A Schipperke ( / ˈ s k ɪ p ər k iː / ; Dutch: [ˈsxɪpərkə] ) is a small Belgian breed of dog that originated in the early 16th century. There has been a long informal debate over whether this type of dog is a spitz or miniature sheepdog . In their home country of Belgium they are considered a small shepherd. The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.