Showsight Presents the Schipperke


Dating to the 1870s, this Flemish painting depicted a horse fair. To the far right, a little Schipperke is walking on to the scene. Its little stub tail is very like the natural bob tails seen on many Schipperkes today. The original painting is in color, the dog’s tongue is out and he is wearing a collar.

Drawn and signed by Louis Vander Snickt, a leading early Schipperke fancier in Belgium, and dating to 1888, it shows Schipperkes hunting rats with other Terriers.

6. Chasse et Péche , March 9, 1890, “...the only way to judge dogs, especially schipperkes, because they step so lively ( “steppent” ). Our impression was that English amateurs do not remember enough that the Belgian dog is the boatman’s dog, living in the open air, coat hard and abundant, resistant, ears always raised, pointing in all directions, straight legs, a cat’s foot, tireless and leaping about. He must also be able to defend himself, and even kill a pole cat. We want the old dog of the boats...” 7. Chasse et Péche , February 7, 1892, “We made our first descrip- tion of the boatman’s dog after a model example born around 1842, on the farm of M. Remy DeVulder, of Marialierde, where the breed had existed for a long time.” 8. Chasse et Péche , January 29, 1893, “…fully agrees with the founders of the Belgian Club and all those who have been invited to provide information. The schipperke is above all an outdoor dog, his place is day and night on the deck of the boat of which he is the guardian; he must be strong enough and biting ( willing enough to bite ) to be respected; he must be able to resist the weather. He has the innate passion for hunting moles, which he approaches cautiously under the wind, then, at the right moment, after a leap, falls exactly with the two front paws into the gallery and cuts off any retreat of the mole.” Finally, in the Chasse et Péche , September 30, 1894, we read the first mention of the idea that Schipperkes may be connected in any way to shepherds, “…if the little dog had not always been and was not still currently the watchdog of the boats from which he gets his name of “schipperke” (little boatman), you could have written “scheperke” (little shepherd).” This is a drawing by a famous early Belgian artist of “Spitz,” a Schipperke which was said to show the proper early type of the breed. Shown on a barge in Belgium, the drawing dates to the mid-1880s and appeared in the leading Belgian dog magazine, Chasse et Pêche.

was, up until the 1880s, always described as a city-based “dog of the boatmen” or “small boat dog.” An article in Chasse et Péche (March 13, 1892) mentions that the name was invented in 1880 for an international dog exhibition in Brussels. There are many more historical articles that support this theory, as follows: 1. Chasse et Péche , May 24, 1885 was titled, Le petit chien de batelier ou Schipperke , and begins the article by saying, “A little black devil, but without forked feet and without a tail, such is the dog of the boatmen.” And it goes on to say, “They are found much on the boats of the canals and rivers of Flanders; they do not dirty the bridge and do not knock objects down by means of their tail, since they do not (have one).” 2. Chasse et Péche , June 28, 1885, begins by saying “Since the Brussels show, and also since we published a portrait of that lively little guardian called the boatman’s dog...” 3. Chasse et Péche , February 19 1888, states, “We had convened last Sunday in Brussels with all the experts who can give informa- tion on the Schipperkes or small dogs of boatmen.” (This was a meeting of 50 experts of the breed from this era, and no mention of Schipperkes being little shepherds was made.) 4. Chasse et Péche , November 5, 1888, “In his country he lives more in the open air than in the kitchen. He is the guardian of the boats and, as such, he stands on the bridge and the path where the boats are hauled in an atmosphere charged with humidity; in the street one sees him perched on the back of the horse or the trunk of the truck; everywhere, in the boat, around the boat, in the stable, the cellar or the attic, he makes war on mice, moles, rats and even pole cats.” 5. Chasse et Péche , March 24, 1889, “These little dogs had noth- ing to do with the trade of butcher or cobbler; but at one time they were the dog of a boatman, they rendered services on the boat, in a word, they were part of the crew.”


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