Belgian Malinois – Everything You Need To Know

One of the four Belgian herding breeds, the Belgian Malinois (Mal for short) is a medium-to-large dog that forges an unbreakable bond with its human partner. This high-energy dog needs plenty of mental stimulation and strenuous exercise, but Mals are low-maintenance breeds. Revered for their intense work ethic and intelligence, the Belgian Malinois is a top preference for police and military units. Though more often seen on the job than at the park, Mal’s playful, gentle behavior and loyalty can make him an excellent family companion. 

Belgian Malinois are recommended only for people who have previously owned canines with dog training experience because of their high energy level and sensitivity. In addition, Mals are very intense breeds who like to be included in family activities. Therefore, they aren’t well suited for people who often travel or work long hours, leaving their dogs at home.

Belgian Malinois Overview

The Belgian Malinois is a well-proportioned, elegant, natural, medium-sized, square dog with an impression of elegant robustness. Their elegance and expression symbolize great character strength, making them a proud representative of the herding breeds. Mals are more suited for professional dog owners. They will need a parent who can handle them with discipline. Mals is an all-rounder combining endurance, agility, speed, and capability to perform various jobs. Early socialization and proper training from a very young age can aid them in warming up to other dogs and pets.

Belgian Malinois Pros and Cons

Highly intelligent and trainableHigh prey drive
Needs little more than basic groomingRequires lots of activity and mental stimulation
Excellent working dogProne to separation anxiety

Belgian Malinois Basic Information

  • Name: Belgian Malinois
  • Origin: Malines area of Belgium 
  • Group: Herding
  • Size: Medium to large
  • Height: 24-26 inches (male), 22-24 inches (female)
  • Weight: 60-80 pounds (male), 40-60 pounds (female)
  • Coat: Flat, straight, double coat, 
  • Color: Rich fawn and mahogany with black-tipped hairs
  • Energy: High
  • Activities: Walking, hiking, playing fetch, agility, companion dogs, guard dogs, conformation, obedience, herding.
  • Barking Level: Occasional
  • Shedding Level: Occasional
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Litter Size: 1-8 puppies
  • Other Names: Chien de Berger Belge, Mals
  • Life Span: 14 – 16 years

History of Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois was first bred around Maline’s city in northern Belgium. They are one of four nearly related Belgian herding breeds. In some countries, Mals are classified together with the Laekenois, Tervuren, and Belgian Shepherd as a single breed unitedly known as the Belgian Sheepdog. However, in America, these breeds have been registered separately since 1959. 

Malinois has been acknowledged as a peerless livestock herder in their native area. They were initially bred by dog people primarily concerned with producing canines of sterling working character and spurned fads and fancies of pet owners. This focus on performance made the Malinois the go-to dog for Belgian cattlemen and sheepherders.

In 1911, Belgian Malinois was first brought to America. They flourished there until World War II’s outbreak, which ended the importation of European breeding stock. They languished in the post-war years until the early 1960s when Mal’s admirers began replenishing its American population. They are still prized as herders of all stock kinds, but their versatility and high work drive have opened careers in many other fields and activities. Mals are highly sought after as police and military units. They have served with such a reputation that the Fayetteville memorial to military canines features a life-size bronze of a Belgian Malinois.

Belgian Malinois Highlights

  • Make sure you have the time to provide lots of exercises as they have a great deal of energy.
  • Malinois are brilliant, alert dogs with strong herding and guardian instincts.
  • Mals are people-oriented and want to be included in all family activities.
  • Mals shed heavily twice a year.
  • Mals are intense dogs who are sensitive and play-oriented. Hence, training should be fun, positive, and consistent.
  • Mals are not recommended for inexperienced dog owners because of their high energy and intelligence.

Belgian Malinois Personality

Belgian Malinois can seem terrifying and intimidating at first glance, but you will witness a trace of affection in their eyes. These large, muscular, high-energy breeds have a surprisingly delicate side with love and tolerance, making them ideal human companions. However, they are territorial, making them perfect guard dogs. Mals excels not only in herding but also in law enforcement and protection; tracking, agility, obedience, sledding, search and rescue; drug, bomb, and gas detection; and therapy assistance to ill, disabled, or older people. In addition, they are fearless defenders of their human families, though their prey drive makes them poor mates for cats or small dogs. 

Malinois are packed with solid muscles, yet their bodies have an elegant impression. They are always alert with perked-up ears, dark chocolate eyes, and bushy tails. Their thick, short coat comes in shades of fawn to mahogany, and it’s expected to see a black mask and ears. They are quick-witted, eager to please, and have the brains to understand their necessities. However, pet owners must be confident dealing with them as they are dominant. Early training is recommended to discourage chewing, house-soiling, and other bad habits.

Friendliness Overview

Affection levelHigh
Kid-friendlyMedium to high
Dog-friendlyLow to medium

Adaptability Overview

Good for apartment livingLow
Good for new ownersMedium
Sensitivity levelHigh
Tolerates being aloneMedium 
Cold toleranceMedium to high
Heat toleranceMedium to high

Belgian Malinois Physical Features

Head: The head is long and carried high without exaggeration, rectilinear, and well-chiseled. Their eyes are slightly almond-shaped, medium-sized, and radiate attentiveness and readiness for action. Males have small triangular eyes, black noses, medium-width skulls, flat foreheads, well-split mouths, and thin lips.

Neck: The neck is well-muscled, slightly elongated, widening towards the shoulders, without dewlap, and slightly arched, permitting the proud carriage of the head. 

Topline and Body: The topline consists of withers well pronounced in Malinois, bearing a taut back, and croup somewhat sloped. The body gives an impression of sturdiness and is well-proportioned but not massive. 

Tail: The tail is strong at the base, reaching the hock, and carried down at rest. A stumped or cropped tail is a disqualification.

Forequarters: The forequarters are athletic without extreme bulkiness. The shoulder blades are long and slanted, laid flat against the body. The legs are strong, straight, and well-padded, cat-like feet. 

Hindquarters: Powerful hindquarters without heaviness. The upper and lower thigh bones should parallel the shoulder blade and upper arm. Mals have well-muscled thighs, strong hocks, and short metatarsi. 

Coat: The coat should be short and straight, with a dense undercoat. 

Color: The perfect coat color is mahogany to fawn, with black tips on the hairs. The tail, underparts of the body, and breeches are lighter fawn. 

Gait: The movement is smooth, exhibiting a facility of movement rather than a hard-driving action. The Malinois single tracks at a fast gait, converging toward the center gravity line, while the topline remains parallel to the line of motion. 

Belgian Malinois Temperament

The Belgian Malinois is a brilliant, obedient dog with strong, protective, and territorial instincts. They instinctively display herding demeanor, such as chasing and circling, moving effortlessly for hours, and nipping at people’s heels. Well-socialized Mals are good with kids, primarily if they are raised with them early: but because of their herding roots, they may tend to herd them when playing. An adult Mals unfamiliar with kids may do best in a home with mature children to interact with them appropriately.

Malinois can be aggressive toward other canines and cats unless they are brought up with them from puppyhood. They are known for their excellent bite force. They are also not suited to apartment living or being left alone for extended periods. In addition, Belgian Malinois need extensive exercise and training, so they are not recommended for novice pet owners.

Belgian Malinois Training

Early socialization is essential for Belgian Malinois, but it’s even more critical considering their powerful body and strong-willed disposition. Despite their intelligence, Mals may tend to be stubborn during training. Hence they can be handled well only by an experienced dog owner. However, patience, positive reinforcement, constant training, and treats will help your dog learn things easily. The Malinois is an excellent service dog, search and rescue dog, and therapy dog and can excel at bomb detection. They also shine in tracking, sledding, obedience, and agility. Further, Belgian Malinois are great skydivers. They can also work with navy seals. Finally, they are excellent watchdogs and guard dogs. Here are some training exercises for your Malinois: 

Trainability Overview

Easy to trainHigh
Prey driveLow to medium
Mouthiness tendenciesMedium
Barking and Howling tendenciesLow 
Wanderlust tendenciesMedium 

Belgian Malinois Exercise Needs

Malinois are highly energetic dogs who need a secured high fence due to their exceptional hunting instincts. However, as they are athletic breeds, you can fulfill Mal’s exercise requirements with regular walks and activities such as playing fetch and frisbee. Also, they can be your jogging and hiking companions. In addition, they prefer cool climates but adapt well to warmer conditions. Excluding physical exercise, they also require mental activities, or they can become moody and aggressive. In addition, they bark to warn you if guests or intruders stop by your residence. 

An idle Malinois can end up exhibiting undesirable or harmful behavior. Therefore, engaging them physically and mentally is crucial to keep them happy. They would need a home with a large area and a strongly fenced yard to play. If you live in an apartment, take them outdoors to exert their energy. If possible, provide your Mals with some off-leash exercise in a fenced area, along with jogging or long walks. They need about 30 minutes of activity three or four times daily, and a leisurely walk won’t benefit them. 

Exercising Belgian Malinois is crucial mainly for three reasons:

  • To keep them mentally and physically stimulated.
  • To avoid any other destructive behavior.
  • To keep them away from obesity.

You can meet your Malinois’s daily exercise requirements by:

  • Teaching new tricks
  • Walking
  • Fetching
  • Chasing
  • Playing with puzzle toys
  • Frisbee
  • Herding trials
  • Flyball
  • Hiking

Exercise Needs Overview

Energy levelHigh
Exercise needsHigh

Belgian Malinois Grooming

Malinois are non-hypoallergenic, low-maintenance dogs with short and thick coats. Their grooming routine includes brushing their coats daily. In addition, trim their nails, brush their teeth twice or thrice weekly, clean their ears and eyes, and maintain dental hygiene in regular grooming. 

It is mandatory to wash your Mals every two months with a mild bath dog shampoo. This is because they are outdoorsy, and you can expect them to be dirty and muddy. Also, keep in mind that excessive bathing can eliminate the natural oils from the dog’s skin.  

Grooming Overview

Easy to groomHigh
Drooling tendenciesLow
Amount of sheddingLow to medium

Belgian Malinois Health

The Belgian Malinois is a healthy hound with few congenital problems. So, it is necessary to maintain good health care and routine vet check-ups.

Health Overview

General HealthMedium to high
Weight gain tendenciesMedium to high

Hip dysplasia: When a dog’s thigh bones fail to fit into the pelvic socket of the hip joint, it results in hip dysplasia, a genetic condition. 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy: A degenerative eye condition causing blindness from the failure of photoreceptors at the eye’s back. A very later stage is blindness. Puppies with this condition can survive for many years since they have the senses to compensate.

Elbow dysplasia: A disorder that occurs due to the elbow joint’s malalignment, resulting in chronic rubbing. This causes abnormal pressure at the joint, resulting in severe osteoarthritis. 

Cataracts: A disorder characterized by cloudy spots on the eyes that develop gradually. This condition doesn’t damage vision but causes vision loss in some cases. Typically, cataracts can be removed surgically.  

Pannus: A disorder in which the inflammatory cells penetrate the cornea and darken when exposed to ultraviolet rays, resulting in blindness.

Hemangiosarcoma: A hazardous form of cancer originating in the blood vessels and the spleen lining. It is commonly seen in middle-aged and elderly dogs.   

Anesthesia Sensitivity: All sighthounds are extra sensitive to anesthetics because of their low body fat. It would be best to watch for a vet who carefully administers the Malinois Protocol.   

Recommended Health Tests

  • Patella Evaluation
  • Hip Evaluation
  • Cardiac Exam
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Belgian Malinois Diet and Nutrition

Malinois are high-energy dogs that require 2 to 3 cups of high-quality dry food. Several commercial kibbles are protein riched, but consider supplementing them with high-quality lean meat and canned dog food. According to the vet’s recommendations, you can split their meal time into two or three. Each breed is distinctive, and the correct amount and quality of food depend on age, weight, activity level, health, and more. 

Belgian Malinois Living Condition

Malinois requires the following living requirements to lead a happy and healthy life:

  • A fenced yard and ample space to run around.
  • A routine exercise regime.
  • Mal exhibit chewing and digging characteristics. So, equip them with toys to keep them occupied.
  • If you live in an apartment, ensure you provide enough time for their physical and mental exertion.

Did You Know?

  • Belgian Malinois are highly desired as police dogs and are mainly prized by militaries for their brilliance and strength. In 2011 a Malinois named Cairo assisted a U.S. Navy SEAL team in killing Osama bin Laden. 
  • People unfamiliar with the Belgian Malinois often confuse them with the German Shepherds, but there are considerable differences in the body structure, coat colors, and disposition of the two breeds. Mals are medium-sized dogs with lighter bones and stand with their weight on their toes, while German Shepherds have a long, sloping back and carry their weight flatter on their feet.
  • The Belgian Malinois is one of the speediest breeds in the world: it has been clocked to run up to 30 mph.
  • Malinois performed critical jobs in World War I, such as pulling ambulance carts, carrying messages, and assisting the Red Cross.
  • Malinois like to have a job, but sometimes it’s challenging to channel their enthusiasm. Like Ryker, a trainee at the Double H Canine Training Academy. He hilariously bombed his service dog test and is still a good boy.

Adding a Belgian Malinois to Your Family

Things to remember before adding a Belgian Malinois to your family

Getting a Belgian Malinois puppy from a reliable and reputed breeder who can provide you with health certificates, vaccination, and gene testing would be best. A Belgian Malinois costs $1000 to $2500, not including miscellaneous expenses.

Belgian Malinois Rescue Groups

Belgian Malinois Club Recognition

Belgian Malinois Puppy
Find a Dog

Belgian Malinois Puppy
Find a Dog

Belgian Malinois Puppy
Adopt a Dog

Belgian Malinois Videos

Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois Images

Leave a Comment