The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Your Belgian Malinois

If you’re considering adding a Belgian Malinois to your home or you’re an owner looking to learn more about this fascinating breed, this is the right place.

In this guide, we’ll dive into the history of Belgian Malinois, exploring their origins and initial breeding purposes. We’ll also cover their size, temperament, and how well they interact with children and other pets, including cats. Furthermore, we’ll assess their intelligence, trainability, and common behaviors such as barking and sleeping patterns.

We’ll share crucial information on breeding, spaying, and neutering your Belgian Malinois, as well as their dietary requirements and limitations. Also, we’ll delve into their abilities in swimming, long-distance running, and serving as service dogs.

By the end of this guide, you’ll acquire a comprehensive understanding of the Belgian Malinois.

Belgian Malinois History: What Are Belgian Malinois Bred For?

Originating in Belgium during the late 19th century. The Belgian Malinois is one of four varieties of Belgium Shepherd Dog having a consistent anatomy and type but differing in hair texture, color, and length.

The breed was primarily bred for herding and guarding livestock. Belgian Malinois is also known as Belgian Shepherd Malinois.

The Belgian Malinois was named after the Belgian city of Malines, where it was bred. The breed was developed as an all-purpose working dog that could herd livestock, guard property, and protect its owners.

Throughout World War I, Belgian Malinois served in the military as messenger dogs, ambulance dogs, and guard dogs.

The breed’s intelligence, loyalty, and trainability made it an ideal candidate for military work. Belgian Malinois was also used for search and rescue operations during the war.

Belgian Malinois became popular in the United States after World War I when soldiers brought them back from Europe. Initially, the breed was often mistaken for German Shepherds because of their comparable appearance.

However, Belgian Malinois are more agile than German Shepherds, which makes them better suited for specific tasks.

How Big Do Belgian Malinois Get?

Belgian Malinois is a medium-sized breed.

On average, a fully grown Belgian Malinois will stand between 22 to 26 inches (56 to 66 cm) tall at the shoulder. Males are usually slightly taller than females.

Male Belgian Malinois usually weigh between 60 to 80 pounds (27.2 to 36.2 kg), while female Belgian Malinois weigh between 40 to 60 pounds (18.1 to 27.2 kg).

Remember that these are just averages, and the size of your Belgian Malinois can vary depending on genetics and other factors.

When it comes to appearance, Belgian Malinois are often confused with German Shepherds due to their similar coloring and body shape.

Compared to German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois are smaller and more compact, with a coat that is typically 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) long. Their muscular structure and evenly proportioned, square-shaped body gives them a powerful and athletic appearance.

Belgian Malinois Temperament: What Is It Like to Own a Belgian Malinois

Owning a Belgian Malinois can be an enriching experience for the right owner who is willing to put in the time and effort to meet their needs.

The Belgian Malinois is a highly intelligent, confident, and energetic breed that requires a lot of mental and physical stimulation. They are known for their loyalty and protective instincts towards their owners and family.

Belgian Malinois are also known for their stubborn streak, which can make them a challenge to train. Nonetheless, through the right training and socialization, they have the potential to become well-mannered pets.

Belgian Malinois thrive on having a job to do, and they excel in various activities such as obedience, agility, tracking, and protection work.

Belgian Malinois make excellent partners for outdoor activities such as hiking, running, and biking.

Remember that Belgian Malinois are not suitable for everyone. They demand a lot of attention, exercise, and mental stimulation, failing to provide these may exhibit destructive behavior and develop behavioral problems.

They also have a high prey drive, which means they may not get along with small animals such as cats.

Are Belgian Malinois Good with Kids?

Belgian Malinois can be great companions for families with kids as long as they are properly trained, socialized, and exercised.

To ensure that your Belgian Malinois is good with kids, it’s important to start training and socializing them from a young age. This includes exposing them to different people, environments, and situations so that they learn to be comfortable and confident in a variety of settings.

Furthermore, it’s essential to educate your children on interacting with your Belgian Malinois in a secure and considerate way.

Including teach them not to pull on the dog’s tail or ears, to avoid approaching the dog while eating or sleeping, and to avoid taunting or irritating them.

You also need to know that Belgian Malinois have strong protective and territorial instincts. This means that they may become possessive of their family and their living space.

Although this characteristic can be advantageous for safeguarding your kids, it might result in aggressive behavior if the dog isn’t adequately trained and socialized.

Belgian Malinois are high-energy dogs that require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. they might not be an ideal choice for families with young kids who could struggle to match the dog’s energetic nature. However, if you have an active family that enjoys outdoor activities, a Belgian Malinois may be a great fit.

Do Belgian Malinois Get Along With Cats?

Belgian Malinois are known for their high prey drive, which means they may not always get along with cats. However, they can coexist peacefully with cats if they are introduced appropriately and taught to interact respectfully.

Here are some tips for introducing your Belgian Malinois to your cat:

  • Start by keeping them separated and gradually introduce them to each other in a controlled environment.
  • Use positive reinforcement techniques to reward good behavior from both your dog and cat.
  • Do not leave them alone together until they can safely interact with each other.
  • Consider using baby gates or other barriers to separate them when you are not home.

Remember that every dog is different, and some Belgian Malinois may never be able to get along with cats. If you have a cat and are considering getting a Belgian Malinois, make to do your research and you are prepared to properly train and socialize your dog.

Belgian Malinois Intelligence: How Smart Are They

Belgian Malinois possess remarkable intelligence, allowing them to learn quickly and adapt to various scenarios effectively.

They are ranked as the 22nd smartest dog breed when it comes to obedience and working intelligence.

However, it’s their adaptive intelligence that makes them highly intelligent. The Belgian Malinois’ ability to read and adapt to volatile situations is why they’re smart enough to be the gold standard for police K-9 work.

Belgian Malinois possesses exceptional sensory capabilities, with highly developed senses of smell, hearing, and vision. They are particularly skilled in tracking and identifying explosives, narcotics, and other illicit items.

Belgian Malinois are naturally intelligent dogs. They can learn and get trained quickly, covering both their cognitive abilities as well as their emotional scope.

By observing your facial expressions, they can read your emotions, such as sadness, anger, or contentment.

In a study published in Scientific Reports, Belgian Malinois was crowned as the most intelligent of breeds based on its cumulative performance on a battery of cognitive tests. The researchers put 1,000 participating dogs through the smartDOG cognition test, and the Belgian Malinois outperformed all other breeds.

A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Your Belgian Malinois

How Often Do Belgian Malinois Bark?

Belgian Malinois are a very vocal breed and may bark more often than other breeds. They were originally bred for herding and used their bark to communicate with their herd as well as to protect them.

Belgian Malinois bark for many reasons, including:

  • To alert their owners of potential danger or intruders
  • To express their excitement or happiness
  • To communicate with other dogs or animals
  • To express their anxiety or fear

Excessive barking can be a sign of a behavioral issue, so it is important to train your Belgian Malinois to bark only in appropriate situations.

The frequency of barking can vary from dog to dog. Some Belgian Malinois may bark more frequently than others depending on their personality, training, and environment.

To minimize excessive barking, make sure to provide your Belgian Malinois with plenty of exercises and mental stimulation. This can include daily walks, training sessions, and interactive toys. Additionally, training your Belgian Malinois to respond to commands such as “quiet” or “enough” can help control their barking.

How Much Sleep Should a Belgian Malinois Have?

On average, adult Belgian Malinois require 10-14 hours of sleep per day. This amount may vary based on their age, activity level, and personality. Some Belgian Malinois may need more sleep than others, while some may be able to function well on less.

Belgian Malinois puppies, on the other hand, require significantly more sleep than adult dogs. They need 18-20 hours of sleep per day. This extended sleep time is necessary for their growth and development.

Several factors can affect the amount of sleep a Belgian Malinois needs. These include:

  • Age: Puppies need more sleep than adult dogs.
  • Activity level: Dogs that get more exercise and mental stimulation may need more sleep to recover.
  • Personality: Some dogs are more energetic and require less sleep than others.
  • Environment: A comfortable and quiet sleeping area can help dogs get better quality sleep.

Signs of Sleep Deprivation

If your Belgian Malinois is not getting enough sleep, it may show signs of sleep deprivation. These can include:

  • Increased irritability or aggression
  • Difficulty concentrating or learning new commands
  • Excessive barking or whining
  • Lethargy or lack of energy

If you notice any of these signs, consider adjusting your dog’s sleeping schedule or consult with a veterinarian.

Best Age to Breed a New Belgian Malinois

The best age to breed a female Belgian Malinois is between the ages of 3 and 7. While they can be fertile way into their old age, it’s not recommended to breed an older female since that would impact the offspring.

Breeding a female Malinois before the age of 3 can also be harmful since they are not yet fully matured. It’s necessary to wait until they are physically and mentally ready to handle the stress of pregnancy and delivery.

As for male Belgian Malinois, they can start breeding as early as 6 months old. It’s advisable to start breeding them until they are at least a year old. This gives them time to fully mature and develop physically and mentally.

Factors to Consider

  • Health: Ensure your dog’s health is in optimal condition before breeding them. This includes regular vet check-ups, vaccinations, and a healthy diet.
  • Temperament: Breeding dogs with bad temperaments can lead to aggressive or anxious offspring. Make sure your dog has a good temperament before breeding them.
  • Genetics: Breeding dogs with genetic health issues can lead to offspring with the same health issues. Make sure your dog has been genetically tested before breeding them.
  • Experience: Breeding dogs is not an easy task and requires experience and knowledge. Make sure you have the necessary experience and knowledge before breeding your dog.

Best Age to Spay/Neuter a Belgian Malinois

For female Belgian Malinois, spaying is typically performed between 12 to 18 months of age. At this point, the dog has likely experienced her first heat cycle, which usually occurs between 6 to 12 months.

Spaying a female Belgian Malinois after her first heat cycle can help reduce the risk of mammary tumors and other reproductive system issues. It also prevents unwanted pregnancies and the complications that may arise during birth.

Neutering a male Belgian Malinois is generally recommended between 18 to 24 months of age. This allows the dog to reach full physical maturity, ensuring proper growth and development of bones, muscles, and joints.

Neutering at this age can help prevent various health issues, including testicular cancer and prostate problems. Additionally, neutering can help curb undesirable behaviors such as marking, mounting, and aggression.

What Belgian Malinois Can (And Can’t) Eat?

To maintain your Belgian Malinois’s health, it’s crucial to provide them with a well-balanced and nutrient-rich diet.

Foods Your Belgian Malinois Can Eat

High-quality dog food: Provide your Belgian Malinois with premium dog foods rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Always check the label to ensure that the food fulfills the nutritional needs of your pet.

  • Fruits: Apples, bananas, blueberries, and strawberries are safe and nutritious for your Belgian Malinois. They are packed with vitamins and antioxidants but should be given in moderation due to their sugar content. Make sure to remove any seeds or pits before feeding them to your dog.
  • Vegetables: Vegetables like carrots, green beans, and sweet potatoes are good for your Belgian Malinois. These veggies provide fiber and essential nutrients but should be cooked or steamed to make them easier to digest.
  • Lean meats: Lean meats such as chicken, turkey, and beef are safe and healthy for your Belgian Malinois. These should be cooked without any added seasonings or oils, as these can cause digestive issues.

Foods Your Belgian Malinois Can’t Eat

  • Chocolate: Chocolate is harmful to dogs and can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and even fatal consequences in extreme situations. Ensure that all chocolate and foods containing chocolate are kept away from your Belgian Malinois.
  • Caffeine: Caffeine is harmful to dogs and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and even seizures. Keep any caffeinated food items and drinks away from your Belgian Malinois’s reach.
  • Grapes and Raisins: These fruits are toxic to dogs and can cause kidney failure. If your Belgian Malinois ingests grapes or raisins, contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • Onions and Garlic: Onions and garlic can cause anemia in dogs. In case your Belgian Malinois consumes onions or garlic, promptly reach out to your veterinarian.
  • Avocado: The persin found in avocados can be harmful to dogs, causing vomiting and diarrhea. Additionally, the pit poses a choking hazard.

Are Belgian Malinois Easy to Train?

Belgian Malinois are generally considered to be easy to train.

These highly intelligent canines possess a strong desire to satisfy their owners, making them highly responsive to training.

However, like all dogs, they require patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement to learn effectively.

Belgian Malinois are a breed that thrives on structure and routine, so it’s important to establish a consistent training schedule and stick to it. They respond well to reward-based training methods, such as using treats, praise, and playtime as positive reinforcement.

Remember that they have a high energy level and require plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. A bored or under-exercised Malinois may become destructive or exhibit other undesirable behaviors, so it’s important to incorporate plenty of physical activity and training into their daily routine.

Another factor that can affect the ease of training a Belgian Malinois is their individual temperament and personality. Some Malinois may be more stubborn or independent than others, which can make training more challenging. You need to adapt your training method to suit your dog’s individual requirements.

Can Belgian Malinois Swim?

Belgian Malinois can swim, but not all of them are natural swimmers.

Introducing your Belgian Malinois to swimming should be done gradually and with plenty of positive reinforcement. Start by letting your dog explore shallow water at their own pace, ensuring they feel safe and comfortable.

Be patient and offer praise and treats as they venture deeper into the water. Using a flotation device designed for dogs can also provide additional support and confidence during the initial stages of learning to swim.

As your Belgian Malinois becomes more comfortable and confident in the water, you can introduce them to various water-based activities such as fetch, dock diving, or even water rescue training.

These activities will not only provide an excellent source of physical exercise but also challenge their mental abilities, keeping them engaged and satisfied.

Additionally, be mindful of water temperature, as extremely cold or hot water can pose risks to your dog’s health.

Can Belgian Malinois Run Long Distances?

Belgian Malinois are excellent running companions that can run long distances with their owners. Belgian Malinois can run up to 32 miles per hour.

These are some tips to train your Belgian Malinois to run long distances:

  • Start Slow: start with short runs and gradually increase the distance over time. This will help build your dog’s endurance and prevent injuries.
  • Hydration: keep your Belgian Malinois hydrated during long runs. Make sure to bring water and offer it to your dog at regular intervals.
  • Proper Nutrition: A balanced diet is essential for your Belgian Malinois to maintain their energy levels during long runs. Ensure that you offer your dog premium-quality food that fulfills its dietary requirements.
  • Terrain: Belgian Malinois can run on various types of terrain, including hills, trails, and pavement. Be aware of the terrain and adjust your pace accordingly.

Are Belgian Malinois Hypoallergenic?

Belgian Malinois are not hypoallergenic dogs.

They have a short, dense double coat that sheds, and they release dander, which can cause allergic reactions in some people. If you or a member of your household experience dog allergies, it might be advisable to consider another type of pet.

When a dog sheds its coat, dead skin cells, also known as dander, are released. Dander is a common allergen that can cause allergic reactions. Even if you groom and brush your Belgian Malinois regularly, it will continue to shed hair and can cause allergic reactions in people who suffer from allergies to dogs.

While all dogs shed their coats to some extent, some do not shed that much, which makes them the best choice for allergy sufferers.

Do Belgian Malinois Shed?

Belgian Malinois shed moderately throughout the year, but they may experience heavy shedding during spring and fall. During these seasons, they may shed more to prepare for the upcoming weather changes.

To manage shedding, regular brushing is recommended. Brushing your Belgian Malinois two times a week can help remove dead and loose hair, preventing it from falling on your furniture and floor. During shedding season, you should increase brushing frequency to at least 4 to 5 times per week.

In addition to brushing, a healthy diet can also help reduce shedding. Feeding your Belgian Malinois a high-quality diet that is rich in essential nutrients can keep its coat healthy and reduce shedding.

Can Belgian Malinois Stay Outside in the Heat?

Belgian Malinois can stay outside in the heat, but it’s important to take proper precautions. They have a thick double coat that helps regulate their body temperature, but they still need access to shade and water. Without proper shade and water, your Belgian Malinois can quickly become dehydrated and suffer from heatstroke.

To keep your Belgian Malinois safe and comfortable in the heat, make sure to give them access to a shaded space where they can take a break and cool off. You can also provide a kiddie pool or sprinkler for them to play in and cool off. Carefully observe them to confirm they are not overexerting themselves in the heat.

Here are some additional tips for keeping your Belgian Malinois safe in the heat:

  • Avoid exercising them during the hottest part of the day.
  • Provide plenty of fresh water at all times.
  • Consider using a cooling vest or mat to help regulate their body temperature.

If you suspect your Belgian Malinois is suffering from heatstroke, seek veterinary care immediately.

Can Belgian Malinois Stay Outside in the Cold?

Belgian Malinois can stay outside in the cold, but they should not be exposed to extreme cold for too long.

Belgian Malinois have a double coat that helps to keep them warm in cold weather.

If you live in a cold climate, you should provide your Belgian Malinois with a warm and dry place to sleep and monitor them for signs of cold stress. These can include shivering, lethargy, and decreased appetite. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should take your dog indoors and gradually raise their body temperature. You can do this by wrapping them in blankets or using a heating pad on a low setting.

With proper care, your Belgian Malinois can enjoy the winter weather without putting their health at risk.

A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Your Belgian Malinois

Are Belgian Malinois Good Service Dogs?

Belgian Malinois can make great service dogs for the right person and the right task. It’s important to keep in mind their high prey drive and make sure that they are trained appropriately for their intended task.

Here are some of the reasons why Belgian Malinois makes a good service dog:

Loyalty and Intelligence

Belgian Malinois is known for its loyalty and intelligence. They possess a rapid learning ability, enabling them to effortlessly grasp commands and directions. Their remarkable ability to maintain focus allows them to work for extended periods without losing concentration. This trait makes them exceptionally suitable for roles that demand intense concentration and meticulousness.

Calm Disposition

Belgian Malinois has a calm disposition, which makes them great emotional support and therapy dogs. They are known to help people calm down much easier thanks to their attentiveness. They are also great at sensing when their owner is feeling anxious or stressed and can provide comfort and support.


Belgian Malinois is a versatile breed that can be trained for various tasks. They are usually used as military or law enforcement dogs, search and rescue dogs, and therapy dogs. These dogs excel in tasks demanding physical strength and stamina, like wheelchair pulling or door opening.

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