Belgian Malinois—or “Mals,” as their fans call them—are driven and extremely intelligent. They have become the preferred dog for military service and law enforcement. Some serve as bomb-sniffers in Iraq and Afghanistan; and one is rumored to have accompanied the Navy Seals who assassinated Osama bin Laden. They take their name from the town that first bred them: Maline, Belgium.
This large and high-energy breed can grow to between 40-80 pounds and lives an average of 14-16 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Herding group.
AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Guarding livestock & people, Herding
Breed Group: Herding
Average Lifespan: 14-16 years
Bark Factor: Moderate
AKC RANKING 96
FAMILY livestock, herding
AREA OF ORIGIN Belgium
DATE OF ORIGIN 1800s
ORIGINAL FUNCTION stock herding
TODAY'S FUNCTION security, police, contraband detection, assistance, herding trials, shutzhund
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 24-26 Weight: 60-65
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 22-24 Weight: 60-65
OTHER NAME Malinois, chien de berger Belge
Energy level High energy
Exercise needs High
Playfullness Very playful
Affection level Somewhat affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly
Friendliness toward other pets Friendly
Friendliness toward strangers Shy
Ease of training Hard to train
Watchdog ability High
Protection ability Very protective
Grooming needs Low maintenance
Cold tolerance Medium tolerance
Heat tolerance Medium tolerance
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS A BELGIAN MALINOIS' PERSONALITY LIKE?
The devoted and loyal Belgian Malinois craves your attention and is happiest when doing his job — whatever that job may be. These are very smart, very playful, and somewhat affectionate dogs. They'll play best with children and other dogs under your supervision.
This breed is often suspicious of strangers but may be friendly toward other pets and small animals.
WHAT IS BELGIAN MALINOIS BEHAVIOR LIKE?
The Belgian Malinois is an extremely active and playful breed. They make for hard-working, highly vigilant, and very protective watchdogs. Belgian Malinois are somewhat prone to barking, and bored Mals can be destructive.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN A BELGIAN MALINOIS?
The breed is very biddable, extremely eager, and exceptionally intelligent; early and frequent socialization is important. This intense dog requires consistent and patient training. Mals are also sensitive and responsive to your moods and the tone of your voice, so be gentle with them.
As with many large, smart dogs, your Belgian Mainois needs a rigorous exercise schedule to satisfy their sharp minds and active bodies. They excel in obedience training, as well as in rally, agility, flyball, and tracking. Really, what can't this dog do?
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DOES THE BELGIAN MALINOIS SHED AND WHAT ARE ITS GROOMING NEEDS?
A Belgian Malinois' straight, double coat is weatherproof and short. Their coats shed but are relatively easy to maintain. Regular brushings are a must, particularly during their twice-yearly sheds. Otherwise, bathe your Mal only as needed.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO BELGIAN MALINOIS HAVE?
A generally healthy breed, Belgian Malinois can be susceptible to eye disease and elbow and hip ailments. Some have been known to develop epilepsy or pannus, but most Mals lead relatively healthy lives.
Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.
ARE BELGIAN MALINOIS GOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES?
The American Kennel Club doesn't list the Belgian Malinois among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers.
You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and allergy-aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, so they produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog as large as a Belgian Malinois! Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies.
WHAT'S A BELGIAN MALINOIS' BEST DAY?
A morning run and evening hike next to their loving parent would make this pup's day (and life).
SHOULD I ADOPT A BELGIAN MALINOIS?
This is not an ideal breed for novice dog-owners, but an experienced canine caregiver who is also a frequent runner might be the Mal's ideal match — this dog will match you mile for mile. Belgian Malinois will also joyfully accompany you on trail rides and hikes and will fetch a ball or frisbee until your arm falls off.
They can live nearly anywhere and are equally suited to warm and cold temperatures. If you can keep up with them, a Belgian Malinois makes for a devoted, loving, hardworking, and often hilarious furry friend.
Have you decided that a Belgian Malinois is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.