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The Belgian Malinois is a light-footed canine with high endurance. He is a native of Belgium, where he was highly esteemed as a working dog for his diligence and sharp senses.
Belgian Malinois dogs are protective of their family, but they are respectfully reserved towards strangers. They are good companions for children and other pets so long as they are well trained and properly socialised.
The Belgian Malinois dog breed is easy to groom and only needs minimal brushing. Training him is easy as he is smart and a dedicated learner, but he is best suited for experienced owners. The average lifespan of the Belgian Malinois breed is 12–14 years.
The Belgian Malinois dog breed is a part of the Belgian sheepdogs known as Chien de Berger Belge. Back in the old days, they primarily serve as herding and guard dogs in Belgium. Since he was bred for his ability rather than his aesthetic, not many records were found about this dog.
In 1911, Professor Reul was requested to study the native dogs in Belgium. His research aimed to see if these dogs can be classified into distinct breeds.
The short-haired variety of Belgian Shepherd dogs originated in the city of Malines, which is located in the northwestern region of Belgium. Thus, this dog earned the name Belgian Malinois.
In the early 1900s, Belgian Malinois dogs first arrived in the United States. During World War II, they were used as military dogs.
In 1959, the American Kennel Club officially acknowledged the Belgian Malinois breed. He is also recognised by the Kennel Club in the UK and categorised under the Pastoral Group.
Up until now, the Belgian Malinois dog breed is still the most popular shepherd breed in Belgium. Today, he is not only favoured as a herding dog, but also as a police dog and a search and rescue dog. He is even more in demand than the German Shepherd and Dutch Shepherd.
The Belgian Malinois breed’s versatility and hard-working nature make him a great fit for this noble but challenging job.
The Belgian Malinois dog breed has a lean yet muscular, square-shaped body that exudes elegance. Adult male Belgian Malinois dogs measure around 27–36 kilos (60–80 pounds) in height and 60–66 centimetres (24–26 inches) in weight.
Meanwhile, full-grown female Belgian Malinois dogs weigh around 18–29 kilos (40–65 pounds) and stand approximately 55–60 centimetres (22–24 inches).
The body of Belgian Malinois dogs is proportionate to their head. Their ears are erect and triangular. They have a slightly pointed muzzle and a black nose. Their almond-shaped eyes are brown. They have catlike feet and a tail that is strong at the base.
The Belgian Malinois breed has a short and straight double coat with a dense undercoat. This offers him weather resistance. The fur is commonly short on the dog’s head, ears, and lower legs. It becomes slightly longer around the neck, tail, and back of the thighs.
The coat of the Belgian Malinois dog breed comes in varying colours, from fawn to mahogany. Meanwhile, the tips of his fur are black.
Belgian Malinois dogs are often mistaken for German Shepherds. However, they are separate breeds that have few yet distinct differences. The Belgian Malinois is smaller compared to the German Shepherd.
Moreover, the Belgian Malinois possesses a more defined head and has smaller and more triangular ears than the German shepherd. Unlike the Belgian Malinois, the German shepherd dog commonly has a tan with a black saddle coat.
When caring for Belgian Malinois dogs, it is advised to brush their double coats at least once a week. This helps to get rid of any dead or loose hair. They normally shed twice a year in spring and autumn, and their short coats will need daily brushing during those months.
Bathing should only be done when it is required. Recurrent washing may dry his skin and hair, which can cause skin problems.
Trim your Belgian Malinois dog’s nails at least once every 1–2 months. Do not forget to inspect and clean his ears once every month to prevent ear infections.
If possible, add daily tooth brushing to his grooming routine. It is one of the most effective ways to avoid periodontal disease, which is a prevalent health problem in dogs.
The Belgian Malinois dog breed is very fond of his family and is quite dedicated to them. He makes a good guard dog, as he is protective of his human companions.
Belgian Malinois dogs tend to be reserved and indifferent towards strangers. However, they should not be hostile towards them unless threatened.
Yes, the Belgian Malinois fits well in families. He gets along well with children, but care should be taken. Young children tend to be rambunctious and may roughly handle the dog.
When it comes to other family pets, the Belgian Malinois may not get along with them unless they grow up together. Socialising him at an early age will prevent this from happening. Supervision is always needed when he is interacting with a child or another pet.
Are Belgian Malinois aggressive? No. Aggressiveness and timidity are not a part of the temperament of Belgian Malinois dogs.
They may be protective of their family members, but they should not be vicious nor shy of other people. These dogs may act aloof towards strangers until they identify that they are not a threat.
Early socialisation and training are crucial for the Belgian Malinois dog breed to mature into a people- and animal-loving dog. Without undergoing this process, he may end up being fearful or aggressive to humans and other pets.
Yes. The Belgian Malinois breed may appear tough and serious, but he has a soft side to him. Much like most dog breeds, he craves love from his family and enjoys receiving cuddles.
However, mind that some Belgian Malinois dogs are not fond of cuddles. Training with the use of positive reinforcement will solve this situation.
Female Belgian Malinois dogs are observed to be more attached to their owners. On the other hand, male Belgian Malinois dogs have a more outgoing and adventurous personality.
These are only generalisations, so these traits may not be true to all male and female Belgian Malinois dogs. When picking a canine companion, it is best to pay attention to each dog's unique personality instead.
Yes. Highly intelligent and hard-working, Belgian Malinois dogs are quick learners and easy to train. For these traits to be properly honed, an owner with extensive knowledge and experience of the breed is needed.
Novice owners will find Belgian Malinois dogs challenging to train, as they can be intense and full of energy.
Training a Belgian Malinois
The Belgian Malinois breed is an intelligent and highly capable dog. He can quickly learn new commands and tricks through firm and consistent training. Use positive reinforcement in Belgian Malinois training to further motivate your dog to do his best.
Since Belgian Malinois dogs are sensitive to harsh criticism, keep your emotions in check and mind the tone of voice during training. Any harsh treatment will be met with resistance, and he may resent you for it too.
The Belgian Malinois breed excels in many dog sports and canine jobs. These include herding, showing, tracking, agility, obedience, fly ball, Schutzhund, other protection sports, search and rescue, and police work.
How to potty-train a Belgian Malinois puppy
It is advised that you confine your Belgian Malinois puppy to an enclosed space such as in a room or a crate. You can also put him on a lead. Once he understands that he should go outside to eliminate, you may slowly allow him to wander around your home.
Follow the steps below when you begin house-training your Belgian Malinois puppy:
Step 1: Be sure to set a regular feeding schedule. Remember to remove his unfinished food between meals.
Step 2: Bring your Belgian Malinois puppy outside early in the morning. Do this again once every 30 minutes to an hour. Take him outside after eating and when he wakes up from a nap. He should be brought outside to eliminate at night before he goes to sleep.
Step 3: Make sure that he eliminates on the same spot every time he goes outside. If done frequently, his scent will prompt him to go to the area without your urging.
Step 4: Stay with him outside, at least until he’s house-trained.
Step 5: Every time your Belgian Malinois puppy eliminates outside, give him a treat or praise him. This will encourage him to continue this behaviour until it becomes a habit.
Belgian Malinois Breed Fun Facts
The Belgian Malinois is a medium- to large-size breed that is required to consume plenty of meat. Since he is an active breed, you must feed him around 25–35% of protein. There should also be more than 10% fat intake to ensure that he has enough energy throughout the day.
You may feed your Belgian Malinois commercially processed dog food, but make sure that it has the following ingredients:
Animal-based protein should be the first ingredient listed on the dog food label. The dog food should contain over 35% of protein from real meat. Good sources of protein for Belgian Malinois dogs include bison, rabbit, or venison, although poultry is also fine.
The Belgian Malinois needs protein to maintain muscle mass and support the bone structure. Protein also helps him feel full and sustains his energy.
Fat sounds like a dangerous ingredient, but dogs actually need it for energy. So look for dog food that contains more than 10% fat. Good fats are necessary to support your Belgian Malinois dog’s joint mobility, skin, and brain function.
This means fruits and vegetables. They are considered the best sources of vitamins and minerals that promote healthy bones, brain, and vision. They are also rich in antioxidants, which boost the Belgian Malinois dog’s immune system. They also contain fibre, which helps his digestive system.
Probiotics are needed for a healthy gut. As the Belgian Malinois dog breed is prone to have allergies and has a sensitive digestive system, then it’s better to include probiotics as a dog food ingredient.
Certain compounds like glucosamine and chondroitin ensure healthy growth and prevent common health conditions such as hip dysplasia and cardiovascular diseases.
Beware of dog food that contains fillers that are considered allergens and have no nutritional value. Some of these ingredients include:
A 3- to 6-month-old Belgian Malinois puppy needs at least 1.39–1.50 cups of food daily. Once he turns 7–10 months old, he requires about 1.34–1.50 cups. When he reaches 11 months old to a year old, feed him 1.20–1.34 cups.
The meals during the Belgian Malinois dog’s puppyhood must be split into approximately 3–4 servings.
A full-grown Belgian Malinois dog that weighs about 20 kilos (44 pounds) should be given at least 1.08–1.45 cups of food each day.
If he is an adult dog that weighs around 25 kilos (55 pounds), feed him 1.17–1.53 cups of food daily. If his weight is around 30 kilos (66 pounds), he requires 1.30–1.50 cups of food.
Note that an adult Belgian Malinois dog’s meals should be divided into 2 smaller portions.
The Belgian Malinois is quite a hardy breed. He has an average lifespan of 12–14 years. However, he is still vulnerable to a few health problems, such as:
It means the laxity and looseness of the hip joints. Although hip dysplasia is not a life-threatening health problem, it inflicts pain on affected dogs. Lameness and mobility issues will eventually occur if this condition is not treated.
Treatment for affected Belgian Malinois dogs is medication if it is a mild case. Severe forms of hip dysplasia will often require surgical correction.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
PRA is an incurable ocular disease that leads to gradual vision loss. As there is no cure for this illness yet, owners of Belgian Malinois dogs with PRA should prepare in advance on how to care for blind dogs.
The Belgian Malinois is one of the dog breeds that are highly sensitive to anaesthesia. The reason behind this is his low body fat ratio. Always inform the vet about this health concern in case he needs to undergo surgery or even teeth cleaning.
Purchase a Belgian Malinois puppy from a reputable breeder to ensure that you get a healthy and well-bred canine companion. You may find one by asking for referrals from fellow dog enthusiasts, the vet, or the groomer.
Attending dog shows and inquiring from participants or audiences is another good option too. You can also try visiting local breed clubs.
There is a cheaper way to get a Belgian Malinois, which is to adopt one instead of buying one. Check various animal shelters, rescue organisations, and rehoming centres in your area. Note that you are more likely to find an adult Belgian Malinois than a puppy in these places.
The Belgian Malinois dog breed is a high-energy dog, thus he requires more time to expend his energy. He would be a great companion for people who have an active lifestyle.
Allot at least 1–1½ hour of your time for the Belgian Malinois dog’s exercise needs. You can split it into 3 30-minute sessions.
A healthy and well-bred Belgian Malinois puppy has a price tag of about £900 to over £2,000. Budget around £30–£60 for his monthly food expenses.
To swiftly integrate your new canine companion at home, it is necessary to provide him with basic supplies such as toys and bedding. The overall expenses for these items are approximately £200–£400.
Keeping your Belgian Malinois puppy healthy involves visiting the vet regularly. Each vet check-up session will cost you around £30–£60.
Puppies are extremely vulnerable to countless lethal diseases due to their still-developing bodies. Vaccinating your pup will keep him safe from several deadly illnesses. The cost for the first jabs of vaccines is around £100–150, and £50–£60 for annual boosters.
Expenses for vet care are costly, so consider getting pet insurance to ease its strain on your pocket. A time-limited cover has a monthly cost that ranges from £15–£20. A lifetime package is more expensive but has a wide medical coverage, and its fee is around £18 to over £80 per month.
Are you sure the Belgian Malinois is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.Dog Breed Selector Quiz