Belgian Malinois Pros And Cons

helloBARK! staff
By helloBARK! staff
Updated on January 20, 2020
Fact Checked

Belgian Malinois are a breed with certain requirements.

These world-class working dogs need a lot of mental and physical stimulation from their dog owners.

You should carefully consider whether you’re in a position to meet a Belgian Malinois’ needs before getting one of these dogs.

The American Belgian Malinois Club outline that this is not your typical pet dog.

While they can make great lifelong companions, they’ll demand and need commitment.

Malinois want to be actively engaged with their owner, both physically and mentally.

If you are someone who is looking for a dog to have an active role in your life, you’re committed to training and you’ve got time to dedicate to your canine companion, Belgian Malinois could be a good fit for you.

In this article, we’ll take a look at Belgian Malinois pros and cons.

Pros

Belgian Malinois (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Belgian Malinois (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Great protection dogs

Belgian Malinois have a natural-born instinct to protect their human companion. The American Kennel Club outline in their breed standard for Belgian Malinois that these dogs should be naturally protective of his owner’s person and property without being overly aggressive. Hence, Belgian Malinois can make great protection dogs, whether you want them to protect your family or your property. Although they may be protective, this doesn’t mean Belgian Malinois should be overly aggressive. The ABMC write on their website that a well-bred, well-socialized and well-trained Malinois will calmly evaluate every situation and use good judgement in responding. Your Belgian Malinois puppy will need a lot of socialization from a young age.

Here’s what Katy (@thekatykat1) had to say about Malinois and their protectiveness based upon her experience with Millie:

I hear people tell me they want to get one just because they like that they are protective, and that is only one small aspect of the breed. Hopefully, you never have to even be in a situation where the protection aspect comes into play. The other 99.99% of the time that you have to make sure this breed is the right fit for you.

Extremely intelligent

Belgian Malinois are smart dogs that can excel at anything they put their mind to. You just need to look at the array of services they perform in modern society to get an appreciation for their high IQ. Although the Intelligence of Dogs rates Belgian Malinois at number 26. That’s 23 places lower than German Shepherds. The book is considered a little dated and Belgian Malinois are generally perceived as one of the smartest dog breeds. In fact, they’re so clever that Belgian Malinois will often find loopholes in commands from their owners.

Here’s Katy to shed some light on just how clever her Malinois Millie is:

She knows she isn’t supposed to take bones from my other dog. So when my little dog has a bone, she will bark and run to the door. This is only to get my little dog to drop his bone and go running towards the door, just to quickly swing back around and go grab the bone. Millie literally fakes him out to drop the bone, and that way she can get it, because she didn’t technically “take it” from him. While they are smart enough to figure out loopholes, they are also smart enough to learn quickly and even read situations and people.

Highly trainable

Tying into our previous point, Belgian Malinois are very smart and as a result, highly trainable. As a general rule, they should understand new commands within 5 to 15 repetitions and obey a first command 85% time or better. The American Belgian Malinois Club recommend exposing your Malinois puppy to to different people and dogs so that he will be accepting of them when he grows up. They go on to suggest training from a young age and throughout their lives to temper their high energy and exuberance. By doing so, your Belgian Malinois will have an avenue to expend their energy in a useful manner. While they’re quick learners, they’re sensitive to corrections. So you’ll need to find the right balance. Some Belgian Malinois puppies are sold fully trained by their breeders.

Katy purchased Millie from a breeder who had already trained her:

Upon my friend’s recommendation, I began looking for places that sold fully trained dogs. Considering I had never had a larger dog, I didn’t feel comfortable training a working dog by myself. Also, I looked for places that had information on the parents, health history, etc. Some places I found imported their dogs from overseas, and just finished the training here. While every person is different, I wanted to be able to physically see the parents, and their temperament, if possible.

Smaller than German Shepherd

Belgian Malinois are often confused for German Shepherds. There are some subtle differences between the two breeds. Firstly, Belgian Malinois are a little smaller than German Shepherds. These Belgian dogs should be more streamlined than German Shepherds. They’re similar in terms of height but Belgian Malinois are lighter and more nimble.

The American Kennel Club explain the difference on their website:

He bears a passing resemblance to the German Shepherd Dog but has a different head, and is leggier and finer boned, than his better-known German counterpart.

Encourage active lifestyle

Belgian Malinois are active dogs that need a lot of physical and mental stimulation. This breed don’t do well if they’re allowed to become bored. Should boredom set in, you could experience some unwanted behaviours. However, if you’re someone who likes to stay fit with an active lifestyle, Belgian Malinois should effortlessly slot into your day-to-day routine. They’re quick to adapt to a range of activities.

The ABMC have a range of activities that they suggest for Malinois:

These dogs excel at obedience, tracking, agility, flyball, herding, showing, Schutzhund and other protection sports, search and rescue, police work, and just about anything else a dog can do.

Cons

Belgian Malinois (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Belgian Malinois (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Not your standard pet

This is something that needs to be reinforced if you’re thinking about getting a Belgian Malinois. They’re not your average pet. They’ve got unique requirements which means dog owners will need to adapt their lives to cater to their Malinois’ needs. They’re not a good fit for first time owners. If you have long working hours and you’ll have to leave your dog at home alone, this probably isn’t the breed for you unless you’re prepared to use professional dog walkers or dog sitters. Leaving them in a kennel multiple times a week can lead to a frustrated dog.

Require a lot of exercise

If you’re not in a position to give Belgian Malinois regular exercise, you should think twice about getting a member of the breed. They need a lot of physical stimulation to prevent boredom setting in. If your Malinois doesn’t get enough exercise, they could resort to unwanted activities.

Let’s hear more from Katy about how she meets Millie’s exercise needs:

They need something to burn off some of that energy. This is not a dog you keep all day in a crate, come home from work, and think the dog is going to just lay around calmly sleeping all the rest of the night day after day. Just like kids get mischievous and misbehave when they don’t burn off their energy, so can a Malinois. I personally find that doggy daycare, when needed, can be a great way for Millie to go be crazy with other dogs and burn off that extra energy. This is especially true for the winter time where I live, because I spend less time outdoors in the freezing cold. I also do not have a fenced yard because it isn’t allowed in my subdivision, and so I cannot just let her outside by herself. I make it work, but I also have to accept the extra cost of doggy daycare factored in to my budget.

Could need professional training

Understandably, not everyone has the time to dedicate to training their dog. While this isn’t ideal, if you’ve got the resources, you can avail of the services of an experienced and professional dog trainer. Belgian Malinois are active and intelligent dogs that need early exposure to different people and situations. By training your Malinois from a young age, they can become a welcome member of the community. You’ll need to budget for some puppy training whether it’s basic puppy classes or special protection dog classes.

Here’s what Katy had to say on training:

I would say it is imperative to price out professional training before you get the dog, even if you plan on doing it yourself, because you don’t want to be in a situation where you realize it is too much work and now you can’t afford professional training. It is just better to be safe than sorry.

Aloof, suspicious around new people

Belgian Malinois can be naturally aloof or suspicious around strangers. While their protective instincts can be a great asset to protect your home from potential intruders, you don’t want an aggressive dog that poses a threat to extended family members visiting your home. As a result, it’s a good idea to socialize your Belgian Malinois as much as possible from a young age to get your pup used to meeting new people and new dogs as well as a variety of different social situations.

Need structure

These working dogs benefit from structure in their lives. Malinois like to be involved in your daily activities. They thrive with a function to perform or purpose to serve in your life. Without routine and structure, a Belgian Malinois could potentially act out. They like to be part of a family unit rather than just a family pet. They crave an active role within the home. Just remember, Malinois thrives on structure and discipline, and training is very important to him.

Here’s the last word from Malinois owner Katy:

This is a dog that absolutely should have a human in control. They need to know that you are the boss, and that their job is to do what their human wants them to do. Think of it as like a teenager. If you let the teenager make all the decisions, they may not be the best ones, but with structure and rules, they generally do better.