The Malinois is an extremely smart, lively, and highly active working dog with Belgian roots. The dog breed is used in police and military service worldwide. The training and utilization of the sporty Belgian Shepherd Dog place high demands on the owner. Experienced hands know best how to deal with his eagerness to work and then also experience the soft, friendly side of their pet.
Working dog with a short fuse
The Malinois – as breed lovers like to call the Belgian – is one of the Belgian Shepherd Dogs. However, the workaholic working dog has not been used for its original task of herding sheep for a long time. Today he shows his strengths in the police service, protection dog sport, tracking, rescue work, or as a protection and guard dog.
The Malinois is one of the dog breeds most commonly used by police, customs, and border guards worldwide. The robust worker was preserved in its originality, both physically and in terms of character. This also includes the two faces of the Malinois: hard at work and soft with his people at home.
Nature of the Malinois
At heart, the Malinois is a friendly dog. Aggressiveness and fear are not tolerated when breeding. Nevertheless, the Belgian is considered to be very strong, agile, and reactive – in other words: he is said to have a short fuse. The dogs of this breed have a strong protective instinct, which they use without being asked if they see their people threatened. If there is uncertainty or if the dog owner does not give a clear message, the Malinois willingly goes forward and clarifies unclear situations in his own way.
As a potential owner, you should not underestimate the hunting instinct of the Belgian Shepherd Dog. In the absence of education and opportunity, small animals and cats are at high risk of being hunted. When living together in their own household, however, most Malis quickly learn who “belongs”. However, it is advisable not to leave him alone at home with cats or small animals.
The highly active Malinois brings great enthusiasm for work and a complete willingness to cooperate. He is a prime example of the “will to please” in dogs, i.e. the willingness to implement commands without hesitation. Combined with his outstanding hardness, stamina, and intelligence, this will to work for his people makes him a four-legged workaholic. It requires a high level of mental and physical exertion. If he lacks this, he quickly keeps himself busy: Excessive guarding with constant barking, aggression, or the destruction of objects are signs of insufficient or incorrect utilization.
Upbringing and attitude
The Malinois needs clear guidance with a consistent and at the same time friendly and fair hand. The intelligent dog is not difficult to train, because he wants to please. However, dog experience is recommended, because the smart Belgian tends to look for solutions independently and think faster than its humans. His confidence and tendency to step forward when insecure can surprise even experienced dog owners. The Malinois is therefore hardly the right choice for first-time dog owners. Pay special attention to optimal socialization and clear rules when dealing with strange dogs and people! This breed is not suitable for the dog park, which is often popular in cities.
A high level of utilization and real work is a must for the motivated Belgian. He is a serious dog who bonds closely with his human and prefers to spend the entire day with him. Energetic working dogs really thrive when they are employed in guard dogs, military or police service, or in other demanding jobs. Dog leisure sports such as agility or mantrailing do not completely replace this work, but can be sufficient to satisfy the smart shepherd dogs’ willingness to work. In their free time, busy Malinois are usually well-balanced and loving family members who are considerate of even the smallest two-legged friends in the family. The size of the apartment itself and whether there is a garden or not is of secondary importance for optimal employment of the Belgian Shepherd Dog. In any case, there should be peace and quiet at home and the likable Belgian only needs his blanket to sleep.
Care of the Malinois
As a typical working dog breed, the Malinois has a short, hardy, and easy-care coat. It is sufficient if you brush him once a week. Also check your eyes, ears, and claws regularly to identify possible problems at an early stage. This is important because Belgian Shepherd Dogs are tough dogs and often do not show possible injuries or weaknesses through their behavior.
Characteristics and health
Unlike other dog breeds, the appearance of the Malinois has played only a minor role in inbreeding. His fitness for use – and thus also his physical health, athleticism, and hardness – were always in the foreground in addition to the character in the breeding selection. The Belgian breed is therefore considered to be very robust.
However, like all German Shepherd breeds, Mali is also prone to joint diseases – including hip and elbow dysplasia and spondylosis. The Association for German Dogs (VDH) and its subordinate breeding clubs are good contact points for information and addresses of reputable breeders. This is particularly important so that you get a stable and reliable Belgian Shepherd puppy. From dubious breeding, animals of this breed often bring with them excessive aggressiveness and are difficult to socialize and lead.
The Malinois should be lean and athletic. With a needs-based diet and healthy, age-appropriate workload, the sporty working dog can live up to twelve years.