How To Care for a Schipperke

The schipperke has a recognizable black coat composed of an undercoat as well as an outer guard coat which prevents much dirt and rain from getting down to the skin. Schipperkes are small dogs with inquisitive natures. Besides the normal care (vaccinations, heartworm tests and treatment, and dental care) every dog should receive, the schipperke has a few needs related to its breed temperament, coat, and genetic heritage.

  • Temperament
    The schipperke is a loyal and friendly family dog but care must be taken to choose the right animal playmates for him. He may not be accepting of a cat in the house. The schipperke is a good playmate for dogs of any other size. Because schipperkes were bred to be watchdogs, your schipperke will not immediately accept the advances of any guests to the home. Allow the schipperke to gradually come to the visitor, giving the pet time to adjust to the guest's presence.

    Care for the schipperke's need for exercise by giving her a daily vigorous play or walking time. This breed has an energy level which will keep her moderately active whether indoors or outdoors. If your schipperke must be unattended outdoors, she should be in a fenced-in yard or kennel to prevent her from wandering off.

    When training your schipperke, establish yourself as the master and be firm with commands. Schipperkes can have an independent and stubborn nature.

  • Grooming
    If you intend to show your schipperke at an American Kennel Club show, take care to trim only the whiskers and fur between the footpads. No other trimming is allowed; even this trimming is not essential. In fact, clipping the schipperke's coat until it is short will remove the natural protection the coat offers him from weather conditions or heat.

    Schipperkes groom themselves like a cat. They care for their own grooming needs. The little amount of fur schipperkes shed can be removed with a daily brushing. The brush bristles should have a medium to hard stiffness.

    If the undercoat begins to come out in bunches, do not be alarmed. It is not due to a lack of care on your part. This over shedding could be due to a number of things that may have stressed the schipperke's body like extreme heat or medicine used to treat a condition. Warm baths combined with brushing to remove all loose fur will restore the schipperke's coat. This may take two or three months.

    When bathing a schipperke, care must be taken to assure the guard coat as well as the undercoat is totally wet. Be sure all of the mild shampoo is rinsed out so the skin does not become irritated. If necessary, use oil to care for dry skin patches.

    If excessive coat loss continues after treatment, consult a veterinarian. The schipperke may have a fungal skin condition requiring special care.

  • Genetic Heritage
    Schipperkes are susceptible to three medical conditions: epilepsy, luxating patellas, and Legg-Perthes disease.

    As your schipperke grows older, watch for signs of epilepsy. Your veterinarian can advise a course of treatment to care for this condition. Sometimes oral medications like phenobarbitol are prescribed to manage the epilepsy.

    Luxating patellas are knee caps which temporarily move out of place, causing the dog to hold one of its rear legs up until the muscles relax and the patella moves back to its position.

    Legg-Perthes disease, a condition which erodes the femoral head of the hip joint in schipperkes under a year of age, is often not detected until the dog is limping and experiencing some discomfort. Surgery is sometimes part of the care for both luxating patellas and Legg-Perthes disease. After surgery for Legg-Perthes disease, the dog may develop arthritis in the hip as he ages. Caring for your dog's arthritic hip joints may mean keeping his weight under control through exercise and diet.


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