According to the ACK Standard, the Schipperke is "questioning, mischievous, impudent... interested in everything around him.” These dogs may be the most curious of all breeds, wanting to know what is going on around them every minute of the day. Their alertness makes them excellent watch dogs, as they will faithfully alert you that someone is approaching their home. In fact, their name means “Little Captiain” in Flemish, and they got that name by faithfully and reliably guarding boats in Belgium. Schipperkes want to be included in all manner of family activities, whether it be an outdoor adventure, lounging around in the evening to watch television, or going for rides in the car. These little dogs fancy themselves to be contributing members of the household and expect to be treated as such. Schipperkes love children and are happy to play with them as long as the kids' energy holds out. These little dogs make fine family companions for active people of all ages.
Don't let their size foll you – Schipperkes are active animals. They should be walked several times a day and allowed to get out into the yard and run whenever possible. Their size makes them fine apartment dwellers, as long as a commitment is made to keep the Schipperke well exercised.
Schipperkes enjoy the agility course. They are intelligent dogs who need to use their minds as well as their bodies in order to maintain even temperament. On the agility course, they get to use both at the same time, and as an added bonus, they get extra bonding time with someone they love.
Schipperkes can be a handful to train, but with a little patience, it can be done. They bore easily, so it is important to keep sessions short and to vary the routine in order to hold their interest. Positive reinforcement is all you need to get your Schipperke to learn new behavior, as they soak up praise and treats. These little dogs are smart, however, and they can often manipulate you into bending the rules, whether it be flaunting their sheer cuteness or blatantly breaking a rule so many times that you give up enforcing it. 100% consistency is key in raising an obedient Schipperke.
Housebreaking a Schipperke can also be a challenge as they will flaunt their independence by relieving themselves where and when they please. Crate training is the best recipe for success, and expect anywhere from six to eight months of training before your Schipperke finally follows the program.
Schipperkes bark early and often. They feel it is their job as the “Little Captain” to alert you (and the neighborhood) to every new sight and sound. You can teach your dog to obey commands to quiet down, but you can't train the bark out of a Schipperke.
Schipperkes should not be trusted around non-canine pets. The family cat and hamster could be in grave danger when when your Schipperke matures and his prey instincts fully kick in.
Socialization should be conducted early and often. The nature of a Schipperke is to be suspicious of strangers, but you want to raise a well-adjusted dog who understands the difference between a welcome guest and an unwelcome stranger.