Belgian Malinois Dog Breed Guide

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Introduction Of Belgian Malinois Dog

The Belgian Malinois, also known as the Chien de Berger Belge, the Mechelaar, the Mechelse Herder, the Mechelen and the Pastor Belga Malinois, is one of four distinct types of Belgian sheepherding dogs. This breed is sometimes mistaken for a German Shepherd due to its superficial resemblance to that breed, but the Malinois has a lighter and leaner build and longer legs in proportion to its body. The Malinois is smart, self-confident, sensitive and stable. The breed was first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1911, as a member of the Miscellaneous Class.

Belgian Malinois Dog Breed Quick Facts

Adaptability4/5
Affection Level 4/5
Apartment Friendly 1/5
Barking Tendencies 4/5
Cat Friendly 3/5
Child Friendly 3/5
Dog Friendly3/5
Exercise Need 4/5
Grooming Needs 3/5
Health Issues 2/5
Intelligence 4/5
Playfulness 4/5

Belgian Malinois – Appearance & Grooming

Appearance

Malinois are proportionate and square – they are as long as they are all tall. They are sturdy, muscular dogs, but are not heavy on their feet, and given their size are surprisingly agile, and carry themselves with pride and grace at all times. They have deep, broad chests, long legs and round, cat-like feet. Malinois have large heads with long, tapered (but not thin) muzzles. Their eyes and noses are dark, and their ears sit high on the head and are erect and alert at all times. They sport short, thick coats and range in color from fawn to mahogany with a black mask on the face, black ears, and black tips on the hairs. Lighter colored Malinois can have a small bit of white on the tips of their toes or on the chest.

Size and Weight

Mature males in this breed should be between 24 and 26 inches at the withers; females should be between 22 and 24 inches in height. Males under 23 or over 27 inches, and females under 21 or over 25 inches, are disqualified under the American breed standard. The average adult Belgian Malinois weighs between 45 and 65 pounds, with males typically being slightly heavier than females.

Coat and Color

Belgian Malinois have short hair that is crisp to the touch. Their double coat is thick, with an extra dense undercoat and thick topcoat that provides protection from water and extreme weather conditions. The hair lays flat against the body and is slightly longer around the neck.

Malinois range in color from fawn to mahogany with a black mask on the face, black ears, and black tips on the hairs. Lighter colored Malinois can have a small bit of white on the tips of their toes or on the chest.

Grooming Needs

Belgians are a snap to groom, as their short coats do not require trimming or stripping. They shed heavily year-round, so weekly brushing is a must. They will shed profusely at the change of seasons, so Spring and Fall may require daily brushing. They only need to be bathed as-needed, when they get extra dirty or start emitting a doggy odor. Active Belgians can wear down their toenails naturally, making nail trimmings unnecessary, but if the dog’s nails click on hard floors, they are too long. Regular teeth cleaning and ear cleaning can keep harmful bacteria from growing, and help keep the dog healthy.

Belgian Malinois – History and Health

History

The Belgian Malinois dates back to the 1800s. It originated in the area around the city of Malines, Belgium, which is where it got its name. One of the first short-coated Belgian shepherds was born in 1891 and later was registered with the Societe Royale Saint-Hubert. Since then, this short-haired, fawn dog with a black mask and erect ears has been selectively bred for its working character and is perhaps the most popular of all Belgian sheepdogs in its native country. The first two Malinois – named Belgian Blackie and Belgian Mouche – were registered with the American Kennel Club in 1911 as members of the Miscellaneous Class, even though the breed enjoyed individual AKC Stud Book registration. At that time, there simply were not enough Malinois to provide competition for conformation championships in this country. In 1965, once its numbers had risen, the Belgian Malinois was moved into the American Kennel Club’s Working Group. When the Herding Group was formed in 1973, the Belgian Malinois was reclassified as a member of that Group, where it remains today.

Many fine representatives of this breed were imported into the United States from Belgium between 1911 and the start of the Second World War. The breed did not particularly thrive in this country after World War II, but it did regain some of its popularity in the 1960s and continues to grow slowly but steadily in numbers to this day. The Belgian Malinois has one of the lowest annual registration rates of all recognized AKC breeds. The American Belgian Malinois Club was founded in 1978 and became the parent club for the breed recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1993. While the Malinois originally was bred as a sheep-herding dog, its intelligence, trainability and tenacity has led these dogs to serve more often as police and military dogs, search-and-rescue dogs, service dogs and guard dogs. They also are active and competitive in conformation, obedience, herding, sledding, Schutzhund, agility, therapy and tracking.

Health Characteristics

The average life span of the Belgian Malinois Dog Breed is 10 to 14 years. This is slightly higher than the median lifespan of most purebred dogs (10 to 13 years). Like many other large dogs, they have a predisposition to developing the following health disorders

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Epilepsy

Belgian Malinois – Temperament & Personality

Personality

The Belgian Malinois is a member of the Belgian Sheepdog family. Like other Belgians, the Malinois is a sturdy, alert, loyal companion, and can thrive as a farm dog or a family dog. As with all Belgian Sheepdog breeds, Malinois were bred to herd and protect livestock, so they must have constant activity, whether playing with children, going on long walks, or chasing a frisbee. Ever vigilant, they make excellent watchdogs, and can be trained to do a variety of tasks.

Activity Requirements

Malinois need a lot of vigorous activity in order to remain happy and healthy and should not be kept in an apartment. If they don’t get enough activity, Malinois can quickly become destructive.

Farms or houses with big, fenced-in yards are the most ideal settings for this breed. Active and able participants in outdoor activities, Malinois will want to be included in all family activities, whether doing farm chores, chasing a frisbee in the yard, or taking long walks in the park. They love to spend time outdoors, among their family and engaged in interesting and fun activities.

Trainability

Though sometimes willful and stubborn, Belgians are highly trainable and thrive on advanced obedience, trick and agility training. They can read small movements and even changes in facial expression, and are famous for being so “in tune” with their trainers that they can literally stay one step ahead of the person giving commands.

Though they learn quickly, Belgians are not for the first-time dog owner. They are highly intelligent and manipulative, and can easily walk all over someone who lacks consistency or wears their heart on their sleeve. Positive reinforcement is the best method to train a Belgian Malinois, as discipline can lead to avoidance behavior and stubbornness.

Behavioral Traits

Malinois are herders and this instinct can lead them to chase and nip. Bikes, cars, kids, or other animals can set them off and running. If this breed doesn’t have enough interesting activities to do, he can take to herding children and nipping at their heels.

This herding instinct also makes Malinois, like all Belgian Sheepdogs, protective of their home and family. They can be wary of strangers so it is important that they be socialized as early as possible to learn the difference between a welcome guest and an unwelcome guest, or aggression can develop.

Chewing, barking and separation anxiety can sometimes develop in this breed, but that can be attributed to lack of exercise and boredom. Adopting a Belgian Malinois means adopting an active lifestyle.

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