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Are Belgian Malinois Good Guard Dogs? Temperament & Traits

Codee Chessher

By Codee Chessher

Belgian Malinois in the forest

Yes, Belgian Malinois make excellent guard dogs! They’re often used by law enforcement as K9s and serve in the military because they are big, strong, smart as a whip, and fiercely loyal. They have no love for strangers, meaning they can show undue jealousy sometimes. That can even lead to aggression if not addressed with obedience training.

Belgian Malinois are an extremely high-energy breed, and they are not for couch potatoes. They need to be kept busy with plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, or else they may take it out on your furniture! If you are interested in getting a Belgian Malinois that can also serve as a guard dog, we have the info you need. Read below for the details.

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Belgian Malinois History

The Belgian Malinois is closely related to the German Shepherd, and they’re sometimes confused with each other. The Malinois comes from the Belgian city of Malines, where farmers were looking for strong, capable sheepdogs that could understand complex instructions. They were used in WWI as messengers and to pull carts of ammunition and medical supplies as well!

In 1911, the two first Belgian Malinois registered in the US were registered as Belgian Sheepdogs, and the name persisted until 1959. That’s when the American Kennel Club formally recognized them by their modern name, the Belgian Malinois.

black belgian malinois dog
Image Credit: msgrafixx, Shutterstock


Socialization for any dog is important, especially for this breed. They’re big, strong, and highly intelligent. That means they can be stubborn, especially with socialization. It’s essential that you keep them on a leash when meeting new people and animals for the first time, especially new types of animals. Malinois generally do poorly with cats, but careful, patient socialization as a puppy can help lessen that effect.

Belgian Malinois Trainability

Malinois look for strong leadership from their owners, so you have to establish yourself as their alpha early on. That involved establishing strict but fair boundaries with bad behavior and liberally using food for motivation. Favorite foods and treats are the paths to a Belgian Malinois’s heart.

Often used by law enforcement and the US military, Belgian Malinois can learn simple commands like sit, stay, come, and heel very quickly. Complex commands may take longer, but Malinois are eager to please and need a purpose or job to thrive. Structured blocks of time carved out and dedicated to training are critical when training because they need structure to prevent boredom and anxiety.

As with any dog, positive reinforcement is key when training a Belgian Malinois. They respond very poorly to scolding and punishment, which can make them fearful, anxious, and even aggressive. Nobody likes being yelled at! As we mentioned, they love food, which is your lifeline during training.

Clicker training is another viable path to training, and Malinois are fast learners. Once trained with the clicker, they can learn a new command in 20 repetitions or less.

sable with black mask working belgian malinois dog doing agility
Image Credit: Lisjatina, Shutterstock

Belgian Malinois Exercise Needs

You’ll need access to a large, secure outdoor area for your Belgian Malinois to get out their insane energy, and plenty of mentally stimulating toys. Frozen Kongs are a trusty standby as always, but Malinois love games like tug-of-war too.

Of course, they’re heavy-duty dogs. Belgian Malinois generally love the water and swimming, and they make excellent hiking companions too. Anyone that leads an active lifestyle will find their Belgian Malinois has more than enough motivation and energy to keep up.

At least an hour of high-intensity exercise is recommended for these dogs, but 2 hours would be better if you really want to tucker your pup out.

If possible, we’d recommend finding a local park or dog park within a reasonable driving distance, as it’ll help your Belgian Malinois develop important social skills in a fun setting.

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Belgian Malinois are fantastic protectors, bonding strongly with their family and remaining watchful for potential threats. To help get the job done, you should expect heavy exercise requirements and stringent training that includes positive reinforcement.

Featured Image Credit: BIGANDT.COM, Shutterstock

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