Belgian Malinois

helloBARK! staff
By helloBARK! staff
Updated on December 06, 2019
Fact Checked

Belgian Malinois are world-class working dogs.

These athletics dogs are usually described as confident, smart and hardworking.

Part of the American Kennel Club’s Herding Group, the Belgian Malinois are often used as service dogs.

They’re highly intelligent coupled, which coupled with their strong and well-muscled physique make them perfect working K9s.

Belgian Malinois need regular attention and interaction with humans as problems can arise if they’re neglected.

The AKC rank the Belgian Malinois as the 43rd most popular dog in the United States of America.

We’ll break this article on Belgian Malinois up into the following sections:

What is a Belgian Malinois?

The Belgian Malinois is a proud working dog that often excels where obedience and training is concerned.

They’re a medium-to-large breed of dog that are often used to carry out tasks, such as detection of odors such as explosives and narcotics, as well as search and rescue missions.

Known as Belgian Malinois, they also go by a variety of different names, including Malinois, Chien De Berger Belge and Mechelse Herder.

These dogs do better when they’ve got a clear purpose in their lives.

How to pronounce Belgian Malinois?

In case you’re unsure how to pronounce Belgian Malinois, we’re here to help. Phonetically, Malinois is pronounced MAL-in-wah.

Here’s a YouTube video to help:

There you go!

What breeds make up Belgian Malinois?

The Belgian Malinois are purebred dogs recognised by the American Kennel Club. They’re related to Belgian herding dogs.

These dogs are sometimes classified together with the Tervuren, Laekenois and Belgian Shepherd as a single breed known as the Belgian Sheepdog.

Where do Belgian Malinois come from?

Belgian Malinois were first bred in the north western Belgian city called Malines. This is the French name for the Flemish city, Mechelen. Hence why these dogs are sometimes called Mechelse schaper.

The Belgian Malinois – along with the Tervuren, the Groenendael and the Laekenois – were developed in the late 1800s. The Belgian Malinois were developed by trainers and working competitors.

Although you may be familiar with Belgian Malinois being used by the army, police and security personnel in the 21st century, they were originally the dog of choice for Belgian sheepherders and Belgian cattlemen.

The American Kennel Club describe the Belgian Malinois as a “peerless livestock herder” in Belgium. The breed was developed by dog enthusiasts who wanted to create a canine of outstanding working character rather than a pet.

The Belgian Malinois arrived in the USA in 1911. These Belgian dogs saw their numbers rocket in the early 20th century before the outbreak of World War II. During wartime, the importation of dogs from Europe came to a temporary end.

Initially struggling to bounce back after World War II, the Belgian Malinois were registered as a breed with the American Kennel Club in 1959, setting them apart from the other Belgian breeds.

In the 21st century, Belgian Malinois are commonly used in a service capacity. such as police dogs, military dogs, drug detection dogs as well as search and rescue dogs.

The American Kennel Club rank the Belgian Malinois as the 43rd most popular breed in the USA.

Belgian Malinois breed standard

As we mentioned above, the American Kennel Club have recognised Belgian Malinois since 1959. Here’s their breed standard for these herding dogs:

The Belgian Malinois is a well balanced, square dog, elegant in appearance with an exceedingly proud carriage of the head and neck. The dog is strong, agile, well muscled, alert, and full of life. He stands squarely on all fours and viewed from the side, the topline, forelegs, and hind legs closely approximate a square. The whole conformation gives the impression of depth and solidity without bulkiness. The male is usually somewhat more impressive and grand than his female counterpart, which has a distinctly feminine look.

If you want to read the AKC’s full breed standard for Belgian Malinois, you can check it out here.

How big does Belgian Malinois get?

Belgian Malinois (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Belgian Malinois (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Belgian Malinois are considered medium-to-large dogs. Male Belgian Malinois grow to a height ranging from 24 to 26 inches. They’ll usually weigh between 60 and 80 pounds. Females are slightly smaller with a height range of 22 and 24 inches. They weigh in at around 40 to 60 pounds.

The AKC outlines that males under 23 inches or over 27 inches and females under 21 inches or over 25 inches are to be disqualified.

Belgian Malinois colors

These Belgian dogs can come in a number of different colors. Belgian Malinois basic coloring is rich fawn to mahogany, with black tips on their hairs to provide what the AKC describe as an overlay appearance.

Their facial masks and their ears are black in color, while their underparts of the body, tail and breeches are light fawn. White markings are considered a fault except when found on the tip of their toes or their breastbone.

Belgian Malinois temperament

The AKC set out the Belgian Malinois temperament as the following:

Correct temperament is essential to the working character of the Belgian Malinois. The breed is confident, exhibiting neither shyness nor aggressiveness in new situations. The dog may be reserved with strangers but is affectionate with his own people. He is naturally protective of his owner’s person and property without being overly aggressive. The Belgian Malinois possesses a strong desire to work and is quick and responsive to commands from his owner.

Belgian Malinois are usually affectionate and loyal around their dog owners, but they can be aloof when they meet new people for the first time. It’s a good idea to socialise your Mal from a young age to get them used to different people and situations.

They’re usually smart and obedient dogs, which make them relatively easy to train. Sometimes used as guard dogs, it should be no surprise to learn that they can be protective and territorial.

Belgian Malinois are demanding dogs: they demand and require your commitment. They want to be engaged both mentally and physically with their owner.

The American Belgian Malinois Club add that these dogs do best when they’ve got a definitive purpose.

How to train Belgian Malinois?

Beglian Malinois are active dogs that require regular socialization and training. The onus is on the pet parent to dedicate time to raising, training and caring for your Mal.

Given their protective instincts, Belgian Malinois will need socialization from a young age. They’ll require early exposure to different people and situations. This will stand a Belgian Malinois in good stead for the rest of their lives.

The American Belgian Malinois Club recommend puppy socialization and puppy training classes to give your Malinois the best possible start in life. They also suggest obedience classes.

It’s essential these Belgian dogs are give appropriate training to create a well-moulded canine as well as satisfy their demand for mental stimulation from their dog owners.

The Intelligence of Dogs, written by Stanley Coren, rank the Belgian Malinois as the 26th most intelligent dog in the world.

Are Belgian Malinois good family pets?

Belgian Malinois can be coexist in a home with children without any problems if they’re properly introduced or raised with them from a young age, according to America Belgian Malinois Club.

Just like any dog, they’ll require a proper, thought out introduction to children. If you’re raising a Belgian Malinois puppy with young children, they’re a fairly good chance of success.

You should never leave a Belgian Malinois – or any dog – with young children unsupervised.

Belgian Malinois are herding dogs so they do have a tendency to herd children or other small animals. This can be an issue with any moving objects due to their high prey drive and natural instincts to herd.

Are Belgian Malinois good with cats?

The same logic could be applied to cats. If you raise a Belgian Malinois and a cat together from a young age, you can have some success.

However, you shouldn’t leave a cat and a dog alone together. Belgian Malinois do have a prey drive so disaster could strike no matter how bonded a cat and a dog are.

Why are Belgian Malinois used as police dogs?

Belgian Malinois are often used as police dogs due to their natural protective and territorial instincts. Not only that, but they’re highly intelligent and extremely obedient. With a strong, powerful physique, their appearance alone can act as a deterrent for criminals. They’ve proven popular with the US Police since being registered with the AKC back in 1959.

Nowadays, the breed are used for a variety of purposes by the police force, including detection of odors such as explosives, accelerants (for arson investigation), and narcotics; tracking humans for suspect apprehension in police work.

Is Belgian Malinois a good guard dog?

The White House use Belgian Malinois to guard the President’s residence. So there can be little doubt that Mals make excellent guard dogs.

Often described as protection dogs, Belgian Malinois have a natural instinct to guard and protect their humans and their territory.

Are Belgian Malinois dangerous?

The Belgian Malinois are sometimes branded as aggressive or dangerous dogs. However, this is an unfair stereotype. Any dog, irrespective of breed, has the potential to be vicious.

The stereotype is presumably a result of the functions that they serve in society. They were originally used as herding dogs, protecting his master and his master’s home and property.

The American Belgian Malinois Club state that a “well-trained dog will calmly evaluate every situation and use good judgment in responding.”

They go on to add that Belgian Malinois shouldn’t be aggressive or nervous towards different people and situations.

The Malinois organization add that a poorly socialized or trained dog may have behavioral issues.

Belgian Malinois exercise

You can probably work out by this stage that Belgian Malinois need regular exercise. They thrive on mental and physical stimulation.

If you’re thinking about Belgian Malinois as a pet, you’ll need to be prepared to spend significant time exercising your dog.

The AKC warn that daily walks won’t suffice for this breed. They can’t be left in the garden or yard, either.

Suggested activities include running, hiking, and biking companions, as well as agility, tracking, herding, obedience.

Belgian Malinois need to in the company of their pet parents.

How fast can Belgian Malinois run?

According to the Canadian Running Magazine, Belgian Malinois can reach speeds up to 48 km/h. They’re one of the world’s fastest dogs, although Greyhounds, Afghan Hounds, Saluki and Vizlas can reach quicker speeds.

How long does Belgian Malinois live?

Belgian Malinois have an average lifespan of 14 to 16 years, according to the American Kennel Club.

However, the American Belgian Malinois suggest 10 to 12 years is a more accurate reflection.

Belgian Malinois health issues

These world-class workers are generally considered a pretty healthy dog breed. However, they are susceptible to another of potential health problems. These include:

• Hip dysplasia – is an abnormal formation of the hip socket that, in its more severe form, can eventually cause crippling lameness and painful arthritis of the joints.

• Elbow dysplasia – is a condition involving multiple developmental abnormalities of the elbow-joint in the dog, specifically the growth of cartilage or the structures surrounding it.

• Eye problems

The American Belgian Malinois Club recommend a number of health tests, including hip evaluation, elbow evaluation and ophthalmologist evaluation.

The AKC recommend so basic care needs such as checking their ears for signs of infection and brushing their teeth regularly.

Are Belgian Malinois hypoallergenic?

There’s no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic dog breed. However, there are a number of breeds that are considered hypoallergenic because of their low-shedding coats. For example, the Poodle is a hypoallergenic breed because they don’t shed.

The Belgian Malinois is not considered a hypoallergenic dog breed because they shed. So if you suffer with allergies to dogs, this probably isn’t the right breed for you.

How much do Belgian Malinois shed?

The Belgian Malinois have a short coat that is relatively easy to take care of. However, these dogs do shed. Usually, they’ll shed twice a year, which is when Belgian Malinois owners will need to step up their grooming regime. It’s recommended you brush your Mal on a daily basis while they blow out their coat to remove loose hair.

The AKC suggest using a medium-bristle brush, a rubber grooming mitt or tool to maintain the appearance, health and good condition of their coats.

Belgian Malinois breeders

The American Belgian Malinois Club provide great information about where to find a reputable breeder. In fact, they provide a questionnaire to fill out so you can work out if the breeder you’re dealing with is reputable or not. Their website explains:

A responsible breeder will know the Belgian Malinois breed. They will know about the health and temperament problems that exist in the breed. They will be able to talk to you about the energy level of these dogs and help you determine if this is the right breed for you. An experienced breeder will also know how to recognize certain traits in individual puppies that will help him or her match the right puppy to the right home.

The American Belgian Malinois Club have a breeder referral list which lists breeders who have signed up to their code of ethics. In short, this means they’re following the organization’s guidelines, carrying out health screening examinations and looking to meet the breed standard.

If you’ve settled on a breeder that you consider to be ethical and reputable, you should be prepared to answer some of the breeder’s questions. They’ll want to know about your living circumstances as well as proof that you’re in a position to meet a Belgian Malinois’ needs. You’ll usually have to pay a deposit to be placed on a waiting list.

Responsible breeders do not just sell puppies; they place them into proper homes. The breeder has put a lot into his litter in terms of time, money and love – love not only of his dogs but also for the breed itself. Do not be offended if you are asked questions about YOUR qualifications to be a Belgian Malinois owner. A dedicated breeder will not pressure you to buy his puppies. He will encourage you to discuss the breed, both its positive and negative attributes, and to talk with other breeders.

Belgian Malinois price

Belgian Malinois can cost between $1,000 and $2,000 depending on each individual breeder. While you may have saved for the initial cost of buying one of these dogs, you’ll need to budget for a number of costs. Your new Belgian Malinois will require a number of trips to the vet to receive shots, they’ll need pet insurance as well as lots of dog food.

Belgian Malinois rescue

The American Belgian Malinois Club’s Breed Rescue Program may have a number of senior dogs, adults and young adults that require homes if you don’t have the time to put into a Belgian Malinois puppy.

The difference between Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd

Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds are two different varieties of dog. They’ve both earned reputations as excellent working canines.

German Shepherds tend to be a little bigger than Belgian Malinois. The Belgian dogs are slimmer and not as muscular as their German counterparts.

Both breeds like to serve a function or carry out a task to satisfy their desire to work alongside their humans.

Belgian Malinois are more demanding where exercise is concerned, although German Shepherds will need regular activities on a daily basis – too.

Belgian Malinois to follow on Instagram

If you want to learn more about Belgian Malinois, you can always check out members of the breed on Instagram. In our experience, dog owners are more than happy to offer advice and information about their pets to prospective owners.

Here are some Belgian Malinois to check out on Instagram if you want to learn more about this striking breed.

• @thekatykat1

• @ninathemalinois

• @belgian_max

Belgian Malinois crosses

There are a number of relatively common Belgian Malinois cross breeds. Here are some of the most popular mixes:

• The Malinois X/German Malinois: Belgian Malinois x German Shepherd mix
• Malinois Greyhound: Belgian Malinois x Greyhound mix
• Belusky: Belgian Malinois x Siberian Husky mix

Wrapping up – our final thoughts

Belgian Malinois are working dogs that thrive in a number of different roles. They can work as police or military dogs, guard or protection dogs.

Of course, they can make great family pets with the right socialization and training.

They’ve seen a sharp rise in popularity over the past decade, climbing from number 73 to number 43 in the American Kennel Club’s rankings of the most popular breeds.