Belgian Malinois-Guide to one of the greateset guard dogs

The Belgian Malinois is a medium to a large-sized dog that is often confused for the German Shepherd.

This is one of the four Belgian Sheepdogs that include;

He is one of the most demanding dog breeds as far as energy and exercise are concerned.

Malinois are intelligent and loyal dogs that were originally bred to be used as herding, guard, and security dogs.

You may have about this dog or maybe you spotted one and are curious about what he entails.

The good thing is that you have come to the right place to get that information.

In this article, we are going to look at all that you need to know about the Belgian Malinois from his looks, to temperament and even how you can take care of him.


So let us get right into it. 

About the Belgian Malinois

Malinois is pronounced as ‘Malin wah‘ and not ‘Mali-noise‘ as many people do.

These dogs are confident and smart and are also well known for being work-driven. He is not a dog for a first-time dog owner.

You need to understand his needs before you get one and be sure that you can meet them.

Active families and people that have experience handling and training large dogs will find this breed to be fun being around.

If you can meet his needs and you are looking for a lifelong canine friend Malinois will serve you just right. This is because there is nothing that they love more than human attention and they have a lot of love to share in turn.

Also if you are looking for a herding dog, the Belgian Malinois will be more than happy to assist you.

This is because their initial role was to herd livestock and they are good at moving and gathering other animals.


Several major clubs recognize the Belgian malinois and they are;

🐶The American Kennel Club

🐶United Kennel Club

Both the UKC and AKC recognize this dog as a herding dog.

These dogs are also fairly popular ranking at 43 out of 191 according to the AKC popularity rankings.


General Characteristics and appearance of the Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois summary table
Height Males stand between 24 and 26 inches while females can stand anywhere between 22 to 24 inches when fully grown.
Weight 50 to 80 pounds for male Malinois and 40 to 60 pounds for females
Lifespan 14 to 16 years
Breed Type Herding group
Purpose Herding, protection and guard dog
Suitable For owners that have experience with large dogs and active families
Grooming requirements moderate
Color Variations fawn
Health concerns hip and elbow dysplasia, and allergies
Temperament intelligent, loyal, loving, friendly, Energetic, Affectionate and can also be destructive when neglected.
Other Names Malinois or Mal


It would be accurate to say that the Belgian Malinois is a fairly large dog breed.

A fully grown male can have a height of anywhere between 24 and 26 inches for males while females can stand anywhere between 22 to 24 inches.
Males also weigh a bit more than the females do weighing between 50 to 80 pounds while their female counterparts weigh anywhere between 40 to 60 pounds.

Physical appearance

As we had mentioned earlier the Malinois is often confused with the German Shepherd because of their close resemblance in looks.
To an untrained eye, you might think that he is a GSD. However, you are in luck because we have a guide to help you differentiate between the two.
Visit this article to learn the differences between the two dog breeds.

The main difference between the Malinois and the German Shepherd is that the Malinois is smaller in size as compared to the GSD. Mals have a more athletic appearance.
Malinois are not bulky but they are muscular and are square.

They have a proud stature and posture. Another common Malinois trait is its black face masks and black ears.

These dogs also have large eyes that are chocolate in color

Coat appearance

This pooch has a double coat like any other herding dog. Double coats allow them to be more weather resistant meaning that they can adapt even in cold regions.

The upper coat is rough and short while the undercoat is soft and dense with the fur at their necks being longer than other parts of their bodies.

However, the Mal sheds throughout the year and blow out their coats twice every year.

Unfortunately, if you are prone to dog-related allergies this may not be the dog for you because he is not hypoallergenic.
When it comes to the color of the coats there are not many options that you can choose from. Their main color is fawn which is a golden-yellow color to a yellowish tan and even mahogany.

Their ears are black, the back of their heads are also darker and they have a black mask on their face.


Temperament and personality traits

Traits Rating
Prey Drive

Belgian Malinois have incredible loyalty and they value human affection.

However, this does not mean that they are fit for everyone and you should expect this doggo to seek your attention constantly. They require a lifestyle that many people would not have the ability to keep up with.

These pooches are also not quiet. Their bark is loud enough to scare any intruders and invaders.

This is the reason that nowadays they are mostly used as guard and watchdogs.

However, he is a very protective dog but this does not necessarily mean that he is aggressive. But because of how intelligent and trainable they are, you can train them to differentiate between a dangerous and a non-dangerous situation.

You can also train them to do various tasks.
Mals can also have a high prey drive which means that if you have other smaller animals in the house you should expect them to be constantly chased by this dog.

Malinois family compatibility

There are still questions of whether the Belgian Malinois should be a family dog or not.

But even if you decide that you are going to adopt or buy one as a family pet you are quickly going to realize that this is not your typical family dog.
There are several reasons for these;

  These dogs love to bite which is not a sign of aggression but it makes them unsuitable for families to some extent.
 They may end up chasing moving children because of their high prey drive
  Malinois were bred to be herding dogs which means they have high energy levels which translates to needing a lot of mental and physical stimulation.

This does not mean that you cannot get one as a family dog. But if you are going to do this then you should know and be prepared to take care of all their needs.
Just because they have a high prey drive does not mean that they do love to play. However, any time they are playing with kids you should keep a close eye on them and supervise the play.

Fortunately for you, a Belgian Malinois can be trained from a young age to get rid of the high prey drive.

Socialization can also be great if you are looking to tame this dog.


History of the Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois was first bred in a region northwest of Belgian known as Malines.

Livestock farmers in that city were looking for a dog that was hardworking and robust that could herd livestock for hours.

Breeders managed to breed this pooch and he was highly sorted after by herdsmen all over the world.

He was also partly used during the first world war as his breeding was still in progress.

The first Malinois were brought to the US in 1911 where they flourished till the second world war broke out. This stopped their importation from Europe.

Admirers of the Mal began replenishing their numbers in the 1960s after their numbers had dwindled.

They were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1959.

Frequently asked questions

Are Belgian Malinois good family dogs?

Dog lovers still debate whether you can say these dogs are great family pets. But one thing is for sure and it is that they are not the typical family dogs. These dogs have high work ethics and are great dogs but you need to understand their needs and how to manage them if you want to make them part of your family.

Is the Belgian Malinois an aggressive dog?

Malinois is a protective and aloof dog but you should not confuse this to aggression. Aggression is not a trait of the Mal. You just have to make sure that you raise them in the right way to make them accepting of other people and strangers.

How easy is it to train a Belgian Malinois?

A Malinois is one of the most trainable dogs you are ever going to meet. This pooch is intelligent has a work ethic like no other dog and you can train him to do various tasks that are not limited to herding livestock.


A Belgian Malinois puppy is a spectacle to look at.

These pups are born with floppy ears and they remain like this through most of their puppyhood stage. Their ears only begin to erect after they start to grow up and as they mature.

They reach adulthood at around 17 months from birth.

One Malinois mother can give birth to a litter of about 5-9 puppies.

A single pup could cost you anywhere between $1000 to $2500 depending on your location and the breeder.

Malinois puppy

Buying tips

Before you buy any dog you need to make sure that you have done enough research using guides like this one and many others to get information.

Having information beforehand is very important.

Buying a pup can be very time consuming but it is worth going through the hassle to get the pawfect puppy for yourself.

A suitable and reputable breeder is the second thing that you have to find once you have enough information.

The breeder you find should allow you to see the parents beforehand. Parents especially the dam should show no sign of aggression or hostility.

Your breeder should also have the health clearance forms for both parents.

Grooming a Belgian Malinois

Although Malinois shed all year round, you would be surprised to how little they shed. They only blow out their coats during Fall and Spring and during this period you will be required to have had a vacuum cleaner to deal with the excess hair.

This means that they do not require a lot of grooming to control shedding.

You should brush their coats twice every week to keep the coat shiny and healthy. These dogs should only be given baths when it is necessary like when they start getting smelly or dirty.

Bathing this dog too many times will strip the coat of essential oils causing the skin to dry out and becoming itchy.

Trim their nails from time to time to prevent them from becoming too long.

Brushing their teeth at least 3 times a week will provide them with the dental hygiene that they need.

Exercise requirements

Belgian Malinois are high energy dogs that require a lot of exercises, around 90 minutes of daily exercise to be precise.

Just taking this dog for a walk will not meet his activity requirements. You will need to do more than that.

Some of the exercises that you can give him are;

  • Agility training
  • Runs
  • Hikes
  • Playing games like fetch
  • Swimming

For active people, this dog is highly recommended. You also need to meet their mental stimulation requirements by playing brain games such as puzzles.


Malinois feeding requirements

We all know how important food is to doggos but these dogs need a high-quality diet that should be mainly meat-based.

Their diet should be predominantly proteins for muscle development and repair and fats to provide them with energy.

The amount that you fed feed will, however, vary depending on their metabolism, age, and activities.

On average both of these dogs will need about 25 calories for every pound that they weigh. This will equate to about 1300 daily calories.

Belgian Malinois Daily Food Consumption
Calories 1,300
Cups of Kibble 🍗🍗🍗

These are about 3 cups of high-quality kibble.

You should divide these meals into 2 portions, feeding one portion to them in the morning and the other in the evening.

This helps to prevent bloat which is prevalent in large dog breeds such as these.

belgian-malinois puppy

Training a Belgian Malinois

By now you already know that Mal is a working dog breed. This means that if you do not give them enough exercise and training they may end up becoming destructive.

Training is very important especially if you want to get rid of behaviors that are not suitable for you.

With proper training, these pooches are capable of many tasks.

But you need to know the right way that they should be trained and shouting at them is not one of them. Malinois are very sensitive to high tones and receptive to your emotions.

The best way to train them is by using positive reinforcement and reward-based training. Training should also start the moment you get home. By doing this you can teach them a wide range of tricks and commands.

Be consistent and patient with your training.

Socialization is also an important part of the training that should not be overlooked because of how aloof this dog can be.

Introduce the dog to other animals, other people, and different environments. Let them learn not to be wary of new things.


Some of the health concerns

Malinois is a pretty healthy breed but he is also prone to some health issues some of which are hereditary.

Some of the main health concerns are;

  • Bloat
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Epilepsy
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Cataracts

Even with all these health concerns, Belgian Malinois have an average lifespan of about 14 to 16 years which is pretty high.


We hope by now you have a better understanding of Belgian Malinois on what you need to know before adopting or buying.

This is a muscular, dedicated, loyal, and energetic working dog breed that needs an owner than can match his energy.

We have also seen that the Malinois is not a dog that is suitable for everybody. If you do not lead an active lifestyle you might want to consider getting another dog breed that will suit you and your family.

You will also need to be consistent and patient with this dog’s training, making sure that he is well behaved.

What do you think about the Belgian Malinois? Is he a dog that you would consider adopting?

If so, give us your feedback and questions in the comment section below.

There you go WOOF!!

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