Belgian Malinois Dog Breed Profile

The Belgian Malinois dog breed, classified with the AKC herding breeds, is a medium-size dog of elegant appearance and proud demeanor. He is muscular, limber and strong, but without looking heavy, has a square-looking structure, and is proportionally well-balanced.

Belgian Malinois standing on a fallen tree trunk in wooded areaImage credit Pixabay

There are four different varieties of Belgian Shepherd dogs - the Groenendale, Laekenois, Tervuren and Malinois - all named for the towns from which they originated.

They vary in their coat color and coat type, the Malinois being of short coat, highlighted by a black mask around the head and ears.

At first glance he may appear similar to the German Shepherd, but a closer look reveals differences in the bone structure, color, size, head and ear shape. The Malinois in particular is recognized for the carriage of his head position.

The Malinois is derived from working sheepdogs and his abilities include herding, tracking, guarding, obedience, and police detection work. You may have seen him on duty at the White House!

Activity Level

Are you ready for a "tornado" that wants to be involved in every kind of activity and has the stamina to match?

The Malinois is a very athletic dog both quick and agile with lots of energy. Remember they come from herding stock - a life of being on the move all the day.

They need vigorous walks every day, and ideally other high energy activities as often as can be provided.  Try them out in Schutzhund, agility, flyball etc., well you get the idea.

In addition, opportunities to run freely in a safe area, are highly recommended. He also makes a great buddy for jogging/hiking/running.

Characteristics of the Belgian Malinois Dog

The Belgian Malinois dog likes to enjoy a high degree of interaction with his human family, but he also needs to be well-socialized from a puppy.

If you are serious about acquiring this breed as a puppy, be sure to look for responsible Belgian Malinois breeders through the national association that represents the breed.

A good breeder will start the socialization process before a puppy leaves the litter and should be able to tell you about the health and temperament of the parents.

If you are more interested in an older dog, try the Belgian Malinois dog rescue organizations. Rescues usually have background information and have tested their dogs for temperament. Plus you are likely to find one that has already received some training.

While this breed can be an excellent family companion, he is not a dog for owners that have little time to spend with a pet and won't enjoy being left for extended periods of time.

On the other hand, if you are a family that enjoys a lot of outdoor activities, especially things that could include your dog, you will be delighted with the enthusiastic response of the Malinois.

Belgian Malinois puppy sitting in the grass with background vegetationBelgian Malinois Puppy by Roberta F.

He is a sensitive and intelligent dog that needs training to direct his high energy, especially if you can give him a job to do. Some activities to consider include agility, flyball, herding, obedience, tracking and any other game-like activities. He has also been successful in police detection work, as well as search and rescue.

The Belgian Malinois dog does best with experienced owners who have a sound knowledge of the best practices for dog training.

A firm, but never harsh training approach works the best with this intelligent breed. He has natural protective instincts and makes a good watch/guard dog without being aggressive.

Physical Stats And Care

Height: 22-26 inches
Weight: 61-66 pounds
Color Variations: Rich Fawn, Mahogany

This breed has a short dense double coat that is waterproof. Easy maintenance involves regular brushing to remove the loose hair that comes about from a light amount of shedding. A pin brush with rubber tips is an ideal tool along with a metal comb.

Grooming on a once or twice a week basis is usually sufficient for regular upkeep.

However, seasonal, heavier shedding also occurs a couple of times a year. Grooming during this time should be stepped up to every other day.

Belgian Malinois aboard an Army TankMilitary Duty

Health Notes

The Belgian Malinois dog is generally considered a healthy breed that can enjoy a lifespan up to 16 years with good nutrition and veterinary care. Health concerns to be aware of that may affect the breed include:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Genetic eye conditions such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)

The National Breed Club recommends that responsible breeders have the following health screens completed and the results registered:

  • OFA Hip Evaluation
  • OFA Elbow Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Beyond these main health areas, expect a breeder to discuss and provide a complete health profile of the puppy's parents.

Ideal Living Space

The Belgian Malinois will do fine in a home with a reasonable size yard as long as he is getting lots of serious exercise on a daily basis. 

Being left in a yard to entertain himself is not the ideal because he really prefers being inside with the family.

The Malinois With Children?

The Belgian Malinois does best with children if he is raised with them from a puppy. A parent should take into consideration that this breed is highly active, quite large and enjoys a good chase!.

As with any breed of dog, it is recommended that interactions between pet and children should always be supervised and even more so with a dog of this size and energy level.

Senior Or Less Active Families?

While being a very loyal breed with protective instincts, the high exercise needs would not make the Mal a suitable choice for inactive seniors or sedentary environments,

Further Reading

Belgian malinois breed book
dog food nutrition recipe book

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Puppy image: by Roberta F. License: CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
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