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The First Show Dog – The Schipperke

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116 – October, 2018

By Lee Connor

There is a current drive, here in the UK, that is very much against all pedigree breeding. Such practices, the experts tell us, always lead to health problems, disease, reduced fertility and shortened lifespan. Vets are calling for outcrossing as a solution to address these problems.

I thought about all this as I tackled my breed for this month: the lively little Schipperke.

Now, this breed is renowned for its longevity with many dogs reaching their high teens, even their twenties. They also have very few health problems and are remarkably fertile and free whelpers. How on earth have their breeders achieved all this?

Could it possibly be that the foundation stock for this breed were particularly robust little dogs and that these healthy genes have actually been ‘locked in’ by the process of careful linebreeding?

The Schipperke has an insatiable inquisitiveness that induces him to quite literally poke his nose into everything. Every strange object excites his curiosity, the slightest noise arouses his attention and he wants to investigate its cause.

These qualities made him the perfect watchdog and Schipperkes were very popular in this role on the Belgian canal barges, and that, no doubt, is the origin of their name, which is Flemish for ‘Little Skipper’ (although other translations call it ‘little shepherd’ and even ‘little captain’).

It is certain that the breed has been in existence for well over a hundred years and, some say, possibly over two hundred years. Most cynologists are of the opinion that the Schipperke is a member of the Spitz family, although there is an important body of expert opinion that claim they are in fact a diminutive version of the black Belgian Sheepdog. They claim that the Schipperke and the Groenendael have descended from one common ancestor. And I must admit I have always found the resemblance between the Schipperke and Groenendael quite startling.

Click here to read the complete article
116 – October, 2018

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