Choosing a Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois is a serious and watchful breed with a strong protective and territorial instinct. This breed excels as a police dog, search and rescue dog and natural guardian.

History and Origin

Throughout time, Belgians have used various dogs to help them in their herding tasks. Through breeding trial and error, they finally developed a dog that was agile, strong, intelligent and loyal. By 1891, these dogs were known as Belgian shepherds. Since that time, four separate versions of the Belgian shepherd have been developed. They have the same basic body type but with different coats. In Belgium and France these dogs are all registered as Chien de Berger Belge. They are considered one breed with four different varieties. In many other parts of the world, including the United States, each breed is considered separate and distinct. The Belgian Malinois is one of them.

In addition to the Belgian Malinois (short, smooth coat), the other Belgian sheep herding dogs include the Belgian sheepdog or groenendael (long black coat), the Belgian tervueren (long coat any color but black) and the Belgian laekenois (wire coat). Of these, only the laekenois is not recognized by the American Kennel Club.

The Belgian Malinois, as with other Belgian shepherds, was developed in Belgium. This particular breed was primarily associated with the city of Malines. This dog was bred to be an intelligent and loyal dog and is a favorite in his native land.

In 1911, the first Belgian Malinois was imported into the United States and recognized by the American Kennel Club in the miscellaneous group. In 1963 the second importation of the Belgian Malinois took place and popularity of the breed grew quickly. In 1965, the American Kennel Club recognized the Belgian Malinois in the working class and 22 years later the breed was recognized in the herding class.

Appearance and Size

The Belgian Malinois is a well-muscled lean dog with a balanced, square body. The breed carries his head with pride and grace. The Belgian Malinois has brown eyes and triangular erect ears. The nose is black and the tail curves. The hair coat is short and dense with a thicker undercoat and comes in fawn and mahogany with a black mask and ears.

The adult Belgian Malinois stands 22 to 26 inches at the shoulder and weighs 60 to 65 pounds.


The Belgian Malinois is an intelligent dog with an instinctive protective nature that helps him excel in herding animals and guarding property.

Home and Family Relations

The Belgain Malinois is a dominant dog that needs an experienced owner. They are used as tracking, schutzhund, narcotic and bomb detection work, search and rescue, herding and obedience. The Belgian Malinois makes a good protector for children and property due to their natural instinct of sensing impending danger. They are not, however, good with other household pets. The Belgian Malinois enjoys long walks and loves the cooler weather. They make excellent companion dogs, but need early socialization and obedience.


The Belgian Malinois is an intelligent breed that needs basic and advanced training as well as early socialization as a young puppy. This breed is naturally confident and assertive. For this reason, the Belgian Malinois needs a firm but gentle hand and should not be allowed to dominate family members. This breed is easily taught a variety of tasks and enjoys having a job to do.


The Belgian Malinois has a short coat that needs to be brushed daily for a clean, shiny coat.

Special Care

The Belgian Malinois need lots of exercise and training or he may become uncontrollable and destructive.

Common Diseases and Disorders

In general, the Belgian Malinois is a healthy dog with few medical concerns. However, the following diseases or disorders have been reported:

  • Gastric torsion, also known as bloat, is a life-threatening sudden illness associated with the stomach filling with air and twisting.
  • Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that results in pain, lameness and arthritis.
  • Epilepsy is a seizure disorder that develops between the ages of 2 and 5 years.

    The Belgian Malinois is also prone to certain types of cancer.

    Life Span

    The life span of the Belgian Malinois is approximately 12 to 14 years.

    We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.

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