Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Are Belgian Malinois Good Family Pets? Trainability, Temperament & Health

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

belgian malinois playing with kid

You’ve seen this amazing breed before and may not have even known it. These dogs are known as guard dogs and make great police and military dogs. With their keen sense of smell and strong work drive, these dogs make great protectors, which is why you may be wondering if they are right for your family. The truth is the answer is both yes and no.

How can it be both, you ask? Well, Belgian Malinois are dogs that require more energy to keep entertained than other dogs. As you’ll read, there are reasons this breed can make a great family pet, but it can also be why they make challenging pets.Divider 1

Can a Belgian Malinois Be a Family Dog?

Image Credit: Diana Badmaeva, Shutterstock

This breed of dog is a hardworking and dedicated breed. They thrive on being active and doing something with their brain. When the breed first came about, they were herding dogs, and that instinct is true of them today.

One of the biggest traits this breed is known for is their watchdog skills. Police and military personnel use the Belgian Malinois to not only keep themselves safe but keep others safe around them.

Like all other dogs, the Belgian Malinois needs to be socialized early in their life. When your dog is a puppy, it is important to expose them to different sounds, people, and sights to help them grow into a well-rounded dog. If this isn’t done, you risk a shy or aggressive Belgian Malinois. Both of which are an issue with all dogs, but with this breed it can turn into destructive behaviors.

To get their socialization skills up to par, going to puppy kindergarten or training classes are a great way to socialize them. Another great way is parks, stores that allow dogs, having visitors over, and just taking your dog out to meet new people and sights.

You will have to watch out for that herding instinct, though. They have a tendency to want to herd small children and animals by nipping at the ankles. With training, though, this behavior can be corrected and avoided.

Are Belgian Malinois Good Family Dogs?

These stunning dogs are intelligent, sensitive, and alert. As a breed that is highly trainable, they thrive on working. Not only that, but they are also protective of their family and property to the point they make great guard dogs.

However, just like any dog, training is a must with the Belgian Malinois. An untrained Malinois is going to cause chaos around them. Since they are so intelligent, they can walk all over an owner who isn’t ready to take on such a strong-willed dog.

This is why they don’t make great first-time dogs. They are a handful and require an owner who is just as strong-willed and can provide them with all the mental and physical stimulation they need.

Despite all that, the Belgian Malinois is a brilliant companion. They love their owners with everything they have. They can make great family pets for those who can handle such a high-maintenance dog.Divider 8

Belgian Malinois Health Problems

belgian malinois running
Image Credit: Katrin B., Pixabay

Just like every breed, there are known health problems that they can face. While not every dog will get these diseases, they are important to be aware of. One thing that you should always do is supervise your dog with toys. While not a health condition, a dog could eat stuffing from a toy, or anything around the house. Just be careful and monitor your dog for choking hazards or something they could ingest that could harm them.

1. Hip Dysplasia

Since the Belgian Malinois is on the larger side, hip dysplasia is a common problem. It is when the thigh bone doesn’t fit perfectly into the hip joint. Injuries are a common source of this disease, making things like falling or jumping major contributors to why dogs develop this problem.

2. Sensitivity to Anesthesia

Because of this breed’s muscle-to-fat ratio, there is a higher death rate when anesthesia is used. It is a common problem that is known for the Belgian Malinois and one your vet should know. Not every dog is going to face this issue, but it can be one.

3. Progressive Retinal Atrophy

This condition is when the photoreceptors in the back of the eye are lost. The end result is blindness. While this is a disorder that makes the dog lose their sight, many dogs can live happy lives as they learn to compensate for their blindness.

Divider 3

Is the Belgian Malinois Right for Your Family?

It depends on how active your family is, and when you get your Belgian Malinois. If your family is going on hiking adventures or really enjoys playing outside, then this dog could be right for you. Unlike many dogs, the Belgian Malinois needs 20 minutes minimum of exercise and play about 3-4 times a day. They are active dogs, and your family has to keep up with that.

If you get your dog as a puppy, they can understand children. Older Malinois aren’t always excited to be around children and can seem shy or aggressive towards them. It comes down to socialization and if that dog was socialized around children.

If you and your family are gone most of the day, then the Malinois may not be a good fit for you. They are prone to separation anxiety and boredom. A bored dog is a dog that is going to be destructive with your home no matter what. If you really have your heart set on a Malinois, then consider things like doggy daycare which will keep them active and socialized.

Just remember that these dogs need an owner who can stand firm on training. These dogs are smart, and they can make great family pets for the right family. Remember, stimulation is key to this breed.

Belgian Malinois Close Up
Image By: TC_Perch, pixabay

hepper-dog-paw-divider 5


Hopefully, this answered the question of if the Belgian Malinois makes a good family pet. They can make a great family pet for an active family who love to be on the move constantly. Just like any breed, they come with their own set of challenges. These stunning and intelligent dogs can make amazing companions in the long run and deserve a great home.

Related Read: 

Featured Image Credit: Denis Tablerr, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database