Following the theme of the last couple weeks, this week we’re going to take a look at the Malinois (pronounced Mal-in-wah). It’s more commonly known as the Belgian Malinois and is one of four breeds developed in Belgium under the blanket term Belgian Shepherd. The others are, as you may already know from the two previous Breed of the Weeks, the Belgian Sheepdog, the Tervuren, and the Laekenois.
The most common place one might have seen the Malinois is at the side of a policeman or soldier.
Although distinctly different, the Malinois is often confused with the German Shepherd Dog. This is perhaps because of their similar coloring and build as well as the fact that both are given jobs as police and army dogs. There are, however, many differences between the two. The Malinois is, in general, smaller than the German Shepherd, and has a lighter build. Also, where the German Shepherd has a long back that slopes toward the hind end causing them to stand flatter on their paws, the Malinois carry their weight on their toes, which gives them a squarer profile. They also differ in coloring. The Malinois is usually red, brown, or fawn-colored with the tips of the fur being black, while German Shepherds are tan with a black, saddle-like pattern across their back.
Beyond the physical, it is thought Malinois are quicker to respond to commands and more alert than the German Shepherd.
There are, of course, similarities between the two breeds. For example, both are protective of their people and highly physical dogs that need a lot of exercise. Both were originally bred as herding dogs, but are more often used in the present as guard dogs, police dogs, army dogs, bomb dogs, and search and rescue dogs.
Before purchasing or adopting a Malinois, keep in mind that these dogs are in perpetual motion. They need a large securely fenced yard to play in as well as long walks, jogs, or hikes to help drain that excess energy. Many owners compete with Malinois in flyball, herding, showing, tracking, obedience, and agility. They are quick learners and need plenty of mental stimulation in the form of training sessions or interesting and fun games. In fact, Malinois are intensely play-driven and respond well to training in the form of play. Be sure to treat them gently but firmly as Malinois tend to be sensitive and do not respond well to harsh training methods. If properly socialized and trained, Malinois can be good around children, but will still need supervision as their high energy level may cause them to become overenthusiastic and knock over a younger child. They also need supervision to prevent and correct nipping at the heels and other herding behaviors that are undesirable around children and small animals. Children should be taught not to run past them waving their arms and shrieking as this can trigger either their herding or chasing instincts.
Malinois are excellently suited to active families that enjoy taking their dog with them on their adventures. They do not do well when left on their own and may develop social anxiety or decide to entertain themselves by destroying something expensive that’s not easily replaced.
Please do your research before purchasing or adopting this breed! This dog is high energy; you must have the time to exercise and play with them on a regular basis! This is also a dog that gets bored quickly and easily. You must be prepared to provide stimulating activities to keep their mind active and engaged.
Fun Fact: A Malinois named Cairo, an army/war dog, was used in the hunt and capture of Osama Bin Laden.
Do you or have you owned a Malinois? Tell us about him/her in the comments below! I would love to hear about your experiences!
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