Belgian Malinois The Complete Guide

If you have been looking for a dog that is sturdy and elegant in nature, your choice for the day would most definitely be the Belgian Malinois. This square-proportioned and moderately heavy dog has an oval-shaped bone. Overall, the Malinois represents power without the bulkiness.

Packed with a smooth gait and seemingly effortless personality, this dog breed is surely among the popular ones for breeders and pet lovers equally. Plus, the Malinois possess a tendency to swiftly run in wide circles as opposed to straight lines.


Belgian Malinois:

The breed is super friendly, intelligent, as well as loves being rewarded for its efforts. So, let us check out how amazing this breed is!

Quick Breed Summary of Belgian Malinois

Height 22-24 Inches (Female), 24-26 Inches (Male)
Weight 40-60 Pounds (Female), 60-80 Pounds (Male)
Lifespan 14 to 16 Years
Colors Mahogany, Fawn, Black
Intelligence Highly Intelligent
Breed Type Herding
AKC Breed Popularity 43
Temperament High-Energy, Smart, Alert, Serious
Daily Food Consumption 2-3 Times Dry Dog Food Depending on Activities
Common Health Issues CHD, Elbow Dysplasia, Pannus, Cataract

Facts About Belgian Malinois:

Here are some quick facts about the Belgian Malinois breed. Let us check them out:

  • The Malinois breed packs in a great amount of energy and require ample exercise. So, keep in mind that you should have a fitting room at your home and provide enough time for them.
  • The breed is also alert and intelligent. Plus, Belgian Malinois flaunt a strong protection and herding instinct. That is why early and consistent training comes in handy.
  • Although the dog is good in height, they can be particularly people-oriented and need to be a part of the family activities.
  • Malinois’s shed regularly. However, heavy shedding occurs twice per year.


About the Belgian Malinois:

If you ever get a chance to see the Malinois breed perform a well-trained task or any obedience routine, the sight would be one to behold. The breed is smart and eager, representing the best of what the animal kind is in the sense of best use of the brain. However, the breed might be a bit problematic if they are underemployed or neglected. Plenty of exercises, along with lots of love from the owner, adds up to a happy dog.

The Malinois was bred originally to serve as a herding dog. Today, the military and police make use of this breed in search-rescue operations. Plus, they can also be used as protection dogs that can be a loving member of the family. When trained by people that are highly experienced, this dog will showcase intelligence, athleticism, as well as intense behavior. However, given the high energy and exercise needs, this breed might not fare well with zero exercise or daily activities.

Not just that, if you have never owned a dog before, it is better that you try to get your hands on any other breed as the Malinois isn’t suitable for first-time owners. Now, you know the basics of the breed, let us take a look at its rich history.


Appearance of Belgian Malinois:

When talking about the appearance of this beautiful breed, it is pertinent to understand that they range from medium-to-large in size. Apart from this, the Belgian Malinois is actually a square-proportioned pooch that is a part of the sheepdog breed. The Malinois family also comes with a short coat of mahogany color with beautiful black markings.

The dog also flaunts black colored erect ears along with a dark black muzzle. When compared to the relatively similar German Shepherd, this dog breed is square in build. Given its history as a working dog, the Belgian Malinois tends to vary a lot in terms of appearance. The common acceptable colors for a pure-bred Belgian Malinois are the base fawn color ranging to mahogany and tan along with the black mask and ears. There could be a hint of black coloring in the hairs that gives an overlay to the appearance of the dog.

The color goes light with minimal black layering when you take a look at the underside of the dog along with the inner legs. Apart from this, white markings on the coat are also considered acceptable and allowed on the toe tips as well as the chest. The Belgian Malinois might also have a darker and longer hair coat as compared to the generic malinois family.

During the initial breeding phases, the Malinois was bred with four different crosses that include the breed Tervuren, Belgian Shepherd, Laekenois, as well as Groenendael. It usually resulted in the Belgian Malinois to be the one with long hairs as well as a coat that is way darker than what we see today.

In terms of size, as it is with any breed, the male tends to be larger than the female,along with a heavier built that ranges anywhere between 60 to 80 pounds as compared to the female’s 40 to 60pounds range.


History and Origin of Belgian Malinois:

The Malinois is considered one among the 4-varieties that are listed under the Belgian Sheepdogs breed. These breeds came into being in the country of Belgium during the latter half of the 1800s. These four varieties include:

  • The Malinois (short coat, fawn-mahogany color, and a black mask)
  • The Laekenois (rough coat, fawn)
  • The Tervuren (long coat, fawn-mahogany, and a black mask)
  • The Groenendael (Long coat, black color)

As per the AKC or the American Kennel Club, all these strains except the Laekenois are considered as different breeds for the United States region. However, the UKC or the United Kennel Club recognized all 4 of these as one type.

The Belgian Shepherd Dog Club or the Club du Chien de Berger Belge was created in the year 1891 in September. This club was formed to understand which of these different dog types were representative of the original shepherd dogs that were developed in the Belgium country.

In November, in the very same year, fanciers and breeders met at the Brussels outskirts to examine the Shepherd Dogs living in the area. After a good consideration, a veterinary professor named Adolphe Reul, along with a panel comprised of judges, concluded that the natives of this province had square built with medium-sized make. Apart from this, the dog was determined to have triangular ears as well as dark-colored brown eyes. The only difference was in color, texture, as well as hair length. Subsequent dogs being examined in this study of the Belgian provinces noted similar findings.

In the year 1892, Reul also wrote about the initial standards of the Belgian Shepherd and recognized 3 of its varieties which include:

  • Long Coat Dogs
  • Short Coat Dogs
  • Rough Coat Dogs

The Belgian Shepherd Dog Club asked Belgium-based Societe Royale Saint-Hubert to provide the breed status to this dog. However, the request was denied. By the year 1901, the breed, Belgian Shepherd, was recognized under a separate breed.

Today, the Malinois breed is traced back to the breeding pair that was once owned by Adrien Janssens, a Shepherd living in Laeken. In the year 1885, the shepherd purchased a fawn-colored, pale, and rough-haired pooch called Vos de Laeken or the Vos I. This breed was purchased from a dealer that expertise in cattle in the Northern sector of Belgium.

Janssens used this breed to herd the flocks owned by him. Plus, he also bred the dog with a brindle-brown, short-haired dog named Liske de Laeken. With a series of mating, a series of homogeneous pooches with short, rough hair with a grey color look was developed. Both Liske de Laeken and Vos I are noted to be the ancestors of the modern-day Belgian Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds, as well as the Bouvier des Flandres.

In the past few years, the Belgian Malinois have attained ample recognition given their contribution to the military, search-rescue operation, drug detection, as well as police force work. That is why several Malinois dogs are being imported now to the United Statesregularly.


Is Belgian Malinois Dog Good with Children?

Well-socialized Belgian Malinois tends to be perfectly in sync with the children. It is especially true if they grow up together. However, given their heritage for herding, they might nip at the heeds while trying to herd the kids as they play.

In this case, you need to train your dog that this particular behavior on their part is unacceptable.


Care of Belgian Malinois:

Food and Nutrition Requirements:

The food and nutrition requirements for your Belgian Malinois are about 2-3 cups high-quality dog food per day divided equally into 2-meals. However, one thing to be noted here is the amount of food required by your adult dog depends on the age, size, metabolism, build, as well as activity level.

Just like humans, dogs aren’t all the same, even if they come from the same breed. They need a different amount of food. It goes without a doubt that highly active dogs require more food and nutrition as compared to any couch potato.

If you aren’t sure whether the dog is overweight, you can try out the easy to perform an eye test or the hand test. To do this, take a look at the dog’s waist. Now, place your hand towards the backside of the dog’s body. Take the thumb down on the spine. You can feel the ribs. However, make sure you shouldn’t see them. Make sure the rib is felt properly without the need to press too hard. In case you can’t feel the rib, your dog requires more exercise and less food. Make sure the Belgian Malinois getsa good amount of protein in their diet, especially when partaking in outdoor activities.


Exercise Requirements:

If you are looking for a good breed that can fit well in small homes, the Belgian Malinois is your perfect choice. However, they do need proper exercise to sustain a life indoors. While the breed prefers a cool environment, they have the potential to adapt to warmer locations. They need to be included with the family when living indoors.

If possible, make sure you provide the Malinois with a good amount of off-leash exercise within an area closed by fences. Apart from this, a long jog or walk is advised to keep the dogs healthy. In general, a Malinois requires at least 20 min of vigorous activity 3-4 times per day as a leisure walk isn’t enough to satisfy these dogs. The Belgian Malinois is bred for action. So, if you love yourself a jog or hike, make sure you take these dogs along with you.

Puppies do need a different exercise approach. Starting at 9-weeks goings to 4-months, taking them to puppy kindergarten is an amazing way to help them with proper exercise, socialization, as well as training. Apart from this, 15-20 minutes of playtime both in the morning, as well as evening, is required.


Training Requirements:

A well-raised and properly trained Malinois will generally show an active stature with high levels of intelligence, protective nature, friendliness, hardwork, as well as alertness. Belgian Malinois are known to exhibit some of the highest energy levels when compared to the dog breeds all over the world.

When taken a quick look at, your Belgian Malinois will show puppy-like quick energy up until the dog reaches three years of age. However, it isn’t uncommon for the dog to show this particular energy level up until they are 5. Most of them have an excessively high drive for prey. They might also be exuberant and playful when they are young.

That is why the breed needs the training to be started right from its childhood. As a result, it makes it easy for your furry pal to be trained, given their drive to get rewards from the trainer. In several cases, the Belgian Malinois is used as a working dog for personal protection needs. They can be seen doing their part in police work, detection, as well as search-rescue mission. Although German Shepherds are generally considered ideal for this part, the Belgian is considered an ideal second. With proper training, the Malinois can be allowed to compete in a range of activities that include showmanship, herding, fly ball, or dock diving.


Grooming Requirements:

The Belgian Malinois tends to have a straight and short hair which feels hard when touched. The dense undercoat, paired with its classic hard topcoat provides ample weather resistance. The reason behind it is that the Malinois was bred to live outdoors in varying conditions. The hair can be slightly longer towards the neck, which forms a type mane for the pooch.

The coat can typically be mahogany-colored or fawn backed by a black face mask, ears, as well as dark hair tips. Given the fact that the coat is smooth and short, the Malinois can be groomed easily. All you need to do is brush them weekly with the use of a firm and deep penetrating bristle brush. Malinois tend to shed all year long while the heavy shedding occurs in the months of fall and spring.

You also need to brush your dog’s teeth at least 2 to 3 times weekly to remove the bacteria or tartar build-up. Daily brushing is also advised if you need to prevent bad breath or any gum disease that might occur when oral hygiene is ignored. If the dog doesn’t wear down the nails with frequent walks on the road, you need to trim them regularly.


Common Health Issues of Belgian Malinois:

The Belgian Malinois has a good long average lifespan of 14 to 16 years, making it one of the ideal breeds that we can find today. However, the breed might have a high risk of a range of issues such as epilepsy, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, thyroid disease, pannus, or hip dysplasia. However, years of selective breeding has helped minimize the risks associated with these diseases.

Apart from this, one issue that the doctors have noted with the Belgian Malinois is the anesthesia sensitivity. This particular breed is known to be highly sensitive to being placed under anesthesiaduring a surgery or any other medical treatment. When you take a look at the overall ratio, this dog breed shows a higher average death rate when placed under anesthesia. Given their unique muscle-fat ratio, they might be a vulnerable breed.

Make sure you make your vet aware of this issue. Chances are they are probably already aware of the same and use alternatives for the surgery to take place smoothly. So, if you are taking your Belgian Malinois to the vet for surgery or maybe teeth cleaning session, make sure that they aren’t exposed to the anesthesia to ensure zero side effects.



Many-a-times, the Belgian Malinois breed is purchased with no clear instructions on how to raise them. That is why it is vitalto understand the best ways to bring them up in a nurturing environment and train them to the best of your capability.

A pet is not just another living being in your house, but a part of your family as well. So, the more love you give, the more you get in return. Plus, you should also train them to be friendly to other dogs and pets in your house. It works especially well if your pooch was raised together with other pets in your family.

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