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Your Pet, Our Passion.

Belgian Shepherd Dog Malinois

The Malinois is a medium to large sized dog with an athletic, lean build and a short, tight coat. Sometimes mistaken for the larger, heavier boned German Shepherd Dog, the Malinois is more ‘sports car’ to the German Shepherd Dogs ‘utility vehicle’!

  • Dog suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Enjoys vigorous walks
  • Enjoys walking more than two hours a day
  • Large dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Non hypoallergenic breed
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Guard dog. Barks and alerts
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • May require training to live with kids

Key Facts

Lifespan: 12 – 14 years
Weight:  20 – 30kg 
Height:  56 – 66cm 
Colours:  Malinois are fawn, red or grey, with a black mask and black shading to the hair tips. Tails are usually darker or have a black tip, ears are mostly black
Size:  Large
UK Kennel Club Groups: Pastoral


Family-friendly: 4/5
Exercise needs: 5/5
Easy to train: 5/5
Tolerates being alone: 3/5
Likes other pets: 2/5
Energy level: 5/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 2/5
Belgian Shepherd Dog Malinois lying on the grass


To say that the Malinois is not for the faint-hearted is something of an understatement, they are not nicknamed the ‘Maligator’ for nothing. This is an affectionate, devoted but intense breed that requires an experienced owner, dedicated to training not just as a hobby, but as a lifestyle.

A well trained Malinois is capable of excelling in any sport, but they are predisposed to guard and to bite, and it would be unwise to expect anything less.

Intelligent, sharp, alert, loyal and clever, the Malinois is not a dog to under-estimate, nor to leave to entertain themselves!

Belgian Shepherd Dog Malinois looking up

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Belgium

The Malinois is one of four varieties of Belgian Shepherd dog, (the others being the Laekenois, Tervueren and Groenendael), named for the areas of Belgium they originate from.

Whilst hard working sheepdog types have been recognised in Belgium since the Middle Ages, it was in the 1890s that a professor of the Belgian School of Veterinary Sciences recorded breed standards for the four types. He noted that the main differences were in coat type, and divided the breed into the four types and advised breeding them as separate breeds.

The Malinois was the first to develop a standard type and breed true to that type and remains the most popular of the four today. They were the first Belgian breed to be used as a police dog or border patrol dog, work they excelled at and indeed still do.

Health and Common Issues

As with many breeds, all varieties of the Belgian can suffer from hereditary eye disorders, and hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important. 

The breed club monitor the health of the breed carefully and should be contacted for the most up-to-date information and details of any DNA or additional testing they recommend. Breed Clubs can be found on the Kennel Club website. 

Exercise Needs

Needing two hours or more of daily exercise, plus training and mental stimulation in the form of some sort of work or sport, this is not typically a relaxing pet dog for most people. They are highly trainable and can do extremely well at a variety of canine sports, but will need to be taught to relax, that won’t come naturally to most!

Space Requirements

The Mali does not require a huge home, but a large secure outdoor area to train and play in is a must. They will do better in a quieter location without the constant over-stimulation of passing traffic or pedestrians, and with access to a variety of interesting walks. Better in the leafy suburbs or countryside, this dog is likely to find towns and cities overstimulating and stressful.

Nutrition and Feeding

Large breed dogs, as well as having large appetites, benefit from a different balance of nutrients including minerals and vitamins compared to smaller-breed dogs.

Grooming Belgian Shepherd Dog Malinois
Training Belgian Shepherd Dog Malinois

This is the original training junkie, the Belgian Malinois thrives on work and problem solving, using their bodies and their minds. While this clever dog can be trained to complete almost any task, they really get a buzz from chasing and biting, and safe, appropriate outlets for this behaviour must be provided, with training a reliable release from bite toys being a priority. Trained best using positive reinforcement (they are surprisingly sensitive), through play and the opportunity to chase, bite and tug, the Malinois is a rewarding dog to work with, but very much a lifestyle dog, not a hobby dog.

Best Family Dog Breeds

Whilst there will always be exceptions to every rule, the Belgian Malinois is unlikely to be a good pet around small children. The amount of work and time they require from their owner, plus the speed at which they learn and react means this is a dog much better suited to someone who works with dogs, and has an active, outdoors lifestyle.  

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with and respect each other, and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them. 

did you know?

Did You Know?

  • Belgian Malinois have become very popular recently due to the many films featuring or starring members of the breed.
  • Long before that though, Malinois were true working heroes, serving in the First World War as messengers and assistants to the Red Cross, pulling ambulance carts and carts carrying firearms.
  • Today, Malinois are still very popular as military dogs, and a Belgian Malinois called Cairo was part of the Navy SEAL team who captured Osama bin Laden in 2011.
  • Belgian Malinois are used to guard the grounds of the White House.
  • The Belgian Malinois is the favoured breed of Navy Seals due to their bravery which is essential as they’re trained to leap out of airplanes and skydive with their handlers!

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