About the Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois (pronounced MAL-in-wah) is one of the varieties of the Belgian Shepherd Dog. In the United States, they are registered by the American Kennel Club as a separate breed.

The Belgian Malinois is a medium size dog of exceptional beauty and working ability used for many purposes, including herding, tracking, agility, obedience, and police work. To the inexperienced eye, they may seem to resemble the German Shepherd Dog, but upon closer inspection, many differences may be seen including size, bone structure, color, and head and ear shape. The Belgian is generally a lighter, quicker, more agile dog. They are also generally a more "high energy" dog.

What kind of home is suitable for a Malinois?

An owner who gets the most out of his or her Malinois is usually one who has had some previous experience of dog ownership and dog training. Even so, many new owners are not prepared for the high degree of "intensity" in this dog's personality. Whatever they do, they do to the maximum: whether that be work, play, or just adoring you, their master. The Malinois likes to be included in all your activities, so if you like jogging, hiking, running, biking, obedience, out-of-door activities, or just spending a lot of time with your dog, then the Malinois may be a good choice for you. However, if you often work extended hours, must travel frequently, or have other activities that often keep you away from your dog, then this is definitely not the breed for you.

What kind of training does the Malinois need?

The Malinois is an active, intelligent dog that requires early exposure to different people and dogs so that he will be accepting of them when he grows up. The Malinois also requires training to control his high energy and exuberance and channel them into useful activities. A puppy socialization or puppy kindergarten class is recommended for Malinois puppies. First-time Malinois owners are often amazed and delighted at how quickly these dogs learn and how sensitive they are to corrections, but these same traits can get them into trouble if their owner fails to take the time to train them properly, or combines harsh corrections with poor training techniques.

Are Malinois good with children?

Yes, particularly if they are raised with them. If they are not raised with children, they should be given ample opportunity when young to meet and interact with children. Remember, however, that this is a relatively large, very active, very quick-to-respond dog. As with any such dog, they should never be left unsupervised with very small, or unruly children.

What kinds of health problems do Malinois have?

Malinois are generally healthy dogs, living an average of 10 to 12 years. They are susceptible to hip dysplasia, however, which is a crippling inherited disorder.