Belgian Shepherd Malinois – Complete breed information

Bred as working dogs, Malinois are true workaholics of the canine world. They will perfectly fulfill the task you ask of them, but in return they will want time at your side and dynamism to keep up with you.

Similar in appearance to the German Shepherd, they are smaller and slimmer, but also more active. Their versatility makes them ideal as sheepdogs, guard dogs, police or rescue dogs. And also at home they will get along great with the little ones. Do you want to know more about this extraordinary breed?

What does a Belgian Shepherd Malinois look like? Physical characteristics

It is a stylized dog, agile and resistant at the same time. It has a medium-sized, well-muscled body, and when viewed in profile it has an almost square appearance. It has a powerful neck, a straight back and a deep but not broad chest. The tail, thick at the base, is set high and curved without forming a hook when in action.

The position of the head, always carried high, gives a proud carriage, which is complemented by an intelligent look. The eyes are medium-sized, slightly almond-shaped and brown in color. A black mask, typical of the breed, covers the eye area. The ears, always erect and also dark, look like equilateral triangles seen from the front.

  • Height between 60 and 66 cm in males and between 55 and 60 cm in females.
  • Weight between 27 and 36 kg in males and between 18 and 27 kg in females.
  • Short and harsh coat, close to the body. The typical coat of the breed is tan, also known as “deer” color.
  • Active, friendly and protective character
  • Strong health
  • Estimated life expectancy between 14 and 16 years.
Belgian Shepherd Malinois - Complete breed information

What is the official standard for the Malinois variety?

Males shorter than 58 cm or taller than 68.5 cm and females shorter than 53 cm or taller than 63.5 cm are outside the standard. Overly aggressive or fearful individuals are also not tolerated. Likewise, the lack of one or more teeth is not accepted.

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Ears should be erect and never drooping or semi-erect. White spots are only allowed on the tips of the toes and a single white spot on the chest. Docked or docked tails are inadmissible.

The French line of the Belgian Shepherd Malinois

Breeders in different countries have been defining different lines within the standard, depending on the purpose sought. While the original line stands out for having the most robust specimens of the Malinois variety, the French line (with a marked presence in Spain) presents lighter individuals, more compact in size and with a greater sensitivity to the environment around them. These dogs offer a better response to their leader, making them easier to handle as working dogs.

Belgian Shepherd Malinois - Complete breed information

Temperament of the Malinois breed

Malinois adapt to the home without problems, as long as they participate in communal life. They will develop fruitful relationships with their family. They are very intelligent dogs but complex to train, so they are not recommended for the inexperienced.

The Belgian Shepherd Malinois is a workaholic with inexhaustible energy. To keep them balanced you must give them an occupation, such as taking care of the house, playing a sport or accompanying you for a run. Otherwise he will focus on herding children and adults, nipping at their heels to get them to go where he wants them to go. If you have a garden you will see how he moves in circles, a typical behavior of sheep herders.

Their personality makes it difficult, though not impossible, to live in small homes such as apartments or townhouses. They are also not suitable for sedentary people, those who are rarely at home or those who travel a lot. They need space and time, two elements without which they will become fearful and shy, which will eventually lead them to develop aggressive behaviors.

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The Belgian Malinois Shepherd is not a breed that establishes relationships quickly. First it needs to know well the people to whom it will show its affection. If it has been raised with other dogs or cats in the home, it will behave in a friendly manner. On the contrary, with strangers he may be more territorial.

Belgian Shepherd Malinois - Complete breed information

A well-balanced Malinois is one that has been socialized from puppyhood. It is an excellent watchdog, protecting its family or home with courage and without attacking unless unavoidable. He will normally show poise and self-confidence in all situations.

What care does a Belgian Shepherd Malinois need?

Exercise and daily outings are essential to keep a Belgian Shepherd Malinois happy. They need – at least – three or four outings a day, of at least 20 minutes each. These dogs will not settle for a leisurely walk. Ideally, they should be able to move freely off leash in a safe place. They will also be happy to join you for a run or if you go out on your bike. Sports are another good option. They will excel in any sport, be it agility, tracking, obedience or schutzhund.

Despite their restless nature, they prefer to live indoors, as they need to be part of the family’s daily life. A house with a garden is the ideal environment for them. They have no problem with very cold temperatures. In fact, they prefer them to very warm climates.

Grooming is simple: one brushing a week will be enough to keep them groomed. However, keep in mind that they shed a lot of hair throughout the year, especially during their two annual molts. The frequency of bathing does not need to be regular, only when it is really dirty.

Belgian Shepherd Malinois - Complete breed information

What special care do puppies need?

Although they are as energetic as adults, the little ones have special exercise needs:

  • Between 9 weeks and 6 months you should provide them with only two sessions – morning and afternoon – of about 20 minutes, playing fetch in your yard.
  • Between 6 months and one year, a walk of about 800 meters a day and a long play session of about 45 minutes are recommended, but not under very strong sunlight.
  • From the age of one year on, they can accompany you to run as long as they are not very long distances, trying to stop if they are exhausted.
  • Do not run on hard surfaces during their growth stage. As they mature, you can increase the distances and the intensity of the exercise.
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Following these guidelines will protect their bone and muscle structure, which will favor a more stable health in adulthood.

Common health problems in a Belgian Shepherd Malinois

This breed is known for its strength, as it does not have many associated diseases. However, you should pay attention to bone conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy.

Being low in body fat, the Belgian Shepherd Malinois is also very sensitive to anesthesia. The average number of deaths due to complications during surgery or dental procedures is higher than that of other breeds. Your specialist should be aware of this fact.

Belgian Shepherd Malinois history and fun facts

The Belgian Malinois Shepherd is one of four types of the Belgian Shepherd breed, which developed in this country in the late 19th century. The varieties differ mainly by the type of hair, the Malinois being short and hard.

Originating from the city of Mechelen, in western Belgium, the breeders of these dogs focused on developing specimens with a great working capacity, which is why they were always considered as one of the most suitable varieties to control sheep and cattle.

In the 20th century, their versatility made them suitable as guard and police dogs. During World War I they were used as messengers and as Red Cross helpers. With the advent of World War II, the breed almost disappeared. It was not until 1960 that some enthusiasts began to breed them again, first in Belgium and then in the rest of the world. Although in Europe the Malinois shares the standard with the other Belgian Shepherds, in the USA they are considered a separate breed.

Belgian Shepherd Malinois – Complete breed information
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