The Belgian Malinois is a robust dog breed, which enjoys a relatively long life expectancy compared to other dogs of the same size. Unfortunately, no dog breed is immune to disease. So how long can you expect to have your Belgian Malinois by your side? And what are the most common diseases for this dog breed? Find out below.

The Average Lifespan of a Belgian Malinois

The average lifespan of the Belgian Malinois is between 10 and 14 years. Some Belgian Malinoises even live to the age of 16 and older! So you can expect to have your Mali with you for a long time. The Belgian Malinois's life expectancy is actually longer than most other dog breeds of the same size, and especially giant breed dogs with relatively short lifespans - less than 10 years for some, such as the Bernese Mountain Dog. The Malinois lives almost as long as certain small breed dogs, renowned for their longevity. Bear in mind, though, that the average life expectancy of any dog breed is only an indication; several factors can affect it, including the dog’s living conditions, environment, and diet. Of course, no pooch is immune to accidents or diseases like cancer, but you can help prevent the onset of common diseases by taking a few simple precautions.

How Can I Increase My Belgian Malinois's Life Expectancy?

There are a few precautions you can take that will help you protect your Belgian Malinois, guarantee them a good quality of life, and even extend their life expectancy.

Choose a High-Quality Diet

Your dog's food plays a vital role in their health. What you put in your dog’s bowl must be carefully considered to ensure it satisfies all their needs. Low-quality dog food will have a direct impact on your Belgian Malinois' health, and vice versa. Try to avoid buying supermarket dog food, as this tends to be very poor in quality and thus incapable of meeting your dog's nutritional requirements. It’s better to spend a little more money to be sure the dry or wet dog food you choose has a healthy composition. Choose dog food rich in high-quality animal protein (between 25 and 28%), not vegetable protein. Learn how to decipher product labels to understand exactly what you're feeding your dog and be sure to avoid products with added preservatives or sweeteners. You can even use food supplements for dogs to meet specific needs, but always ask your vet for advice first.

Get Serious about Vet Check-Ups

Regular veterinary check-ups are essential to ensure a long and healthy life for your pooch. Adhere to your dog's vaccination schedule and keep their antiparasitic treatments up to date to protect them against fleas and ticks. Finally, make sure to visit your vet every year for a little check-up, especially when your Belgian Malinois starts to get older.

Prioritise Dog Training

Training your Belgian Malinois properly from the outset will indirectly affect their life expectancy. It may seem like dog training has very little to do with your Belgian Malinois’ health, but the two are surprisingly closely linked. Quite simply because a properly trained dog will be better able to avoid accidents and therefore not put itself in danger. By having control of your dog at all times, you can prevent accidents or stop them from running away. The Malinois is not a hunting dog, so it’s not likely to run off on a trail. Nonetheless, you should prioritise teaching your dog to walk to heel and come back when you call.


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What are the Most Common Diseases for a Belgian Malinois?

Although generally a hardy breed, the Belgian Malinois is still subject to certain health issues:

Canine Hereditary Eye Diseases

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): The Belgian Malinois is particularly affected by progressive retinal atrophy, which is characterised by degeneration of the retina. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease and, eventually, the dog will go blind. While not particularly painful, it will nevertheless require certain adaptations in your daily life. 

  • Cataracts: The Malinois is also subject to cataracts. This involves a gradual thickening of the lens of the eye, which is accompanied by decreased vision, or even blindness. Cataracts are treated surgically.

Joint and Bone Diseases

  • Hip Dysplasia: This joint disorder is commonly associated with large dogs. Hip dysplasia involves abnormal formation of the hip socket, wherein the ball and socket do not fit or develop properly, and they rub and grind against each other, causing lameness and, in more severe cases, paralysis. Sometimes surgery is needed to correct this health problem. Hip dysplasia is often inherited, so make sure your breeder has properly screened your puppy's parents.

  • Elbow Dysplasia: Similar to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia affects the dog's forelimbs. It causes the same problems and has the same risks. Treatment is also identical.

  • Eosinophilic Panosteitis: Also known as growing pains, panosteitis affects young dogs. It involves painful inflammation of one or more long bones of the legs. It causes the dog to limp and possibly develop a fever. Male dogs are generally more affected by this than bitches. The disorder eventually heals on its own after a few months. In the meantime, the symptoms can be alleviated with medication.

Skin Diseases

  • Vitiligo: This pathology is characterised by the depigmentation of the skin and hair on a dog’s face and, in some cases, pads. This loss of pigment causes patches of fading or white colour. There is no cure for vitiligo, but it is not dangerous for your Belgian Malinois.

  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE): Fortunately fairly uncommon, systemic lupus erythematosus is an autoimmune disease which affects the skin, joints, and internal organs. The immune system of the body mistakenly attacks healthy tissue, causing disorders like seborrhea, alopecia, and joint problems. Treatment for SLE is based on oral medication, as well as topical creams, shampoos, antifungals, and antibiotics.

Neurological Diseases

  • Cerebellar Ataxia: This disorder occurs when the cerebellum (the area at the back of the brain) becomes inflamed or damaged, causing the progressive degeneration of neurons in the cerebellum and spinal cord. Signs of cerebellar disease include an uncoordinated gait (ataxia) and stiff leg movements. Unfortunately, cerebellar ataxia is often fatal.

  • Primary Epilepsy: Also known as Idiopathic Epilepsy (IE), this type of epilepsy is defined as recurrent seizures with no identifiable cause. Seizures manifest as a loss of consciousness and convulsions that can last for several minutes. There is no cure for epilepsy, but treatment can be prescribed to help limit seizures and improve the animal's quality of life.

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