, withers, rump and the backs of the thighs. The long hairs on the neck, withers and thighs are called the jabot, the ruff, the cape and the culottes. The fur is medium length on the rest of the body. The one thing that distinguishes it from a fox is that Ship puppies are often born without a tail.

A white schipperke needs to be groomed pretty regularly to keep the double coat in shape. The fur should be tended to with a bristle brush and a comb and once in a while can do with a dry shampoo. The one thing about the coat, be it white or black, is that it “blows.” This means that all of the undercoat is dropped in a little more than a week. The blow can happen as often as three times a year and leaves the dog a bit naked for a couple of months and the owner with bags of shed hair to clean up. Some owners find that giving the dog a hot bath helps with the condition.

Other grooming tasks to tend to are clipping the nails, cleaning the ears and brushing the teeth.



The white schipperke is a bundle of confidence and energy. It is loyal, intelligent and devoted and is excellent with children and other pets, including cats. As its name suggest, it is a great dog to take on a boating excursion, and it makes a fantastic watchdog. It needs to live in a place where it can run around and needs to be taken on a daily walk to satisfy its need, common to most dogs, to roam around and check out the neighborhood. They tend to howl to get their owners to pay attention, but respond well to gentle but firm obedience training.



The Ship is generally a healthy little dog, and like other little dogs can live a long time. Schipperkes can live 15 years or longer. However, it is subject to a disease called MPS IIIB. This genetic disease eventually attacks the central nervous system and is quickly fatal. If it strikes the dog, it will usually do so when it is between two and four years old. Less lethal problems include problems with the knee caps, the thyroid gland, the eyes and the hips.



These dogs were used to rid canal barges of rats back in the 19th century. If a person saw a Ship on a canal barge, they could assume that it belonged to the captain.


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