You could be forgiven for thinking the Belgian Malinois breed of dog was an offshoot of the German shepherd with their similar color and look. Both are renowned for their hard-working ethic and were originally bred as herding mutts, but one was bred in Belgium some ninety years ago while the popular German originated in Germany.
The Malinois is a sensitive soul,
smaller in size and the perfect pooch for sniffing and keeping the bad guys in
check. A favorite with police, this pointy-eared pooch is on guard at the
airports, wakening up the cocaine traffickers by finding their stash before it
hits the streets. This upbeat woofer also makes a great family pet with a
sociable, confident character. Read on if you want to know more about this dynamic dog breed.
Signs a Belgian Malinois Can Smell Cocaine
To walk in the paws of the Belgian Malinois is to know the harshness of war, as they work tirelessly for the military and the White House, where they are employed by the secret service to guard the grounds. The Malinois is an all-rounder, with an effortless ability to learn, making them the perfect fit for any work where alertness, friendliness and a brave-heart are required.
One of the most versatile dog breeds, this enduring pooch turns up in search and rescue, the police force, and as sniffer dogs. The New York Post tells us that a bold Belgian Malinois named Cairo was instrumental in bringing down the notorious terrorist, Osama bin Laden.
Sniffing for deadly drugs like cocaine must be a breeze for this dedicated dog that raises their paw when called to action. They are the super sniffers who can smell through anything to find the cocaine being transported by smugglers. If they are checking out the luggage that’s just come off a plane, the Malinois will pace up and down looking for a scent. Once it’s found, they’ll actively or aggressively alert their handler by barking, scratching, or digging at the bag, depending on how they were trained.
If a dog is passively trained to call attention to luggage or a person that might be carrying drugs, they will generally sit by the area they have detected the scent. Specific behaviors tell a handler whether to pursue a search, so if a dog lies down instead of sitting, that’s not likely to happen. In many USA states, the law is emphatic that a dog needs to indicate probable cause for a person’s luggage or person to be searched. A lawyer could argue that the dog did not indicate correctly, letting the offender off the hook!
ABC News reports the story of Zuko, a motivated Malinois working for an organization called Dogs Finding Drugs that helps parents find out if their kids are getting high. Zuko goes into a home and sniffs out the kid’s stash of cocaine, marijuana, heroin, or amphetamines, in a bid to help parents get their children straight.
- Alerting their handler
- Sitting where the substance has been found
- Excited behavior
History of the Belgian Malinois
The Belgian Malinois resembles the look of its ancestor the wolf and originated from the city of Malines, Belgium in the 1800’s. At the time there were four herding dogs in Belgium, each considered part of one breed and defined by their coat length and color. They included the Chateau de Laekenois - liked by Queen Marie Henriette, the long-haired Tervuren, the black colored Groenendael, and short-haired Malinois. All four woofers were named after regions around Brussels.
In the latter part of the 19th century, the Club du Chien de Berger Beige (Belgian Shepherd Dog Club) was formed followed by competitive clubs named the Berger Beige Club in 1898 and the Kennel Club Beige in 1908.
In 1911, the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club and in 1959 moves were made to divide the four distinctive shepherds. The Malinois and Tervuren retained their names while the Groenendael became the Belgium Sheepdog and the Laekenois was not recognized by the AKC.
During the first World War, Belgian Shepherds were employed by the military as messenger pups and were seen working with the Red Cross. Before war broke out, the Shepherds were enlisted in the Belgium police force and proved to be hard-working woofers, ideal for this line of work. It was said local crooks started leaving the cities as these diligent dogs came on patrol. Soon, the world caught on to this clever canine and the USA police force imported Belgian Malinois dogs to work as K9 cops.
In 1978, the official American Belgian Malinois Club was formed. This short-haired shepherd with a fawn colored coat and black face had come a long way since its days herding and patrolling the Belgium streets.
Today, everywhere you look from the police out on the street to the airports, borders, highways, schools, and fire departments, this highly intelligent, light-on-their-paws pup appears always in control and content in the service of man.
The merciful Malinois is the dog leading the blind and listening intently for those with hearing impairments. These tough characters are also the dog of choice for the US Navy Seals. Being easy to train and eager to please makes the Belgian Malinois at the top of their game as a canine force to be reckoned with.
The Science of Belgian Malinoise Sniffer Dogs
The Washington Post featured a paw-raising tale of a Malinois named Brutus who was on duty with his handler searching freight trains for stowed away people. Suddenly, this snazzy sniffer got wind of something smelling like contraband in a box-car. Brutus was on a mission, whimpering and woofing as he tried to chew the spot where something was buried. The Malinois is a top-class act and Brutus honored the breed by finding two tons of illegal substances concealed behind fake walls.
Brutus could smell the dodgy drugs through the walls of the freight train, making it a bad day for the smugglers who had gone to all the trouble of building false walls to deter the dog.
Seems they flunked biology at school and had no idea how potent a woofers nose is. Brutus could smell through the walls and determine the scent as his awe-inspiring sense of smell is so much stronger than a human's.
Dogs are sniffing legends and can deliver a verdict about what’s in that tasty pie their pet mom is making, going through each ingredient with the stealth of a slick, criminal lawyer. They don’t miss a trick and that’s why the people that courier drugs here, there, and everywhere are frustrated by this stylish dog breed.
The Belgian Malinois has working dog in their veins and a decisive sniffing machine that makes them hard to beat. Thanks to their distant wolf ancestor, the Malinois' nose is a powerful weapon against crime. Three hundred million smell receptors light up when cocaine or other illegal substances are in the vicinity, as this bold Belgium import wastes no time alerting the find!
Training the Belgian Malinois Drug Detector Dog
The Belgian Malinois is a trainer’s delight, always ready to learn with strong hunting instincts. When the police train a detector dog to find cocaine and other substances, they work with a rolled up white towel that makes a great tug of war game when the dog has detected narcotics.
In the early stages, a very small amount of a chosen substance is wrapped in the towel and the trainee K9 is then prompted to locate the scent. Its all fun and games at this stage, as the police-puppy hunts for the desired odor and wins the reward. As training advances, the Malinois is expected to find the illicit material and either sit passively or dig at the subject aggressively, showing their handler they’ve found the required whiff.
The police are huge fans of the Belgian Malinois, as they are incredibly loyal and will protect their handler at all times. Law enforcement officers go out into the field and search for drugs on boats, trains, cargo, planes, and anywhere they may get a tip-off. It’s a dangerous business at the best of times but is made easier by this European K9 whose light build makes them faster than the German Shepherd, another popular police dog breed. The high-end energy of this agile breed, that hasn’t been overly bred, offers fewer health problems and a no-quit attitude to their work!
One of the most amazing Belgian Malinois mutts employed by the Los Angeles County Police Department has retired, but during his eight years of service, a woofer named Flash detected around 2,538.7 pounds of cocaine, 201,405 pounds of heroin plus 1,679.26 pounds of meth and 6,772,621 pounds of marijuana! There were massive amounts of cash and firearms secured, highlighting an outstanding canine career in law enforcement. His herculean sense of smell allowed him to detect 40 feet under the earth and possibly smell a teaspoon of coffee in a million gallons of water.
How to React to a Belgian Malinois Finding Illegal Substances:
Praise them for their find.
Make sure they do not inhale or eat this lethal drug.
Call the local police.
Look at training your dog to find other things.
Read pawsome articles about drug-detecting dogs.