The Belgian Malinois
One of the four types of Belgian sheepherding dogs, the Belgian Malinois is an alert, high-energy breed, popular as both a police and military working dog. Although sometimes mistaken for the German Shepherd Dog, the Malinois is more elegant in build and lighter-boned, but does not lack for strength, agility or herding ability. Active participants in conformation, obedience, schutzhund, herding, sledding, and tracking, the breed ranges in color from rich fawn to mahogany, with black tips on the hairs and a black mask and ears.
Is the Malinois a good choice for you?
The Malinois is not for everybody, here are a few things to consider:
- The Malinois can be an excellent family dog if you provide for its natural instincts. This dog develops a very strong bond with one individual and secondary ones with all people living in the home. It is a confident dog that will naturally seek a dominant position in the pack (family). Your role is to establish yourself as the pack leader through calm assertive authority. The Malinois does not take yelling and harsh punishment well, and may in extreme circumstances rebel agressively against such. Once you have positioned yourself as the family pack leader, the dog will instinctively insert itself in the family hierachy.
- This high-energy dog requires room to exercise, a decent size yard to roam in and play. It is at its best when it has a job to do, if nothing else, teach it to guard the yard. Play ball or frisbee at the public dog yard, do it often. A dog left alone in a house or appartment will get bored and start to play, jumping over furniture, and do mischief. Because of the strong bonds it form with its master, a Malinois left alone too often or too long will get very unhappy, and sometimes depressive, to the point of refusing food or stopping to feed its pups
- The Malinois is happiest when it has a job, such as training for obedience, herding, tracking, protection, or police work. This dog is very intelligent and learns quickly new exercises with enthusiasm, wagging its tail in contentment all of the time when tought properly. At least to get properly started, the help of a professional trainer is strongly recommended to learn to be a good dog handler, then how to train the dog.
- The breed was developed in North Belgium and is therefore accustomed to live outdoors in a wet, windy maritime climate. Rain and wind rarely make it through its dense coat, this breed actually enjoys playing in the rain or simply standing there its nose into the wind. The Malinois is happiest outdoors, not in the house where it may come visit once in a while but will not like staying too long: “Too warm, too many rules, cannot play, have fun!” This dog remains playful its entire life, you may someday see a person ask you “How old is this puppy, it is so cute!” when in reality your Malinois may be five, six, or seven years old.
- The best time to acquire a Malinois is between eight and twelve weeks or age. You may select the dog earlier and visit, but leave it with its mother and litter companions until at least eight weeks. The Malinois has a strong tendency to want to dominate other dogs, of its own breed, and any other. It helps to let it socialize with the rest of the litter for a while. Then after you bring it home, you will need to take it out frequently to socialize with humans and other dogs lest you will have a dog difficult to handle in a crowd or at the public dog park.