BELGIAN SHEPHERD DOG (MALINOIS)
The Belgian Shepherd Dog is a medium-sized herding dog, bred in four distinct varieties of coat and colour: Groenendael, Laekenois, Tervuren, and Malinois. Here we focus on the Malinois variety, which is very popular as a family dog and also, notably, in roles with customs, military, border, and police forces. The Belgian Malinois is a versatile, energetic, and intelligent breed of dog.
A Brief History
The Belgian Shepherd Dog is descended from common local herding dogs used for centuries around Belgium. In 1891, the Club de Chien Berger Belge (Belgian Shepherd Dog Club) was established to preserve the breed. A research team from the Cureghem Veterinary School subsequently surveyed the type, which they found to vary greatly in appearance. This was due to the Belgian Shepherd Dog having been bred for years with little regard given to its form.
The first breed standard was drafted in 1892. The number of varieties of Belgian Shepherd Dog ranged from two to eight distinct types over the years before eventually settling on four recognised types in 1956, when the current breed standard was adopted. The four varieties known today are Groenendael, Laekenois, Tervuren, and Malinois.
The Belgian Malinois takes its name from the region of Malines (Mechelen in English). Arguably the best known of the Belgian Shepherd Dogs, the name Malinois is sometimes used as an umbrella term for the breed. The Kennel Club recognises the Belgian Shepherd Dog as one breed with four varieties that share the same physical attributes and are alluded only by coat and colour. The current breed standard was established in 1994.
The Belgian Malinois' build distinguishes it from the other varieties of Belgian Shepherd Dog.
Body: The body is powerful, elegant, and well-proportioned, with a straight, broad, and powerfully muscled back. The chest is deep and the ribs are well sprung. The rump is slightly sloping.
Head: The head is finely chiselled with a muzzle slightly longer than the skull. The forehead is flat and the stop is moderate.
Ears: They are small to medium in size and triangular. They are set high on the head, stiff and erect when the dog is awake.
Eyes: The eyes are slightly almond-shaped and medium in size. Their colour is preferably dark brown.
Tail: The tail is thick at the base, then tapers towards the tip. Medium length.
Coat: The Belgian Malinois has a short, coarse, and thick coat, and a woolly undercoat which offers good protection against bad weather.
Colour: The Malinois colouring is fawn with a black overlay and a black mask. A small to moderate white patch or strip is permitted on the chest or paws.
Belgian Malinois Temperament
This Belgian Malinois is loved by families and security professionals alike for good reason. Indeed, the temperament of the Belgian Malinois is efficient, hardworking, extremely loyal, and protective. Highly intelligent, alert, and sensitive, this versatile dog makes a formidable guard dog, as well as a working dog in many other roles. Affectionate and close to its family, the Belgian Malinois gets along wonderfully with children, whom it watches over carefully. These dogs have a very strong protective instinct and will not hesitate to intervene to protect their family, even if it means putting themselves in danger.
Do Belgian Malinoises Get Along Well with Others?
The Belgian Malinois gets along relatively well with other dogs. This is not an aggressive dog by nature. The Belgian Malinois can also coexist with other pets, such as cats or exotic pets, but proceed with caution. For your Malinois to live peacefully alongside other animals, they must be socialised correctly from an early age, as soon as you welcome your new puppy home. Create lots of positive experiences to ensure that your Malinois has no problem accepting your other pets. With children, this doggy is kind and patient but, again, be careful not to leave small kids alone with an unsupervised dog. Accidents do happen. Finally, like all good watchdogs, the Belgian Malinois tends to be suspicious of strangers. Proper socialisation can help with this, too.
Is a Belgian Malinois the Right Dog for Me?
Despite the great popularity of the breed, the Belgian Malinois is not suitable for everyone. These dogs have a rather assertive temperament and need a master with a firm grip. You must have a good understanding and knowledge of dog training if you're thinking about adopting a Malinois. The ideal master for the Belgian Malinois also needs to understand the specificities of the breed to be able to provide for and cope with its needs. For example, the Belgian Malinois is very energetic and needs to expend a lot of energy to be happy. As such, this breed of dog requires an athletic owner who won't hesitate to take it out running or hiking.
Belgian Malinois Health Issues
The Belgian Malinois is pretty robust health-wise. The life expectancy of a Belgian Malinois is between 10 and 12 years, which is more than honourable for a dog of this size. Other breeds of the same size tend to live much shorter. It's not uncommon to see a Belgian Malinois live to the age of 15 or 16! You can help preserve your dog's quality of life and increase their life expectancy by feeding them a high-quality diet and taking them for regular veterinary check-ups. Nonetheless, the breed is affected by certain diseases, such as hip dysplasia, neurological problems such as epilepsy, and skin problems.
Ideal Living Conditions of a Belgian Malinois
The Belgian Malinois is perfectly capable of living in an apartment, provided you are aware of and meet its daily needs. These dogs need masters who are available and don't spend too much time away from home. If you work in an office, it's important that you are able to come home during your break to take your dog out or hire someone to do so. The amount of time you have to spend with your pup is much more important to the happiness of this dog breed than the surface area of available space. A dog who is left abandoned at the bottom of the garden all day will be much more unhappy than a dog who lives in an apartment but gets to go out every day for long walks and experience new things. Apartment living requires some adjustments, however. Potty training or housebreaking your pooch may take a little longer in an apartment, for example, but be patient. The Belgian Malinois is an intelligent dog who will quickly learn to understand what you expect.
Belgian Malinois Training
The Belgian Malinois is a loyal dog who likes to please and develop a close bond with its master. But this faithful nature belies a strong will. As such, training your Belgian Malinois is essential and must begin as soon as you welcome your new puppy home, at the age of two months. Set clear boundaries right from the start and try to be consistent with them. Remember the key principles of dog training: patience, coherence, and consistency. Dog training is an important step in the life of any pooch because it allows your four-legged friend to evolve properly within their surroundings. Training a Belgian Malinois can prove tricky for first-time dog owners. As such, we don't recommend a Malinois as a first dog. If you have any doubts, call on the services of a professional dog trainer or behaviourist. Bad habits are difficult to unlearn!
Diet: What to Feed Your Belgian Malinois
Pay particular attention to your Belgian Malinois' diet. This plays a vital role in their health and, as such, must be of high quality and able to meet all their nutritional requirements and energy needs. One of the golden rules of dog food is to avoid the industrial dog food found in supermarkets, as much as possible. This is because, although the price may be attractive, it tends to be very low in quality and a poor-quality diet will inevitably have repercussions on your dog's health in the long run. It's better to opt for dry or wet dog food that's a little more expensive but has a much higher quality composition.
Learn how to decipher product labels to understand exactly what you're feeding your dog. Avoid products with added preservatives or sweeteners. Good dog food should contain at least 25 to 28% animal protein. Remember that dogs are opportunistic carnivores who need animal protein to stay healthy. You can also use food supplements to target your dog's specific needs. Finally, it's important to understand that your Belgian Malinois' dietary needs are likely to change throughout their life. Dog food should be adapted to your dog's activity level, weight, health condition, and age. A puppy will need different dog food from a senior dog, for example.
If you want to make sure that your dog's food is perfectly adapted to their needs, opt for a tailor-made service like Hector Kitchen. Or, if you have the time and want to control all the ingredients in your dog's food you can try feeding them homemade dog food or a BARF diet. These types of dog food require you to prepare your dog's meals yourself. Homemade dog food is made from cooked meat and vegetables and gives you complete control over what your dog ingests. Similarly, the BARF diet consists of raw meat, raw eggs, and cooked vegetables. Always seek advice from your vet before changing your dog's food or implementing a raw food diet.
Belgian Malinois Care and Maintenance
Vaccines: between £30 to £60 for the first injection series, plus annual boosters
Dog food: from around £50 per month for high-quality dog food
Monthly budget: minimum £105 per month
The Belgian Malinois is the variety of Belgian Shepherd Dog that requires the least amount of maintenance. These doggies only need brushing once or twice a week in normal periods. During moulting periods, which occur twice a year in spring and autumn, you will need to increase the frequency of brushing to once a day, to prevent a build-up of dead hair. Equip yourself with a suitable brush for your dog's hair type, to ensure you don't hurt your Belgian Malinois or damage their skin.
When it comes to bathing, be careful not to wash your dog too often. Combined with regular brushing, one or two baths per year will be more than enough. Unless, of course, your four-legged friend needs an express clean after getting dirty! In addition to the basic grooming for your Belgian Malinois, like brushing and bathing, remember to trim your dog's nails, and clean their eyes, ears, and teeth. It's important to also keep all your dog's deworming and antiparasitic treatments (for fleas and ticks in particular) up to date. Lastly, take your pooch for an annual veterinary check-up, and make sure to request a full health check, especially as they get older.
Belgian Malinois Price
The average price of a Malinois puppy is between £1250 and £2500. And it's possible to find puppies that are even more expensive! This price variation can be due to several criteria. First of all, some breeders charge a higher price if the dog is intended for exhibition or reproduction. The same goes for dogs that come from an exceptional line. Demand for the breed can also influence the price. As the Belgian Malinois is a very popular breed, there are fewer puppies available for adoption, which gives breeders more room to charge higher prices. However, if you're not set on adopting a puppy, it's also quite possible to adopt an adult Belgian Malinois, which is likely to cost you a lot less. Unfortunately, there are many Malinoises in animal shelters and rescue centres. And these doggies deserve a loving home too!
Belgian Malinois Sleeping Habits
The Belgian Malinois is quite capable of sleeping outside, provided your dog has use of a high-quality kennel, adapted to their needs and size. Ideally, opt for a wooden kennel rather than a plastic one. Although plastic kennels are cheaper and easier to clean, wooden kennels are much better insulated, sturdier, and constitute a great long-term investment. Though more expensive, they will protect your pooch much better from both cold and hot weather.
Of course, your Belgian Malinois can also sleep inside your home. Buy suitable accessories and create a cosy sleeping area for your dog in a quiet place, away from foot traffic. Choose a dog bed perfectly adapted to your dog's size and preferences, and remember that these are going to change over time. If your dog has destructive tendencies, opt for a plastic dog bed, which is more robust. If possible, avoid allowing your furry friend to sleep in your bedroom: this could lead to them developing separation anxiety.
Games and Physical Activities for Your Belgian Malinois
The Belgian Malinois is an active breed that requires a lot of exercise. It's important to take your dog out for at least one long walk a day. At home, make sure you have enough games and toys to occupy your Malinois in your absence. Your pooch must be able to occupy themselves in your absence to avoid getting bored and lonely. These days, there are many different types of dog toys to choose from. There's something for everyone! Brain games, such as Kongs or puzzles, are ideal. Remember to always choose objects that are appropriate for the size of your dog's jaw and strong enough not to get broken easily. Do activities with your Belgian Malinois whenever you can. Take your pooch out running with you and, on the weekends, why not sign them up to canine activities such as agility or tracking competitions.
Pet Insurance: Protecting Your Belgian Malinois
The Belgian Malinois is not a considered dangerous dog breed, so pet insurance is not obligatory. However, taking out a pet insurance policy for your dog helps to cover you in the event of accident or illness. Even if your dog is not aggressive by nature, accidents can happen quickly and you would be held responsible for any damage or harm caused to a third party by your dog. Pet insurance is a great way to make sure you're not hit with any nasty surprises. Most home insurance policies offer the option to include animal liability insurance. You can also purchase third party public liability dog insurance, which provides additional protection.
Additionally, pet insurance for dogs is a great way to make sure your Malinois gets the healthcare they deserve throughout their life. This dog breed is prone to certain diseases and, as vet fees are not standardised in the UK, veterinary costs can be very high. Health insurance for your German Shepherd works the same way as for humans: you pay a monthly premium to an insurance company and, in return, they reimburse you for any veterinary expenses. In any case, before deciding on a particular contract, make sure to shop around for quotes and assess which best suits your circumstances.
Then, take the time to read the fine print to ascertain the type of services offered, as well as the reimbursement rate, limits, and eligibility or exclusion clauses. Some insurance companies may refuse to insure dogs that are too old, too young, or already sick. So don't wait for your Malinois to get sick or old before taking out pet insurance for them, or you may risk them not being properly taken care of. Insurance companies may also refuse to reimburse costs incurred for certain diseases, genetic or hereditary diseases in particular. Read your contract carefully before signing and don't hesitate to ask your vet for advice. The higher your contribution, the greater the reimbursement will be. Some health insurance policies also offer additional services, such as covering funeral costs for your dog or providing psychological support after the death of a pet.
Belgian Malinois Size and Weight
The Belgian Malinois is a large dog. There is a noticeable difference in the size of male and female Malinoises. An adult male will measure between 60 and 66cm at the withers and weigh between 28 and 30kg. On the other hand, a female will measure between 56 and 52cm at the withers and weigh between 20 and 25kg.
The Kennel Club classifies the Belgian Shepherd Dog (Malinois) in The Pastoral Group, which consists of herding dogs associated with working cattle and sheep.