About the Breed
The Belgian Malinois (prounounced MAL-in-Wah) is one of the four varieties of the Belgian Shepherd dog registered in Belgium and France as the Chien de Berger Belge. It was originally bred near the city of Malines, Belgium, from whence the breed name, Malinois, is derived. The Belgian Malinois was registered as a separate breed by the American Kennel Club (http://www.akc.org) (AKC) in 1959 and is considered to be a member of the Herding Group.
The other types of Belgian Shepherds are the Tervuren (long-haired fawn with black overlay), the Groenendael (long-haired black), and the Laekenois (curly, wire-haired fawn). The Laekenois is not recognized by the AKC.
When the breed was originally established, we have been told by a 4th generation breeder in Europe that the dog’s coloring was the same color as a wild rabbit. Through the years of breeding, different color variations have appeared, from light fawn to bright red to brown, all with a minimal amount of white. In some cases, some black appears on the hair in an “overlay,” or the ends of the hair are tipped with black. The mask and the ears are black.
The Belgian Malinois is quite often mistaken for a German Shepherd dog, but, upon comparison, there are many distinct differences including body, head, and ear shape; bone structure; and size. The most obvious difference is the square shape of a Belgian Malinois compared to the severe slope of the back of today’s German Shepherd dogs. The frame of a Malinois is lighter than a German Shepherd, but its well-muscled build allows for a quicker response and more endurance. These proud, confident dogs are extremely intelligent and have powerful drive and great agility.
Belgian Malinois are well suited to a number of purposes, including:
Search and rescue
(Schutzhund, French ring, Street ring, Mondioring, etc.)
Sledding or pulling carts
This breed requires early socialization and continued firm, but not harsh, training. Imprinting needs to be done from birth according to the type of home the pup is going to; for instance, bitework training should not be introduced to a pup going to a home where it will be exposed to young children.
Belgian Malinois, in general, are happiest when they have a job to do. A Mali will find ways to entertain itself if its owner doesn’t, often times much to the owner’s displeasure.
Although Belgian Malinois are not generally recommended as house pets, some Belgians can be great companions, depending on the genetic line they descend from, their level of socialization, and the degree and type of imprinting to which they are exposed. They have strong protective instincts for their families and established territory. These loyal, obedient dogs will work their hearts out for their owners and thrive on pleasing them. A Mali needs to be busy so it doesn’t become bored. It would prefer to be interactively involved with its owner rather than cooped up in its kennel. It needs sufficient exercise and plenty of attention, companionship, and training.
Please be aware that the Belgian Malinois is not the breed for every home. These demanding dogs need experienced owners who are willing and capable of learning how to control them and channel their high activity levels in the correct directions.
Belgian Malinois, in general, are healthy dogs with no major health concerns; however, Malinois have the minor possibility of hip or elbow dysplasia. Eye problems are also uncommon for Malinois, but Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) or congenital cataracts have been noted in the breed, as has Pyoderma (skin allergies).
Belgian Malinois can experience excessive behaviors, with a swing from shy to aggressive behavior being possible. Their natural herding instincts may produce behaviors of circling, chasing, continual pacing, nipping at the heels, or crowding against their owner’s legs.
In our opinion, in the right hands, the Belgian Malinois is the “Cadillac” of all breeds.
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