Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois is an impressive herding dog from Belgium. Like many country dogs, the Malinois is quite adaptable, known for his versatility and work ethic. They can make good pets if given some serious mental and physical exercise, but are simply too much dog for many owners.

These are not giant lap dogs; they take themselves and their jobs seriously. This is why they commonly find themselves working law enforcement K9 officers. Read more to learn about the Belgian Malinois.

Description of the Belgian Malinois

The Malinois could be confused for a German Shepherd from a distance. These powerful dogs are muscular, yet also agile. Their muscles are lean, not bulky, which differentiates them from other working breeds. Indeed, it’s their pointed ears and eager expressions, not their lanky bodies, that could be confused with the German Shepherd.

Fashion trends weren’t a consideration in the creation of these workhorses, but rather versatility. While they function as all around workers in Belgium, they specialize in herding. Nowadays, this breed mostly finds himself in police and military work – and with good reason.

The Belgian Malinois can come in a variety of striking colors. They can be fawn, mahogany, red, fawn sable, or red sable with or without a black mask.

Life Expectancy and Size

Females are normally significantly smaller than males. The breed can stand between 22 and 26 inches. They can weigh in anywhere from 40 to 80 pounds.

They have quite a lengthy lifespan for a dog of their size and stature. Most Mals live between 14 and 16 years.

Protective Ability

Mals are some of the best protective and guard dogs around. They’re naturally suspicious, tenacious, alert, and intelligent. They’re also notoriously mouthy and quick to bite (hard). This breed is a poor fit for homes that don’t have the time to train this dog to channel its protective instincts appropriately.

Though they’re natural guard dogs, it takes significant training to teach your Mal who’s friend and foe, and how to guard the house properly. Get help from a trainer if you’re interested in a guard dog.


These dogs can function as family pets, but they’ll always retain their job oriented mind. It is best to approach training like a series of small jobs. This helps the Malinois keep focus and find the meaning behind training.

This breed can perform important functions like search and rescue. Others excel in the military. Many Malinois are also proficient herders and guard dogs.

Remember to remain positive and always base training on rewards and relationships. This dog thrives on challenge, so get creative with training. Using toys as a reward is generally a great way to motivate your Mal, but it’s often easier to start training sessions using food as a reward.

Energy Level

These dogs were meant to have a job. Consequently, they have a significant amount of energy. Inadequate mental and physical stimulation will quickly see your Belgian Malinois becoming bored. Broadly speaking, these are high maintenance pets. Expect daily, intense exercise.

That being said, the Malinois does have some variation line to line. Breeders that produce dogs meant for work are not a good fit for people who desire family pets. Be sure to inquire closely.

What Living with a Belgian Malinois is Like

The Malinois is an incredibly alert, intelligent, and athletic dog. These workhorses are more than capable of protecting their family if need be. However, well-socialized dogs should not be aggressive.

Living with a Mal can feel like a full-time job between exercise and training. They’re great fun for athletes and trainers, but can easily overwhelm owners who aren’t extremely dedicated to their needs.

Most individuals form strong bonds with their family and owners. For those that can keep up with their exercise needs, Malinois make loving companions.

Care of the Belgian Malinois

These dogs are a tough breed. They’re an easy care, wash and wear kind of breed.

Environmental Needs

Malinois are essentially weather-proof. They are tough, with enough hair to keep them warm, but not so much as to make them overheat easily. Of course, with extreme exertion, Malinois may become too hot. Always provide adequate water and shade.

Exercise Needs

These dogs are great for athletic owners. The best way to ensure that they get the activity they need is taking them on family outings. They’re perfect companions for runners, hikers, and bikers.

Otherwise, owners should have specific jobs in mind. They can be great canine athletes, military companions, and search and rescue dogs.

Shedding and Grooming

These dogs require brushing once a week or so. Otherwise, baths are only necessary when the Malinois becomes smelly. Trim these athletes’ nails when they become long so that they do not suffer from unnecessary pain.

Belgian Malinois are medium to moderate shedders. However, seasonally, they shed a whole lot more. During these periods, you may need to brush them more often.

Ideal Home Environment

This breed is a good option for athletes. They may flourish with individuals, as long as single owners can commit to being around enough. Like all dogs, leaving them to their own devices for hours or days on end is not a good idea.

The ideal home will understand the Malinois specific needs. These are loyal dogs that love their people, but absolutely need a job to maintain sanity.

Although Malinois have great potential as watchdogs, it is important to take socialization seriously. Otherwise, they may become aggressive, which is not a fair fate for the sensitive breed.

Health Concerns

This breed has relatively standard health issues. In fact, they have quite a long lifespan for such a large dog. Most simply experience joint and eye problems as they age. Always maintain the Malinois’ fitness to ensure that they age as seamlessly as possible. Consult with a veterinarian for any specific issues.

Behavior Problems

Many owners affectionately call their dogs mal-igators. This speaks to the breed’s tendency to bite and latch on – in play and in seriousness. This breed becomes bored easily, which can quickly lead to jumpy, mouthy, bitey, and destructive behaviors. While obedience and exercise can certainly help, this breed is best left to experienced owners.