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The Belgian Malinois

Trusted by the Police and the Military the world over, the Belgian Malinois is indeed a top dog.

Tucked away in Northern Belgium, nestled between Brussels and Antwerp, is the Dutch speaking, idyllic city of Mechelen. Home to the famous Rumbold’s cathedral and historic churches, Mechelen is also known for its beautiful baroque façades along the banks of river Dyle. Mechelen is referred to as Malines in French and English. In Malines lies the origin of the dog breed that is referred to as the Belgian Malinois.

Along with its cousins, the Laekenois, the Tervuren, and the Groenendael, the Belgian Malinois forms the Belgian Shepard family. It resembles the German Shepard in looks but is lighter in build and more agile.

Trusted by the Police and the Military the world over, the Belgian Malinois is indeed a top dog.

Physical characteristics

Height: Females 22 to 24 inches, Males 24 to 26 inches.

Weight: Females 18 to 27 kgs, Males 27 to 36 Kgs.

Build: Athletic, strong and sturdy body, broad chest, thick neck.

Features: Wedge-shaped head with erect triangular ears, almond shaped eyes, carries its head proudly.

Coat: Short sable dense double coat. Coat Colour ranges from fawn, mahogany, red, red sable, to fawn sable with a black mask.

Life Span

14 to 16 years.

Temperament and Training

Intelligent, active and loyal, the Belgian Malinois is highly trainable and eager to please. They respond well to structured and consistent instructions. Training and socialization should begin early and positive reinforcements work well for this power house. Their herding instinct kicks in on sensing moving subjects, hence early socialization is very important especially if they are to be around children and other small animal pets. Belgian Malinois pups have a tendency to nip and hence should be trained to discourage this behaviour. Poorly trained Malinois can be quite a handful. They can exhibit aggressive behaviour if they are not trained and socialized properly.


When it comes to exercising, the word plenty just isn’t enough. A Belgian Malinois typically requires a solid 60 to 90 minutes of exercise per day, which can vary depending on their age, health, energy, and fitness. They love physical exercise that requires them to complete a task or do a job. Obedience and agility exercises, Schutzhund (protection dog sport primarily for the German Shepard and the Belgian Malinois) routines that challenges them mentally, help prevent boredom and keeps them alert, happy and healthy.


The Belgian Malinois has a short and easily maintained double coat. They shed moderately throughout and relatively heavily twice a year. They do not require frequent bathing except when they get dirty or smelly. Bi-weekly or weekly brushing with a medium-stiff brush should suffice.


The diet ought to be commensurate with activity level, age and weight of working dogs. Vets and pet nutrition specialists ought to be consulted for these high-octane performers.

Health issues

In general, the Belgian Malinois is a healthy and robust breed. However just like the German Shepard, the Labrador and a few others, they are prone to painful conditions such as hip or elbow dysplasia requiring medication and surgery along with weight management. Progressive retinal atrophy and detachment could cause vision problems. Rarely they could be afflicted with Hemangiosarcoma damaging the circulatory system (i.e., blood vessels and organs such as heart, liver or spleen).

Separation anxiety

The right sort of training and early socialization is required to minimize separation anxiety especially if they are involved or bodies, they are also trained to locate hostages and, hiding fugitives and terrorists. With such critical applications, on a lighter note – Belgian Malinois dogs ought to come with a User Manual.

Noteworthy Byte/Bite

The Indian Army K9 units include the breeds of German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, Greater Swiss Mountain, and Labradors and the Indian Mudhol hounds. The dogs are selected based on their intelligence, agility, and adaptability, and undergo a comprehensive health and temperament examination before being inducted.

Axel, the Indian Army 2-year-old Belgian Malinois, attached to 26 ADU (Army Dog Unit), was posthumously awarded the Chief of Army Staff commendation for his bravery and sacrifice. Axel was killed in action facing terrorist bullets but not before helping eliminate two terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir.

We at Buddy Life salute this valiant soldier of India.

Belgian Malinois as a family pet? We’d say, it depends.

They are certainly not for first time or inexperienced dog owners.

They are not suitable for people having a sedentary lifestyle.

They need plenty of exercise and trainer/ owner engagement for mental stimulation. Lack of exercise in good measure may make them bored, frustrated and destructive.

To sum it up, with early training and socialization, plenty of physical and mental exercise, the Belgian Malinois would make an excellent guard dog. It is for owners who are very active, experienced, and committed to provide it with enough physical and mental challenges, as well as love and care.