The Origins of the Schipperke are lost in time.  The 15th Century monk, Wenceslas wrote about the tradesmen's guilds of Brussels possessing house dogs without tails.  It was also written that William of Orange, national hero of Belgium and Holland, was saved from a would-be assassin by two tailless black dogs which were believed to be Schipperkes.

Early Belgian authorities acknowledged that the breed principally originated in the provinces of Antwerp, Brabant and the Flanders district.

Documented history begins in 1690 when on designated Sundays shoemakers would gather in the St.Gery Quarter in an organized, competitive exhibition of elaborate, hand-made, brass collars which adorned the necks of their Schipperkes.
No-one is too sure about the name 'Schipperke'.  It is a mystery as it did not originate with the people of Brussels, who called the breed Spitze.  Antwerp boatmen believed that the name came from the Flemish word for 'boat' - 'schip'  -  which meant 'little boatman' or 'little captain'. 

Although folklore abounds, there is no proof that the boatmen created the breed or that they possessed the largest number of these dogs as they were widely distributed throught Belgian towns in the homes of middle class businessmen and tradesmen alike.  They preferred to think of the dog as a diminutive shepherd and that the name, 'schipperke', was derived from the corruption of the word 'scheper',  meaning 'little shepherd'.

Many facts support this theory as the characteristics of the Schipperke exactly resemble those of the native Belgian sheepdog, the Leuvenaar, which may now be extinct although it was still around at the turn of the 20th century accompanying messengers and wagoners between Lovain and Brussels.  The Leuvenaar is not to be confused with the modern day Belgian Shepherd although it helped in its creation. It looked the same as a Schipperke although it was medium sized, and possessed the same lively, active nature.

The Schipperke should not be considered as a Spitz breed unless all nordic and European shepherd types are considered in this group of dogs.  It is certainly not a German Wolfspitz such as the Keeshond or Pomeranian.

The Schipperke's colour is usually shown as black as this is the only colour allowed to be exhibited in it's country of origin, Belgium, and any country which adheres to the F.C.I. standard, as well as the U.S.A. and Canada.  Any whole colour is allowed in Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa however, it must always be noted that history refers to this breed as being small and black.

Painting by Francis Fairman - Three Schipperkes