The Belgian Malinois originated in the city of Malinois, Belgium, from which it takes its name. Standing at between 22 and 26 inches, and weighing 55 to 65 pounds, the breed somewhat resembles the German Shepherd, but is slightly smaller and has a lighter build.
There are actually four varieties of Belgian sheepdog, the Belgian Tervuren, Belgian Groenendael, Belgian Laekenois and, of course, the Belgian Malinois. Not all kennel clubs recognize all of these. The AKC, for example, recognizes three of the variants as separate breeds, while the UKC accepts all four as a single breed.
From its roots as a shepherd dog, the Malinois has developed into one of the most widely used law enforcement dogs worldwide. Their obedience and intelligence makes them ideal for bomb detection, search and rescue, narcotics work and guarding.
These are smart dogs with a protective nature that can make them excellent pets, under the right conditions. The Malinios needs training, socialization and consistent pack leadership. You will also need to be prepared for long exercise sessions with your dog, every day. Dogs that become bored and frustrated due to lack of activity, often develop behavioral problems and this will almost certainly be the case with a Malinois.
Socialization is important, especially with children, other dogs and non-canine pets. But even a well socialized Malinois may try to be dominant with other dogs, so be sure to supervise situations where dominance may be an issue, like meal times.
You should also be aware that the herding instinct is still dominant in the breed, so they will try to herd anyone in their immediate vicinity – usually by nipping at their ankles.
It should be pretty obvious by now that a Malinois can be quite a handful, and you should give it a lot of consideration before deciding to take on such a high maintenance dog. Speaking to someone who has experience with the breed will help you to make an informed decision.
The Belgian Malinois is a generally healthy dog that suffers from few of the diseases that typically afflict purebred dogs. They are, however, prone to a number of less serious ailments including, epilepsy, thyroid problems, cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy.
In terms of behavioral problems, you may see aggression, or shyness in dogs that have not been socialized.
The Malinois is an easy breed to care for and requires only a good brush down a few times per week to keep the coat looking its best.
If you’ve decided to adopt a Malinois you need to bear in mind that this is a working dog requiring a lot of exercise. This is not a dog for living in an apartment. A house with a medium to large garden is a much better option although your dog will still require long daily walks.
Although the Malinois can live outside, he’d much rather be indoors and close to those he loves.