Belgian Malinois dog breed characteristics and facts

Belgian Malinois dog breed characteristics and facts


Herding Dogs


22 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder


40 to 80 pounds


12 to 14 years

The Belgian Malinois is a Belgian breed of dog known for its popularity, high workability, and herding capacity. This breed is one of the four Belgian Shepherd dogs, and can be mistakenly captured by the pseudonym of the German Shepherd dog. However, this is a misinterpretation – Malinois is basically a different breed. These dogs are smaller and lighter than German Shepherds and are characterized by a shorter coat. Like other Belgian Shepherds, the Belgian Malinous is a very active dog that needs physical activity. They have an incredible amount of stamina and need regular exercise to keep them busy. Whether taking long walks, engaging in active play, or engaging in dog sports, a job Malinois will be one active dog enthusiast. The Belgian Malinois is a attributed Belgian breed of dog that is intelligent, versatile, and has high capacity.

If you appreciate giving them space to roam, they could also adapt to an apartment. Naturally, they need to be exercised and keep their brain occupied. But, it is essential to know Belgian Shepherds do very well when given purpose. Keeping one in a sedentary existence is not for them. If you are genuinely considering adopting one of these exceptional dogs, look into the Belgian Malinois pros and cons.

Belgian Malinois Facts

  • Origin: Belgium
  • Size: 24-26 inches tall, females 22-24 inches tall
  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Coat: Short, double coat that is weather-resistant
  • Temperament: Intelligent, energetic, loyal, protective, trainable
  • Health: Generally healthy, might have health conditions, such as elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia and allergies

Belgian Malinois Overview

The Malinois is a medium-sized dog similar in appearance to a German Shepherd at first sight. Malinois are short-haired fawn dogs with black masks. Malinois, one of four types of Belgian herding dogs, have been shown in the U.S. as a separate breed since 1959. Malinois, originally from Malines, Belgium, have a lot of stamina and really love working. Full of intelligence and life, they do well in many areas. They are a good police service, search and performance work, including agility, in addition to herding dogs.

This breed is often not yet well known, and people typically confuse a Malinois with a German Shepherd. However, the main differences are in the body structure and the dogs’ temper. The fact is that Malinois are a more compact dog with lighter bones, and they stand with their weight well over their feet. This gives the dog a square body profile. The German Shepherds nowadays have an extremely long sloping back and carries more weight over their feet.

Belgian Malinois are red, brown, fawn-colored and the tips of hair are black color, whereas the German Shepherd is generally tan with a black saddle. Additionally, the Malinois has a much more refined, chiseled head and smaller, more triangular ears. A lot of people feel the Malinois are more cautious and quick to act than the German Shepherd. Belgian Malinois are sensitive dogs, they don’t respond well to difficult training methods. Some are outgoing and self-assured, while others are trending and disinterested. However, they should never be apprehensive or threatening.

Due to Belgian Malinois energy and sensitivity, they should only be placed with those who already have experience in dog training. Malinois is a very intense dog who desires to be involved in all facets of family life. They are unsuitable for a person who must be away from home for long periods or frequently. If you’ve determined that the Malinois is the breed for you, acquire a puppy and expose him to as many different people, other dogs, other animals, and situations as soon as feasible. Puppy kindergarten for your Malinois puppy from then on.

The Malinois parent should bear in mind that this is a breed that was developed for protection and herding. Fearful or shy canines reason, regardless of socialization. Even as adequately socialized Malinois does well with kids, particularly when they were raised with them, they might attempt to nip at the heels and herd them while playing.

Belgian Malinois Highlights

Appearance: Belgian Malinois dogs are medium to large in size with a well-muscled and athletic body. They are proud in their movements, alert in their appearance. The coat of the Malinois is short and straight, with a dense undercoat. It is typically fawn to mahogany with black markings including a black face mask with black ears.

Temperament: Malinois is well-known for their intelligence, alertness, and stamina. They are extremely trainable and perform readily in obedience, agility, tracking and other canine sports. They are also extremely loyal to their immediate family and may be territorial, making them excellent guard dogs. When obtained as a puppy, socialization is vital to get a well-adjusted adult dog.

Activity Levels: Belgian Malinois have high levels of activity and need to be exercised and stimulated mentally. They require work and are excellent candidates for police work, search and rescue missions, and service dogs. When deprived of the above, they will become bored and might for example, cause havoc in the house or yard.

Health: In general, the Belgian Malinois is considered a healthy breed, but the breed is susceptible to several health conditions. Some Belgian Malinois health problems include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy , and a few skin issues. Through responsible breeding and regular veterinarian visits, one can prevent these threats.

Lifespan: With regard to their health status and proper feeding, the average Belgian Malinois lifespan is about 12 to 14 years.

Suitability: It is optimal for people with prior dog-related expertise to own a Belgian Malinois. This breed will thrive in active homes with countless opportunities to engage with their owners and receive adequate mental stimulation. A first-time dog owner, on the other side, is unlikely to manage this many at once.

Popularity: So-called ‘Mals’ have gained popularity during the past 40 years. People tend to know the breed work such as police, military, search and rescue, and an excellent family companion. This increase in popularity, in turn, enhances the risk of irresponsible breeding and the breed being used and in circulation to the wrong people. Future potential owners should make sure to carefully select a breeder and verify that the breeder will give the Malinois sufficient care and nurture its unique intelligence.

Belgian Malinois History

One of four varieties of Belgian Sheepdogs , the Belgian Malinois was developed in Belgium in the late 1800s. The four different varieties include the Malinois fawn-mahogany and black mask, the Tervuren fawn-mahogany and black mask and the Laekenois fawn and rough coat , and the Groenendael black and long coat.

Laekenois has not yet been recognized as a separate breed in the U.S. by the American Kennel Club. To the United Kennel Club , all four types are still considered one breed. Club du Chien de Berger Belge was created in September 1891 in the hope of finding which of the great variety of dogs then being shown all over Belgium were which judged solely by the shepherd dogs which had been developed in that enlightened small country. Breeders and owners of the dogs then met at an informal show on the outskirts of Brussels in November of that year and examined the dogs which happened to be shepherd dogs native to that province. Following the exchange of views and opinions on the selected shepherd dogs from the Brussels region, veterinary professor Adolphe Reul and a panel of judges spent several days critically examining the shepherd dogs displayed. Finally, they reached the unanimous conclusion that the native shepherd dog of that province was a square made medium-sized dog with well-set triangular ears and dark mahogany brown eyes, differing from the others shown only in the texture, length, and color of hair that covered them. Other provinces were examined with similar findings.

In 1892, the first standard was written by Professor Reul. Three groups were recognized: the first included long-haired dogs, the second had short hair, and the third had rough hair. The Club du Chien de Berger Belge addressed the case to the Societe Royale Saint-Hubert, the Belgian analogue of the American Kennel Club for breed registration, but the application was rejected. In 1901, this breed was finally recognized.

The Roots of Today’s Malinois can be traced to a breeding pair owned by a shepherd from Laeken named Adrien Janssens. He acquired Vos I, or Vos de Laeken , a pale, fawn rough-haired dog in 1885, from a cattle dealer in northern Belgium. Janssens used Vos I, Flemish for “fox,” to herd his flock and also crossed him to a short-haired, brindle-brown dog named Lise that he also referred to as Lise de Laeken or Liske de Laeken. Vos I was later mated to daughters of the first generation, and a line of very fanonously grey rough and short hairs and fawn rough and short hairs was established.

A club for the promotion of fawn short-haired Belgian Shepherd dog, however, had been formed in 1898 in the city of Malines. An early breeder under the name “ter Heide”, as well as a judge, author, and the “godfather of the Malinois” (and the Bouvier), Louis Huyghebaert, along with the Malines club, had done much to help popularize these short-hairs, so they became associated with “Malinois.” However, in 1897, a year before the club had been formed, Huyghebaert, who suggested that since there weren’t much sheep left in Belgium, the shepherd dogs should have field trials that would demonstrate intelligence, obedience, and loyalty.

Based on this recommendation, dressage trials were subsequently developed for shepherd dogs to jump and do other exercises. The first dressage trial was held in Malines on July 12, 1903. It was attended by M. van Opdebeek. Belgian Shepherds also used to serve as guard dogs and draught dogs. They were the first dogs to work for the Belgian police. Before World War II, international police dog trials were very popular in Europe, and Belgian dogs won many prizes at the trial. When the First World War broke out, a lot of large Belgian Shepherd Dogs were probably used in the military. They served as messenger dogs, Red Cross dogs, ambulance cart dogs, and some even claim that they were light machine-gun cart dogs.

In the 1920s and 1930s in Belgium, several outstanding kennels of the Malinois were started. Until the mid-20th century, Malinois and Groenendael were the most popular types of dogs from Belgian Shepherd exported to other countries. At the time, Belgian Malinois were exported to the France, Netherlands, Canada, Switzerland, the United States, Brazil and Argentina.

In 1911, the AKC registered two Groenendaels and two Malinois as “German Sheepdogs.” The AKC changed the name to “Belgian Sheepdogs” in 1913. Josse Hanssens of Norwalk, Connecticut, was the first to import the dogs; he sold the two Malinois to L.I. De Winter of Guttenberg, New Jersey. De Winter produced several litters from his Winterview kennel.

Many American servicemen took Malinois and other Belgian Shepherd Dogs from Europe after World War I, and AKC registrations reported strong growth. The first Belgian Sheepdog Club of America was started in 1924 and soon after became just a few member clubs of the AKC. A lawyer, Walter Mucklow, from Jacksonville, Florida, promoted the Malinois in 1924 and 1925 through articles in the AKC Gazette that he produced. Mucklow bred Malinois for a short time under the Castlehead Kennel denomination. By the end of the 1920s, the Groenendael and Malinois Belgian Sheepdogs were in the top five of most familiar breeds.

Dog breeding was a luxury during the Great Depression, and the first Belgian Sheepdog Club of America fell apart as those involved struggled to support themselves. A few Malinois were recorded with the AKC during the 1930s when numerous imports were registered. Following the Great Depression there were few Malinois. AKC shows in the 30s and ’40s stuck them in the Miscellaneous Class because there was little to no interest in the breed. In 1949, aBelgian Sheepdog Club of America was founded in Indiana. The same year John Cowley imported two Malinois and established his Netherlair kennel. He showed several of his dogs, and numerous people displayed curiosity in them.

By the 1960s, A lot people were breeding and showing Belgian Malinois. American Belgian Malinois Club received AKC parent club status in March 1992, the . For the last decade, Belgian Malinois dogs have been high in-appreciation for their activity in the military, drug detection agencies, search and rescue efforts, and police forces all over the country. Consequently, many Malinois have been imported to the U.S over the last several years. In 2019, a Belgian Malinois dog, Conan, was hurt in a military raid that was aimed at the leader of the Islamic State. Although the operation was successful, Conan was honored a hero at The White House since he recovered fully.

Belgian Malinois Size

Males are 24 to 26 inches tall. Females are 22 to 24 inches tall.

Belgian Malinois Personality

Belgian Malinois puppies may appear inquisitive, adoring, and approach people or try to be held by them. Malinois are affectionate with their families but cautious with strangers before they decide on them. In any scenario, it is a superb work dog who is confident and defensive. This breed’s guard dog abilities are well-known. Malinois only uses enough force to keep their owners and belongings safe. Timidity or aggression is unforeseen.

That being said, while that temperament occurs naturally, it is also influenced by many facets, including heredity, training, and socialization. Every dog, including a Mal, requires early exposure while still young. This refers to being presented to a lot of various individuals, sceneries, sounds, and experiences. Your Malinois pet will grow well-rounded using socialization. It is a fantastic idea to enrol in a puppy kindergarten class. Calling visitors over on a regular basis and going to busy parks, dog-friendly shops, and gentle walks to acquaint the dog with new faces; glosses the pup’s social skills.

Belgian Malinois Health

Belgian Malinois are generally healthy, but like other breeds, they might have some health conditions. Not all Belgian Malinois will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s essential to be aware of them if you’re considering Belgian Malinois dog breed.

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Anesthesia Sensitivity

Belgian Malinois Grooming And Coat Color

Short, straight hair that feels stiff to the touch. The hard topcoat and the fluffy undercoat form a protective external layer for a dog that was bred to work outside in all weather conditions. It’s somewhat longer around the neck, which forms a sort of mini-mane. The color of the coat is usually fawn to mahogany, with a black mask on the face, black ears, and black tips. Sometimes fawn-colored Malinois have a tiny bit of white on the tips of the toes or a small white spot on the chest.

Malinois has a short and smooth coat that is simple to groom. Brush it weekly with a firm bristle brush and bathe it only when necessary. Malinois sheds year-round, but it sheds the heaviest during the spring and fall. To remove tartar buildup and bacteria, brush your Malinois’ teeth at least two or three times a week. If you brush them daily, your dog’s teeth and gums will always be in good working order and their breath will be just as wonderful. Trim your nails regularly if your pet’s paws do not wear down from physical activity. Short, well-trimmed nails keep your legs free of pain when a Malinois jumps up to greet you. Check them and if you can hear them on the ground, they’re getting long.

Get your Malinois acclimated to being brushed and examined when he’s a puppy. Handle his paws frequently – dogs are sensitive about their feet – and look inside his mouth and ears. You can Make your pet grooming a positive experience by offering rewards and treats. Eyes need to be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your weekly inspection will help you identify potential health issues early.

Belgian Malinois Children And Other Pets

Well-socialized Malinois are generally excellent with children, particularly if they have been raised with them, but the herding gene remains strong, and they may have a predisposition to nip heels and understanding little ones. Showing your Malinois that this conduct is unacceptable is a necessity. An adult Malinois who has not been exposed to people may fare well in a home with people mature enough to handle them correctly.

Always make your children understand how to communicate to dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to avoid biting or ear or tail pulling.

Unless raised with them from puppyhood, Malinois may be hostile toward other dogs and cats. You must act quickly and appropriately to reward your Malinois when socializing with other animals. You, however, must be careful around other animals by exposing them to your Malinois, a dog that has not been trained to socialize with other animals.