About the Belgian Malinois Dog Breed

Is the Belgian Malinois the Right Dog for You?

Belgian shepherd, keeping his leash at harvested field.
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The Belgian Malinois (pronounced MAL-in-wah) is a diligent, loyal and highly intelligent dog breed. Large in size with a very streamlined, athletic build, this breed is both strong and agile. The intense and hard-working Belgian Malinois is extremely well-suited to become a working dog, especially in police and military operations. This breed can also make an excellent companion for the right person.

Though sometimes mistaken for the German Shepherd Dog, the Belgian Malinois is a distinct breed. Although the two have several similarities, the breeds are not directly related.

Belgian Malinois Details

Group: Herding

Size: Weight: 50-80 pounds; Height: 22 to 26 inches at the shoulder

Color: Rich fawn to mahogany; mask and ears are black

History of the Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois is a native of Belgium and one of the four varieties of Belgian Shepherd Dogs. The other three varieties are the Tervuren, the Groenendael and the Laekenois. These Belgian Shepherd Dogs were developed in Belgium in the late 1800s and are registered in Belgium and France as the Chien de Berger Beige. The Malinois was named after the city of Malines, where it was developed by trainers and working competitors.

The Belgian Malinois first arrived in the US around 1911 and gained popularity. Some were used as military working dogs during World War I.

The breed became less prevalent during the Great Depression, but enthusiasm for the breed picked back up in the late 1950s and early 1960s, becoming AKC recognized in 1959. By the turn of the 21st century, Belgian Malinois were commonly seen working as police dogs, military working dogs, drug detection dogs, and search and rescue dogs.

Caring for a Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois has a short, straight, weather-resistant hair coat with a dense undercoat. In general, little more than basic grooming is necessary. However, the Malinois is known to have a relatively high shedding rate (especially seasonally) and can benefit from regular brushing. This beed often wears down its nails though activity (walking on pavement), but be sure to check the nails regularly to make sure they don't need trimming.

The Belgian Malinois is a highly energetic dog that may become restless or anxious if not properly trained and handled. It is absolutely essential for all Malinois to be properly trained. These dogs will ideally be trained to perform a duty, and will take pride in such. In addition, plenty of vigorous exercise is a necessity for this breed. The Malinois tends to need a great deal more exercise than the average dog. This breed is an excellent candidate for involvement in dog sports or any activity that involves focus and endurance. Be aware that the Malinois may become stressed, anxious, or develop behavior problems if proper training and exercise are not provided.

Belgian Malinois Health Problems

Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the AKC.

Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions. However, some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed. The following are some conditions to be aware of:

Is the Belgian Malinois Right for You?

The Belgian Malinois is most certainly not the right breed for everyone. If you have a very active lifestyle, plenty of time to spend with your dog, and desire an active dog with an intense personality, then this might be the dog for you. In the right home, and with proper training and socialization, the Belgian Malinois can become a pleasant companion and family protector. The Malinois may or may not be appropriate for families with children. Use caution, as this breed can be intese and even hyperactive. Be sure to train your dog to tolerate kids.

It's also very important to teach your kids to behave properly around dogs. No matter the breed, never leave a dog alone with small children.

As with any breed, if you think the Belgian Malinois is right for you, be sure to do your research before you get one. Talk to your veterinarian, other Belgian Malinois owners, reputable breeders, dog trainers, and Malinois rescue groups to learn more.