Belgian Malinois

Canis lupus familiaris

Last updated: November 18, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit Nordantin/Shutterstock.com

Belgian Malinois Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Carnivora
Family
Canidae
Genus
Canis
Scientific Name
Canis lupus familiaris

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Belgian Malinois Locations

Belgian Malinois Locations

Belgian Malinois Facts

Diet
Omnivore

Belgian Malinois Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Grey
  • Fawn
  • Black

Belgian Malinois as a Pet:

General Health
Energy Level
Shedability
Trainability
Intelligence
Tendency to Chew
Size
Family and kid friendliness
Yappiness / Barking
High
Separation Anxiety
Moderate
Preferred Temperature
Average climate
Exercise Needs
High
Friendly With Other Dogs
Moderate
Pure bred cost to own
$600-$800 initial purchase; $650/year to maintain
Dog group
Herding
Male weight
55-66 lbs
Female weight
44-55 lbs

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“Belgian malinois are courageous, loyal dogs that have served bravely in the military of several nations.”

Belgian Malinois Introduction

The Belgian malinois is a medium-sized sheep-herding dog originating in Belgium. It is also called the Belgian shepherd or the Belgian sheepdog. They look similar to German shepherds but have a more slender and elegant build. Dogs of this breed come in four different varieties with coats of different textures, colors, and lengths. These brave and loyal dogs have served with distinction as military service animals in both World Wars and more recent conflicts. They make excellent guard dogs and respond well to firm, loving training, but can be domineering with children, other dogs, and unconfident owners. The Belgian malinois can adapt to living indoors but requires a lot of exercise. This is a dog that needs an attentive, consistent owner, but when properly trained, will reward your effort by being a loyal and loving companion.

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The 4 Types of Belgian Malinois and 6 Belgian Malinois Mixes

The Belgian malinois comes in four varieties with different types of coats. The American Kennel Club classifies these as separate breeds. They are:

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  • The Groenendael – has a long solid black double coat. They have long hair on their shoulders, neck, and chest, feathered legs and tail, and short fur on the face.
  • The Laekenois – has a fawn-colored coat with black tips. The coat is rough, dry, and tangled looking.
  • The Malinois – has short, fawn-colored hair with a black overlay and charcoal coloring on its face and legs.
  • The Tervuren – is a long-haired variety with fawn-colored hair with black overlay. It has black legs, a ruff of long hair around the neck, and feathered legs.

There are several noted mixes of Belgian malinois with other breeds. These are:

  • Malinois Akita (Akita mix)
  • Mali-dutchie (Dutch shepherd mix)
  • German Malinois or Malinois X (German shepherd mix)
  • Malinois Greyhound (Greyhound mix)
  • Malinois Mastiff (Mastiff mix)
  • Belusky (Siberian Husky mix)

3 Pros and Cons of Owning a Belgian Malinois

Pros!Cons!
A variety of coat types – Prospective owners can choose between dogs with long, medium, and rough-haired coats of various colors. Some require more grooming than others.Not great with children – They have herding instincts toward children, other animals, and owners who are not both firm and loving toward them. They do well in a home with older children but are not recommended for small children.
Courageous service animals – Dogs of this breed have been decorated for their bravery in military service. They make excellent service, search-and-rescue, and therapy animals.Shed twice a year – Most of the time their coats are low maintenance, but they do shed more heavily twice a year and benefit from daily brushing at those times.
Great guard dogs – They have a strong instinct to guard their families and property. They can be trained to work for security services or as home watchdogs.Need intense exercise – Daily walks and being left alone in a yard are not enough for a Belgian malinois. They are highly athletic dogs who will want to accompany their owner for running, hiking, biking, and other vigorous activities.

The Best Dog Food For Belgian Malinois

Regardless of breed, it’s important to provide your dog with a high-quality food with all the healthy ingredients needed for development at all ages.

Dry or wet dog food, or both mixed together, are fine. Meat scraps and meat broth can be added to food to make it tastier, but in moderation. Overfeeding is a common problem that results in obesity in dogs, resulting in more health issues as they age. Many commercial brands have special formulas for puppies, adult dogs, and seniors.

Athletic dogs such as the Belgian malinois need especially good nutrition with a high protein level. A-Z Animals recommends Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Dry Dog Food. This high-quality brand has real protein as the number one ingredient. It does not contain grain products, artificial colors, or preservatives. It’s available in multiple flavors and suitable for dogs of all ages.

Health and Entertainment for your Belgian Malinois

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Best for Large Dogs
Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

•Nutritional, high protein food for large breed dogs

•Real protein as #1 ingredient

•Fruits & superfoods for vitamins & minerals

•Antioxidants, omega fatty acids, prebiotics

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Belgian Malinois Size and Weight

The Belgian malinois is a medium-sized dog with a solid build. Males stand 24-26 inches tall and weigh 55-66 pounds. Females are smaller, at 22-24 inches tall and 44-55 pounds. They are athletic, strong, and carry themselves confidently. Their appearance is slenderer and more elegant than a German shepherd.

Height (Male)24-26” Tall
Height (Female)22-24” Tall
Weight (male)55-66 lbs, fully grown
Weight (female)44-55 lbs, fully grown

Belgian Malinois Common Health Issues

This is considered to be a healthy breed with comparatively few health problems. They can live 12 to 14 years. Some of the problems reported include skin allergies, eye problems, and hip and elbow dysplasia. Belgian malinois should also be tested for epilepsy. All dog breeds should receive regular veterinary checkups, grooming, and have their nails clipped and teeth brushed. These preventative measures will help protect your pet from bacteria and infections and catch any health issues early.

This is a summary of the possible health issues your vet should screen your pet for:

Belgian Malinois Temperament and Behavior

This breed is intelligent, athletic, protective, and loyal. They love pleasing their owners and are easily trained. Any activity that stimulates their mind, such as learning tricks, puzzles, searching, and fetching are interesting to them. They are mostly friendly with strangers but can become aggressive if they feel their owner or territory are under threat.

They are very energetic and need a great deal of exercise, mental stimulation, and companionship with their owner. Lacking these, they may bark excessively and engage in destructive behaviors. They do not do well living outdoors separate from a family because they thrive on attention and socializing. Apartment living is not a great choice for them because their frequent barking will surely annoy neighbors. The best environment for them is to live with their owners in a house, with daily access to open countryside.

How To Take Care of Belgian Malinois

Maintenance and Grooming

The Belgian malinois comes in four varieties that differ by hair type and color. Varieties include long-haired, short-haired, and rough-haired. Their coats do not require a great deal of maintenance, but this depends on their activities and family lifestyle. Most of the time they just need an occasional brushing, but twice a year when they are shedding owners should brush them daily to remove loose hair. Their coats have two layers that make them water-resistant. When washing them, owners or groomers need to lift the layers of the coat so the water can penetrate to the skin. When drying, lift the hair to make sure moisture evaporates off the skin and undercoat. Owners should also trim their nails and brush their teeth on a regular basis.

Training

Belgian malinois have been described as bright and obedient. Their intelligence and eagerness to please makes them easy to train, if done properly.

They are highly alert and have strong guarding instincts. These traits make them outstanding guard dogs and working dogs for the police and military. However, they do display domineering behavior toward children, other pets, and owners who do not understand alpha behavior and intentionally maintain that role for themselves. If trained inadequately, they may engage in herding behavior: chasing, circling, and nipping to control the movements of people or pets they see as lower in the pack hierarchy.

Controlling such behavior requires a great deal of socialization and intentional training, which can make them into agreeable, loving companions and family pets. Remember though that this is a sensitive and intelligent breed. Owners who are too harsh or heavy-handed with them will find their pet quickly becomes uncooperative. Basically, try to build a relationship of mutual respect, with clearly defined and firmly, lovingly enforced boundaries.

Exercise

Belgian malinois need a great deal of vigorous exercise on a daily basis. Walking them daily is not enough—they need to run, jump, and do drills and jobs that stimulate their mind as well as their body and let them bond with their owner. The ideal owner for this dog is someone with a physically active lifestyle and the time to invest in daily workouts and bonding with their pet.

Belgian Malinois and Children

Breeder have bred these dogs for generations for herding and guarding, not as family pets. These instincts are still just below the surface, so they may chase, snap, and grab running things, including other animals and children. They can also be aggressively territorial toward neighbors, guests, and passers-by.

With careful training and socialization, a puppy can learn to moderate these behaviors and become a more congenial family pet. But overall, they are only a good match for households with adults and older children who can understand and cooperate in consistent training. This breed is not well-suited to families with smaller children.  

Belgian malinois puppy
Belgian malinois should be socialized from a young age so they do not display herding behavior.

cynoclub/Shutterstock.com

Dogs similar to Belgian Malinois

  • Bouvier des Flanders – A herding dog indigenous to Belgium and France. It is similar in temperament, size and weight to the Belgian malinois but requires more grooming.
  • Dutch Shepherd – A rare breed about the same size as the Belgian malinois. It has a wiry coat that requires little grooming and it rarely barks.
  • German Shepherd – An extremely popular and easy-to-find breed. Males are heavier than the Belgian malinois. They shed a great deal and are sensitive to disruptions in the household routine, such as guest visits.

Famous Belgian Malinois

U.S. President Herbert Hoover owned a Belgian malinois named “King Tut.” He was the President’s favorite dog.

Belgian malinois have earned great distinction as military and police service animals. Here are a few examples:

  • “Cairo” helped the US Navy SEALs operation that killed Osama bin Laden.
  • “Conan” assisted the US Army capture and kill Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
  • “Kuga” received an award after capturing a terrorist after being shot in the war in Afghanistan.
  • “Kuno” saved British soldiers’ lives in Afghanistan, despite having been shot.
  • “Mali” completed a mission for the British Army while injured in Afghanistan.
  • “K9 Killer” received a gold medal for helping to capture 115 poachers in South Africa’s Kruger National Park

Popular Names for Belgian Malinois

Male Names Include:

  • Magnus – “Great one”
  • Beau – “Handsome”
  • Baz – “Royal”
  • Hans – “Gift from God”
  • Marvel – “To wonder”

Female Names Include:

  • Belle – “Beautiful”
  • Anika – “Grace”
  • Nadia – “Hope”
  • Zara – “Princess”
  • Adal – “Sweet”

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What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?

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If you have kids or existing dogs select:

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Should they be Hypoallergenic?

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What climate?
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How much energy should they have?

The lower energy the better.
I want a cuddle buddy!
About average energy.
I want a dog that I have to chase after constantly!
All energy levels are great -- I just love dogs!
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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer and a lifelong animal lover. I've traveled the world, but the high point for me was riding an elephant in Nepal. Currently I'm an "Emotional Support Human" to 2 dogs, 1 cat, and 3 guinea pigs. My favorite wild animal is the quokka. If you've never heard of it look it up . . . and smile!

Belgian Malinois FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How much does a Belgian malinois cost to own?

The average purchase price of a Belgian malinois puppy is $600-$800. Maintaining them with food, veterinary care, medication, and other supplies will cost approximately $650 a year.

Is the Belgian Malinois good with kids?

They can be in a home with older children but are not recommended for young children. They have dominance and herding behaviors that require deliberate training to keep in check.

How long does a Belgian malinois live?

The average life expectancy of a Belgian malinois is 12-14 years.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgian_Shepherd
  2. Central Texas Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Hospital, Available here: https://www.ctvsh.com/services/dogs/breeds/belgian-malinois
  3. Dogell, Available here: https://dogell.com/en
  4. American Kennel Club, Available here: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/belgian-malinois/
  5. DogBreedInfo, Available here: https://www.dogbreedinfo.com/hybridcrossbreeds/belgianmalinoismixdogs.htm
  6. Pet Net ID, Available here: https://petnetid.com/breed/
  7. Wag! (1970) Wagwalking.com/daily/names

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