30 Days’ Free Return
Delivery in 1-3 working days
Free Shipping for orders over €29
-12% off for new customers
30 Days’ Free Return
Delivery in 1-3 working days
Free Shipping for orders over €29

The Malinois – a Highly Active, Hard-Working and Gentle Belgian Shepherd

07.10.2022 - Reading time: 5 minutes

Eine Nahaufnahme eine Malinois.

The Malinois is an extremely clever, lively and highly active working dog with Belgian roots. This breed of dog is used worldwide in police and military service. Training and keeping the sporty Belgian Shepherd occupied make high demands on the dog’s owner. Experienced handlers know how to best deal with its enthusiasm for work and then they also experience the soft, friendly side of their Malinois.


Utility dog that is willing to work, with a short fuse

The “Mali”, as enthusiasts of this dog breed also like to call the Belgian, is a Belgian Shepherd. The hard-working utility dog, however, has not been used in its original task of herding sheep for a long time. Today, it deploys its strengths serving with the police, in IPO dog sport, in tracking work, rescue work or as a protection or guard dog.

Worldwide, the Malinois is one of the dog breeds used most frequently by the police, the customs and border control services. The robust working dog has retained its original stature and character. These include the two faces of the Malinois: hard-working and gentle with its owners at home.

The character of the Belgian Shepherd

Deep down, the Malinois is a friendly dog. Aggression and fear are not acceptable when breeding. Nevertheless, the Belgian is seen as having a very strong character and as being agile and reactive, with a reputation of having a short fuse. The dogs of this breed have a strong protective instinct which they also employ if they see their owners being threatened. In the event of uncertainty or the lack of a clear instruction from its owner, the Malinois will willingly advance and clarify unclear situations in its own way.

As the potential owner, you should not underestimate the hunting instinct of the Belgian Shepherd. If it does not get enough exercise and if the opportunity arises, there is a high risk for small animals and cats that they will be chased. However, when such animals live in the same household, most Belgian Shepherds learn very quickly who is part of the family. Nevertheless, it is advisable not to leave it alone at home with cats or small animals.

The highly active Malinois has great zeal and a willingness to cooperate fully with its owner. It is a prime example of the will to please in dogs, i.e. the willingness to implement commands without hesitation. Combined with its outstanding toughness, stamina and intelligence, this will to work for people makes it a workaholic. It needs to be kept mentally and physically occupied to a large extent. If this is lacking, it soon occupies itself – excessive watchfulness with constant barking, aggression or the destruction of items are signs that the dog is not being occupied sufficiently or correctly.

Training and keeping

The Malinois requires clear leadership with a consistent and at the same time friendly and fair hand. The intelligent dog is not difficult to train because it wants to please. However, experience with dogs is recommended because the smart Belgian tends to look for solutions on its own and in the process to think more quickly than its owners. Its self-confidence and the tendency to advance when uncertain can lead to surprises even for experienced dog owners. For first-time dog owners, therefore, the Malinois is rarely the right choice. Pay particular attention to optimum socialisation and clear rules when dealing with strangers and their dogs! This breed is not suitable for runs in the park that are frequently so popular in towns and cities!

This breed needs plenty of occupation and real work. It is a serious dog that bonds closely with its owners and ideally prefers to spend every day with them. When used in the protection dog, military and police service, and for other challenging tasks, the energetic utility dogs really flourish. Dog leisure sports such as agility or mantrailing do not fully replace this work but can be sufficient to satisfy the will to work in these smart sheepdogs. In their leisure time, Malinois that are well occupied are well-balanced and lovable members of the family and in most cases they also are considerate towards children. The size of the apartment itself and the question of whether a garden is available or not is of secondary importance when occupying the Belgian Shepherd dog. At home, there should definitely be peace and quiet and the likeable Belgian Shepherd only needs its blanket to sleep.

Caring for the Belgian Shepherd

As a typical breed of working dog, the Malinois has short, robust and easy-to-care-for fur. It is sufficient if you brush it once a week. Also regularly check its eyes, ears and claws to detect potential problems early on. This is important as Belgian Shepherd dogs are tough and often do not show possible injuries or weaknesses by their behaviour.

Peculiarities and health

Unlike other dog breeds, the appearance of the Malinois only played a subordinate role in breeding. Its usefulness, and thus also its physical health, sportiness and toughness, alongside its character, were always the focus in the choice of breeding. The Belgian breed is therefore seen as very robust.

However, like all sheepdog breeds, the Malinois is also prone to joint disease, including dysplasia of the hip joint and elbow as well as spondylosis. The VDH (German Kennel Club) and subordinate breeder associations are good points of contact for information and addresses of reputable breeders. This is particularly important in order to ensure you get a reliable Belgian Shepherd puppy with a good temperament. Animals of this breed can often have enhanced aggression that is not bred out by dubious breeders and they are difficult to socialise and to train.

The Malinois should be slim and sporty. When it is fed appropriately and occupied in a healthy manner appropriate to its age, the sporty utility dog can live up to the age of 12.

Newsletter Belgian Shepherd

Belgian Shepherd
Herding dogs and driving dogs, Sheepdog group
large, withers height 56 to 66 centimetres
20 to 30 kilograms
sporty, with good muscles but slim, with proud stature
black, large and alert
large erect ears
Coat and colour
light brown, short fur, with dark mask
Special features
high level of activity, requires breed-specific exercise and training
eager to learn, alert, clingy, self confident and loving
robust, original breed, however, with susceptibility to joint illnesses (e.g. dysplasia of the hip joint and elbow as well as spondylosis)

Find the right products for your Malinois


Additional articles that you might be interested in

Overview of Additional Topics