Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois (sometimes called the Malinois Dog) is part of the quartet of known Belgian sheepdogs. Smoother-coated than her cousin the Belgian Laekenois, she is similarly strong, swift, and powerful. She takes the name Malinois from Malines, the Belgian city from which she hails.

Belgian Malinois image

Malinois are working dogs, happy to have an assignment — whether it’s agility, herding, tracking, obedience, therapy, rescue, or military or police work. Further proof of her versatility is that the Secret Service uses Belgian Malinois to patrol the grounds of the White House!

Like her other Shepherd kin, though, the Malinois needs activity, and this cannot be overstated. They do best with owners who lead active lives themselves and want a dog to share that with. People who are looking for a quiet dog who can be left alone for hours should not consider a Malinois, as boredom can make them destructive. They also have a strong prey drive, which means the owner will need to keep the Malinois secure when outdoors -- for the sake of small game and cats.


The Belgian Malinois emerged in the late 1800s as a herding dog. With a warm coat, fluidity of movement and boundless energy, she could work for long hours in the worst of weather. It wasn’t long before the military recognized the breed’s value during wartime, and Malinois represented their home country during World War I as messenger carriers, ambulance dogs and even pullers of heavy machine guns.

Diesel, a female Malinois police dog killed by friendly fire in the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks, was given a funeral with full honors. A new police pup was christened Diesel in her honor.

A Belgian Malinois named Rocket served India's National Security Guard's K-9 unit as an expert assault and sniffer dog. Rocket was recommended for a gallantry award in 2016 for detecting enemy presence during an airbase attack. The operation caused burn injuries to his paws and forehead, but after weeks of treatment, he was back on the job.  


Males measure 24 to 26 inches, while females stand 22 to 24 inches at the withers. Female Malinois weigh an average of 55 to 66 pounds; males are heavier at 64 to 75 pounds.

The Malinois stands out from other Belgian Shepherd breeds in her short, straight coat. Colors can vary from fawn to mahogany, with black facial overlay and black mask and ears.


The Malinois’ alertness, ready response to threats, and fierce intelligence make her an ideal family watchdog. She is extremely trainable for any of the shepherd activities described on these pages.

There’s more to the Malinois than work, however. She’s a friendly, intelligent dog who lavishes her family with affection while remaining wary around strangers.

Thinking about a Malinois puppy?  Make sure you’re committed! Malinois babies can retain their puppy energy for their first three to five years! The pups are adorable, affectionate, exuberant and playful. If you put in the time for obedience training, you will establish a bond with your dog, and she will be much easier to handle, as her intelligence and desire to please make her easier to train than many breeds.


Malinois generally live 12 or more healthy years. There are occurrences of hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and epilepsy within the breed. Cataracts, epilepsy, thyroid disease, progressive retinal atrophy, hip dysplasia, and pannus ( an abnormal layer of fibrovascular tissue) have also been recorded, although these problems have been seen less frequently in recent years, mostly due to selective breeding.


The Malinois has an extra-thick undercoat and a thick topcoat. He should be bathed at least once every six weeks and as often as once weekly, depending on your preference and how dirty your Malinois gets. Expert groomers recommend brushing out the coat, particularly the undercoat, to remove excess hair and debris before bathing. A second shampooing is recommended, and a gentle curry comb will help in removing dirt right down to the skin.


The American Belgian Malinois Club ( has a “Malinois Rescue” link on its web site. Contact them if you are interested in a Malinois or if you feel you need to rehome your dog.


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