The Belgian Malinois is a medium size dog of exceptional beauty and working ability used for many purposes, including herding, tracking, agility, obedience, and police work. Originally a herding and general farm dog in Belgium in the late 1800’s, the Belgian Malinois is an alert and agile dog. It is distinguished from other Belgian shepherd breeds by its short, straight coat, rich fawn to mahogany color with black overlay and black mask and ears. Several qualities originally established the breed as a herding dog. The easy-care coat, effortless movement and inexhaustible energy allowed it to work in harsh weather for long hours. Its natural alertness and responsiveness allowed it to protect the sheep and the farm. These characteristics coupled with keen intelligence, high trainability and agility gave the breed a versatility that applied these qualities to other venues. They were soon recruited for work as police dogs and were used as messenger carriers, ambulance dogs and even pulling machine guns during WWI. Today, Belgian Malinois excel in many activities including conformation, obedience, herding, sledding, agility, therapy, search and rescue and IPO protection training. Their use by law enforcement, border patrol and the military service is well established.
Temperament varies in each individual dog, but the breed character is to be active, alert and responsive. Sensitive to changes in people and environment, they should not exhibit fearfulness and shyness. Reserved with strangers, they are affectionate with their own people and are naturally protective of his owner’s person and property without being overly aggressive. The Belgian Malinois thrives on exercise and training preferably in the company of their adored owner. Behavior problems can arise when the Malinois is underemployed or neglected. Belgian Malinois that are bred for IPO and protection work have been selected for higher energy levels and sharper character and may not be suitable for a first time owner or as a family pet.
Malinois are generally healthy dogs with expected lifespans of 12 years or more. There is a limited incidence of hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and epilepsy within the breed.