Belgian Malinois

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    History & Overview

    The Belgian Malinois, also known as Chien de Berger Belge, or Belgian Shepherd Dog, is an intelligent, courageous and alert dog with unwavering devotion to his master. There are two accepted pronunciations of the name Malinoismalinoy in the US and malinwah in Europe. These dogs are used for herding, as therapy dogs, and search and rescue, among other things.

    The Belgian Malinois belongs to the group of Belgian shepherd dogs consisting of four varieties based on the coat color, texture and length – Belgian Malinois, Belgian Tervuren, Groenendael and Laekenois. In the United States, only 3 of the 4 varieties are recognized by the American Kennel Club – the Belgian Malinois, the Belgian Tervuren and the Belgian Sheepdog, which is the Groenendael variety. The Belgian Laekenois is registered through the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service but cannot compete in AKC shows.

    Interesting Facts

    Belgian Malinois are renowned for their incredible sense of smell. Mexican drug smugglers offered $70,000 to anyone who would kill Rocky or Barco, 2 Belgian Malinois dogs who were experts in locating hidden drugs. Their skills resulted in the seizure of more than 300 million dollars worth of drugs. Fortunately, the dogs were never harmed.


    The breed plays a major role in the fight against terrorism. The Secret Service, Customs Service, Park Service, the military, police and numerous law enforcement agencies depend on Belgian Malinois’s keen sense of smell to find bombs and hidden plastic explosives. Their spirit and energy mark them as some of the Europe’s finest all-purpose working dogs.

    At A Glance

    Country of Origin:



    Originally a sheepdog, today a working dog (guarding, defence, tracking, etc.) and an all-purpose service dog, as well as a family dog.


    FCI Classification: Group 1: Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs (except Swiss Cattle Dogs)
    AKC Classification: Herding Group


    Medium (up to 22.8 – 24.4 inches at shoulders)


    Fawn with black overlay and with black mask. The mask must be very pronounced and tend to encompass the top and bottom lip, the corners of the lips and the eyelids in one single black zone. The black overlay means that the hairs have a black tip which shades the base color.

    Litter Size:

    6 – 10

    Life Span:

    Up to 13 years

    Grooming Requirements:

    The Malinois can be groomed weekly, but during shedding, preferably every two days. Regular removing of dead hair and dust will keep your dog’s coat glossy and will also eliminate the necessity of bathing. Brushing stimulates the blood circulation and guarantees a good coat condition. Everyday grooming of coat is well advised.




    Watchful and keen protector of his owner. Lively, alert, confident and fearless. The best guard dog of property.

    Social skills:

    Usually gets along with other dogs and animals in the household if socialized with them early.

    Suitability for Children:

    Usually good with children. Some dogs can be jealous, overly protective, territorial and possessive, meaning that they will not readily accept your children’s friends at first introduction. Some Malinois will try and herd small children and other members of the family by circling and nipping at their heels.

    Exercise Needs:

    A few miles daily. The Belgian Malinois are hyperactive dogs that need a lot of exercise to vent their energy.

    Train Ability:

    Highly trainable and quick to learn. Known for his intense desire to understand and follow commands of his master.

    Known Health Risks:

    Behavioral Issues:

    Dog aggression is considered a serious threat to public health. However, among working dogs (such as law enforcement) and sport protection dogs (such as Schutzhund or French Ring), aggression may be classified as desired (controlled display of aggressive behaviors by the dog within defined situational parameters) or undesired (aggressive behaviors outside of those defined or desired situations).

    Undesired aggression may be spontaneous, episodic, and have no apparent trigger, and possibly distinct than the undesired aggression. Owners have reported seizures and unpredictable behavioral changes including dogs’ eyes “lazing over,” dogs’ lack of response to environmental stimuli, hyper-vigilance, increased yawning, and loss of behavioral inhibition including owner-directed biting behavior.

    Dogs with severe behavioral changes may be euthanized as they can represent a danger to humans and other dogs. Although behavior genetics are notably complex, with behaviors affected by actions and interactions of many genes, it has been hypothesized that partial seizures and undesired aggression in Belgian Malinois dogs are associated with a genetic mutation of neurotransmitter dopamine transporter.1

    Video Credits: Animal Planet, Discovery Channel
    Image Credits: DogsBestLife


    1. Lit et al. – Characterization Of A Dopamine Transporter Polymorphism And Behavior In Belgian Malinois BMC Genetics 201314:45 DOI: 10.1186/1471-2156-14-45


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