The beginning of dog shows can be traced back to the early centuries of Schipperke history, which itself is said to have originated in the 14th century. This Belgian breed is thought to have been produced out of necessity rather than nature or novelty. French laws prohibiting the hoi polloi from having large dogs appears to have been the cornerstone for the breed. Only the aristocracy were allowed dogs over a certain size, and sheepdogs were (and are) big dogs. They also had skills required by farmers, herders, and craftsmen. The Schipperke was one of the breeds that emerged from the smaller regional sheepdogs.
In the late 17th century, guild craftsman held one of the world's first-ever dog shows. The express intent was to compare and compete Schipperkes among these early artisans, and it was held in Brussels at the Grand Palace in 1690. The show was a hit, and it helped popularize the breed. For nearly two centuries afterward, the renown of the Schipperkes was maintained. In 1840, the first European Dog Show was held in Brussels. Unlike the prior shows where just one breed was exhibited at a dog show, many breeds were invited and appeared in this one — but not any Schipperkes. Some decades later, in 1882, the breed was finally formally recognized by none other than the Royal Cynological Union St-Hubert.
A few years later, in 1888, the Belgian Schipperke Club was formed. Now known as the Royal Schipperkes Club Belgium, the founding members desired to maintain and protect the breed. It was at this time that there was also the campaign to clarify the dog's heritage. Until then, the dogs, while known to have come from sheepdogs, was often regarded as a Spitz-type breed. Endeavoring to undo the confusion regarding these proto-"Spits" dogs and similar-looking German Spitz Dogs, the name "Schipperkes" was formally adopted and Spits was eventually abandoned.