In Flanders, where the Schipperke used to work on canal boats, the word "schip" means boat and they were frequently nicknamed "Little Captain" or "Little Skipper" because they often belonged to the captain.
The name is pronounced 'skip-er-key'. They are a small, fox-like, spitz-type breed with a thick, double coat that has a ruff round the neck and shoulders. They normally come in black but can also come in tan or fawn.
They were bred in Flanders by a canal boat captain named Renssens and were used as a guard dog on boats as well as for ratting. They are lively, intelligent, alert and very loyal. They are a good alert dog but do like the sound of their own bark and will howl too. They are very happy on boats. Schipperkes usually get on well with strangers, children and animals. They need regular exercise but are the sort of dog that is active indoors and out.
Regular brushing and combing is needed to keep the coat looking good. At certain times of the year the coat "blows" - all the undercoat falls out over a period of days - and for a couple of weeks they look practically naked until the thick coat returns. They are prone to hypothyroidism, epilepsy, hip dysplasia slipped hip sockets, Legg Calves Perthes Disease, eye problems and a recently discovered disease called MPS 111B (Mucopolysaccharidosis).