Originating in Belgium in the town of Malines as stock herders, Belgian Malinois now work in security, policing, detection of contraband, in assistance, and participate in herding trials. With a height and length that are nearly equivalent, this medium sized, short-haired breed has been described as appearing square. Strong and muscular, its origins as a hard working sheepdog continue to be evident in the breed, with high energy levels and a protective personality. This breed is an excellent choice for a high-energy person that spends time running, bicycling or hiking on a daily basis and can keep the dog busy. Belgian Malinois enjoy spending time with their family and should be allowed indoors to do so, while also having access to outdoor space where they can run around and expend energy. Dogs of this breed are intelligent, driven and learn quickly, responding well to early socialization and training. Each dog will be different, with a temperament ranging from aloof to outgoing.
The history of the Belgian Malinois is not well known prior to the late 1800’s, though dogs of the breed may have been helping shepherds care for flocks for hundreds of years. In the 1890’s, a professor by the name of Adolphe Reul found that there were similarities between multiple emerging breeds of dogs in Belgium. He called the group of similar dogs Belgian Shepherds. One particular variation of herding dog was thought to have originated from Malines; this variation became known as the Belgian Malinois. One of the first of the registered Belgian Malinois, according to records, was born in 1891 and named Charlot. The American Kennel Club accepted the breed in 1911, though called them Belgian Sheepdogs (not separating the different varieties). In 1959, the Belgian Shepherd varieties were officially separated, with the Malinois placed in the Miscellaneous Class until fully recognized in 1965. The Malinois became popular as a herder and his skills were then utilized for both police and military work. The breed has not gained popularity outside of Belgium and is not as popular as other Belgian breeds as a competitive show dog.
Weighing up to 65 pounds (females) and up to 75 pounds (males), the Belgian Malinois often appears to be square in shape as the height and length of the breed are typically equivalent or close to it. Dogs of this breed have straight, athletic legs and both their front legs and hindquarters are muscular. The head of the Belgian Malinois is held upright and includes erect, triangular ears. Its mouth includes powerful jaws with teeth that meet in a level, scissors bite. The tail of this athletic dog is long, with an upward curl, and is typically carried horizontally or down. The Belgian Malinois has a coat of short hair that is usually longer around the dog’s neck and rear in a deep mahogany brown or a lighter tan color with black tips.
The Belgian Malinois, with a short, straight coat, sheds regularly, with a minimum of two periods of heavier shedding during the year. It is helpful to brush dogs of this breed on a weekly basis in order to remove dead hair and distribute skin oils. More frequent brushing will be helpful to keep loose hair off of your floor, furniture and clothing. Unless your dog has been adventurous and keen on rolling in an undesirable area, he should only be bathed as needed to avoid removing the waterproof properties present on the coat. Other basic care that is necessary includes trimming the nails as needed (typically every few weeks) as well as frequent teeth brushing for overall good dental health (and fresh breath). Your dog’s ears should be kept clean and dry in order to avoid the development of infections. The Belgian Malinois is very energetic; a fenced in yard is helpful so that the dog may run and play to release his energy. Daily exercise, whether through a yard or long walks, runs or hikes, is imperative for the physical and emotional well-being of this active, inquisitive dog.