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Original Author: Robert Leighton
The Schipperke may
fitly be described as the Paul Pry of canine society. His insatiate
inquisitiveness induces him to poke his nose into everything; every
strange object excites his curiosity, and he will, if possible, look
behind it; the slightest noise arouses his attention, and he wants to
investigate its cause. There is no end to his liveliness, but he moves
about with almost catlike agility without upsetting any objects in a room,
and when he hops he has a curious way of catching up his hind legs. The
Schipperke's disposition is most affectionate, tinged with a good deal of
jealousy, and even when made one of the household he generally attaches
himself more particularly to one person, whom he "owns," and whose
protection he deems his special duty.
These qualities endear the Schipperke as a canine companion, with a quaint and lovable character; and he is also a capital vermin dog. When properly entered he cannot be surpassed as a "ratter."
Schipperkes have always
been kept as watch-dogs on the Flemish canal barges, and that, no doubt,
is the origin of the name, which is the Flemish for "Little Skipper," the
syllable "ke" forming the diminutive of "schipper."
The respectable antiquity of this dog is proved by the result of the researches Mr. Van der Snickt and Mr. Van Buggenhoudt made in the archives of Flemish towns, which contain records of the breed going back in pure type over a hundred years.
The first Schipperke which appeared at a show in this country was Mr. Berrie's Flo. This was, however, such a mediocre specimen that it did not appeal to the taste of the English dog-loving public. In 1888 Dr. Seelig brought over Skip, Drieske, and Mia. The first-named was purchased by Mr. E. B. Joachim, and the two others by Mr. G. R. Krehl. Later on Mr. Joachim became the owner of Mr. Green's Shtoots, and bought Fritz of Spa in Belgium, and these dogs formed the nucleus of the two kennels which laid the foundation of the breed in England.
It was probably the introduction of the Schipperke to England that induced Belgian owners to pay greater attention to careful breeding, and a club was started in 1888 in Brussels, whose members, after "long and earnest consideration," settled a description and standard of points for the breed.
Not long afterwards the Schipperke Club (England) was inaugurated, and drew up the following standard of points, which was adopted in December, 1890, and differed only very slightly from the one acknowledged by the Belgian society and later by the St. Hubert Schipperke Club.
STANDARD OF POINTS OF THE SCHIPPERKE CLUB, ENGLAND:
HEAD--Foxy in type; skull should not be round, but broad, and with little stop. The muzzle should be moderate in length, fine but not weak, should be well filled out under the eyes.
NOSE--Black and small.
EYES--Dark brown, small, more oval than round, and not full; bright, and full of expression.
EARS--Shape: Of moderate length, not too broad at the base, tapering to a point. Carriage: Stiffly erect, and when in that position the inside edge to form as near as possible a right angle with the skull and strong enough not to be bent otherwise than lengthways.
TEETH--Strong and level.
NECK--Strong and full, rather short, set broad on the shoulders and slightly arched.
SHOULDERS--Muscular and sloping.
CHEST--Broad and deep in brisket.
BACK--Short, straight, and strong.
LOINS--Powerful, well drawn up from the brisket.
FORE-LEGS--Perfectly straight, well under the body, with bone in proportion to the body.
HIND-LEGS--Strong, muscular, hocks well let down.
FEET--Small, catlike, and standing well on the toes.
HIND-QUARTERS--Fine compared to the fore-parts, muscular and well-developed thighs, tailless, rump well rounded.
COAT--Black, abundant, dense, and harsh, smooth on the head, ears and legs, lying close on the back and sides, but erect and thick round the neck, forming a mane and frill, and well feathered on back of thighs.
WEIGHT--About twelve pounds.
GENERAL APPEARANCE--A small cobby animal with sharp expression, intensely lively, presenting the appearance of being always on the alert.
DISQUALIFYING POINTS--Drop, or semi-erect ears.
FAULTS--White hairs are
objected to, but are not disqualifying.
The back of the Schipperke is described as straight, but it should round off at the rump, which should be rotund and full, guinea-pig-like. The continued straight line of a terrier's back is not desirable, but it will frequently be found in specimens that have been docked. The Belgian standard requires the legs to be "fine," and not have much bone. The bone of a terrier is only met with in coarse Schipperkes. As to size, it need only be noted that the maximum of the small size, viz., 12 lbs., is that generally preferred in England, as well as in Belgium. Further, it is only necessary to remark that the Schipperke is a dog of quality, of distinct characteristics, cobby in appearance, not long in the back, nor high on the leg; the muzzle must not be weak and thin, nor short and blunt; and, finally, he is not a prick-eared, black wire-haired terrier.
The Schipperke's tail, or rather its absence, has been the cause of much discussion, and at one time gave rise to considerable acrimonious feeling amongst fanciers. On the introduction of this dog into Great Britain it arrived from abroad with the reputation of being a tailless breed, but whether Belgian owners accidentally conveyed that impression or did it purposely to give the breed an additional distinction is difficult to say. Anyhow the Schipperke is no more "tailless" than the old English Sheepdog. That is to say a larger number of individuals are born without any caudal appendage or only a stump of a tail than in any other variety of dogs. It is said that a docked dog can be told from one that has been born tailless in this way; when the docked animal is pleased, a slight movement at the end of the spine where the tail was cut off is discernible, but the naturally tailless dog sways the whole of its hind-quarters.