Getting to Know the Belgian Malinois aka Belgian Shepherd Dog

Belgian Malinois Temperament

The Belgian Malinois temperament is typically of an active and friendly nature, as well as intelligent, protective, and alert.  They’re also not afraid of hard labor.  Interestingly, the energy level of a Malinois is one of the most intense of all of the dog breeds.

Your average Malinois will still act like a puppy right up until he’s three years old, though some can carry on that level of exhausting energy for another two years.  The Malinois also has what is considered to be an excessively high prey drive (the instinct to find and capture prey).

As with many dog breeds, it is important to exercise your Malinois, else she can develop behavioral problems.  She has a lot of energy to burn off, and she needs your help in order to do it.  She should be easy to train, and she loves rewards.  Consistency is key.

In fact, the Malinois is one of the most popular breeds used in what are referred to as “protection sports” like, for example, the Schutzhund, which is a demanding test originally developed for the German Shepherd that determines whether or not the dog is suitable to be a proper working dog.

A Little Bit About the Malinois

The Malinois is a breed that often gets lumped in with the Belgian Shepherd dog classification, as opposed to being recognized as its own separate breed.  Belgian Shepherds are considered medium to large-sized herding dogs.

Here in the U.S., we recognize the breed as a Belgian Malinois, and its name means “shepherd dog.”  Other Belgian Shepherd dog types include the Groenendael, the Laekenois, and the Tervuren.

The Belgian Malinois temperament makes them ideal for use as police dogs, detecting explosive and arson-related odors, as well as narcotics.  They have even been used in search-and-rescue missions and to track down perpetrators that need to be apprehended by police.

The Malinois – “How Do I Look?”

As was previously stated, the Malinois is on the medium to larger side when it comes to dog breeds.  She often has similar colorings to that of the German Shepherd (black and brown), though her frame is of more of a square build than that of the German Shepherd.

Because the Malinois was bred to be a working dog, functionality was preferred over form.  Therefore, the appearance of a Malinois can vary greatly from one dog to the next, and especially amongst Belgian Shepherd dogs in general.

And speaking of her larger size, the Malinois typically measures in a 22 to 24 inches at the withers for females, while males are usually 24 to 28 inches high.  Females are said to be of an average weight at 55 to 66 lbs., while males usually run heavier at between 64 and 75 lbs.

The Malinois: Things to Remember

Just because the Malinois’ size borders on the larger side, the Belgian Malinois temperament dictates that he loves people and wants to be around them as much as possible.  Don’t let the size of a Malinois intimidate you – he’s anxious for your love and attention.

Like huskies, the Malinois sheds his coat constantly and, also like huskies, you’ll notice that there are two periods throughout the year when he sheds the most.  So be prepared to brush your Malinois regularly, and invest in a good vacuum cleaner!

It is highly recommended that folks who may be interested in owning a Malinois get to know the breed first.  Between their intelligence level, insatiably high energy, and other traits consistent with the Belgian Malinois temperament, Malinois are not a recommended breed for inexperienced dog owners.

How’s My Health?

On average, a Belgian Malinois will live between 12 to 14 years.  There are several health problems, though, with which this breed tends to suffer, including cataracts, hip dysplasia, and epilepsy, though there have been attempts to correct these ailments through selective breeding.

The best way to ensure that you are getting a healthy Malinois if you’re a first-time owner is to check the dog’s health clearances first.  Health clearances indicate that the dog has been both tested for and cleared of conditions in particular.

You should be able to obtain health clearances from the breeder or from whoever you are buying or adopting the dog.  Some of websites, like the one for the American Kennel Club, have databases that may aid your research before you bring the dog home.

Health clearances that are specific to the Malinois include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and hypothyroidism.  These clearances should come from the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals).

In addition, you’ll also need to see clearances for thrombopathia, a type of hemophilia, (from Auburn University), as well as eye health (from the CERF – Canine Eye Registry Foundation).

Consistent training and exercise and the ability to keep up with such a high energy level are key to having a fulfilling relationship with your Belgian Malinois.  The Belgian Malinois temperament can be lots of fun, provided you are informed on the best possible ways to nurture it.

Comments on this entry are closed.

 Name: Email: