Shipperke is a dog breed that might look fragile but its energy and great work qualities will surprise you!

History of Shipperke


Shipperke is a breed from Belgium and it predates its Belgian cousin Bouvier des Flandres by two centuries. The first written mention of Shipperke comes from the 15th century when the breed was commonly used for work on board of ships (the name means “little boatman”).

A legend says that two Shipperkes saved the life of William of Orange by waking him up when he was going to be assassinated.

In the 18th century there was no need for Shipperkes to work on ships anymore and they found their new purpose as home guardians and rat hunters. The paintings of rural life in Belgium at that era often portray these dogs.

In World War 2 these dogs were used to deliver messages between the Belgium resistance hideouts.

Appearance, Temperament and Health

Appearance of the Shipperke

Height: 33.6 cm/13.2 in average (dogs), 31.2 cm/12.3 in average (bitches)

Weight:63–9 kg/6.6–19.8 lb average

It is a small dog breed with thick double coat and erect ears. Its overall looks could be described as “cute”. Despite of its two layers, the coat doesn’t isolate very well and the dog isn’t well protected from heat, cold or rain (therefore it should be kept indoors at least at night).

The coat color is always black and the hair forms mane around the neck and longer hair on the backside of the thighs.

The difference in size between males and females is very notable. Females also sometimes lack the mane.


shipperkeShipperkes are mischievous, somewhat stubborn and usually very good-mooded dogs. Their energy levels are very high and they require lots of exercise.

They’re also intelligent and independent. Generally, they learn very fast although they might decide not to listen to their master.

Shipperkes can be somewhat reserved towards strangers but very loyal to their families. They are not aggressive and although they have a tendency to dominance over other animals, they don’t provoke fights.


The average life expectancy of the breed is 13 years.

Shipperke is a very healthy breed, the most common health problems are the results of inactivity and over-eating.

Shipperke as Work Dog

Due to its small statue it’s sometimes believed to be a spitz although Shipperke is actually a small shepherd. It’s not a boat dog anymore, nowadays it’s used for protection, Shipperkes are surprisingly good guard dogs. Their prey drive makes them excellent rodent-hunters. They also enjoy activities like the agility training.

If you have a Shipperke, let us know what you love about this breed!