The Belgian Malinois (pronounced Bel·juhn-Mal-in-wah) is a medium-sized Belgian Shepherd dog that at first glance looks like a German Shepherd dog.
Belgian Malinois are short-haired, fawn-colored dogs with a black mask.
Originally developed in Malines, Belgium, Belgian Malinois has great stamina and really enjoys working. They are intelligent and very active dogs that excel at many tasks. In addition to herding, Belgian Malinois dogs also do well with police work, search and rescue, and in performance events, such as agility.
The Belgian Malinois is one of the four types of Belgian Sheepdogs, which were developed in Belgium in the late 19th century. The four varieties are:
- Malinois (fawn-mahogany, short coat with black mask)
- Tervuren (fawn-mahogany, long coat with black mask)
- Laekenois (fawn, rough coat)
- Groenendael (black, long coat)
The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes all but the Laekenois as separate breeds in the US, while the United Kennel Club recognizes all four types as one.
Belgian Malinois Vs German Shephard
People unfamiliar with the Belgian Malinois often mistake it for the German Shepherd dog, but there are significant differences in the two breeds’ body structure and temperament.
Belgian Malinois are smaller dogs with lighter bones. They stand with their weight well on their toes, giving them a square-body profile, while today’s German Shepherd has a long, sloping back and carries its weight flatter on its feet.
Belgian Malinois are a fawn, red, or brown in color, and the tips of their hair are black, while the German Shepherd is usually tan in color with a black saddle.
Additionally, the Belgian Malinois has a more refined and chiseled head than the German Shepherd and smaller, triangular ears.
Many think that the Malinois is more alert and responds faster than the German Shepherd. They are also very sensitive dogs that do not respond well to harsh training methods. Some Belgian Malinois are friendly and assertive, but others are reserved and aloof with strangers. They should never have a fearful or aggressive temperament.
Due to their energy level and sensitivity, Belgian Malinois is recommended only for people who have previously owned dogs and are experienced with dog training. Malinois are very intense dogs who like to be included in all family activities. They are not suitable for people who work long hours or must travel frequently, leaving their dogs at home.
If you have decided that the Belgian Malinois is the breed for you, you should expose your dog to many different people, dogs, other animals, and situations as soon as possible. Malinois are fast learners and are eager to do what their people ask of them.
Belgian Malinois As A Police Dog
The Belgian Malinois is a highly intelligent breed famous for its achievements as a police and military dog. In these roles, the Malinois is an expert narcotics and explosives detector, a fearless explorer, and an uncompromising protector.
Unsurprisingly, this breed is hard-working, intense, and very loyal. It is a breed that yearns to be challenged physically and mentally.
Not for the novice owner, the Belgian Malinois needs a firm but compassionate leader who is willing to spend time with his dog every day. Training and socialization are a must for a well-rounded dog, and taking the dog out for strenuous exercise is very important. Although this breed may be a lot of work, owners will tell you that having such a smart and loyal dog around is worth it in every way.
The Belgian Malinois is considered a medium-sized breed. Adult males average 24 to 28 inches tall and weigh 65 to 75 pounds. Adult females will be between 22 and 24 inches tall and weigh between 55 and 65 pounds.
Strong and well-built, these robust dogs are highly versatile and excel in a wide variety of roles; As an agility competitor or guard dog, there are few breeds that can outmatch the Belgian Shepherd Malinois.
Belgian Malinois breed is medium to high maintenance. Grooming this breed is quite simple; brushing a few times a week will keep the coat healthy and shed an average amount.
The exercise needs of this breed above average. A short walk is not enough to adequately exercise this dog. Being a working breed, Belgian Malinois will need at least an hour of strenuous exercise to be at their best both physically and mentally.
The Belgian Malinois is a sturdy and robust dog of good proportions. It has a square frame with a nearly level topline, in contrast to the German Shepherd, which has a rectangular frame with a sloping torso.
The coat of Belgian malinois is short, straight, and weather-resistant, which means that it can repel water and frost, allowing the dog to stay warm.
The hair around the neck is usually slightly longer than the rest of the body. The Belgian Malinois has a skull that is approximately equal in width and length. Its powerful jaw is lined with scissor-shaped teeth that can bite down at approximately 1,400 pounds per square inch.
The ears are large, pointed, and are almost always erect, giving the dog a very alert appearance. Their almond-shaped eyes are dark brown. The tail is thick at the base, tapering slightly. Some dogs have a tail that is held up and curls forward over the rump, while others have the tail down.
Development Of The Breed
The development of the Belgian Malinois puppy from birth to adulthood usually lasts between 18 and 24 months.
Physically, these dogs grow rapidly in height and length for the first six months or so, then those growth rates slow down a bit as the adolescent puppy gains muscle mass and fat; a Mal usually reaches or is close to full adult size around 18 months of age.
Socially, Mal puppies develop fairly steadily: they reach adolescence at about six months, sexual maturity at 10-12 months, and mental maturity at two years of age (although some dogs may retain their puppylike behavior for an additional year or more).
The Belgian Malinois is loyal and extremely intelligent. These dogs continue to excel in various roles and remain one of the most popular dogs in military service around the world.
Originally bred as working dogs, Malinois is very energetic and demands an owner who can keep up with his energy level. Although not aggressive, these dogs are very sensitive and have an intense disposition.
A properly trained and socialized Belgian Malinois should be a gentle dog and watchful of children, but children should also be made to understand that these are not dogs to yell at or mess with while they eat.
When it comes to guard-dogs dogs, you can’t find a better dog than the Belgian Malinois. Although bright and willing to learn, the Belgian Malinois is a dog that will require an owner willing to spend time with his dog, especially when he is young.
The Malinois is protective by nature and needs a lot of socialization to learn that people and animals that come close to “its” territory are not threats.
These dogs require a master who can establish himself as the leader of the pack, is consistent and firm, but does not resort to harsh punishment.
Belgian Malinois is a sensitive and discerning breed by nature. Socialization and training are especially important with this breed. Ideally, the puppy should meet new people and dogs on a daily basis. Puppy obedience classes are an effective way to accomplish this while teaching the dog valuable lessons.
Although the Belgian Malinois benefits greatly from time spent off-leash, care must be taken to let this dog run when small animals are present as they may run off chasing a squirrel or cat. However, if properly socialized, the Belgian Malinois can live peacefully around cats and other animals.
Belgian Malinois With Children
Well-socialized Belgian Malinois are good with children, especially if they are raised with them, but due to their herding heritage, they may have a tendency to nip on their heels and try to herd them when they play.
You must teach your Belgian Malinois that this behavior is unacceptable. An adult Malinois who is unfamiliar with children may do best in a home with children who are mature enough to interact properly with them.
Always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interaction between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or pulling the ears or tail. Teach your child never to approach any dog while they are eating or to try to take food away from them. No dog should be left unsupervised with a child.
Belgian Malinois With Other Pets
The Malinois can live amicably with other animals, but in order to have better relationships, it needs to socialize with other pets at a young age.
It has a strong prey drive and may look at small non-canine pets as animals to chase and potentially attack if not properly introduced. These dogs also tend to display dominant behavior towards other dogs.
Their owner must teach the Malinois that dominant behavior is unwanted. Taking your Malinois to canine obedience school is a great way to introduce him to other dogs and start cultivating a sociable personality.
Belgian Malinois With Strangers
These dogs are known to be somewhat reserved around strangers due to their natural protective instincts. However, being highly intelligent, a Belgian Malinois will quickly understand whether or not a stranger is being sought out. That said, it is highly recommended that these dogs socialize with new people as much as possible when they are puppies.
Want To Know More About This Breed? (Breed History)
”The Club du Chien de Berger Belge” (Belgian Shepherd Dog Club) was formed in September 1891 to determine which of the many different types of dogs was uniquely representative of sheepdogs developed in Belgium.
In November of that same year, breeders and fanciers met outside Brussels to examine sheepdogs from that area. After much deliberation, veterinary professor Adolphe Reul and a panel of judges concluded that the native sheepdogs of that province were square, medium-sized dogs, with well-set triangular ears and very dark brown eyes, and only differentiated in the texture, color, and length of the hair.
Subsequent examinations of dogs in other Belgian provinces yielded similar results.
In 1892, Professor Adolphe Reul wrote the first Belgian Sheepdog Standard, which recognized three varieties: dogs with long coats, dogs with short coats, and dogs with rough coats.
The Club du Chien de Berger Belge applied to the Societe Royale Saint-Hubert (the Belgian equivalent of the AKC) for breed status but was denied. In 1901, however, the Belgian Shepherd was finally recognized as a breed.
Today’s Belgian Malinois can be traced back to a breeding pair owned by a shepherd from Laeken named Adrien Janssens.
In 1885, he purchased a pale, fawn rough-haired dog named Vos I, or Vos de Laeken, from a cattle dealer in northern Belgium.
Janssens used Vos I (which means fox in Flemish) to herd his flock and also bred him to a brindle short-haired brown dog named Lise (also known as Lise de Laeken or Liske de Laeken).
After that mating, Vos I was bred to his daughters, establishing a line of very homogeneous dogs with rough gray hair and short hair, and rough brown hair and short hair.
Today, Vos I and Lise de Laeken are recognized as ancestors not only to modern Belgian Sheepdogs but also to the Dutch Sheepdogs and Bouvier des Flandres.
The breeders decided to give each of the different varieties of Belgian Sheepdogs their own names. The city of Malines had formed a club for the promotion of the Belgian short-haired fawn sheepdog in 1898.
Louis Huyghebaert, one of the first breeders with the kennel name “ter Heide”, as well as judge, author, and the “godfather of the Malinois “(and the Bouvier), together with the Malines club, had done much to popularize these short hairs, which is why the name” Malinois “came to be associated with the fawn short-haired.
In 1897, a year before the formation of the Malines club, Huyghebaert suggested that since there were not many sheep left in Belgium, shepherd dogs should have field tests showing their intelligence, obedience, and loyalty.
Based on this recommendation, dressage tests were developed for sheepdogs that tested a dog’s ability to jump and perform other exercises.
The first dressage test held on July 12, 1903, in Malines, was won by M. van Opdebeek and his Malinois, Cora van’t Optewel.
Belgian Shepherds were also used as watchdogs and draught dogs. They were the first dogs used by the Belgian police. Before World War II, international police dog trials became very popular in Europe, and Belgian dogs won various awards in trials.
When World War I broke out, the military used many Belgian sheepdogs for a number of jobs, including messenger dogs, Red Cross dogs, ambulance dogs, and, according to some, light machine-gun cart dogs.
During the 1920s and 1930s, several Malinois kennels were opened in Belgium. During the first decades of the 20th century, Malinois and Groenendael were the most popular varieties of Belgian Shepherd dogs that were exported to other countries.
At that time, many were exported to the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Canada, the United States, Argentina, and Brazil.
In 1911, two Groenendaels and two Malinois were registered by the AKC as “German Sheepdogs.”
In 1913, the AKC changed the name ‘German Sheepdogs’ to “Belgian Shepherd”.
The first dogs were imported by Josse Hanssens from Norwalk, Connecticut. He sold the two Malinois to L.I. De Winter of Guttenberg, NJ. De Winter produced several Malinois litters under his kennel name Winter view.
After World War I, many American servicemen brought back Malinois and other Belgian Sheepdogs from Europe, and AKC registrations grew rapidly.
The first Belgian Sheepdog Club of America was formed in 1924 and soon after became a member of the AKC.
In 1924 and 1925, Walter Mucklow, a lawyer in Jacksonville, Florida, popularized the Malinois through AKC Gazette articles that he wrote himself. He also bred Malinois for a short time under the name Castlehead Kennel.
By the late 1920s, Belgian Sheepdogs Groenendael and Belgian Malinois had gained popularity to rank among the top five breeds.
During the Great Depression, dog breeding was a luxury most could not afford, and America’s first Belgian Sheepdog Club ceased to exist.
During the 1930s, some Malinois registered with the AKC as imports came into the country. Even after the Great Depression, there were so few Malinois, and interest in the breed had waned so much that the AKC put them in the Miscellaneous Class at AKC shows in the 1930s and 1940s.
In 1949, a second Belgian Sheepdog Club of America was formed in Indiana. In that same year, John Cowley imported two Belgian Malinois and started his Netherlair kennel. He showed several of his dogs and several people took an interest in them.
In the 1960s, more people were breeding and showing Belgian Malinois.
In March 1992, the American Belgian Malinois Club received AKC parent club status.
In the last decade, Belgian Malinois dogs have received a lot of attention for their work in the military, drug detection agencies, search and rescue operations, and police forces across the country.
As a result, many Belgian Malinois have been imported into the US in recent years. In 2019, a Belgian Malinois known as Conan was injured in a military operation against Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The mission was successful and Conan was honored as a hero in the White House after making a full recovery.