Schipperke Breed Standard


The Schipperke is an active, agile, utilitarian dog; small, cobby and thickset with an alert, curious expression. He combines the attributes of watchdog, herding dog, vermin hunter and companion dog in one tireless, faithful and loving package. Square in profile, the Schipperke has a silhouette like no other — the result of a dense, thick coat with an off-standing ruff, cape and culottes and a topline sloping gradually from shoulders to croup. Males are decidedly masculine without coarseness; females are feminine without snipiness.

Deviations from this standard shall be penalized to the same degree as the characteristic deviates from the described ideal. Faults common to all breeds are also undesirable in the Schipperke.



The suggested height at the highest point of the withers is: 11-13 inches for males; 10-12 inches for bitches. Weight should be in proportion and must not be ignored; overall good quality may outweigh a modest excursion in size.


The dog is square in profile and front and rear are in balance.


The dog should be well set-up, with moderate bone and well-defined muscle.



The Schipperke expression is bright and alert, and never wild or mean. A well-proportioned head with the correct shape and placement of the eye, coupled with its native friendly curiosity will usually yield the correct expression.


The skull is of medium width, narrowing toward the muzzle. Seen in profile, with the ears laid back, the skull is slightly rounded. The upper jaw is moderately filled in under the eyes, so that, when viewed from above, the head forms a wedge, tapering smoothly from the back of the skull to the tip of the nose. The stop is definite but not pronounced. The length of the muzzle is slightly less than the length of the skull.


The ideal eyes are small, oval rather than round, dark brown and placed forward on the head.


The ears are small, triangular, placed high on the head and, when at attention, very erect. A drop ear or ears is a disqualification. A dog exhibited with part of an ear missing due to accident will be permitted only if there is sufficient ear remaining to be sure it had not been a drop ear prior to injury.


A small, black nose is preferred. In some lighter colored Schips (creams and fawns) the nose will be black, but may fade from black to a pinkish-brown in winter months. This condition, called “winter nose” is common among lighter “northern Spitz” breeds and should not be seriously faulted.


The bite must be scissors or level with a tight, upper-forward scissors to be preferred. Any significant deviation must be severely penalized.



The neck is of moderate length, slightly arched to provide an alert carriage of the head, flowing smoothly into the desired topline.


The topline is level or sloping slightly from the withers to the croup. The off-standing ruff adds to the slope emphasizing the correct topline. The topline should remain slightly sloping even when the dog is being gaited.


The chest is broad and deep, reaching to the elbows. The well-sprung ribs (slightly oval in cross-section) are wide behind the shoulders and taper to the sternum. The forechest extends well in front of the shoulders between the front legs. The loin is short, muscular and moderately drawn up. The croup is broad and well rounded even if a tail is present.


The tail may be docked, in which case no tail stub should be evident with the result that the “well-rounded” croup is evident. When the tail is present, it should be a “Spitz-type” tail, well-feathered and carried curled tightly over the back. Such a tail will be high-set on the rump and will serve to emphasize the desired short back. The “saber” tail of many shepherd types is acceptable, but not preferred. Partial tails, stubs, rat-tails and “pine tree” tails should be faulted.



The shoulders are well laid back, with the legs extending straight down from the body when viewed from the front. From the side, the legs are placed well under the body. Pasterns are short, thick and strong but still flexible, showing a slight angle when viewed from the side. Dewclaws generally are removed. Feet are small, round and tight. Nails are short and strong.


Hindquarters appear slightly lighter than the forequarters, but are well-muscled and in balance with the front. The hocks are well let-down and the stifles are well bent. Over-angulation is to be penalized. From the rear, the legs extend straight down from the hip, through the hocks, to the feet. Dewclaws must not be present.



The Schipperke being a “silhouette breed,” the correct coat, in good condition, is an indispensable adjunct to the dog’s presentation. Any artificial shaping, coloring, “enhancement” or trimming is unsportsmanlike and insulting to both the judge and the breed, and must be severely penalized. The correct adult coat also is a double coat, with a dense, soft and short undercoat which provides support and depth to the longer portions of the outer coat, or “guard hairs”, and which normally is not visible in an adult dog.


The adult coat is highly characteristic, and the “guard hairs” must include several distinct lengths, growing naturally in specific patterns. The coat is short on the face, ears, front of the forelegs and on the hocks; it is medium length on the body, and longer on the ruff, cape, jabot, culottes and tail. The ruff begins at the back of the ears and extends completely around the neck; the cape forms an additional distinct layer extending beyond the ruff and over the withers on the back, and in between the forelegs as a “jabot.” The hair down the middle of the back, starting just beyond the cape and continuing over the rump lies flat. It is shorter than the cape, but longer than the hair on the sides of the body and legs. The coat on the rear of the stifles forms “culottes” which should be as long as the ruff and curve inward. The hair on the back of the front legs is slightly longer, forming a modest fringe. Lack of differentiation in coat length e.g. “lack of coat pattern” must be penalized, and if the pattern is produced artificially, by trimming, it should be severely penalized.


The coat is abundant, straight and slightly harsh to the touch. The undercoat is softer, dense and short, and extremely dense around the neck, providing the support for the offstanding ruff. Silky coats, body coats longer than three inches long or very short, harsh coats are equally incorrect.


Any natural, solid color is acceptable, but most examples of the breed are black, which is the dominant color in this breed. Natural recessive colors also present in the breed include cream, fawn, brown, gold, chocolate, and “blue” (an off-grey) — with slight variations in hue. Many non-black examples display symmetrical shadings at the shoulders, edges of the ruff and cape, the culottes and tail furnishings. These are considered desirable variations of the base color and are not indicative of a “multi-colored” dog.

Whatever the outer coat color, the undercoat usually is lighter in color (grey, or beige in blacks, cream or white in dogs other than black). Black coats which are approaching shedding often take on a “rusty” or “reddish” cast which should be penalized only to the extent it detracts from the dog’s overall appearance. Grey or white spots or patches in black coats, or spots or patches of other colors in colored coats should be severely penalized. Occasional white hairs due to trauma, and greying due to aging should not be penalized.


Development of the adult coat is usually well along by the time a puppy reaches six months of age; but in some puppies coat development is slower, resulting in some puppies appearing in competition before the characteristics described above are fully evident. This may result in a specimen whose “puppy coat” (the future undercoat) has not yet been completely shielded by guard hairs. Since the shiny, black outercoat normally appears first where the coat is shortest (face, ears, legs and middle of the back) and since the undercoat is usually of a different hue, the result is a rather bi-colored appearance, often lacking the pattern or texture described above. This is a normal transitional characteristic of a “slow developing” coat and, taken alone, should not be seriously faulted — indeed many breeders consider the slow-developing coat to be a desirable precursor to a full, correct adult coat.


The proper Schipperke gait is a smooth, well coordinated and graceful trot. It is basically double-tracking at moderate speed, with a tendency for the legs to converge toward the center of balance beneath the dog as speed increases. Front and rear must be in balance, with good reach in front and drive in the rear. The sloping topline should be evident even when the dog is in motion. Viewed from the front, the elbows remain close to the body, and the legs form a straight line from the shoulders, through the elbows, to the toes, with the feet pointing straight ahead. From the rear, the legs form a straight line from the hip through the hocks to the pads with the feet pointing straight ahead. Weaving, hackneying, paddling and pacing should be severely faulted.


The Schipperke is curious, interested in everything around him, and is an animated and faithful companion and watchdog. He is often reserved with strangers, but friendly and playful when introduced. He is confident and independent and protective of children and things put in his care, but is never aggressive.


A drop ear or ears.

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