Belgian Malinois Facts

Is that a German Shepherd Dog? No, That is a Belgian Malinois, but at first glance, there is a resemblance, although the Malinois is leaner and agiler. And, like the German Shepherd Dog, he was originally bred as a herding dog and has taken quite a few of the same jobs, such as police dog, protection dog, and as a family companion.

And like the GSD, he is intense, intelligent, and a natural athlete. Whether he’s guarding the White House with the US Secret Service or as a friendly companion at YOUR house, he remains true to his task. Let’s get to know him.

10. This herding breed from Belgium, who takes his name from the town of Malines, does not have a well-known history before the late 19th century. He may have been helping shepherds care for flocks for centuries, but it wasn’t until 1891, in a burst of national pride, that Belgian herding dogs were divided into types and given names.

The short-haired Malinois became quite popular as a herder, and his abilities were later turned to police and military work.

Dogs 101: Belgian Malinois (Shepherd) - Animal Facts9. During World War I, Malinois dogs worked as messengers, pulled small artillery and ambulance carts, and helped the battlefield medics of the Red Cross.

By the 1920s, Malinois kennels were popping up all over Belgium, with dogs being bred and shipped to countries all over Europe, South America, the United States, and Canada. The breed was added to the American Kennel Club in 1959.

8. The Belgian Malinois is one of four varieties of Belgian Sheepdogs developed in Belgium in the late 1800s.

The four varieties are the Malinois (who is fawn-mahogany, with a short coat and a black mask), the Tervuren (with a long coat), the Laekenois (who’s fawn with a rough coat), and the Groenendael (who’s black with a long coat). The American Kennel Club recognizes all but the Laekenois as separate breeds in the U.S., while the United Kennel Club recognizes all four types as one.

Dogs 101: Belgian Malinois (Shepherd) - Animal Facts7. The breed is bred primarily as a working dog for personal protection, detection, police work, and search and rescue. However, he can make a fantastic pet, providing you are the right type of owner. He’s not a dog for the novice dog lover.

All breeds of dogs have various bloodlines. But none of the breeds vary quite as different in their temperament as the Malinois bloodlines do. There are show and working line dogs, meaning dogs that have generations bred for work or dogs with generations bred for conformation show rings. This creates a significant difference in the looks as well as the temperament of the dogs. Further, Belgian bred dogs are somewhat different than French or Dutch bred dogs.

6. The Belgian Malinois is a medium-sized dog.

An average male Belgian Malinois weighs 60 to 80 pounds and stands 24 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder. Females are slightly smaller at 40 to 60 pounds, standing 22 to 24 inches tall.

Dogs 101: Belgian Malinois (Shepherd) - Animal Facts5. When the Malinois is raised with children, he can be very accepting. But don’t forget that he is a herding dog and may have the tendency to chase or nip at children. In his mind, he’s just trying to keep the little critters in line. But, it should not be permitted. He is best suited to a family with older children who understand how to treat him with respect.

4. The Belgian Malinois sheds twice a year heavily and sheds little throughout the year. The coat needs to be brushed at least 2-3 times a week with a firm bristle brush to maintain a healthy-looking coat.

The Belgian Malinois should be bathed only when necessary and must be dried properly after each bath. His eyes and ears need to be cleaned regularly.

Dogs 101: Belgian Malinois (Shepherd) - Animal Facts3. Malinois have high energy needs and should be given plenty of opportunities to run, hike and play. He is a good fit for an active owner who is willing to bring his furry friend to the park or hiking trail. A sedentary owner or one who works long hours would do best to find a different breed, as the Malinois. You don’t want a bored, or frustrated Malinois left unattended in your house.

2. These days, military working dogs are elite warriors, and the Malinois leads the pack. The US. Navy SEAL team Six used a Belgian Malinois named Cairo in Operation Neptune’s Spear – the raid that took down Osama bin Laden. Cairo helped secure the perimeter of bin Laden’s compound, sniffing for bombs. Like the rest of the elite force, Cairo was outfitted with a Kevlar vest with harnesses for rappelling and parachuting, a drainage system for waterborne assaults, and night-vision goggles. But, that’s not the only job the US government has given the Malinois as we’ll in a second.

Dogs 101: Belgian Malinois (Shepherd) - Animal Facts1. Since 1976, to protect the President and the White House, the US Secret Service exclusively uses the Belgian Malinois breed on its elite canine force. After an intruder triggers the alarm, canine teams are trained to be released within four seconds “to act as a missile, launching into the air to knock the subject down, and biting an arm or leg if need be to subdue the person until the handler arrives,” according to the Washington Post.

“The best way the dogs are used is that they can chase down anyone,” a military dog handler said of a dog deployed with the Marines in Iraq in 2005. “A Marine might not be able to catch someone, but the dogs will.”

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