Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
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A black-furred, Belgian breed, the Schipperke has joined forces with the white and fluffy Maltese to produce the confident and cheeky Schipese. While the Schipperke is a hard-working and driven utility dog, the Maltese has mainly been kept as a companion dog throughout the years so it wouldn’t be wrong to say that this pair is a bit of a mismatch. Despite this, their progeny make delightfully energetic companions who form strong bonds with their family units.

The Schipese is a small breed with a rather long coat that can either be black, white or a combination of the two. Their muzzle is not quite as long as that of the Schipperke but tends to be much more prominent than that of the Maltese, giving them a foxy appearance. While many have the erect, triangular ears of the Schipperke, some will inherit the Maltese’s smaller, pendulous ears.

About & History

The Schipese is an uncommon designer dog that is not well recognised around the world, largely owing to the scarcity of the Schipperke. They have not been around for a long time and are not thought to exist in large numbers anywhere in the world.

The Schipperke

Originating from the now extinct Leauvenaar, the Schipperke is a Belgian breed that is closely related to the Belgian Shepherd. Their name translates as little skipper and these dogs were once kept on boats where they would happily keep the levels of vermin low, protecting the sailors, as well as their food stores.

They do resemble Spitz dogs but are not actually a Spitz type breed. They were well known in Belgian during the 17th century for making appearances in the local dog shows where they would parade in ornate collars, so, in spite of their working background, they have always taken pride in their presentation.

The Maltese

Maltese dogs are perhaps best known for their snow-white coat and their cheery disposition. They are one of the most ancient breeds and they were likely kept as pets by both the ancient Egyptians and the ancient Greeks.

Throughout the ages, they have been bred with a number of other dogs, including the Poodle, in order to prevent their extinction at times when breed numbers were low. They are a Toy breed that are favoured by those who live in small apartments as they don’t require an abundance of space or exercise.


Schipese dogs are somewhat variable in their appearance as while both parent breeds are small, that is where the similarities end. They have domed skulls and alert, dark brown eyes. Their body is longer than it is tall and they are compact with good muscling. Their limbs are straight and athletic, while their tail is Spitz like, curling elegantly over their back.

A small breed, the Schipese grows from 23cm to 31cm and weighs in at between 3.5kg and 5.5kg. They are not a delicate breed, despite their diminutive size. The coat of the Schipese is long and straight, with a moderate density. Not all will have the double coat of the Schipperke but those that do will shed more and will have additional grooming requirements.

Character & Temperament

A happy-go-lucky dog who is alert and watchful, the Schipese enjoys spending time with its family but is not always a big fan of other people. Owners should focus efforts on socialising them thoroughly when young to prevent wariness of ‘strangers’, such as the groomer or vet. For some, their natural suspicion will be an advantage as they make excellent watch dogs and will always ‘sound the alarm’ when an unexpected visitor arrives.

A number of Schipese dogs will be snappy so caution is strongly advised when around young children, even those of their own family. They do not have a high tolerance for being ‘played’ with but will happily participate in canine games, such as Frisbee or fetch, and will play with their own toys.

Some will have the honed prey drive of the Schipperke, while others will simply ignore smaller animals and their scent when outdoors. On the whole, they get on well with other dogs and cats.


Training the Schipese is far from a chore as they are a clever breed who enjoy taking part in obedience sessions and learning new things in a structured manner. While not as biddable as some other breeds and stubborn in some ways, when owners work with them and offer tasty rewards, they can do very well indeed.


The health of the Schipese will depend not only on their genetics but also on their environment. A number of conditions are more likely to be seen in this hybrid than others, including:


Epilepsy causes seizures, which are also known as fits. Their severity, frequency and duration will vary from patient to patient. The vast majority are managed well on medication, though the medicine can cause side effects, including lethargy and weight gain.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetic dogs will lose weight, develop an insatiable appetite and suddenly become very thirsty. Bloods tests will reveal abnormally high blood sugar levels, while urine tests will detect glucose, which should not be present. Thankfully, diabetes can be treated, although it is not something that is typically cured. For most, they will receive insulin injections with their meals.

Cardiac Diseases: Patent Ductus Arteriosus & Mitral Valve Disease

Schipese dogs are prone to a number of heart diseases. Initially, a heart condition may be detected when the vet hears a murmur during a routine exam or when dogs develop symptoms, such as a cough or a disinterest in exercise.

Tests, such as X-rays, heart scans and ECGs, will then be run to determine what exactly is going on. Heart medications have come a long way in recent times and can prolong a dog’s life for many years.

Patellar Luxation

A kneecap that slips in and out of place will interfere with normal movement and will eventually lead to joint degeneration and local arthritis. An x-ray can show up this orthopaedic disorder and a vet will be able to feel the irregularity when examining the knee.

Porto-Systemic Shunts

Irregular blood vessels that bypass the liver, shunts result in a myriad of symptoms including a failure to thrive, nausea and even seizures. While larger shunts may be detected on a standard ultrasound, some will require more advanced testing to diagnose.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Schipese will require more exercise than the Maltese but not a vast amount. Typically, 30 to 60 minutes of outdoor activity will be sufficient. It is reasonable to keep these dogs inside an apartment or small home, as long as these exercise needs are met.

An intelligent dog like the Schipese relishes the opportunity to use its brain so owners should also provide some form of mental stimulation alongside their walks. This may mean an activity, such as agility or obedience, or perhaps the use of interactive toys.


The parent breeds of the Schipese have quite different coats so there is a good deal of variation when it comes to their fur type. Generally, they will need daily grooming to reduce shedding and to keep their coat in good nick. Those dogs who have ears that flop down will need them to be dried well after every bath or swim and may need to have the wax cleaned out every few weeks.

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