Should You Get A Belgian Malinois As a Family Dog?

Reviewed By Julie •  Updated: 09/13/20 •  9 min read
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Are you interested in adopting a beautiful Belgian Malinois? Does they make good dogs for a family? These are a couple of the many questions asked by people who are interested in welcoming home these amazing dogs. However, there are some things you must consider before adopting a Belgian Malinois.

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In this article we’ll take a look at the breed included characteristics, temperament and more. We’ll also review the essentials on whether one of these dogs could be the right fit for your family…or not. Let’s get started!

Origins of the Belgian Malinois Dog Breed

The Belgian Malinois (pronounced Mal-in-wah) originated in Belgium, where it was one of four types of Belgian shepherd dogs. The breed was first registered in both Belgium and France in the 1800s, and were called Chien de Berger Belge, which literally means Belgian Shepherd Dog in French. The breed was named after the city of Malines, where there were many trainers for these dogs.

The breed arrived on U.S. shores back in 1911, where they were used by the military as working dogs throughout WWI. The breed wasn’t as numerous during the Depression, but its popularity increased again in the 1950s and 1960s when it was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1959.

As time went on, the breed has become a highly popular working dog used by police and the military. These dogs have also become popular for use as drug detection dogs and even as search and rescue dogs. They’re also used by the Secret Service to keep White House grounds secure.

Belgium Malinois Characteristics

These beautiful dogs are sometimes mistaken for German Shepherds. Don’t feel badly if you’ve made this mistake—it’s easy to do to! However, they are different. Belgium Malinois are light, with an athletic build and are highly intelligent. This is what makes them great working dogs. They can do a variety of jobs extremely well.

Females in the breed can stand from 22-24 inches high and weigh about 40-60 pounds, while males are typically 24-26 inches high and weigh in between 60-80 pounds. Malinois typically live between 14-16 years. This breed is known for it’s striking, proud appearance. They tend to hold their head high and gaze steadily, and they happen to be extremely strong and athletic.

The Belgian Malinois comes in colors that vary from mahogany to a light tan or yellow beige. Their back, ears, and head are usually darker in color, with the fur becoming lighter toward their tummies. Some dogs, which are purebred, can also feature a bit of white around their breastbone.

These dogs have a double coat, with the undercoat being dense and soft, and the top coat is short and bristly. And the dogs seem to have a slight ruff around their neck, where the fur is a little bit longer. The Malinois does shed heavily during the warmer months, but also shed the rest of the year, too.

Malinois Shepherd Temperament

The first thing you need to understand about these wonderful dogs is that they are made to be working dogs. They were bred to work, and this has been carried through their genes through the years. Everything about the Belgian Malinois is about working. Malinois were bred to work with and protect livestock, which gives them a high prey drive. This is also where their high energy levels come from. These dogs need a job to do, they want to work—this is something you’ll need to keep in mind as you continue reading.

Malinois are loving, loyal and very protective of their humans and the dog will see (in his own mind) that his role is to guard and protect you and your family. If the Malinois doesn’t have a job, becomes bored or neglected, they can become destructive. They must be kept busy.

These dogs require a strong leader in the home, who has enough time to work regularly with the dog. If the fur baby doesn’t have a “job,” then he’ll need to use his intelligence and energy in other ways. This could include a lot of exercise, and we mean strenuous exercise such as regular jogging, hiking and the like. And the Malinois also benefits from regular obedience training classes or dog sports agility and competitions.

Because of their strong prey instincts, the Belgian Malinois is usually not recommended for families that have young children or other pets. If so, then the dog will need intensive training. They are known for nipping, biting and chasing. We can’t stress enough that if you have young children (and other pets), that the dog or puppy will need intensive training to curb their strong prey drive. This breed has been known to go after cats, and try to herd small children.

Belgian Malinois Family Dog

Having said that, the Malinois can make a great family dog, but they require a lot of training, socialization, and ways to put their high levels of energy to use. And remember, they really do need a head of the family, an alpha, who understands the breed and what these dogs require.

These dogs look for a pack leader—if you’re not it, then the dog will assume they’re in charge. You want to avoid this situation at all costs! This is why it’s imperative to have a strong leader in the home, who can spend a lot of time with the dog. Remember that these dogs can become bored, stressed, or even develop behavioral issues if they are not properly trained or exercised.

In addition, these highly intelligent dogs usually are not the right choice for families that live in an apartment. Having a fenced yard, creating a safe place for the Malinois, is a great way to allow them to use up some of the energy.

Common Health Problems in Belgium Malinois

While reputable breeders do work to work hard to keep health issues from cropping in the breed, Malinois are prone to certain health conditions including:

As noted earlier, reputable breeders do everything possible to screen their dogs for these health issues. In fact, they must screen puppies for genetic health issues, and will be able to provide paperwork to verify the puppies are healthy.

Care of Belgian Malinois

Malinois are high energy dogs, and they require at least 90 minutes of exercise each day. You can break their exercise into sessions of 3, that last for about 30 minutes. They also require a lot of mental stimulation, as they are highly intelligent dogs. They enjoy going for runs, walks, playing hide and seek, fetch and going on hikes. Did we mention these are active dogs?

When it comes to grooming, these canine companions will need to be brushed a couple times a week in order to keep up with the shedding and keep their fur healthy. And they do tend to shed more in the fall and spring, when you may need to brush them every day. It’s also recommended that you brush them outside during these periods due to the amount of hair loss.

When it comes to bathing, they may need a bath once a week or at least once a quarter. The Malinois also need to have their nails trimmed about once a quarter. The Malinois’ diet is primarily based on meat. The puppies need lots of protein in order to become healthy adults. During this time of growth, puppies need about 25% of their diet to be from protein. When they become adults, the Malinois needs to eat about 1,000 to 1,600 calories a day. This needs to be based on their weight and activity levels.

Buying a Belgian Malinois

When it comes to buying a Malinois puppy, it’s best to find your fur baby from a professional, reputable breeder. Be sure to take your time and do the research to find only reputable breeders of these beautiful dogs. If a breeder tries to compel you to buy a puppy, it’s best to walk away. No reputable breeder will behave in this manner. Chances are the puppy is sick or even to aggressive, so do move on to a reputable breeder.

A reputable breeder will take the time to show you the puppies, and will be able to provide health certificates that show the puppies have been checked and are certified healthy. When you visit the puppies and find one you’d like, be sure to focus on the puppy’s temperament. The puppy should not be too active, shy, aggressive, or even too quiet. Instead, the puppy should be more balanced in his behavior.

If you’re looking for an adult dog, keep in mind that Malinois can be wary of strangers. This doesn’t mean, though, the dog will be aggressive. It’s also a good idea to view the parents of the adult or puppy, to see if they show signs of being aggressive. If so, then this is another sign the breeder may not be reputable, and it’s best to move on to another breeder.

Another sign of a reputable breeder is that they will be interested in learning about you and your family. Don’t be surprised if they ask questions about your family, your experience with previous dogs, or even about your lifestyle. A reputable breeder wants to find the best fur-ever family for their dogs. They don’t want their dogs to end up in a shelter, but only go to homes that are the best fit for them.

Belgian Malinois Price

How much do Belgian Malinois cost? When buying a puppy, they can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500. On the other hand, if you’re looking for an adult that has been trained, then the Belgian Malinois can be as expensive as $20,000 for those that have been trained as guard dogs. Belgian Malinois are beautiful, intelligent, highly active dogs. For the right pet parent, the Malinois can be a great choice as a fur baby!

Before getting an Belgian Malinois, be sure your family has someone who can be the leader for the dog, and that you’re all prepared to give this highly intelligent, active workin dog everything they need including a happy fur-ever home.

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Julie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she studied Animal science. Though contrary to the opinion of her parents she was meant to study pharmacy, but she was in love with animals especially cats. Julie currently works in an animal research institute (NGO) in California and loves spending quality time with her little cat. She has the passion for making research about animals, how they survive, their way of life among others and publishes it. Julie is also happily married with two kids.

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