Showsight Presents the Schipperke

THE SCHIPPERKE FCI STANDARD P R O P O S A L T O R E V I S E

BY JOHAN FORNÄS AND AGNETA JOHANSSON

R ecently, an international judge wrote about facing some issues, saying, “Conformation judges are subject to Standards’ confusion every time they judge. Some- times this comes from poorly worded or poorly translated standards; sometimes it comes after standards are changed, in those cases, often for not so easily understood reasoning. However, in this international age of conformation judges adjudicating across multiple jurisdictions, we judges are now confronted with differences between standards for the one breed, and differences in where dogs are allocated in their groups, again sometimes without logic.” He goes on to say, “The AKC, KC (UK), NZKC, SAKC, ANKC and CKC all classify dogs into 7 groups. The FCI classify into 10. Between these classifica- tions there are major differences and even within jurisdictions there are differences of opinion about classification. Personally, I think the best existing Classification is the FCI and I think this could be tweaked and revised with input from the other jurisdictions. I have suggested this and many say there is no appetite for it. However, we have seen recently where the efforts of the Chair of the Whippet Breed Council of the UK and the President of the FCI agreed for the FCI to revert to the UK Standard as a Country of Origin of the breed. An Old English Sheepdog is an OES no matter where it is exhibited yet we have 4 versions of the breed Standard: UK, FCI, ANKC and Canada is proposing a change. Why? We also need to consider the entire clas- sification of Dogs.” This entire idea is of interest to the Schipperke breed, as the question of the origin and the Group to which they would best fit has often been in contention. In Belgium, they were originally classed as a Terrier, in the US they were placed in Non-Sporting, but in modern FCI, they are considered a herding dog. Others have noted that they best belong, by type, to a group entitled, “Northern Breeds.” Recently, some breeders in Europe wrote an article quoting the history of the breed and genetic discoveries, and how they feel it should impact the breed and the Group to which they belong. We would like to call your attention to the need to correct the FCI Standard for the Schipperke in accordance with recent sci- entific findings of genomic analyses, which matches the historical data recently published about the breed. Recent genomic research has revealed that the Schipperke is genetically related most closely to the Pug, Brussels Griffon, Papillon, and then to the Pomeranian and Schnauzer; but is only distantly related to the Belgian herding dogs. This supports historical observations, and makes it necessary to clarify the breed characteristics in order to correctly reflect and represent the true history and character of the Schipperke. With deep roots back to the 17th, and possibly even the 15th century, the Schipperke is a stable breed of its own merit, that has

An antique dog medal from the Belgium/France area, that shows three breeds: a Papillion, a Brussels Griffon, and a Schipperke, which are found close to the Schipperke on the Dog Genome wheel.

been genetically distinct for a long time. Yet, its relations with other breeds offer key clues to its inherent and contemporary char- acter. The currently most comprehensive study of genetic relations among dog breeds has been offered by Heidi G. Parker, Dayna L. Dreger, Maud Rimbault, Brian W. Davis, Alexandra B. Mullen, Gretchen Carpintero-Ramirez, and Elaine A. Ostrander (2017): Genomic Analyses Reveal the Influence of Geographic Origin, Migra- tion, and Hybridization on Modern Dog Breed Development , in Cell Reports 19, pp. 697-708. As shown in the diagram on page 698 in that article, the Schipperke is most closely related to the Papil- lon, Brussels Griffon, and Pug, and then the Pomeranian, Volpino, American Eskimo Dog, and Schnauzer. There is a great genetic distance to the French Briard or Belgian herding dogs like Bouvier des Flandres, Malinois, and Tervuren (found directly opposite in the diagram, indicating that they are not at all closely related to the Schipperke). The Schipperke has a history filled with many stories, some based on historical facts, others with mythical origins. An exam- ple is the breed’s name of Schipperke, which has been a matter of great debate. While there is a long-standing tradition that it means “little boatman” or perhaps “little captain,” in Belgium, the most popular view is that it is a corruption of the term “scheperke” and was always intended to mean “little shepherd.” This idea may have been fueled by temptations to construct a rather romantic heri- tage where Schipperkes traced their ancestry to rural herding dogs. However, there is little evidence that the Schipperke was ever used for guarding sheep on a large scale. Instead, historical sources indi- cate that early Schipperkes were linked to guarding canal boats and urban craft shops of shoemakers and butchers. The Schipperke

242 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, OCTOBER 2021

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