Belgian Malinois

40-65 lbs
22-24"
Belgium
Malinois, Chien de Berger Belge

Belgian Malinois dog — or Mals as they’re sometimes affectionately known — makes for a faithful companion capable of making life that little bit more exciting.

In our summary of the Belgian Malinois, you’ll come away with knowledge on:

  • The backstory of this clever breed
  • Their requirements for a happy life
  • All the health quirks specific to this variety



It’s fair to say that Belgian Malinois are fairly unfussy, but a responsible parent still has to look out for their needs — a wellness plan will keep you both in regular contact with the vet and allow for regular testing and examinations.



Belgian Malinois Breed Overview

Medium in size and short of coat, the Belgian Malinois is similar to a number of dogs bred around the world to be herders. The resemblance is particularly strong when it comes to German Shepherds, and in fact, the comparison between the Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd is a common one.

Although they’re certainly handsome dogs, this isn’t a breed prized for its looks. Instead, they’re famed for their athleticism, obedience and ability to master tasks quickly.

This is why, as well as often being trained in military roles, the Belgian Malinois is often a favored candidate when it comes to positions in policing, security and contraband detection.

Oh, and they’re no stranger to the silver screen, either — the 2022 film Dog, directed by and starring Channing Tatum, featured a Belgian Malinois dog in the titular role.

purpose Purpose
Stock Herding
history Date of Origin
1800s
ancestry Ancestry
Shepherd Dog

Belgian Malinois Health

Sketch of Belgian Malinois
Average Size
Male Belgian Malinois size stats
Height: 24-26 inches Weight: 60-80 lbs
Female Belgian Malinois size stats
Height: 22-24 inches Weight: 40-65 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Usually A Very Healthy Breed
Minor Concerns
  • Epilepsy
  • Pannus
  • Skin Allergies
Occasional Tests
  • Hip
  • MRI
  • Eye Examination
  • Allergy Tests

Belgian Malinois Breed History

Dog breeding before the end of the 19th century wasn’t as well-tracked and regulated as it — mostly — is today. Consequently, the origin of any breeds that emerged before this point can often be shrouded in uncertainty.

The Belgian Malinois is among this number. They had likely been around for centuries, but in the 1890s, Professor Adolphe Reul and a team from the Cureghem Veterinary School set out to classify the various types of dogs found throughout Belgium.

He found four separate breeds that he grouped together as Belgian Shepherds: Tervuren, Laekenois, Groenendael and Malinois. The latter of these were thought to have emerged from the town of Malines (also known as Mechelen) in the northwest of the country.

It was around this time that the breed made it across the Atlantic, with the American Kennel Club (AKC) welcoming the Belgian Shepherd onto its books in 1904 — it wasn’t until 1959 that the organization classified each of the four varieties as separate breeds in their own right.

Although the breed is popular in its homeland, it’s not as commonly spotted in the USA and is estimated to be the 32nd most popular dog variety in the country. However, as already mentioned, Mals are not short of admirers, especially when it comes to workplace environments.

Belgian Malinois Breed Appearance

You can tell the Belgian Malinois is an athlete just from a single glance — they typically have a slim build along with a lot of muscles at the front and hindquarters. 

When fully grown, they tend to reach between 22 and 26 inches tall. In terms of the Belgian Malinois weight, female dogs usually fall between 40 and 60 pounds, while males will reach between 60 to 80 pounds on the scales.

Their short, straight coats are practical, rather than showy — all the better for working in unpredictable conditions on the Belgian hillsides — and Belgian Malinois coloring is usually a mixture of brown, fawn and sable. Eyes are more often than not deep brown and the nose black.

This is also a breed in which you’ll never see a cropped or docked tail — instead, it’s allowed to grow to its full length and sit between their legs.

Appearance of Belgian Malinois
Eye Color Possibilities
brown Belgian Malinois eyes
Brown
Nose Color Possibilities
black Belgian Malinois nose
Black
Coat Color Possibilities
brown Belgian Malinois coat
Brown
fawn Belgian Malinois coat
Fawn
sable Belgian Malinois coat
Sable
Coat Length
coat
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
coat density
pin
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
coat texture
Belgian Malinois straight coat texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Belgian Malinois Breed Maintenance

Do Belgian Malinois shed? They do, but not extensively compared to many other breeds and, coming from hardy stock, the Belgian Malinois doesn’t need much by way of grooming. Brushing your dog once a week will help keep their coat tidy, although you might need to do it more often during their shedding periods — this will make your home considerably tidier, too!

Bathing should be kept to a minimum as doing it too much can affect the coat’s waterproof properties — however, don’t hesitate to do so when this outdoorsy dog has rolled in something putrid on one of their walks.

Speaking of exercise, this breed needs at least an hour’s activity a day, up to 12 miles’ walking a week and lots of mental stimulation. This is particularly important as a Belgian Malinois can be known to sometimes get a little destructive when under-occupied.


Belgian Malinois Health Risks

When compared to some other dog breeds, the Belgian Malinois is quite healthy, especially those from responsible breeders who screen their dogs for genetic diseases. However, there are a few conditions that Mals are prone to suffering from at one point or other in life — here are a few of which parents should be clued up.

Joint Issues

Like many medium-sized breeds that like to run around a lot, joint problems can develop. Hip dysplasia is the most common of these observed. This happens when the hip bone and joint become misaligned, leading to them grinding together when the leg moves rather than running smoothly.

How will you know this has happened to your dog? Well, you might notice limping, lameness, swelling or general discomfort. Thankfully, as a fairly regular problem in the veterinary world, there are lots of treatment options available, from weight management and supplements to physiotherapy and surgery.

It’s important you feed your Belgian Malinois puppy food specifically designed for their age, as too much calcium at an early developmental stage can increase the risk of hip dysplasia occurring when they’re older — Dog Food Advisor is the expert when it comes to the best puppy food around.

Eye Problems

The eyes of a Belgian Malinois can sometimes play up, too. You might, for example, see their lens clouding over with cataracts, a condition which can often be treated successfully with surgery.

Pannus is another eye condition not uncommon in Belgian Malinois and other Belgian Shepherd breeds. This affects the cornea — the clear part around the lens — and parents will usually see discoloration on this part, often pinkish. 

Again, treatment options will be available from your vet, although these only stop the condition from worsening rather than curing it wholly. In severe cases, blindness can occur.

There’s another disease that’s a little harder to spot, however. Progressive retinal atrophy is when the retina wears away over time, reducing the ability of your dog’s eye to take in light. 

You might notice your pet bumping into objects or tripping over more than they used to. Unfortunately, there’s no way of curing this affliction and your dog may go completely blind.

Rage Syndrome

Belgian Malinois are one of the few breeds associated with the little-understood rage syndrome, which is when a dog becomes aggressive and potentially dangerous seemingly out of the blue.

It’s thought to be a form of seizure in the brain’s temporal lobe and hereditary in nature, too. However, the exact cause isn’t known and as such, it can be a difficult condition to diagnose.

If your vet does land on this reason for your dog’s abnormal behavior, they might prescribe anticonvulsant medication to try to limit the outbursts. Family members, especially young children, should be warned of the signs to look out for ahead of a seizure, too — the Belgian Malinois bite force can be quite strong.

A comprehensive pet insurance policy will give your dog the best chance of leading a long and healthy life — check out some of the best choices available on WAG!


Feeding a Belgian Malinois — What’s the Best Food?

When it comes to mealtimes, an adult Belgian Malinois dog doesn’t have any special requirements. A top-quality dog food full of protein, carbs and vegetables will suffice, and our partner Dog Food Advisor has a long list of recommendations. Belgian Malinois puppies may need more specialist food during those early months; you can find a selection of best large breed puppy food suggestions here.

You might find your pet needs a fair amount of food every day to replace the energy exerted on your walks. However, a parent needs to ensure that their dog isn’t being overfed, as this can lead to obesity and an array of nasty secondary conditions.

Brushes for Belgian Malinois
Pin Brush
Pin Brush
Slicker Brush
Slicker Brush
Comb
Comb
Scissors
Scissors
Nail Clipper
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
fur daily fur weekly fur monthly
Belgian Malinois requires weekly brushing
Daily Weekly Monthly

Belgian Malinois Temperament

There’s a reason why Belgian Malinois make such good working dogs — they’re loyal, responsive and dominant when needs be. Training should start at a young age to nurture these traits.

Don’t be fooled into thinking life with this breed will be all work and no fun, however. In a family home environment, they can be affectionate and playful, even with young children.

And Belgian Malinois simply love being haring about in the great outdoors, so they can slot seamlessly into a parent’s active lifestyle, be that running, hiking or swimming. You won’t hear a peep out of them in the evening after you’ve worn them out, either.

Activity Level
low activity medium activity high activity
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
12 miles
walk mileage
Minutes of Activity Per Day
60 minutes
activity minutes

Belgian Malinois Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
3 cups
cup per day cost cup per day cost cup per day cost
Daily Cost
$1.50 - $1.90
food bowls daily cost
Monthly Cost
$39.00 - $52.00
food bag monthly cost

Belgian Malinois Height & Weight

6 Months
Sketch of Belgian Malinois at six months
Male Belgian Malinois size stats at six months
Height: 13.0 inches Weight: 55.0 lbs
Female Belgian Malinois size stats at six months
Height: 11.0 inches Weight: 50.0 lbs
12 Months
Sketch of Belgian Malinois at 12 months
Male Belgian Malinois size stats at 12 months
Height: 18.5 inches Weight: 67.0 lbs
Female Belgian Malinois size stats at 12 months
Height: 15.5 inches Weight: 57.0 lbs
18 Months
Sketch of Belgian Malinois at 18 months
Male Belgian Malinois size stats at 18 months
Height: 24.5 inches Weight: 80.0 lbs
Female Belgian Malinois size stats at 18 months
Height: 21.5 inches Weight: 72.5 lbs

Top Belgian Malinois Breeders

Check out who made our list for the most reputable Belgian Malinois breeders of 2024.
Top Belgian Malinois breeder Moon Quest Belgian Malinois
Moon Quest Belgian Malinois
Marysvale, Utah
Top Belgian Malinois breeder BelCol Belgian Malinois
BelCol Belgian Malinois
Cypress, Texas
Top Belgian Malinois breeder Alouette Belgian Malinois
Alouette Belgian Malinois
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Top Belgian Malinois breeder Desert Mountain Malinois
Desert Mountain Malinois
Idaho Falls, Idaho
Top Belgian Malinois breeder Turick Malinois
Turick Malinois
Hilliard, Florida
Top Belgian Malinois breeder Camelot German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois
Camelot German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois
Soddy Daisy, Tennessee
Top Belgian Malinois breeder Arizona Belgian Malinois
Arizona Belgian Malinois
Dewey, Arizona
Top Belgian Malinois breeder Top Gun K9 Belgian Malinois
Top Gun K9 Belgian Malinois
Walker, Louisiana
Top Belgian Malinois breeder Windrush Ranch and Kennel
Windrush Ranch and Kennel
Rio Hondo, Texas

Belgian Malinois Owner Experiences

Whiskey
5 Months
4 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Tug-of-war
Hike
Run
Walk
Fetch
5 month old Malinois, German shepherd mix. who is very friendly. She is intelligent but can be just as clumsy and goofy. My girl is extremely chilled out and sleeps a lot but definitely gets her zoomies. she is with me all the time and goes to work with me every day. We do probably 1- 1.5hr worth of work of play, training, exercise daily. I can say she has been great with my girlfriends small dog but not the cat she loves to terrorize the cat.
2 years, 6 months ago
Choco
7 Months
6 People
Apartment
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Tug
Playing Ball
Happy and exciting new day
2 years, 6 months ago
Valak
11 Weeks
2 People
Apartment
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Running
Fetch
Road trip
We’ve only had Valak for a week now and he is amazing! He’s super smart and just the biggest baby ever! He bonded to me instantly. Out of his whole litter he was the only one who came up to me and demanded that I love him instead of trying to rip up my pants. He will whine if he didn’t get enough attention but he is overall just amazing! He is friendly with other people but he won’t just go running up to other people he will stand really close to me and watch them until I tell him it’s okay then he’ll be okay with it. Which is amazing!! I love my baby boy!!
2 years, 7 months ago
Nova
6 Months
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
We have a 6 month old malinois who is very friendly and loving. extremely intelligent but can be just as clumsy and goofy. Most reports on the malinois is that they are all go and don't stop, however we have not found this to be the case. Our female is extremely chilled out and sleeps a lot. I work from home and she is with me all the time - so this may have something to do with it. We do probably 1.5 - 2.5hrs worth of work of play/training/excercise daily. we would do more but she is usually tired out. the routine daily is she comes out of her crate at about 6.30am for the toilet. then i set up and work until 12 while she just sleeps next to me. we then do activities together 12-1. then she lies on the floor of our gym while i train in our garage until around 2pm. she then goes back to sleep from 2-5. then she iss up and about in the house until about 6 and we then do another hour or so of activities until 7-7.30 and she is done for the night. usually falls asleep around 8.30. she goes in her crate at about 10pm and will sleep through until we get up. that can be at 6.30 but if we lie in she will lie in too. I have woken up and come downstairs at 10am on the weekend and she hasn't budged. even if she is awake in her crate she doesn't make a noise. All in all, its been a lot of work as we have not had a dog before but I don't think I could ask for a better dog. we know others that have had puppies around the same time as us (wire haired pointer) and we have not had even half the issues they have with our mal. One thing i can say is that she is very sensitive so if corrected too harshly we have to build her confidence doing the activity again as she may shut down and just lie down (she has only done this once). so we make sure when we correct its not too harsh and that the rewards and love we give for doing it correctly outweighs the correction by a large amount. But yeah she is fantastic
2 years, 7 months ago
Troy
2 Months
7 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
First time owner, so I still have to find out the traits of this breed, though I own 7 other breeds like Doberman, Labrador, and Ambull
2 years, 7 months ago
Aaron
2 Years
4 People
House
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
make me feel stressfree
6 years, 5 months ago
Jagger Von Amour
13 Weeks
3 People
House
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
I got my puppy very young. Had a hard time training to house break. Found that limiting his area helped a lot with accidents in the house. He requires a lot of bathroom breaks and sleep at young age. Lots of energy and requires play 3 times per day at least. I bring my dog everywhere with me while he is young.
6 years, 4 months ago
8 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Learn a new trick
Explore
Run
Obedience classes
He was very obedient to every command given by people he trusted. He was very cautious of his surroundings while still enjoying himself. He was more business than play but did like running around and checking new things out. He was friendly but did approach people steadily. He loved learning new things and appreciated praise.
6 years, 3 months ago
1 Year
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
She was only a year old and very very friendly. She was calm when I entered the room and wanted her walk....very high energy dog. You could tell she thrived on exercise and was content after her walk. She would also pay very close attention to me and seemed protective. Beautiful dog.
6 years, 3 months ago
1 Year
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Running
Walks
Belgian Malinois are highly intelligent dogs, but have a lot of energy and need to go on long walks/runs. I have taken them on 3 mile walks before and they still want to keep going afterwards!
6 years, 3 months ago
8 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
One of my favorite walks I've done! She was very interesting. Lucy was very cautious, approaching me while I got her ready for the walk and then during the walk she always was on her toes looking at her surroundings. Anytime she would see a smaller animal like a cat or squirrel she would get very quiet, stop panting and crouch down and walk like a cat towards the little animal but never pulling on me. She listened really well, always making sure we were in nsync with what was happening. She was a little nervous around people, seemed to be a one person kinda dog, so she made me feel safe out there when we were walking (as in she wasn't distracted and all focused on what we were doing and payed no attention to others, except for if they were getting close or she felt unsafe in the situation). amazing dog!
6 years, 3 months ago
5 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Explore the city
Walk
Catch treats
Play
What a classic dog! He was so well behaved, friendly, willing to play, and a great listener. He stepped right into his harness when I presented it to him and though he pulled his way down the stairs (he lived on the 6th floor!), once we got outside he was fantastic. He'd sit at every corner without even having been asked to do so. We found a big stick and played with it at the nearby park for a little while and strolled about in the warm afternoon sun. Though he isn't particularly speedy, he could easily have been walked for an entire extra hour. His smiling eyes and bouncing gait made it very clear that he was ready for anything and was so thankful for our walk.
6 years, 3 months ago
K-9 Hexe
9 Years
4 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Awesome, she is this best animal I've ever seen. She loves us and people as much as anyone could ever expect.She's curious, and absolutely loves children.
5 years ago
XAM
20 Months
5 People
House
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Ball fetching
Item searching
Obeying commands
So far, it's very good especially for family protection. I guess it is more effective than handling a gun, really.
4 years, 9 months ago
Handsome
8 Weeks
3 People
Apartment
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
When I first got him they told me he was a German shepherd chow chow mix but I immediately knew he wasn’t . They also said he was turned in because he was the runt and wasn’t going to make the breeders any money. It broke my heart but I’m blessed they didn’t want him because he’s my amazing little guy! I love him so much he’s so sweet he doesn’t bark at others or dogs or try to eat human food all he wants is to be held and not left in the dark. He loves every member in my house and just wants to play. I can’t get enough of my handsome!
4 years, 7 months ago
Po(Poirot)
5 Months
2 People
Condo
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walk
Energetic, stubborn, inteligent, persistant
4 years, 5 months ago
Jaco
9 Months
5 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
very hyper, sweet, understand few commands, always excited to play, very alert in many ways, the male one is very dominant than the female.
3 years, 10 months ago
Maui
2 Months
3 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
he loves chasing the children
3 years, 9 months ago
Nam
5 Months
9+ People
House
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Energetic but sometimes not an active Listener
3 years, 6 months ago
Bear
4 Years
3 People
House
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Run
Frisbee
Extremely hyper, energetic and can be a real handful. You will find yourself getting frustrated with the dog because they require 24/7 attention and exercise, they find it difficult to switch off and relax. However they are extremely smart and will learn any command you teach them and they make a great family pet.
3 years, 6 months ago
Syrus
1 Year
8 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Chase
Fetch
Walk
Hide & Seek
Frisbee
We’ve had Syrus since he was 8 weeks old. He is incredibly smart, caught on to his commands quickly. He began learning commands by 10 weeks old and still responds to them. He does well with other dogs, loves seeing other dogs. He can play for hours on end due to his high energy level. When the children are outside with him he seems more protective than when he’s by himself. He also helps keep our chickens in the yard as he seems to think they need constant herding. He whines when he’s not getting attention and whines if you won’t let him sit on you or by you.
3 years, 4 months ago
Whiskey
20 Months
1 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walking
sprints
riding in truck
Fetching games
Chasing “stick”
My handsome boy came into my life when he was kept from a litter by my boss, initially. Technically, Whiskey was his dog, but in reality it was obvious I was mama to this fur baby: he chose me. He followed me everywhere and I gradually adopted him. I always looked out for him because I didn’t believe the life he was being given was good for him; his mom and dad were still around and they were all “outside” dogs raised to be guards of the property. Whiskey’s temperament has always been mild and heart-meltingly sweet, and although I’ve been with him since he was small and training him when I could, I didn’t have full parental rights for his first year. This meant he was never socialized with other dogs properly, unfortunately, because I couldn’t bring him places. When I moved away I fought for him and took him with me... and now he’s a super happy guy with grass to play in and a warm house and lots of love!! He’s so intelligent it blows me away almost daily. But right now I’m struggling with what to do about his reaction to other dogs... he was never taught and it’s hard to start that teaching with an 80 lb giant. Other than that aspect, he listens super well and wins hearts immediately! I can’t imagine having any other kind of dog after I’ve been spoiled by this guy.
3 years, 3 months ago
Max
2 Years
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Hikes in the snow
My Malinois is mixed with akita. He is not very friendly with other dogs, however, I did not get him as a puppy so it could have been his past that made him this way. My dog is always very eager to learn new tricks and play. He adores kids, and is fairly good with people. He is extremely skiddish with anything new, which I also think had a lot to do with his past. Other than that, he is an awesome dog who always keeps me on my toes!
3 years, 2 months ago
Avo Oticram
7 Months
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Bitting Bones
He finished his food too quickly once he heard barking of other dogs in the house.
2 years, 11 months ago
Sebby
7 Months
3 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
My dog is hyper and playful dog. He chases running things and he does'nt like objects that he thinks a threat to him.
2 years, 11 months ago
Luna
5 Months
2 People
House
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
She picks up training quickly
2 years, 10 months ago
Animal Expert Question Icon
Question - New pet
Question

what are the daily routines of a 2 months old Belgian Malinois?

Answer
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Question - New pet
Question

I have a 11.5 month old belgian malinois and in one day i want to go on a 4 hour hike (with breaks) with her. Would this cause damage to her even just once? Thanks Caroline

Answer
Animal Expert Question Icon
Question - Other
Question

What is the normal heightof fem belgian malinois at 4months old.

Answer
Animal Expert Question Icon
Question - Behavior
Question

We've had Luci (Lucifer, yeah I know but the wife loves tom ellis in the show!) since he was 10weeks old, now coming into 15 weeks old. He'll sit on command, esp if there's a treat in store for him, he'll come times "come" on command, but he rarely if ever even so much as lifts an ear when his name is called. I've tried every time of of voice to get him to respond to his name but still, not even a dirty look. Nothing wrong with his hearing, he'll fly through the house to get to his bowl when he hears food dropping into it! How do I get him to respond to his name?

Answer
Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd