The Colonial Schipperke Club



The Colonial Schipperke Club (CSC) is for anyone who wants to preserve, protect and promote the Schipperke breed. CSC was founded to improve the breed, demonstrated by show results in both conformation and performance events such as agility, obedience, rally and freestyle dance. The membership also includes people who have no particular interest in the competitive side of the dog fancy, preferring instead, the sociability of a group with a common interest in a remarkable breed of dogs. Many in the club actively support Schipperke rescue services. The club was formed in 1969, and majority of members live in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware, and Washington, D.C.


Club Activities

Each year the club hosts two Specialty shows and two SchipNics (picnics for Schipperkes and their humans). You do not have to be a member to attend our activities, although new members are always welcome. Photo at right is from the June 2019 SchipNic in Arlington. Contact the CSC Secretary for more information about membership. Our quarterly Schip Scoop e-newsletter (available to non-members for an annual $15 subscription fee) recognizes member achievements in competition within the areas of conformation and performance events, as well as other articles related to Schipperkes. Contact the CSC Secretary for more information about subscriptions. 

Please see the Calendar page for a list of specific activities, dates and locations. 


Board & Officers

  • President: Cathy Thistle 
  • Vice President: Carie Wohl 
  • Recording Secretary: Karen Martino
  • Corresponding Secretary: Stephanie Woodrow 
  • Treasurer: Carol L. Burnett 
  • Board Members: Joani DeHaven, April de Bremond,  Wanda Singhass, and Joanna Ortiz  

Club History


Getting Started

The Colonial Schipperke Club was formed in the Washington, D.C. area in 1969, when a group of nine Schipperke fanciers met and established the club to serve the interests of the breed on the eastern seaboard. Because the original members included individuals from New Jersey to North Carolina, the "Colonial" name seemed fitting. However, the “Colonial” name was initially rejected by the American Kennel Club (AKC) because AKC officials wanted to reserve the name “Colonial” for clubs in the Massachusetts area. Our club’s founders persisted and eventually the AKC relented.  



The Colonial Schipperke Club has long been active in Schipperke rescue. The club’s record in this lifesaving enterprise is exemplary. From 1992-2010, the club placed more than 200 Schips in new homes. In 2010, club members decided to discontinue direct rescue services, and instead support the non-profit group Schipperke Rescue Net (SRN), partly because donations to SRN are tax-deductible.     


National Involvement

The Colonial Schipperke Club is one of 10 regional Schipperke clubs associated with the Schipperke Club of America. 

CSC is the third oldest of the 10 clubs, and is one of only two regional clubs to have hosted five National Specialty shows: in Reston, VA, 1981; Gaithersburg, MD, 1985; Carlisle, PA, 1998; Frederick, MD, 2007 and Lancaster, PA, 2012.  

Founders - Don Nielsen


Nine Schipperke fanciers got together for dinner on Dec. 20, 1969, and decided to form a Schipperke club. Present at the first meeting were Ben and Carolyn Bemis, Rachel Benton, Nancy Updike, Betty Lafferty, Don and Vera McKeldin, and Don and Mary Nielsen. Don Nielsen, the last of the original founders and the heart behind the club, died on Jan. 17, 2020 at age 88.

Don Nielsen's Midwatch Schipperkes won more than 80 championship titles. During his 50 years of breeding Schipperkes, he bred 82 litters that produced 251 puppies.   

In the mid-1970s, Don retired as a captain after 30 years in the U.S. Navy. He served during the Korean and Viet Nam wars and worked in Naval Intelligence for two decades. He has been to 84 countries, and for a time, he served as chief of the top-secret Task Force 157, which was declassified in the 1990s. 

Don and Mary got their first dog, Bubbles, in the 1950s. She was cream colored but an unknown breed at the time. She accompanied Don and Mary to Paris, where Don, who speaks fluent French, was assigned to the U.S. Embassy as the Naval attaché to France. “Bubbles was a hit every place we went,” said Don. “I think sometimes we were invited to events just because we’d bring Bubbles.”    

In the early 1960s, when Bubbles was ailing, Don answered a newspaper ad for a collie, but the breeder only had Schipperkes available by the time he arrived. They brought home Topsy (and Bubbles lived for three more years). Topsy produced his first litter in 1967, and Don and Mary started showing in the late 1960s. Their daughter, Mary Beth, joined them as she grew up. It was later, when he got his first glimpse of a cream-colored Schipperke, that Don realized Bubbles had been one all along!     

Don became a champion for cream Schips by accident when, in 2002, two black Schips produced two puppies -- one cream and one black. He worked with scientists at VetGen, a veterinary genetics service, to identify the DNA strand that leads to color in Schips. He repeated the breeding and got the same results. Already partnered with several British breeders, he began cultivating his Midwatch Schipperke line to produce beautiful Schips, both black and cream.     

Because the Schipperke Club of America (SCA) still only recognizes black Schips in the standard, Don helped form the United States Schipperke Club in 2006, which allows both tailed Schipperkes and the various colors to be shown.     

Don has built a foundation of colored Schipperkes with several U.S. breeders and started a "semen bank" with a Virginia vet to help with future breeding efforts. He has retired from breeding himself now, but he shares his considerable knowledge with his club and fellow breeders.     

Don was a longtime member of the SCA, and served as its president for four years, 1988-1992. In 2016, the Colonial Schipperke Club awarded Don an honorary lifetime membership. 

Don's wife, Mary, died in 2010, and he leaves a daughter, Mary Beth, of Northern Virginia. He will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.