Belgian Malinois

About the Breed

The Belgian Malinois is a type of Belgian Shepherd dog.  The primary difference between the breeds is related to the coat.  The Belgian Turvuren is a similar color and long coated; the Belgian Sheepdog is long coated but black; the Laekenois is wire coated.  Otherwise the breeds are fairly similar in structure and type.

The Belgian Malinois is probably the most well known of the Belgian breeds around the world.  He has gained a reputation for being an exceptional working dog and is heavily relied upon for scent detection, patrol work, and protection work within the military, police force, and search and rescue.

In many working environments, he has become the dog of favor.  The breed hasn’t replaced German Shepherds, but many forces prefer the dogs for particular tasks due to its intensity, quick reacting nature, and lighter, more agile body.

Physical Characteristics

The Belgian Malinois is a larger breed of dog measuring between 22-26 inches with males being taller than females.  Females may weigh between 40-60 pounds; males are larger weighing between 60-80 pounds.  Even though he is considered a larger breed of dog, he is lighter boned than some larger breeds and is very agile for his size.

The breed comes in one primary color: fawn ranging into mahogany.  The variation in individual dogs comes down to how much black is on the dog as a complementary color.  The dogs have black masking on the face and ears and may have a variance of black tipping on the coat.


The Belgian Malinois is a wonderful companion dog for the person looking for an active dog.  They aren’t dogs for the first time dog owner as they require someone willing to be a leader and be consistent.  Additionally, they are usually high energy dogs with a higher than average prey drive.  While this makes them ideal for working environments, it doesn’t always work well within the family environment.

The breed is an intelligent breed that is easily trained.  They are eager to learn new tasks and work for a handler.  They are easily motivated to work and especially love the use of toys as rewards.

The downside for the average owner is that the breed needs a lot of exercise and it has a lot of stamina.  Daily exercise is a must, and plenty of activities to keep the dog busy are required.  You must desire a highly active dog.

Belgian Malinois love to be with their family.  They are excellent companions and protectors.  They can do well with other animals and children, if properly socialized at an early age.  But, because there is a herding instinct and higher prey drive in many individuals in the breed, it is important to note that some dogs will potentially attempt to herd young children that run, cats, or small dogs.

The average Belgian Malinois is more reserved with strangers, but after a few meetings will greet them as a friend.  He should not be excessively shy or aggressive towards strangers.


For someone wanting a dog to train, the Belgian Malinois is a fantastic selection.  Not only are they intelligent, but they want to work with you and are easily motivated.  They do things precisely and well.  Additionally, they are light on their feet and agile making them ideal in competitive sports like agility.

This breed requires a lot of early socialization to new people, animals, places, etc.  It is highly necessary to avoid problems later on.  If not properly socialized, the dog may not be able to discern who is a friend vs. a threat.  With plenty of socialization, he does well with other dogs and people.

Belgian Malinois, although quick learners, can be sensitive in nature.  Harsh corrections are not appropriate, and the breed does well with positive reinforcement training and consistent leadership.

Shedding & Grooming

The breed has a fairly weather resistant coat made up of short, close lying hairs.  The hair will be slightly longer around the ruff of the neck, on the tail, and on the back of the thighs.  He has a dense undercoat underneath.

He will require regular brushing to maintain his coat and catch any loose hairs.  Once a week should suffice for maintenance brushing.  There will be heavier shedding twice a year when the undercoat is blown out, and this will require thorough brushing with a de-shedding tool.

Otherwise, routine nail trims and tooth brushing are what is necessary.  He only requires an occasional bath when dirty.

Health & Life Expectancy

For a larger breed, the Belgian Malinois is a healthy breed that can be expected to live around 10-12 years of age.  There are a few health issues to be aware of:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Cataracts
  • Anesthesia sensitivity
  • Epilepsy and seizures

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