Belgian Malinois Dog Breed Traits & Facts

Last Updated on September 20, 2023

*. If we were to sum up the Belgian Malinois breed in three words, it would be smart and confident .. This breed is not suitable for all families, there’s no doubt about that. He is a loyal and loving dog that will be a great companion for any family.

The Belgian Malinois, also known as the Malinois or the Belgian Mal, is a common name for the Belgian Malinois. Another common name is “The Mali”. It’s an understatement . to say that they are “active” . They are not perfect for all families. They are also able to excel under pressure, making them one of the best police and military service dog.

This guide will tell you about the history of the breed and how it was bred . This guide will give you insight into the breed’s genetic makeup and how it got its personality. This will also give you information about their training, exercise, diet, and food needs. Let’s get started to see if we have the stamina and ability to manage this energetic breed of dog.

Belgian Malinois


The Belgian Malinois, pronounced Mal-in-wah (pronounced “Mal-in”), is affectionately called the Mal. He is one among four closely related Belgian herding breeds . Just in case you are curious, the other three Belgian breeds are the Tervuren, Laekenois, and the Belgian Sheepdog. All four breeds can be combined under the Belgian Sheepdog name in some countries. The Mal is a Mal from the country’s northwestern region, specifically the town of Malines.

The late 19th century was the start of the four Belgian breeds’ journey. In September 1891, the Belgian Shepherd Dog Club (also known as the Club du Chine de Berger Belge) was formed. The club included all Belgian herding breeds. Belgian dog lovers studied the many variations of herding dogs over the next ten years. And in 1898, the Club of Malines established their club and focused on the short-haired fawn herding dogs. We now call them the Mal.

In his native Belgian country, the Mal was used solo cattle herder as well as protector of his family and land. He was bred to be a canine who was focused on his tasks and was loyal to his masters. He was a great leader in both the military and police worlds because of his energy, loyalty, work ethic, and loyalty. Belgian police first used the Belgian Malinois as a dog breed. One of the most well-known Mals , was named Cairo. He was part of Seal Team Six, which famously defeated Osama bin Laden.

The Mal made his way to America in 1911, but imports of the breed dried up during the World Wars. It wasn’t until the 1960s that he became popular in the USA again. He is a popular dog, but his intense exercise needs make him not suitable for the average family. He commonly finds himself in the top 50 most popular dog breeds in America.


The breed personality is best described by the term “intense”. The Mal is passionate about all things he does. This can make him seem needy. He is sensitive and loves his family, despite his tough exterior. He is a unique velcro dog. He will sit beside you while you pee. This trait is loved by some, but not everyone.

His loyalty is due to his intensity. The Mal is the perfect family guard dog .. He will protect his master as well as the entire family. His protectiveness comes with additional responsibility. With one glance at a Mali, potential intruders won’t hesitate to enter your home.

His protective nature makes him aloof from strangers . You might want to look at a different breed if you have a large family that is always throwing parties. He prefers a quieter lifestyle with his family. It is important to socialize early and to train them to curb their protective instincts.

He is not shy around his family and is affectionate with them. He bonds closely with one family member in particular. He will often choose this person to be his primary caregiver. You will need to take the Mali with you if you want to cuddle your pet after a long day of work.

His energetic body and mind require activity. If you’re looking for a playful, active dog to play with, the Mal is the breed for your needs. He will happily play for 12 hours straight if you have the time and energy yourself. He is play-oriented, and he always has to win. A Mal is never bored.

Size & Appearance

With his wolf-like appearance, the Belgian Malinois is often confused for his better known German cousin, the German Shepherd Dog. They are quite different, despite their similarities. He weighs between 40 and 80 pounds, making him a medium to large-sized dog breed. He measures between 22 and 26 inches tall, from paw to shoulders. Females look more elegant than males and are generally larger than their counterparts.

He is athletic and more leggy than the German Shepherd. He is a balanced dog who has a square appearance. He is powerful but not bulky. The Belgian Malinois breed standard describes him as having an effortless gait. The Mali’s feet look similar to cats’ feet.

His thick neck supports his well-cut head with pride. He always seems alert. The ears of a Mali are triangular ,, and they stand up to attention. His eyes are suspiciously almond-shaped. His muzzle is slightly pointed. The back’s top line should be straight and not sloping. His tail is very long and extends to his hocks. However, when it is active, his tail will curve slightly.

Coat & Colors

Their coat is what distinguishes them from other Belgian herding dogs. Officially, he is three color variants which are acceptable in show. These are red, mahogany and fawn. Some Mals have a “sable” coat. This is the area where the fur is darker near the tip. Every Mal should have a black face. You can also find Mals in other colors, like brindle cream, liver, gray and liver. However, these colors are not allowed in show.

The Mal has a straight and short coat. His coat is composed of two layers. The under layer is soft and dense, while the outer layer is hard and weather-resistant .. His hair will be tight around his ears, face and lower legs. His fur around his neck and tail is sometimes slightly longer than the back of his legs. He sheds moderately throughout the year.

Exercise Requirements

*This breed is very energetic and needs to be exercised daily. You don’t need to be active or aren’t outdoorsy. Many people think the Mal is too active and don’t realize how much he needs. You need to be realistic about the activities you can provide for him. He needs between 60 and 90 minutes of intense exercise every day, at the very least. This guy is not a walker who can be content with an hour in the park. To get his heart rate up, he needs to be involved in extreme activities.

Think about hours of mountainous climbing and a few minutes jogging or playing fetch in the park. He is extremely mobile , and an award-winning competitor in many dog sports like flyball or agility ring. He is a strong believer in obedience, so no matter what sport you are interested in, he will pick it up quickly. Do you like to jump out of planes? He’s an adrenaline junkie who is pretty good at skydiving too!

He is an athletic power-machine and if you don’t direct his energy properly, he can become destructive and problematic. Many Mal owners find themselves in a bind this is where they fail. You must keep your Mal busy or he will ruin your lawn, couch, fridge, barbecue, and other property. In addition to daily exercise, he also needs hours of play . You should invest in many toys for your dog, including chew sticks, ropes, and interactive toys. You should have a variety of toys for your dog.

Living Conditions

The Mal is most happy in a bigger home with access his own yard . It is imperative that his yard be secure. He is also a champion jumper. He can jump up trees and walls twice as high as his master. If he has a desire, he will scale high fences. He can tightrope walk. This guy can do anything! We hope that you don’t be too fussy about your lawn. His herding livestock days are when his breed is known for running in circles.

He is a good companion for children , but be aware of his large stature and boisterous nature. For families with young children, he might not be the right canine match. Children who are able to play with Mal will enjoy him as a brother or sibling. He can be very aloof around other dogs. He will be able to get along with other dogs if he is a puppy. The Mal is a prey-driven dog who loves to chase after things. He is not suited for other household pets, including non-canine ones.


This is an intelligent breed. His loyalty and eagerness for his master is what make him easy-to-train .. He is a canine that has been chosen by the military and law enforcement because he’s so versatile! If his master isn’t as intelligent and adaptable, he can become bored with training. He needs a dog owner who is able to capture his imagination.

These dogs can be difficult if left with inexperienced owners. He must be taught how to obey. For dogs with stronger wills, aversive methods are not recommended. To motivate the Mal, invest in toys and balls. You can have fun training sessions with the Mal!

Socialization, which is crucial, leads to the additional Mal responsibility we mentioned earlier. He will be overprotective, unpredictable and dangerous if he is not socialized. Begin with puppy obedience classes and doggy park visits. Just walking around the town will expose him. It is essential that you learn it and then implement it. This will make a lifetime commitment ..

Although you might not consider your Mal a herding breed, he is by nature a herding animal. He might try to herd other animals ,, as well as cars. As soon as you see it, this behavior should be stopped. Do not assume he will change. You can redirect his attention if he is circling, chasing or trying to run. This is a sign he is bored or restless.


The Mal is a healthy and active individual with a great track record. They usually enjoy a long lifespan of 14 to 16 years. You can ensure that your Mal is healthy by purchasing from a reliable breeder and following a daily exercise program. Make sure to keep up with your vet visits. For his long-term health, he needs to eat well. The Mal, like all pedigree dogs, is predisposed to certain health conditions .. These are the most prevalent.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

This is a problem for large breeds of dogs. This is the area where bones grow rapidly and results in uneven growth. Inconsistent growth can lead to increased wear and tear that causes mobility and pain issues later in life. These symptoms include lameness in the affected joints, stiffness when exercising, and difficulty standing or climbing stairs.

Eye Conditions

There are two common eye problems that Mal owners should be aware of, and they affect all breeds. Progressive retinal atrophy is the progressive deterioration or loss of sight. Blindness is a common problem in Mals over 65. They can cause blindness if they are not treated.

Anesthesia Sensitivity

This is not a medical condition, but something you should be aware of. His low body fat may be the reason his body doesn’t respond well to anesthesia. There is a high mortality rate for Mals in surgery and other procedures. This is something you should remind your vet every time they visit you. It’s safer to be safe than sorry.


This is a large dog who is very very active. He needs food! An average adult Mal will consume three cups of food each day. He might require more if he is a Mal who works. Senior Mals will require less. You will receive tailored advice based on his weight and age.

Always feed your Malinois the best quality nutrition that you can afford. You will be able to keep your Malinois energized and with you longer. These foods will provide plenty of omega fats to nourish his skin, coat and support his hardworking joints. He will be able to eat a balanced diet with it, which he can’t get from raw meat.

*The Mal needs special nutritional requirements throughout his entire life. The puppy stage is the most important. It will help to build a strong foundation for a healthy dog. Choose food that is specifically designed for large breeds. They contain the optimum calcium and phosphorus ratios to help control his rapid bone growth. This reduces the likelihood of him developing joint dysplasias as mentioned above.


Most Mali’s have a very simple grooming regimen. This is great as you will be exhausted by the time you have finished playing and exercising with your Mali. His hair is straight and short, and he only requires brushing once per week all year. To help manage your Mal’s coat during shedding seasons, increase the frequency to twice per week. The best brush for your Mal is a bristle brush, along with a deshedding tool during the shedding season.

He only requires bathing every three months . He is a clean dog and will not need to be bathed more often than that. You can damage his natural oils and should not wash him more often than twice a month. To keep him looking his best, use a shampoo that contains natural ingredients such as oatmeal.

Other grooming tasks, such as dental or ear cleaning ,, should be done once per week just like other breeds. You should let his nails naturally fall, but they may be tapping on the ground. Start his grooming routine as a puppy to help with socialization. This will make it easy to groom him as an adult.

Breeders & Puppy Costs

While the Mal may not be the most popular breed of dog, they aren’t uncommon. It shouldn’t take too much to find a reliable breeder. Expect a waiting list but remember, all good things are for those who wait! A great place to start your search is with the AKC’s list of Belgian Malinois breeders.

Research breeders and make sure you only hire experienced breeders. Meet the breeder personally and ensure that your pups are healthy and happy. They should be able to answer all your questions and make you feel at ease.

The average price for a Belgian Mal puppy is around $1,500. A puppy from a prestigious protection lineage will cost you a lot. It is important not to work with puppy mills and poor-quality breeders, for many reasons. Because they are more expensive than other breeds, the Mal is a popular choice for puppy milling.

Large breed dogs can be expensive to own. They need everything in large, from beds to crates and better quality harnesses and boots. They need more food and insurance. medical bills are also more costly . Be sure you are able to financially support your Mal puppy for the rest of his life.

Rescues & Shelters

Raising puppies is not for everyone. Sometimes rehoming an adult dog is a better choice. You can find your local shelter . if this is you. This is a very intense breed. Expect staff to ask lots of questions about you and your ability to become a Mal mother or father. You’ll be able to find all the information you need if you have made it this far.

If there are no Mals at your local center, don’t worry! There are many breed rescue groups that only focus on one breed or their mix. The American Belgian Malinois Rescue website lists adoptable Mals. Simply select your state and preferences to get in touch. We can tell you that rescue is one of the most rewarding things you could do. Keep an open mind, as you may have the opportunity to adopt a mixed breed Mal as well.

As Family Pets

  • The Belgian Malinois is an intense dog.
  • Ideally, they fit best with an experienced family with prior breed experience.
  • Malis need 60 to 90 minutes of daily intense exercise.
  • Also, try to plan plenty of playtime in between
  • Mals hate to be left alone.
  • They will become destructive without adequate exercise.
  • The Malinois is highly intelligent and obedient.
  • He is affectionate with his family, and he’ll stick to his master like glue.
  • The Mal is suspicious of strangers and will guard his family with his life.
  • He has a high prey drive and will chase everything in sight.
  • He needs a larger family home with access to a secured yard.
  • The Mal can live with children and other dogs, but can struggle with other animals.

Final Thoughts

There you have it. You now know everything you need to know about Belgian Malinois, and whether or not you are ready to welcome him into your home. You must have experience as a dog owner, patience, and the energy to play and exercise your dog. You will be able to set your house ablaze!

This Velcro Velociraptor dog can be a great dog but needs to be with the right family. If you do it wrong, your dog will destroy furniture and end up in shelter. If you do it correctly, you will find the best playmate that you could ever wish for. And we think you’ll have the best 14 to 16 years of your life with him too!

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