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Belgian Malinois

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An intelligent, loyal and extremely energetic dog, the Belgian Malinois is an impressive worker which is favoured by the military. It is similar in appearance to the German shepherd but is a separate breed which is adept at herding livestock. These dogs are very active and easily bored. They shouldn’t be taken on lightly but will reward dedicated owners with great loyalty.

Which breed group is the Belgian Malinois in?

Breed group: Pastoral (As the Belgian shepherd)

Belgian Malinois breed history

A sheepdog which emerged in the 19th century, the Belgian Malinois is a breed which can be traced back to dogs owned by a shepherd called Adrien Janssens. Those dogs are also believed to be the ancestors of the Bouvier des Flandres and Dutch shepherd dog.

There are four recognised types of Belgian shepherd. The Malinois (fawn-mahogany, short coat with black mask), the Tervuren (fawn-mahogany, long coat with black mask), the Laekenois (fawn, rough coat), and the Groenendael (black, long coat). However, these are considered to be a single breed by the Kennel Club. The first breed standard for the Belgian shepherd was written in 1892 and the breed was officially recognised by Belgium’s equivalent of the Kennel Club in 1901.

Belgian Malinoises are named for the town of Malines and were bred to herd livestock but also acted as guard dogs on farms. They were the first breed to be utilised by the Belgian police and were later used by the military in a variety of roles. Many dogs have been exported and the breed is now popular across the globe, particularly in America where the breed continues to serve in the military and as drug detection dogs.

Belgian Malinois breed characteristics

Medium to large and with a square appearance, the Belgian Malinois is a confident working dog. Its short coat can be fawn to mahogany in colour with a black mask and black ears. Strong and muscular, the Malinois is well-balanced and never overly bulky.

You will appreciate the alert expression of the Belgian Malinois which is also notable for carrying its head proudly. Active, obedient and intelligent, these dogs excel in the working environment and are high-performers in obedience competitions. They are very affectionate but tend to be wary of strangers and will generally protect their family and property with only an appropriate level of aggression. However, this breed may not be friendly to other dogs and is very easily bored.

  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Height: up to 66cm
  • Weight: up to 30kg
  • Somewhat square appearance
  • Muscular
  • Short cost (fawn to mahogany)
  • Black mask and ears
  • Energetic
  • Hard-working
  • Obedient
  • Affectionate
  • Wary of strangers
  • Good watchdog
  • Easily bored
  • Can be destructive when bored

Health issues with the Belgian Malinois

A robust dog which benefits from a lengthy lifespan for a large breed, the Belgian Malinois is generally a healthy dog but is prone to the following conditions:

  • Cataracts
  • Epilepsy
  • Thyroid disease
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Anaesthesia sensitivity

What is the Belgian Malinois bred for?

This dog was originally bred to herd livestock and guard farms but is now a popular choice for police and the military.

What sort of owners does the Belgian Malinois suit?

An extremely energetic breed, the Belgian Malinois is happiest as a working dog or living with very active owners. These dogs are loving towards their families and good with children but may not get on well with other dogs and small pets. As such they are best suited to being the only pet in the household. They require a significant amount of exercise and continuous mental stimulation. The Belgian Malinois would be an excellent choice for those living in the countryside who can spend all day with their dog. When bored, this breed is likely to become destructive around the home and may bark excessively.


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