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Group: Working
Breed Family: Schipperke

Originating in the Flemish provinces of Belgium, the Schipperke developing from a small black sheep dog called a Leauvenaar, which was often seen following behind wagons in the Flemish provinces. It was long used by the boatmen who traveled the Flanders and Brabant canals. An excellent guard dog, the breed was also a persistent hunter of any rat who might attempt to board the canal boats. In olden days it was called the Spitz or Spitzke. The name Schipperke was adopted only after the forming of the specialty club in 1888.

According to The Complete Dog Book, the name is Flemish for "little captain," and was chosen to honor a Mr. Renssens, the "father of the breed," and the owner of a canal boat line that operated between Brussels and Antwerp.

The Schipperke was the companion of the lower classes until around 1885, when Queen Marie-Henriette, wife of King Leopold II, acquired one after she had seen it at a Brussels dog show. The breed became well-known in England around 1902, and a sprightly example is illustrated in Thomas Blinks' (1860-1912) and Fred Morgan's (1856-1927) portrait of Queen Alexandra with her grandchildren and some of her dogs.


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