Are Schipperkes Smart? 4 Essential Reasons Why They’re Suitable Pets

When it comes to intelligence, Schipperkes are a breed that stands out. These small dogs are known for their cognitive abilities and smart characteristics. If you’re considering adding a Schipperke to your family, you may wonder just how intelligent they are and what makes them so special.

Schipperkes typically weigh between 12 and 16 pounds and stand at a height of 10 to 13 inches. Despite their small size, they possess a remarkable level of intelligence. Their active and curious nature contributes to their sharpness and quick learning abilities.

However, it’s important to note that their intelligence can sometimes manifest as stubbornness. This can make training a challenge, especially for novice owners. If you’re considering a Schipperke, be prepared to invest time and effort in their training and provide them with consistent boundaries.

These intelligent dogs have a high prey drive and tend to bark excessively. They make excellent watchdogs, alerting their owners to any potential dangers. However, they can be reserved towards strangers, which makes proper socialization crucial from an early age.

Schipperkes have a lifespan of around 12 to 16 years, providing many years of companionship for their owners.

Are Schipperkes Smart?

  • Schipperkes are known for their intelligence and sharp cognitive abilities.
  • They can be stubborn and may require experienced training to bring out their best.
  • Schipperkes have a high prey drive and tend to bark excessively.
  • They make excellent watchdogs but can be reserved towards strangers.
  • Schipperkes typically live from 12 to 16 years.

The Personality of Schipperkes

Schipperkes are known for their unique personality traits and behaviors. Understanding their personality is essential for potential owners to ensure a good match and provide the right care and training. Here are the key aspects of Schipperke personality:

Affectionate towards Owners

Schipperkes are highly affectionate towards their owners. They form strong bonds and thrive on companionship and interaction. Their loyalty and devotion make them excellent family pets.

Reserved with Strangers

While Schipperkes are loving towards their owners, they can be reserved with strangers. They have a natural wariness towards unfamiliar people and may take time to warm up to new individuals in their lives.

Strong Prey Drive

Schipperkes have a strong prey drive, which refers to their instinctual desire to chase and hunt. This trait makes them excellent watchdogs, but it also means they may view smaller animals as potential prey.

Tendency to Bark Excessively

Schipperkes are known for their vocal nature. They have a tendency to bark excessively, whether it’s out of boredom or to alert their owners to perceived threats. Proper training and socialization can help manage this behavior.

Loyalty and Watchfulness

One of the standout traits of Schipperkes is their unwavering loyalty. They are fiercely protective of their family and make excellent watchdogs. Their alertness and watchful nature contribute to their effectiveness in detecting potential dangers.

Stubbornness and Training Challenges

Schipperkes can be stubborn and independent at times, which may pose challenges during training. They require patient and consistent training methods, preferably employing positive reinforcement techniques to encourage desired behaviors. Experienced trainers may be beneficial in helping overcome training obstacles.

Mental and Physical Stimulation

Schipperkes have active minds and bodies that require regular stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behaviors. Engaging them in activities, such as puzzle toys, interactive play, and daily exercise, can help keep them mentally and physically satisfied.

AffectionateSchipperkes form strong bonds and are loving towards their owners.
ReservedSchipperkes can be reserved with strangers, taking time to warm up to new people.
Strong Prey DriveSchipperkes have a strong instinct to chase and hunt, making them excellent watchdogs.
Tendency to Bark ExcessivelySchipperkes may bark excessively due to boredom or to alert their owners.
LoyalSchipperkes are fiercely loyal to their family and have a watchful nature.
StubbornnessSchipperkes can be stubborn, requiring patient and consistent training methods.
Need for StimulationSchipperkes require mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behaviors.

The History of Schipperkes

Schipperkes have a long and fascinating history that dates back several hundred years in Belgium. Originally bred as small working dogs, they were often found on barges, accompanying boatmen who navigated the canals and waterways.

The name “Schipperke” is derived from the Flemish word “schipper,” which means “boatman” or “captain.” The addition of the “-ke” suffix signifies something small, so the name “Schipperke” translates to “little captain” in Flemish.

These diminutive yet spirited dogs played a crucial role as companions to the boatmen, guarding the barges from intruders and vermin. They were known for their nimbleness, agility, and ability to adapt to the demands of a life at sea.

In the late 19th century, Schipperkes gained popularity beyond the canals of Belgium. The breed captured the attention of dog enthusiasts, and they started to spread to other countries, including the United States.

Today, Schipperkes are cherished for their intelligence, lively personality, and distinctive appearance. They have become beloved companions, excelling in various dog sports and activities due to their innate agility and trainability.

Let’s take a closer look at the history of Schipperkes:

Time PeriodEvent
17th and 18th centuriesUsed as working dogs on barges in Belgium
Late 19th centuryGain popularity beyond Belgium and spread to other countries
Present dayRecognized as intelligent, lively, and versatile companion dogs
Schipperke history

The Origin of Schipperkes

The origin of Schipperkes can be traced back to Belgium, specifically the regions of Flanders and Brussels. They were developed by selectively breeding small working dogs for their unique qualities and abilities on the barges.

Belgium has a rich history of dog breeding, with Schipperkes playing a significant role in the country’s canine heritage. Their origin is closely tied to the seafaring traditions and canal systems of Belgium, where their skills and temperament were highly valued.

Schipperkes are considered a Belgian breed, and their distinctive appearance and characteristics have made them a source of national pride. Today, they are recognized as one of Belgium’s iconic dog breeds, known for their loyalty, intelligence, and spirited nature.

Schipperkes’ Physical Attributes

When it comes to physical characteristics, Schipperkes are small dogs known for their compact build and unique features. Let’s explore their size, coat, and other notable attributes!

Schipperke Size

Schipperkes have a weight range of 12 to 16 pounds (5.4 to 7.3 kilograms) and stand at a height of 10 to 13 inches (25 to 33 centimeters) at the shoulder. Despite their small stature, these dogs are highly agile and energetic.

Schipperke Coat

The Schipperke’s coat is one of their defining physical characteristics. It is typically black and can vary in length. While some Schipperkes have a medium-length coat, others may have longer fur in certain areas, such as the neck and hindquarters.

The Schipperke’s coat is double-layered, consisting of a dense undercoat and a straight, abundant topcoat. This double layer provides protection and insulation, making them well-suited to various weather conditions.

Other Physical Attributes

Facial FeaturesBody Structure
Schipperkes have a fox-like face characterized by small oval eyes and triangular ears that stand upright. Their expressions often show intelligence and alertness.Their compact bodies have a balanced and well-muscled appearance. They have a level topline and a moderately long neck.

Overall, the physical characteristics of Schipperkes contribute to their charm and distinctive appearance. Their small size, black coat, and unique facial features make them easily recognizable.

Schipperkes’ Care and Exercise Needs

Taking care of Schipperkes involves providing them with proper exercise, grooming, and healthcare. It’s important to meet their daily exercise requirements to keep them physically and mentally stimulated.


Schipperkes have moderate exercise needs and should engage in around 40 minutes of physical activity every day. They enjoy regular walks, hikes, and games of fetch. Providing them with an outlet for their energy is essential to prevent boredom and destructive behaviors.

  • Take them on daily walks to provide mental and physical stimulation.
  • Engage them in interactive games like fetch or agility training.
  • Consider enrolling them in obedience or agility classes to challenge their intelligence.


Schipperkes have moderate grooming needs, mainly focused on their double-coat. Regular brushing helps to maintain their coat’s health and minimize shedding. Pay attention to grooming their ears, teeth, and nails as well.

  • Brush their coat at least once a week to remove loose hair and prevent matting.
  • Trim their nails regularly to keep them at a comfortable length.
  • Clean their ears weekly to prevent wax buildup and potential infections.
  • Brush their teeth frequently to maintain good oral hygiene.


Schipperkes are generally healthy dogs, but they may be prone to certain health conditions. Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial for ensuring their well-being.

  • Schedule annual veterinary visits for vaccinations and overall health assessments.
  • Be aware of common health issues in Schipperkes, such as hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and eye problems.
  • Maintain a balanced diet and provide appropriate dental care to promote good health.

By providing proper care, exercise, and grooming for your Schipperke, you can enjoy a happy and healthy relationship with your beloved companion.

Training Schipperkes

Training Schipperkes can be challenging due to their intelligence and stubbornness. These small dogs are known for their quick wit and independent nature, which can pose difficulties for novice owners. However, with the right training methods and consistency, Schipperkes can become well-behaved and obedient companions.

Schipperke Training Methods

Positive reinforcement training methods are highly effective for Schipperkes. This involves rewarding good behavior with treats, praise, and playtime. It’s important to avoid harsh punishments or negative reinforcement, as it can lead to fear and anxiety in these sensitive dogs. Instead, focus on rewarding desired behaviors and redirecting unwanted behavior towards appropriate alternatives.

Additionally, mental stimulation is vital for Schipperkes. These intelligent dogs thrive on mental challenges and enjoy learning new tricks and commands. Incorporating puzzle toys, interactive games, and obedience training sessions can keep their minds engaged and prevent boredom-related behavioral issues.

Challenges in Training Schipperkes

Training Schipperkes can come with its fair share of challenges. Their independent nature and strong-willed personality may result in stubborn behavior. They often have their own ideas about what they want to do, making it important for trainers to establish themselves as the leader and set clear boundaries from the beginning.

Another common challenge is their tendency to be easily distracted. Schipperkes have a curious nature and can become easily fixated on something that catches their attention, whether it’s a squirrel in the yard or an interesting scent during a walk. To overcome this, consistency is key. Short, frequent training sessions in a quiet and distraction-free environment can help them focus and retain information.

Schipperkes can also exhibit a high prey drive and bark excessively, which can be challenging to manage. Proper socialization from an early age is crucial to teach them appropriate behavior around strangers, other animals, and unfamiliar situations. Training sessions should incorporate techniques to discourage excessive barking and redirect their attention to more appropriate behaviors.

Overall, training a Schipperke requires patience, consistency, and a positive approach. Working with experienced trainers can be beneficial, especially for those new to dog training. With the right techniques and a commitment to their mental and physical well-being, Schipperkes can become happy, well-rounded companions.

Schipperkes’ Suitability as Family Pets

Schipperkes can make excellent family pets for active households. They are loyal and affectionate towards their owners, including children. However, they may be reserved with strangers and can be wary of other dogs. Due to their high prey drive, it’s important to socialize them with other animals from a young age. Schipperkes are best suited for families that can provide them with plenty of activity and mental stimulation. They are not suitable for apartment living and require a fenced-in yard.

Schipperke as family pet

Reasons Why Schipperkes are Suitable for Families

  • Loyal Companionship: Schipperkes are known for their loyalty and bond with their family members, making them ideal companions for families of all sizes.
  • Affectionate Nature: These dogs have a loving and affectionate disposition, enjoying cuddles and spending quality time with their human family.
  • Good with Children: Schipperkes are generally patient and gentle with children, making them great playmates for kids.
  • Watchdog Instincts: With their sharp senses and protective nature, Schipperkes excel in alerting their family to any potential danger or strangers approaching the home.

Schipperke Temperament and Considerations

While Schipperkes are wonderful family pets, it’s important to understand their unique temperament and consider a few factors:

  • Reserved with Strangers: Schipperkes can be cautious and reserved around unfamiliar people. Early and consistent socialization can help them feel more comfortable in various social settings.
  • Wary of Other Dogs: Due to their strong prey drive, Schipperkes may display wariness or aggression towards other dogs, especially if not properly socialized from an early age.
  • Activity and Stimulation: Schipperkes have high energy levels and require daily exercise and mental stimulation. Families who can provide them with ample playtime, walks, and challenging activities will keep them happy and prevent boredom-induced behavior.
  • Secure Fenced Yard: Schipperkes are curious and adventurous, so a securely fenced yard is necessary to keep them safe. They should not be left unsupervised in open outdoor spaces.

Overall, when given the proper care, training, and mental stimulation, Schipperkes thrive in family environments and offer years of joy and companionship.


After exploring the intelligence and personality of Schipperkes, it is clear that these dogs possess remarkable cognitive abilities. With their active and curious nature, Schipperkes require mental and physical stimulation to prevent destructive behaviors. Though they can be stubborn, experienced training can help overcome this challenge and bring out their full potential.

Schipperkes are loyal companions and excellent watchdogs, always ready to protect their families. However, they may be reserved towards strangers, reflecting their cautious nature. It’s important to provide proper socialization to ensure that they can interact positively with unfamiliar people and other animals.

One characteristic that sets Schipperkes apart is their high prey drive, which contributes to their tendency to bark excessively. With the right care, training, and socialization, Schipperkes can be wonderful additions to active families who can provide them with plenty of activity and mental stimulation.

Schipperkes are highly intelligent dogs with unique personalities. Their intelligence, combined with their loyalty and protective instincts, makes them valuable companions. With the right environment and training, Schipperkes can thrive and bring joy to their owners for many years to come.


Are Schipperkes known for their intelligence?

Yes, Schipperkes are highly intelligent dogs.

Are Schipperkes easy to train?

Training Schipperkes can be challenging, especially for novice owners.

Do Schipperkes require a lot of mental stimulation?

Yes, Schipperkes need plenty of mental stimulation to prevent destructive behaviors.

Are Schipperkes good watchdogs?

Yes, Schipperkes make excellent watchdogs due to their loyalty and alertness.

How long do Schipperkes typically live?

Schipperkes usually have a lifespan of 12 to 16 years.

Do Schipperkes have a strong prey drive?

Yes, Schipperkes have a high prey drive and may chase small animals.

Do Schipperkes bark excessively?

Yes, Schipperkes have a tendency to bark excessively.

Are Schipperkes suitable for apartment living?

No, Schipperkes are not suitable for apartment living. They require a fenced-in yard.

What are the grooming needs of Schipperkes?

Schipperkes have moderate grooming needs and should be brushed occasionally.

Are Schipperkes good with children?

Yes, Schipperkes are affectionate towards their owners, including children.

Do Schipperkes get along well with strangers?

Schipperkes can be reserved with strangers and may take time to warm up to them.

Can Schipperkes live in households with other pets?

Schipperkes have a high prey drive and may not get along well with other animals unless properly socialized from a young age.

What are some common health issues in Schipperkes?

Schipperkes can be prone to health conditions like hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and eye problems.

What training methods are effective for Schipperkes?

Positive reinforcement training methods work well with Schipperkes.

Are Schipperkes suitable for families?

Schipperkes can be excellent family pets for active households that can provide them with plenty of activity and mental stimulation.