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Belgian Malinois Breed Info: Pics, Puppies & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Belgian Malinois

Height: 22 – 26 inches
Weight: 40 – 65 pounds
Lifespan: 12 – 14 years
Colors: Red, mahogany, black, brindle, cream, grey, brown, liver, sable
Suitable for: Highly active lifestyles, homes with yards, experienced dog owners
Temperament: Intelligent, independent, extremely loyal, agile, alert, reserved around strangers

The Belgian Malinois is a stunning purebred dog that was raised to herd animals. These dogs are incredibly loyal to their masters and work hard to keep their bond with family members strong and intact. Versatile by nature, Belgian Malinois are popular working dogs throughout the military and police communities.

Proud and staunch in stature, the Belgian Malinois are alert dogs that stand as tall as 26 inches in height, which makes them highly effective protection and guard dogs at home if they are trained properly. That said, these dogs are affectionate and patient with family members. So, even households with kids can enjoy the company of a well-trained Belgian Malinois that is well exercised and consistently interacted with.

However, every member of the family would need to train and lead the dog for success within a household. Belgian Malinois have sturdy builds with muscular physiques that can be intimidating at first, but these dogs aren’t aggressive by any means. They are curious and engaging, so people spending time with them should be prepared for an active experience.

These dogs are used to working for their room and board, so they aren’t happy sitting around while waiting for their owners to get home from work every day. The Belgian Malinois needs an owner who’s an avid hunter, camper, farmer, explorer, or adventurer in general. Are you curious about becoming the proud owner of a Belgian Malinois? There’s much to learn about these magnificent dogs! Here’s what you need to know.

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Belgian Malinois Puppies


The Belgian Malinois is an adorable puppy, but this breed grows into an adult dog that isn’t quite lap friendly, though these dogs will happily nap on a dog bed while you watch a movie if they’ve had a long walk or adventure beforehand. Weighing in at up to 65 pounds, this breed isn’t a pet or working dog for the faint at heart. Here are a few more things you need to know about this fine purebred dog breed.

The Belgian Malinois is highly energetic because they’re a working dog that expects to have something to do throughout the day. But they are also easily trainable in a variety of ways, including obedience, agility, guarding, herding, sniffing, and protection.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Belgian Malinois

1. They are part of an elite group.

Belgian Malinois is one of only four types of shepherds in Belgian and France that are registered as Chien De Berger Belge dogs. These different types of shepherds are thought to be originally bred from the same lineage. Every Chien De Berger Belge is bred to herd animals and works hard all day long.

2. They have Belgian “cousins.”

The Belgian Malinois has a close connection to the lineage of the Belgian Sheepdog and the Belgian Tervuren. These are well-known dogs around the world that are revered for their excellent temperament and work ethic.

3. They’re as snuggly as they are protective.

These dogs are revered around the world as hard-working dogs, but they have a loving and snuggly side that only owners have the pleasure of experiencing. At home, they’ll snuggle up on the couch or their bed while you lounge around. But when it’s time to go outdoors, they become alert and active when it comes to protecting you.

Belgian Malinois Close Up
Image Credit: rakun011, Pixabay

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Belgian Malinois 🧠

Belgian Malinois are friendly, but they are also attentive and always looking for breaches of trust. They’ll happily hang out in the house for the morning while you read your newspaper, but they will demand a nice long walk later. These strong-willed dogs can be extremely destructive when their needs aren’t met.

Without plenty of exercise and attention during the day, your Malinois can destruct your furniture, clothing, and other important items while you’re away from home. Keeping these dogs outside may deter them from ruining stuff indoors, but it doesn’t mean that they’ll be happy and feel fulfilled. Every Belgian Malinois expects daily interactions with their owners. If they have it their way, they’ll spend every waking (and even sleeping!) second with their first-in-command.

The Belgian Malinois is confident, aware, and perfectly capable of defending their property and family members, whether at home or while out and about. Strangers should always allow this dog to smell and get to know them before engaging in a communicative relationship with such a breed.

Both training and socialization are crucial for this working dog. Without one or the other or both, this breed may become unruly and tough to manage, whether alone with them or while spending time with other people and animals. While these dogs are loving and caring when well taken care of, they can become angry and mischievous when ignored.

This is a strong dog that can’t always be managed well by young children. They tend to get carried away when playing too, which makes them a physical danger to young kids even though they don’t typically show aggression to people of any age. Any prospective owner should be aware of this breed’s power, independence, and training capabilities before considering whether to adopt a dog such as this breed.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

The Belgian Malinois wasn’t bred to become part of a family dynamic. But they were bred to be loyal to their owners and to protect those that they know are important. So, with proper training and daily commitment, these dogs can be happy in an active family’s life. But for the most part, these dogs are the happiest working with police officers, military personnel, hunters, farmers, and even those who are protection and guarding enthusiasts.

Unless you’re an experienced dog owner who has a deep understanding of herding breeds, this may not be the right dog breed for your family to adopt. If you like to get outdoors, you know a great deal about dogs, and you’re looking for a daily adventure companion, the Belgian Malinois just might be the right option for your lifestyle.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽

When the Belgian Malinois is well-socialized and trained, this dog has no problem getting along with other dogs. Due to their herding nature, they may have a hard time refraining from chasing cats and other animals that they consider to be prey. If an owner expects their Belgian Malinois to get along with their cat, they must introduce the two animals to one another while the puppy is still small and harmless. With practice and exposure, the dog should become accustomed to spending time with the cat regularly.

two female belgian malinois
Image Credit: Julia Malsagova, Shutterstock

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Things to Know When Owning a Belgian Malinois

There is still much to know before deciding whether to adopt one of these dogs. What should you feed them? How much should you exercise them? What kind of grooming do they require? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and more.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Like all dog breeds in today’s world, the Belgian Malinois should do well eating a commercial dog food of high quality that is high in protein and free of artificial colorings and flavors. Puppies should eat a portion of food that is designed specifically for large-breed puppies, and then transition to adult food at about 12 months of age.

You can prepare homemade dog food yourself, but it’s important to consult with a veterinarian to be sure that you include all the proper nutrients for your Belgian Malinois’ needs. Treats can be used for bonding and training purposes, but overuse could lead to obesity and health problems. Consider using healthy human foods as treats and snacks to manage your dog’s weight and training temperament.

Exercise 🐕

As a herding dog, the Belgian Malinois needs a great deal of vigorous exercise daily. Taking a long walk, spending time in the yard while practicing training maneuvers, and participating in agility training classes are all things that a Belgian Malinois is sure to enjoy. Activities such as camping and hunting also provide this dog with much-needed exercise that will keep them engaged and satisfied as time goes on.

Belgian Malinois loves playing fetch and chasing games with other dogs, so taking them to a dog park after extensive socialization will give them an outlet to be free and do the things that dogs love to do. Without proper exercise, this breed can become destructive and make living at home for owners stressful. These dogs should never be left alone at home without vigorous play and activity beforehand.

Belgian Malinois Wet
Image Credit: jotoya, Pixabay

Training 🦮

It’s essential to train a Belgian Malinois as soon as possible after adopting one to ensure that their hunting, herding, and working instincts are managed properly as they grow bigger. Obedience training is the first type of training to tackle. Learning to sit, stay, and come on command is crucial for the Belgian Malinois so they know what is expected of them. These dogs thrive in an orderly environment, and it’s likely that without obedience training, no social experience will be orderly.

In addition to obedience training, Belgian Malinois do well with agility training. These dogs are fast, determined, and focused, making them champions on the agility field. Whether for sport or fun, joining an agility club in your area will allow your Belgian Malinois to socialize, exercise, and stimulate their natural working instincts.

If you’re looking for a reliable guard dog that will keep your home and property safe when you aren’t home, the Belgian Malinois is an awesome option to consider. They take well to protection and guard training and aren’t naturally aggressive, so they rarely become a danger to family members, friends, or even strangers. Protection and guard training should always be done with a professional present to ensure that the right tactics and responses are being utilized.

Grooming ✂️

While the Belgian Malinois has a short coat of fur, they do shed regularly throughout the year. When it starts getting hot outside, most owners notice heavier shedding. Therefore, your pooch will have to be brushed a few times a week to keep their coat shiny and your home free of loose fur.

These dogs are built to work and play outside, so their coats do a good job of repelling water and dirt — bathing shouldn’t be necessary. Because Belgian Malinois are so active, their nails tend to stay naturally trimmed. But their active lifestyle can create ear problems due to dirt buildup, so it’s important to gently clean their ears out once a week or so.

Dental hygiene is also important, especially if your Belgian Malinois will participate in guard and protection training, as they’ll be using their teeth and jaws frequently. Brushing your dog’s teeth or giving them a dental treat a couple of times a week should ensure optimal dental health as time goes on.

Health Conditions ❤️

The Belgian Malinois is typically extremely healthy, but there are a few minor issues that owners should know about.

Minor Conditions
  • Pannus
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Cataracts
  • Allergies
Serious Conditions
  • Epilepsy
  • Progressive retinal atrophy

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Male vs Female

Both male and female Belgian Malinois are strong, independent, and loyal. Males tend to mark their territory, even inside, if they haven’t been neutered. Some owners find that their female dogs are more independent than their males. But many owners find that both females and males are both as loyal and family-friendly as the other. Like any living being, all Belgian Malinois have their own unique personalities and quirks, and you can’t predict how they’ll act as they age based solely on their gender.

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Summing Up

The Belgian Malinois is a strong, reliable working dog that loves an active lifestyle and a job to do. This isn’t just any house pet. In fact, Belgian Malinois need outdoor time and adventure every day to lead a healthy and happy life. Without training and active outlets, these dogs can become destructive and even dangerous.

These dogs would do well in farm settings and with owners who live highly active lifestyles. Outdoor adventures every weekend, several hiking treks a week, and hours of agility or protection training should be priorities for owners of this magnificent purebred dog. Owners should also be prepared to give their dog a job to do daily, whether it’s guarding, hauling logs, or providing therapy to patients at the local hospital.

Do you have any experience with working dogs like the Belgian Malinois? What are your thoughts about keeping a working dog as a pet? Let us know about your experiences and opinions in the comments section below!

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Featured Image Credit: Best dog photo, Shutterstock

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