By Beverly Henry
he known history of the
breed begins in 1690when
the shoemakers in the St.
Gery quarter organized a
competitive exhibition of
Schipperkes on designated
Sundays on the Grand’ Place in Brussels. The
workmen exercised their ingenuity by mak-
ing collars of hammered or carved brass for
their Schipperkes. Always kept gleaming,
these collars were worn only on Sundays and
were fastened in a manner designed to pull
out as few hairs as possible from the ruff.
One hundred and fifty years later (1830–
the Schipperke remained very fash-
ionable in Brussels and, curiously enough,
was protected by the disciples of Saint
Crispin. Even in this later period, it was still
the custom to adorn Schipperkes with enor-
mous collars of worked brass that were often
real works of art. On Sundays, one could
see a shoemaker going out with or without
his wife or children but never without his
Schipperke. Although he could readily for-
get to shine his boots, he would never forget
to polish the dog’s collar.
During this period of early development,
the breed was known by two names, giving
rise to controversies on the true origin of the
breed. The people of Brussels used the col-
loquial name “Spitz” or “Spitzke” to describe
the small black dog. This name sheds little
light on the breed’s ancestry because several
breeds which are referred to as a “Spitz” in
Germany or America are called “Loulou”
in Belgium. Thus, no relationship to these
breeds is established by the Belgian call name.
Mr. F. Verbanck of Ghent, a noted
Belgian authority of the breed, summed
up his thoughts on this subject when he
wrote, “If the Spitz group is composed of
all the nordic dogs, the German Shepherd
and the other continental sheepdogs of the
wolf-type, as well as the Collie and the
Shetland Sheepdog, then the Schipperke
is also a Spitz. But, if the Spitz is limited
to the group of German Wolfspitz breeds
which now includes the Keeshond of Hol-
land, then the Schipperke is not a Spitz.”
Over the years, various writers out-
side Belgium have claimed a Spitz origin
for the Schipperke. One well-known dog
chart even shows the Schipperke as a direct
descendant of the Pomeranian. Victor Fally,
a founder of the Belgium Schipperkes Club,
debated the possibility of such an origin,
writing, “It is true that the Pomeranian and
the Schipperke resemble each other just as
they resemble the sheepdogs. They belong
to the same original stemwhich corresponds
to a primitive type spread throughout the
regions of the North and Baltic Seas, which
is related to the Norwegian, Swedish and
even the Eskimo breeds. [But] it is impossi-
ble for the Pomeranian, itself, to have served
to create the Schipperke because the latter
has been revealed to have existed here before
the introduction of the Pomeranian. The
Schipperke has an entirely different aspect.”
Another interesting point of comparison,
which may also shed some light on tracing
the ancestry of the Schipperke, is its natural
tail carriage. Although most twentieth cen-
tury literature maintains that the undocked
tail of a Schip is carried over the back like a
Spitz, early authorities are in disagreement
with this assertion. Some years ago, the
eminent Belgian judge, Charles Huge, and
Victor Fally wrote that those Schipperkes
left with a tail carry it like a Groenendael
Sheepdog or Shepherd. For proof, in an ear-
lier French dog book by M. Megnin, there
is a photograph of a Schipperke with a tail
carried straight like that of a sporting dog.
Mr. Fally also contended that an undocked
Schipperke with its tail curled over the back
like a Pug or a Spitz is evidence that there has
been crossbreeding in its ancestry, regardless
of the names appearing in the pedigree.
Some English authorities have stated that
the undocked tails of the Schipperke are car-
ried in two ways: some are straight like a shep-
Photo by Rusty Wells
2012 • 245