The Belgian Shepherd Malinois is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world, but what makes them so great?
What kind of traits are they renowned for?
How did they become so popular?
Their resilience, vigor, competency, loyalty, and remarkable history tell us there’s so much to know about this wonderful breed!
However, possessing a Malinois is not everyone’s cup of tea.
No doubt, they are marvelous dogs, but they are such a hard job, Man!
Now, when you are considering buying one as your beloved companion, you must get to know them.
After all, you are adding up a NEW member in your family.
Money can buy you a Mal, but only your dedication and time investment can make him remain a gentle fellow.
I have plenty to say about this popular breed, and I am sure by the end of this extensive and engaging guide, you’ll be clear that Are they the breed for you?
We’re hopeful they are!
Belgian Shepherd Malinois Origin:
In the late 1800s in Belgium, the dog breeders carefully developed resilient and energetic sheepdogs called Chien de Berger Belge. Belgian Sheepdogs, in the simplest version!
The initial purpose of breeding the Belgian sheepdogs was to keep them busy as livestock herders.
By keeping the color and type of the coat in mind, we can split the Belgian Sheepdogs into four categories.
- The Laekenois – rough-haired and fawn,
- The Tervurens – long-haired and fawn,
- The Groenendaels – long-haired and black, and
- The Malinois – short-haired and fawn. (Belgian Malinois)
All of the four types were bred in the different regions of Belgium. Yours, mine, and everyone’s favorite, Belgian Malinois, have their roots in Belgian city Malines.
In the beginning, the United Kennel Club assumed all the four categories as one. These Belgian Shepherd dogs have the same body, same size, and same shape. The few differences are the texture, length of coat, and color of the fur.
The voracious herders made their way to America in the early 1900s. Malinois thrived in the US until World War II broke and terminated the importation of European breeding stock.
The breed started fading till the postwar years.
Malinois fanciers then began the process of refilling the gap by raising and breeding its American population. Finally, in 1959, Malinois officially received their recognition as a separate breed by the AKC.
From their origin, as a herding dog and a farm-and-family guardian, to this day as invaluable military servants, they have never missed enjoying importance.
Proudly carried high head, stranding square on all fours, pricked ear, robust, and elegant! Belgian Shepherd Malinois is a swaggy dog with increased stamina and an indefatigable persona.
Malinois Physical Appearance:
Malinois are mid-sized dogs covered in fur. The Belgian Malinois is elegant in appearance. Well-balanced, well-muscled, and full of life!
With vertically high ears, almond-shaped eyes, under-eye muzzle, deep chest, boned forelegs, strong hinds, and a tail set at the perfect level, Belgian Malinois exudes strength without stockiness.
What a strong attitude and overflowing energy he boasts in his looks!
Males are about 24-26″ tall and weigh 60-80 pounds. While, the females are 22-24″ tall and weigh 40-60 pounds. The Male is more impressive and grand in looks than his female coequal.
These dogs are typically rich beige (not whitish) to red with black touch. Their mask must be dark black, extending towards the whole muzzle.
As they are people-oriented dogs, they love their keepers more than anything else in the world. Plus, they have a friendly temperament. Neither shy nor belligerent!
Versatility is in their blood. They can be possessive towards their owners and their property, but that’s not a behavioral problem. You may want to know, Are Belgian Malinois aggressive? They can be.
They earned fame for the relentless services they did for cattle herders and farmers. Remember?
Malinois have a working character. They need some busyness. Give them some job to do. If you wouldn’t, they will find some by themselves, AND most probably something negative leading them to aggression.
That’s worrisome, isn’t it?
The canines of this breed are very mouthy. The reason may be their high prey drive and nipping urge. They rarely bite humans, though. But that doesn’t mean they can’t get scared and would never react.
When your Malinois is building up an inadmissible biting manner. Try discouraging this behavior, for example, ignore him when he bites. How about giving him a dog bite training?
That’s a brilliant idea, I guess.
You can do so with the help of a professional Dog bite training set. It’s easy-to-use and suitable for an entry-level dog’s training.
Are German Shepherds and Malinois the same?
I can let it go if you mix-up German Shepherds and Malinois at first glance. Most first-timers get confused between GSDs and Malinois.
But if you ask, Are they the same? NO!!!
You may say they are lookalikes of each other. Both are loyal, confident, great at temperament, and high standard dogs. They have identical sizes, double fur coats, intelligent, and are unfaltering protectors.
A few characteristics in which Malinois ditch GSDs are their shorter coat and pointy ears. (Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd: Everything You Need to Know, Thomas Woods, October 28, 2018)
Living Needs and Weather Tolerance:
Malinois are highly adaptable. They can conform to almost all living situations. They will be more than happy stretching legs in homes with large yards and secured fences. This breed does well in rural areas but can manage to live in small apartments if adequately exercised and provided with sufficient training.
Malinois prefer cool weather, BUT they can fit in warmer environments.
Suitable for Novice owners or not?
Extremely energetic and sharp-minded, this beyond-amazing breed can be too much to handle for first-timers. Since Malinois were bred as work-dogs, they need some activity all the time. Hence, they are certainly NOT for novices or those who must have to travel often.
If you are new to dog parenting and want to adopt a Mal, go for a pup. They can be far easier to train than elders.
Socialize them, educate them, and raise them as a companion you desire!
Can they live alone?
Malinois build emotional ties with their owners. Besides all basic needs, one thing they long the most is your love and companionship.
They enjoy everything in your accompaniment. Your routine, your activities, or ANYTHING!
They feature loyalty in their DNA, and therefore, you should never leave them alone for long periods. It can lead them to separation anxiety.
Your attention and a right-dose of cuddling can comfort them, though. By the way, did I mention that they love cuddling?
The affable creatures we call Malinois are intelligent, hardworking, and determined. Overall, friendly!
According to the American Belgian Malinois Club:
“Malinois are good with children and other aniMalinois when properly introduced or raised with them. However, this dog can also be protective, territorial, possessive and jealous.”
(Melissa Smith, 5 Things to Know About Belgian Malinois)
Don’t forget that they are a herding breed, and they can incline to chase and nip the kiddies. Leaving Malinois with babies is not safe. They are suitable for older children who know how to treat these aggressive buddies.
With other pets?
Well, if you raise them with other pets, they’ll be okay. But with other pets, your dog doesn’t already know, he’ll be aggressive. Their natural prey drive may urge them to chase furry cats and other little pets.
With strangers, they remain reserved. Appropriate socialization from an early stage and introducing them to family, friends, and relatives can help them learn acceptance.
On the whole, Belgian Shepherd Malinois aren’t prone to health issues. Their agility, energy, and stamina keep them immune. Like any other breed, they too can fall prey to some health conditions.
Not every Malinois will get affected with ALL or SOME of these conditions, but beforehand knowledge will help. Really!
Hip Dysplasia is a hereditary condition. If not genetically transmitted, some other factors can also provoke the disease, such as triggering rapid growth with a high-caloric diet, injuries like falling on the slippery floor, etc.
In this disease, the thigh bone of the dog doesn’t fit well in the hip joint. The affected dog can show some signs like lameness, can suffer from pain, or in some cases, no symptoms appear at all.
As the dog ages, he may develop Arthritis, a disease that is unfortunately incurable.
Dogs with Hip Dysplasia should NOT be bred. Else, they will pass on the disease to the next generation.
Just like Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia is also a hereditary disease common to large dog breeds. The cause can be different growth rates of three bones making up the elbow. The affected dog may feel severe discomfort and show signs of lameness.
Elbow Dysplasia is somehow controllable with medication. In severe conditions, vets recommend going for surgery.
Malinois are hypersensitive to Anesthesia. When put under anesthesia, their muscle to fat ratio can cause more than an average number of dogs to die. If your Malinois is about to undergo surgery, be careful.
You and your vet will have to understand the breed’s sensitivity level.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy:
Progressive Retinal Atrophy is an eye disorder. It causes gradual deterioration and gives rise to the loss of photoreceptors present at the back of the eyes, which eventually may lead to blindness.
The good thing is, you can quickly notice the disease much before the dog is about to get blind.
If unluckily, a dog gets struck by this disease, his other natural senses can compensate for his vision loss.
4. Grooming Needs:
Maintenance-wise, Belgian Malinois, are low key. They don’t need much effort. Their short coat is easy to groom. Brush their coat up once a week with a bristle brush, and they are good to go.
Typically, they are not heavy shedders. They shed seasonally, twice a year, in spring and fall. They will need frequent brushing in the shedding period. Otherwise, you’ll notice their hair blowing everywhere.
Want to keep your buddy ship-shaped? The ultimate solution to your dog’s shedding problems is Furminator de-shedding tool. Using the tool only for five minutes will get you rid of tufts and give a nice shine to your furry’s coat.
Dental Hygiene is more than necessary. Brush their teeth twice or thrice a week to stop the build-up of bacteria. II recommend brushing daily if you want them to breathe fresh and keep their gums healthy.
Make your Malinois habitual of brushing and cleaning since his puppyhood.
Don’t bathe your Malinois too often. Frequent bathing with soap and shampoo can take its natural waterproofing away. If the need arises, consider using products specially made for dogs.
You can bathe your boy after every two months or so.
Check for the rashes, sores, allergies, and infection symptoms while you groom your buddy. Look inside their mouth, ears, and examine their paws. This thorough examination will keep you ahead of the game in case any potential health issue occurs.
Make grooming a process of positive reinforcement backed up with praise and rewards your Malinois loves. By doing so, you’ll pave the way for veterinary examinations in the future.
5. Feeding and Nutrition:
How much should you feed your Mal? It depends on your dog’s size, age, activity, and metabolism level.
Just like humans, dogs too are individuals. Their eating habits differ. A relatively active dog will need more food than a dog that spends most of its time resting on the couch (which is next to impossible in the case of Malinois).
Generally, an average Belgian Manolis needs 2 to 3 cups of great-quality dry food in two divided portions a day. Dogs are carnivores in terms of eating habits. They relish meats or meaty flavors.
Admit the fact or not, they need a fair amount of protein nourishment to thrive.
It’s no secret that the quality and amount of the food go hand in hand in keeping your Malinois healthy. The better the quality, the healthier the dog!
If the food you feed to your Malinois is of fine quality, it will provide your buddy with all essential nutrients your dog needs.
If you are stuck between selecting a great dry food for your Malinois out of so many options available in the market, let me make things easier for you. You can trust ORIJEN Dry Dog Food, because it’s rich in protein, nutrient-dense, and will help your companion reach his full biological potential.
Want to keep an eye on your dog’s weight? Keeping an eye-test or hands-on test in routine will help.
Don’t know how to perform the said tests? Look down at your doggie. You must be able to see his waist. Now, place your hands on his back. Thumbs must be along the spine with fingers spread downwards. Can you feel (feel not see) the ribs without pressing hard? If yes, your dog is all fit.
If not, restrict their eating habits and increase their activity.
Simple as that!
Energy Level and Intensity
Our beyond amazing buds have extravagant energies. They are passionate workers and bask in getting aspirational tasks done. If you think you can satisfy their physical needs by only taking them for a walk around the block, you are wrong.
Potential owners need to understand that Malinois belong to the working dog group. The same traits that make them a perfect fit for military use make them inappropriate as a family pet.
The ambitious beings need more. Give them the chance to indulge in active daily exercises.
Do you enjoy running, cycling, and hiking? Congratulations. You and your dog share the same warmth. Allow them to join you in every activity and enjoy together.
There couldn’t be any other better way to put their energy into service.
A problem that you might face while you take your Malinois along with you is their yanking habit. One perfect way to keep your dog from pulling is sprucing him up in every dog owner’s favorite Tactical Dog Harness.
It is an ‘easy-on’ harness and keeps your crazy fellow at ease, with no irritation or scratching! You can also Plus, he’ll look dandy. Put it on your dog and get ready to receive the compliments.
Belgian Malinois score 5/5 on the playfulness scale. When it comes to playing, they are full of fun and high in spirits.
A healthy play session with your Malinois will rule out the boredom and will preclude the development of unacceptable destructive behaviors. They excel in games like tug of war, fetching, chasing, searching, and hide-and-seek.
To boost your Mal’s thrilling personality, you can introduce him to some treat-dispensing toys, training toys, or interactive toys. (Are Belgian Malinois Playful?)
KONG – Extreme is a tough chase and fetch toy specially made for heavy chewers. You can stuff your dog’s best-loved snacks In KONG and keep him busy for a long playtime.
There are other top-notch toys too. Let’s say if your dog is up for a playday, but you want some food-free stimulation, bring Ultra-Durable Chew Toy. Chewing is any dog’s priMalinois instinct. This ring-shaped interactive toy is just right for an interactive activity.
Both toys are engineered to be as indestructible as possible and are 100% safe.
Our short-coated furries came into being as heavy workers and have a strong background. Their working ethics are exceptional!
Ease of training:
Malinois learn fast. They respond quickly to commands. Remaining busy and socially challenged is what they love the most. Teach them obedience, code of conduct, work principles, or whatever they are always to show spot-on performance.
Their herding heritage makes them easy to train.
The crazy workers always crave some activity. It’s true that we can’t ply Malinois with the amount of bodily process they are capable of, but it’s our responsibility to utilize their energy in some positive training and reinforcement.
Malinois thrive when trained with love, attention, and affection.
(Belgian Malinois, dogedit, Nov 1st, 2019)
By now, you must have realised how high their intelligence level is. Haven’t you?
They have profound learning ability and have a cognitive drive. To make most of their intelligence and positively utilize their IQ, couple socialization with some effective training.
And the innate abilities of your dog will stupefy you!
Training a Malinois
The moment you bring your Malinois home is the suitable time to start his training. Don’t wait for shortcuts or anything like that, because there are none.
Training dogs is an art. If you are not very well-versed at that, it’s nothing to feel low. There are lots of other dog parents who housebreak their dogs by following the training methods of experts.
If they can, you can, too!
Train your dog using Susan Barwig’s tried and tested methods of Schutzhund: Theory and Training Methods. Give it a read, and you’ll find so many significant keys that you might have missed before. Believe it or not, you’ll thank the author for the valuable knowledge she shared.
Do you feel training your dog by yourself isn’t doing any good to your boy? Instead of showing good behavior, your dog’s attitude has worsened.
No need to lose hope and give up on your dog!
All is not lost yet. Sign up for an online training course.
Online courses are cost-effective, and most online trainers provide you with personal support. Brain training for dogs is one brilliant training course. What makes it unique is a Risk-Free trial preview.
Yes, the trainer offers a 60 days trial, if and only if you see no fruitful transformation in your Mal, claim your money back.
Should you buy Malinois?
Now, the last piece of the puzzle, should you buy a Malinois? Well, Belgian Malinois are dynamic dogs with hard-hitting energies. They are alert and ready to go, 24/7. Smartest, craziest, and most fun dogs ever!
Their powerful tendencies require an owner whose energies match with theirs.
So, are you an experienced dog parent and have some knowledge about the awesome breed? Think no further. Welcome your Malinois right away!
What? You have been parenting dogs but don’t know much about Malinois, in particular? The Complete Guide to the Belgian Malinois is a must-have book with the comprehensive knowledge every Malinois owner needs.
But if you are a ‘BUY-IT, FORGET-IT’ kinda person, better buy some goldfish. Pardon me for the harsh lingo, but I strongly believe that Malinois deserve someone better!