Belgian Malinois


History & Origin

The Belgian Malinois’ history is not as long as a number of other dog breeds, although this dog is by no means lacking in any way with regards to temperament, skills, or work ethics. As the name indicates, it originates in Belgium and is derived from a number of different Belgian sheepdogs.

Although initially a sheepdog, the Malinois, today, performs a host of other tasks as well. Most notably, it is used as a working dog in the police and army (it is incredible at sniffing out for e.g. explosives), is an excellent tracker, excels in obedience training, a great guard dog, and also does well with regards to sports that have to do with agility. This is a lot for one dog breed!

As to the name and breeding: typically, Belgian shepherd dogs were named according to the towns from which they originated, and the same goes for the Malinois.

The breed, as we know it today, has its humble origins around 1891, in Malines, which is a town in Belgium. A group of breeders got together and decided to draw up a standard for their local sheepdogs. To this end, forty dogs were selected that looked similar and had the same temperaments, and a breeding program was started. From this, the Belgian Malinois that is so well-known and loved today came into being.

Originally, they had three coat types, these being rough, long and short. Further refinement took place during the ten years preceding the First World War, during which Malinois were used intensively in the war effort, as artillery dogs, messengers, and also as ambulance dogs. They were used for the same ends during the Second World War, and many lost their lives while performing their duty.

They were officially recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1959. Interestingly, they are a ‘weapon of choice’ with the American Secret Service where they are used to guard the White House, and used in different branches of the armed forces due to their incredible intelligence, smaller size, agility, mobility, willingness to work and loyalty.

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Although originally used as a sheepherder, this breed excels at almost any kind of work and has a wonderful temperament as an all-around working dog.

They are incredibly intelligent, learn quickly, are very alert, are easily trainable with regards to performing a wide variety of different tasks, and adore being ‘busy’. This is not a breed that enjoys a more sedentary lifestyle. They need to be active, and when not ‘working’, love playing, whether catching a Frisbee or going for a run.

A Malinois that does not get the necessary activity and stimulation it needs tends to become bored and destructive. If your new puppy has not been bought to become a working dog, his physical and mental needs have to be met. To this end, he will not do well in a smaller or confined environment. This is a dog that loves the outdoors, and which does best, as a family pet, when living on a farm or with a family that has a large, enclosed yard. Your new puppy also needs to be part of his new family and thus has to be included in all family activities.

If treated with the respect it deserves, and given the love, attention and stimulation it needs, your new Malinois puppy will not only become the most wonderful watch and guard dog imaginable but will give its life for you as well.

Although they were bred for colder climates, they are extremely adaptable and perform equally well in warmer ones if proper care is taken with regards to their health. Although they can make great family dogs, however, they need to be able to be outside for substantial periods of time as well, so they do not make great pets for those living in apartments or who do not have sufficient outside space for them to thrive.

belgian malinois


nutrition and feeding


Different breeds have different nutritional requirements, and this goes for the Belgian Malinois as well. Incorrect feeding can lead to a host of related health problems, including flaky/itchy skin and allergies.

With regards to the Malinois, homecooked meals are best. This includes a variety of protein from red meat and poultry as well as fish. It is usually best to stay away from using a carcass’ internal organs. Added to this, vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes are great, as well as brown rice which especially goes well with puppies as it aids in their digestion. Uncooked garlic and onions are not advised as they play havoc with a dog’s digestive system, and chocolate should always be avoided as it is actually poisonous to dogs.

Your new puppy should be weaned onto solid food when it is around six to eight weeks of age. This process should not be tried overnight, but should be a gradual process that can take up to three weeks. It is thus imperative that it is still with its mother during this period so that it can still suckle on her for milk.

Once home with you, your puppy can eat up to four smaller meals per day, although, typically, it should have two meals per day by the time it is about six months old. This regime should ideally be kept for the rest of your new family member’s life.

If you decide on a commercial brand of dried dog food, do make sure that it is of the highest possible quality and suitable for your new puppy’s nutritional requirements. Something that is suitable for a smaller breed is not, for example, suited to a larger Malinois!

coat and grooming


Females tend to be a little smaller than their male counterparts. A fully-grown male stands at about 24 inches to 26 inches when measured from its withers to the floor and weighs between 65 pounds and 75 pounds. A female, on the other hand, stands at 22 inches to 24 inches and weighs in at between 55 pounds and 65 pounds.

Your new puppy will have a double coat, i.e. a short, straight, hard topcoat and a much softer yet dense undercoat (which is weather resistant). Although they resemble German Shepherds, they are smaller in stature and have certain unique features associated with them. These include the black tips on the end of every individual strand of hair, their black faces, and their black ears.

They tend to shed throughout the year, so a weekly brushing session is advised. Shedding hits its peak during the fall, however, when more regular brushing may be in order. Something that often occurs during the summer months is the formation of ‘hot spots’, which need to be checked. The situation usually gets better by ensuring that the undercoat is regularly brushed and loose hairs are gotten rid of.

They are quite clean dogs, so bathing is only required when and as necessary, although a good quality shampoo and conditioner is advised, especially on those that have sensitive skins.

Your new puppy’s ears will also need a little attention – once a month should be fine. They need to be cleaned with, for example, a damp cotton wool ball. If any coloration of the ear or a discharge is noticed, it is advisable to take your dog to your veterinarian as these are signs of a possible ear infection.

This breed seldom needs its nails trimmed. Being a working dog, they tend to fall down naturally. However, if nails tend to become overlong, it could lead to tearing which is extremely painful. If nails are longer, trimming might be in order. Many people do not wish to trim their dog’s nails. A quick trip to a dog grooming parlor or veterinarian will sort this out and it is not a costly process.



A high energy dog that has a very developed protective instinct, this breed needs to be active – almost constantly. This is not a dog that is happy to while away its days in front of a fire or laying on the couch. As a breed, they tend to get along well with other pets if they are raised together from young. Bringing in a new pet with a fully grown Malinois is not a great idea as they can tend to get aggressive towards a new dog on the premises.

Their inherent intelligence makes any training activity very easy, which is why they are a firm favorite with so many branches of the armed forces. Training, however, should never be harsh – they do not take well to any form of harsh discipline. They see all training as a kind of a game, and excel at it, however. Training should therefore always be conducted with a firm yet respectful hand.

As with all puppies, training should begin the day your new family member comes home. Everyone should be responsible for seeing that the new ‘baby’ learns the house rules and that proper socialization takes place right from the start.

Proper house training should also take precedence. To this end, it is necessary to remember that a puppy usually needs to go do its business approximately 15 minutes after a meal. By taking him out to his designated toilet area at this time, he will soon learn where his ‘spot’ is and start going there himself.

Do not be alarmed if your new puppy seems to sleep a lot. As growing babies, they need their sleep. This tends to lessen as they get older, however, and your fully grown Malinois will require much less rest.

Crate training is an excellent option when house training your puppy. Not only does it help with regards to housebreaking him, but his crate also gives him the secure area he needs for those periods when he needs to get away from it all and rest.



Your new puppy has an average lifespan of between ten and twelve years, but as a breed, they are actually extremely healthy. They are, however, known to occasionally develop elbow dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), pannus, cataracts, and epilepsy.

It is, therefore, always advised that you purchase your new puppy from a reputable breeder that gives you the lowdown on your dog’s parents’ health history so that you can make an informed decision before acquiring it. Knowing their history usually gives you a good indication as to any possible problems your own puppy may develop.

Not all dogs affected with elbow dysplasia show signs of the condition while they are young, although it typically develops between four and six months of age. Besides a possible genetic reason, another common reason is too much strenuous activity while still a puppy. As a result, a puppy should have enough rest and never be over-exercised.

PRA, unfortunately, is inherited but does no longer mean that your dog will necessarily end up blind as there is treatment available for the condition. Cataracts which is also an inherited condition is also treatable.

A breed apart, the Belgian Malinois is a dog that can adjust to almost any challenge it meets. Not only great working dogs, they tend to make excellent pets as well and love children if adequately socialized when young. They also tend to get along with other pets if they grow up together, although same-sex dogs are to be discouraged as is bringing in a new dog when your puppy has already grown to be an adult.

A breed that loves an active lifestyle, this is not the dog for you if you prefer a more sedentary one. They need constant physical and mental stimulation in order to be happy. To this end, training is a wonderful method of getting closer to your new pet, and they do extremely well in agility competitions.

This is, however, not a breed that is recommended for the first-time dog owner as they need constant and dedicated attention in order to thrive.

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