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Belgian Malinois… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

Belgian Malinois dog

The Belgian Malinois is one of those “types” of dogs that will often be mistaken as a “mutt” because he looks very similar to other more common dog breeds such as a the German Shepherd.

But the truth is…

The Belgian Malinois belong to a group of dogs collectively referred to as “Chiens de Berger Belge”, which consists of several different types of Belgian sheepherding breeds that were specifically bred to work as shepherds and guard dogs for their original owners in Belgium.

Other dogs in this group include the:

What makes the…

Belgian Maliniois dog so great is that they are a very smart dog, and one that is very cool and collected even under pressure.  He’s also a very fast and agile dog, which is why these dogs have often been used by police and rescue operations world wide.

But this does not…

Mean that a Belgian Malinois dog is going to be right for everyone.  This is why in this article, we wanted to take a moment and discuss some of the pros and cons of owning a Beligian Malinois, so that if you ever get a chance to get your hands on one, you’ll have a better idea if owning one will be the “right” choice for you.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right into it!

Belgian Malinois  Fast Facts

Country of Origin:  Belgium

Original Purpose: Herding Dog, Guard Dog or Watch Dog

Height:  22 to 26 inches tall

Weight:  60 to 65 pounds

Life Span: 12 to 14 years

Dog Breed Classification:  Herding Dogs

Origin of the Belgian Malinois

As we mentioned before, the Belgian Malinois belongs to a “class” of Belgian sheephearding dog breeds that are collectively referred to as Chien de Berger Belge in their home country of Belgium.  Many of the dogs in this group will be named by the “specific” city where they are most common, and the Malinois is no different as it’s origin seems to come from the town of Malines.


Other than the fact that this breed originated out of Belgium, not much else is really know about the breed specifically.  What we do know is that he was created to be a shepherd dog and was used by shepherds for tending sheep and cattle for hundreds of years.

That said…

The Belgian Malinois didn’t actually “earn” its name until approximately 1891 when the Belgian authorities thought it time to give proper names to the different dog breeds that were unique to their country.

Then once…

Belgians had a name to “attach” to this quality dog breed, he soon became a national treasure and quickly became very popular throughout the entire country where they still remain one of the most popular sheepdog breeds today.

Given how easy to train…

These dogs are, it’s no surprise that the Malinois was recruited by the Allied forces during the World Wars I and II, where he proved he was capable of getting the job done in any situation, displaying great courage under fire.

Malinois in America… 

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the Malinois in 1911 as a Belgian Sheepdog, which is a bit silly because it doesn’t take a “dog expert” to see that these two “types” of dogs are TOTALLY DIFFERENT!

54 years later…

The AKC finally got around to seeing the “errors of their ways” and eventually decided to recognize the Belgian Malinois as it’s own unique breed, which brings us to where we are now.

The American Belgian Malinois club

The Malinois is now as American as any dog breed in the U.S., and is often referred to as the American Belgian Malinois, where he often used a great guard dog or police dog in addition to simply being a great family pet!

Belgian Malinois Size and Colors

First and foremost, the Beligan Malinois is a pretty BIG dog.  Ranging between 60 to 65 pounds and standing right around two feet tall, it’s easy to see what police departments worldwide value the Malinois for his strength and size.

Easily recognizable…

With his short hair, black mask, large ears and brooding eyes.  The Belgian Malinos will have a smooth coat of the color fawn or mahogany, which is tipped with black and walk the a “leaning forward” gait that is a unique trait of most “shepherd type” dogs.

You’ll also notice that your Malinos will typically like to move in big circles rather than in straight lines almost as if he or she is constantly trying to “determine” where the “action” is going to come from!

Belgian Malinois Temperament

The Malinois temperament depends on his training. If he has been trained well right from the time he is a puppy he will be brave, courageous and relaxed in the company of other people, and never shy or aggressive.

If not…

You’re likely going to find that you’re now going to be the proud owner of a very rambunctious dog that is really big, really strong and really fast!


Take it from us, if you do decide to purchase a Malinois puppy, or better yet, adopt a rescue Malinois dog, be sure to enroll him or her in obedience training right away.  Not only will he or she “take” to the training, training a Malinois is actually a lot of fun because they’re great students!

Their training…

Should include mental stimulation exercises, and other methods such as agility, herding, flyball, obedience, search and rescue, rally and tracking.

And don’t forget to keep a few treats on you because while Malinois dogs do love being praised, they typically prefer treats instead.

Are Belgian Malinois dogs good which children?

One of the most popular questions is,

Are Belgian Malinois good with kids?

The Belgian Malinois dog breed is a herding dog, which means he might nip at or chase small children, mistaking them for small animals.

So, if you do decide to adopt a “rescue dog”, be sure that he or she was raised with small children in the house, otherwise you might not want to bring a Malinois home if you have small children.

Now if you…

Have older children, or you adopt a Malinois puppy and socialize him or her early, they should do fine.  You just want to make sure that your Malinois knows not to chase and that you’re children know how to behave around animals.

Malinois as a family pet

In addition to being a great “companion” animal, the Belgian Malinois is also going to be an excellent watch dog or guard dog. He is always alert, always on the lookout for trouble, and knows who to protect and who to be wary of and generally has the ability to discriminate between the good guys and the bad guys.  For these reasons, he is one of our “go to” breeds when recommending a “larger” dog for families.

Belgian Malinois Health Issues

Since the Belgian Malinois is a purebred dog, and a rather old one at that, there is always a chance that he could develop a genetic disorder that may be more common within the breed itself.

And unfortunately…

The Belgian Malinois breed does suffer from an increase risk of developing:

  • Progressive retinal atrophy, which is a deadly eye disease.

Okay, we know what you’re thinking…

Is he really a healthy dog? Can I take the chance of bringing a Malinois puppy home?

Yes! Certainly…

Provided you get him from the right breeder, one who shows you proof of DNA testing.

Also, ask the breeder for the following certifications…

  • PennHIP or OFA certification for hips
  • A CHIC certification from the American Belgian Malinois club
  • OFA clearance for elbows
  • An eye clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation.

This is important.

A Malinois can also suffer from the following diseases…

To be safe…if you are considering adding a Belgian Malinois to your family, we would also suggest that you take a moment a see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy on him or her as well.

You see, this way if your Malinois does end up developing some type of medical illness or injury later on in life, you won’t be on the “hook” for the full cost of his or her medical bills.

Now will purchasing a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?

Probably not, but until you know what the cost would be, how will you know for sure?  This is why we here at IndulgeYourPet created our Best Pet Insurance Companies article so that our readers can get a really quick idea if pursuing a pet insurance policy will be “right” for them.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Fern L H. November 28, 2019, 10:04 am

    Where can I purchase a Belgian Malinois pup with the above verified certificates. I live in Fayetteville Ga.

    • indulgeyourpet November 28, 2019, 11:56 am


      That’s a great question, but unfortunately one that we wouldn’t have an answer for. Perhaps you can see if there is a local Facebook page for a local Belgian Malinois club in your area. If so, not only would you probably be able to get an answer there, you’d probably meet a lot of other folks with similar interests.

      Good luck!


  • nicole February 4, 2020, 10:00 am

    i know that these dogs love to have a job and something to do. however how good are they at being service dogs? i have always loved the breed and their work ethic but i want to make sure i choose the correct breed for my next prospect

    • indulgeyourpet February 4, 2020, 11:42 am


      That’s a great question, but given the importance of having the right answer we wouldn’t want to take a guess without knowing for sure. Our advice would be to reach out to local service dog trainer (if you yourself aren’t one) or perhaps contact a local Belgian Malinois breeder who may know of examples where these types of dogs are performing this very valuable role.



      • Kristal D. May 27, 2021, 6:54 pm

        The Belgian Malinois is really versatile. A breeder and trainer can help match you with the right pup. A well trained Malinois would make an exceptional service dog.

  • Bill November 6, 2020, 1:42 pm

    We got our Belgian from a very reputable breeder in Nakina North Carolina.

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