AKC Dog Breeds: Belgian Malinois

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Herding Group
Height: 22-26 inches   Weight: 60-65  pounds  Color: rich fawn to mahogany with black marks

Protective, strong, and territorial, the Belgian Malinois is great for working or obedience training. One of the four types of Belgian sheepherding dogs, the Belgian Malinois is an alert, high-energy breed, popular as both a police and military working dog. Although sometimes mistaken for the German Shepherd Dog, the Malinois is more elegant in build and lighter-boned, but does not lack for strength, agility or herding ability. Developed in the city of Malines, where it got its name, the Malinois shares a common foundation with the Belgian Sheepdog and the Belgian Tervuren. In fact, the Belgian dogs share a breed standard in all countries except the United States. The original breeders prized the Malinois’ working character, and historically, the breed has been the favorite type of Belgian Shepherd in its native country. These dogs were originally bred for the herding and guarding of sheep in Belgium. The breed was registered with the AKC in 1912, but until 1959 was registered as the Belgian Sheepdog.

General Appearance
The Belgian Malinois is a medium-sized, hard-working dog in the sheepdog family. Although it is known in the United States as Belgian Malinois, it is often classified as a variety of the Belgian Shepherd Dog. Many dog experts use the word 'square' to describe this dog because its body is almost as long as it is tall. The elegant Malinois is a muscular dog but not heavy, solid but very agile, with a proud carriage. The topline is level with a slight slope at the withers. The chest is neither broad nor narrow, but is deep, reaching to the elbow. The hindquarters are muscular, without looking heavy. The front legs are very straight and parallel to each other, with round cat-feet. Dewclaws may be removed from the front legs and should be removed from the back legs. The long tail reaches at least to the hock. The coat of the Belgian Malinois is short and straight with a dense undercoat. The hair is slightly longer around the neck giving the appearance of a collar. The Belgian Malinois has quite large, erect ears, and quite a lustrous, full tail.


Intelligent and trainable, the Belgian Malinois possesses a strong desire to work and is happiest with regular activity and a job to do. Because of their sensitive nature, many owners have stated that when they have a bad day, the dog just knows and responds accordingly. The Belgian Malinois make a great family dog getting along well with all family members including children, especially if they grew up together. They are serious and watchful, but yet loving and playful. They are a great watchdog, very protective and territorial with their owner and home. These are some of the traits that make them excellent police dogs. This is one similarity they have with the German shepherd. They have a tendency to become loyal to one or two people and will bond very strongly with these people. The Belgian Malinois is a very sensitive dog that makes a great family dog, but not for a beginner dog owner.


The Belgian Malinois is a dog that sheds all year around, although he tends to shed more in the Spring and the Autumn. You will need to brush his coat on a daily basis during these seasons, but you can brush once weekly during other times of the year. The grooming requirements for this breed are not very high despite its heavy shedding tendencies.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy
The lifespan of the Belgian Malinois is 10-14 years, and there are a number of health problems and disorders that are associated with the breed. This includes cataracts, epilepsy, thyroid problems, PRA, HD, and pannus. They are occasionally prone to hip dysplasia, which is a crippling genetic problem.

Activity Level

Belgian Malinois dogs need as much exercise as you can possibly give them. They are highly energetic dogs that need more than just an occasional walk around the block. They excel in almost every dog sport they participate in. They do not do well living in a small kennel. While they enjoy being indoors with you, they prefer to be playing outside. You will find that while playing games such as catching the ball, they never get tired. You will want to end the playtime long before they do. This is a working dog that is accustomed to an active outdoor life. As such it needs a lot of exercise, including a long daily walk. In addition, they will greatly benefit being off the leash as much as possible in a safe area. He enjoys an array of exercise activities such as hiking or running, and he does need plenty of mental stimulation.


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