Belgian Malinois Dog Breed Information Guide
The Belgian Malinois is one of a group of shepherding dogs from Europe. The Belgian Malinois is a sort of niche breed that has found fame and accolade from his high degree of train ability and prowess as a protector. The Belgian Malinois is an alert and intelligent dog and is keen to please, but this attribute does not predispose him to be a family pet.
Typically, the Belgian Malinois has found himself employed as a police dog or watchdog. And, while his popularity in the ring is modest at best, the Belgian Malinois makes his presence known as a keeper of the peace throughout the world.
Belgian Malinois History
During the early 1800’s, the Belgian Malinois was one of many general purpose shepherding dogs known collectively as Chiens de Berger Belge. These dogs were bred not for their beauty but rather for their utility. And, although their protection ability was unmatched, no records that documented breed history were ever kept. The Belgian Malinois muddled along herding and policing as demanded.
Near the end of the century, dog shows came into fashion throughout Europe and the promotion of national breeds became a point of great pride. It became clear that Belgium has no such distinctly Belgian breed and so began an effort to establish one.
In 1891, Professor Adolphe Reul was asked to study various dogs that were native to Belgium and to classify them into breeds. He grouped together several dogs, differing only in coat colour, and classified them as Belgian Shepherds. Of these shepherds, the short haired variety was developed in the area around Malines and so, this breed became known as the Belgian Malinois.
In the fifty years that followed, the Belgian Malinois enjoyed moderate popularity as a police dog and guard dog. But, after World War II, few Belgian Malinois were bred for competition and their popularity temporarily declined. Today, the Belgian Malinois is again being recognized as a pre-eminent police dog, surpassing even the German Shepherd in demand. The Belgian Malinois is seldom a family pet, but his presence as a protector and enforcer is well known and respected the world around.
Belgian Malinois Appearance
The Belgian Malinois appears sleek yet powerful. He is taller and less bulky than the German Shepherd and has a shorter coat than his compatriot the Belgian Tervuren. The Belgian Malinois has a narrow skull with large, triangular ears that sit erect on his head.
The Belgian Malinois has a distinctive black mask that fades between his eyes and re-emerges as a patch between his ears. The outer coat of the Belgian Malinois is short and straight with a wiry texture. The undercoat is softer but quite dense. The tail is carried low unless he is running, in which case the tail is carrier higher. On the whole, the Belgian Malinois is a no-nonsense dog and appears intelligent and ready for action.
Belgian Malinois Temperament
The Belgian Malinois is a serious and alert dog. This breed is highly trainable and makes the quintessential watchdog and protector. A playmate he is not and families with small children are not well suited for this breed. The Belgian Malinois will be mercifully aloof with strangers unless otherwise commanded. Other dogs will not be extended this liberty and commonly, the Belgian Malinois shows aggression towards them.
That being said, the Belgian Malinois is one of the most manageable breeds when well trained. Police forces around the world will attest to the Belgian Malinois willingness to consistently obey commands when temptation to do otherwise abounds. Therefore, the Belgian Malinois can be trained to be more agreeable with strangers and other pets. But make no mistake, the Belgian Malinois is typically not a cuddly, patient dog who will welcome playful affection.
Belgian Malinois Exercise Info
The Belgian Malinois has substantial exercise requirements. His powerful muscles crave an outlet for his pent energy so walking and running him are essential. The herding instinct of the Belgian Malinois tends to make in run in wide, sweeping circles so large, open fields are a good place to allow him to run. Dog parks may not be well suited for the Belgian Malinois as his temperament can cause him to show aggression toward other, less standoffish breeds.
The Belgian Malinois owner can expect daily 10 kilometre walks and additional time and space for running. The Belgian Malinois will play, but he can be particular about with whom. Similarly, cooperation can be reserved for a select few, so hired dog walkers may not be pragmatic.
Belgian Malinois Grooming Info
The Belgian Malinois needs little in the way of grooming. A weekly brushing to remove dead hairs is all that is necessary. The exception to this is when the Belgian Malinois blows his coat and the shed and the brushing increases. Avoid over-bathing your Belgian Malinois as his water resistant coat may be compromised. Monthly, perhaps bi-monthly bathing is sufficient. His paws can be spot-cleaned if necessary.
Belgian Malinois Training Info
The Belgian Malinois is one of the most highly trainable breeds in the world. Nonetheless, the Belgian Malinois must be trained properly by an experienced handler who is firm but kind. The Belgian Malinois is eager to learn and is keen to earn your praise, but he can be sensitive and may refuse to participate if he takes a disliking to the training methods.
If your chose to train your Belgian Malinois yourself, do consult an expert for advice. Once habituated, the Belgian Malinois may be reluctant to modify his behaviour and this can be problematic if he becomes overly protective. Also, there are many useful commercial devices designed specifically for the Belgian Malinois. Muzzles, harnesses and leads are available to aid in the training process.
Belgian Malinois Health Info
The Belgian Malinois is a typically healthy breed. There are no common major health problems associated with the Belgian Malinois. Minor health concerns include CHD, elbow dysplasia, PRA, cataracts. pannus and hemangiosarcoma.
Is a Belgian Malinois Right For You?
The Belgian Malinois cannot be properly classified as a family pet. Certainly, many families own a Belgian Malinois and may even report that he is gentle and affectionate, but this is the exception rather than the rule. The Belgian Malinois is best described as a utility dog whose protection ability and watchdog skills are unparalleled. So, if your goal in breed selection is as aforementioned, the Belgian Malinois makes a splendid pet.
When purchasing your Belgian Malinois, resist the urge to purchase a dog inexpensively from a pet store or from an advertisement in a newspaper. You may unwittingly buy a mal-adjusted, sick, puppy mill dog. This is to be avoided at all costs.