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Belgian Shepherd Malinois is a breed that enjoys more and more popularity.

Initially, this short-haired dog draws attention with it’s sleek and strong look.

A Malinois can impress with slim, athletic build, bright look, noble head, expressive communications and astonishing colour (black mask contrasting with red or tawny body).

This dog looks really spectacular – it bursts with strength, energy and vitality.

However, if you dream of having one based on its look, you might be making a serious mistake. This dog is a real character. And this character can either make you fall in love with the breed forever, or turn your and your family’s life into a nightmare.

Of course, every individual is different; personality and temperament may vary depending on the bloodlines, but we can definitely pick out the most distinctive breed features.

about belgian malinois shepherd dog

What is a Malinois like and what does it mean to you?

First of all, a Malinois is a working dog (in this presentation we shall leave aside distinct Belgian shepherd show lines), bred to work with a human.

For many decades those shepherds were used in military and police as detection and patrol dogs. The Malinois has also dominated various dog sports; including different sorts of ring sports (a Belgian ring, or NVBK has originally been meant as breeding selection for this race) and IPO (originally founded as a versatile utility breeding program for malinois’ cousin, a German shepherd). All of those sports require versatility and drive, as the dog is expected to jump over hurdles and walls, track, perform a complex obedience program under distractions, as well as face the threat of the helper (a bad guy) and fight him back. These requirements have been setting breeding directions for Malinois over the decades, and this is exactly what made this dog so unique, and responsive to training and your expectations.

A Malinois is a dog of a very high energy level.

It can endure hours of relentless work regardless of climate and weather conditions. This dog has to be persistent and tireless to maintain the drive to work at all times, and in all places

For a Malinois to be is to do. It gives them advantage in service work or in dog sports, but may prove really troublesome for you and your family. If you don’t provide your Malinois with daily exercise; both physical and mental, and you don’t teach him how to relax (a key skill as most Malinois are not born with the ability to rest or an off-button), you will soon regret getting one. Your Malinois will just find himself a job on his own to burn excessive energy. Running all over the household (furniture included), tireless barking or crying for hours in house or kennel, devastating your precious home or garden, obsessive chasing of just any object that moves (cars, insects, birds and other animals, shadows, children), frantic pulling on the leash – these are only some of the most popular activities that a Malinois can put his pent-up energy into. A half an hour walk a day will not do. Running loose around your property either. Apart from a solid dose of physical exercise like jogging, swimming, running beside a bicycle or a game of fetch, a Malinois needs a mental challenge.

These dogs thrive on a perfect combination of both physical and mental stimulation.  Here you should turn to daily obedience training, when you present the dog with clear rules and expectations and reward him for applying to them, as well as to one or more of various dog sports, which gives it an opportunity to utilize its drives and natural predispositions.

“Drives” turn out to be a keyword here, because a Malinois has plenty thereof. Drive is an innate, genes-dependent motivation directed to a specific goal. The drives that can particularly turn your life into a nightmare are the instinctive ‘predator and prey’ drive. The former makes the dog stalk, chase, catch, kill and carry various moving objects. In the process of selective breeding these traits have been reinforced to produce a dog ready to overcome all obstacles to get his toy; also, a dog ready to bite a human, so that it could be used as a weapon in the police or army. If you won’t be able to harness and channel those drives, the dog is most likely to realize them on its own. This means that it will chase and bite whatever happens to catch his attention: it may be your net curtains, bikers, couriers, joggers, cars, other animals or running children, including your own kids

In addition to this, a Malinois is highly excitable and reactive. Of course, it varies depending on the bloodline, litter or a specific individual. Although we can also encounter more balanced and less choleric type dogs, generally speaking a Malinois’ reactions are quicker and more intense. Working with them, you must react, and most of all think faster than your dog, anticipating their next move.   At the same time you need to remain calm, because a Malinois is not only highly receptive to the environment, but also to its handler’s behaviour and emotions. Because of this, a Malinois is very demanding as regards handling: a nervous, unsure, chaotic, too harsh or noisy person will not make a good owner for a Malinois. Wrong handling combined with a Malinois’ drives and energy level can create a very dangerous mix.

That’s right – a Malinois is not an easy dog. However, if you live up to the breed’s demands, you will fall in love with it forever. You will love a straight look of its bright eyes, you will love their devotion and a hidden mischief; you will love the way they cuddle to you with their whole body, and the way they invite you on another adventure, whether on the walk, or on the training field.

You will love their passion and how they put 100% in everything they do.

They embody passion and vigour.  They live their life to its fullest, and having one beside you, inspires you to too!

Maja Dobrzyńska
For Edamentus