rec.pets.dogs: Malinois Breed-FAQ

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Nancy Bennett

Apr 17, 2004, 7:27:25 AM4/17/04
Archive-name: dogs-faq/breeds/malinois
Posting-frequency: 30 days
Last-modified: 23 Sep 1996

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What is a Malinois?

The Malinois is the short-coated variety of the Belgian Shepherd Dog.
They are fawn colored with a black mask. In the United States they
have been shown as a separate breed since 1959. Dogs are 24 to 26
inches at the shoulder and weigh 60 to 80 pounds. Bitches are 22 to
24 inches and weigh 40 to 60 pounds. This is a "high energy" dog that
does best when it has a definite purpose in life. It is generally not
a dog for the novice dog owner, for, while it is extremely trainable,
it does not do well with poor or insufficient training.

How is a Malinois different from a German Shepherd Dog (GSD)?

They are significantly different both in body structure and
temperament. The Malinois is a somewhat smaller dog with lighter
bone. The Malinois stands square, well up on its toes, while the GSD
has a long, sloping back and walks flatter on the foot. The Malinois
head is more refined and chiseled, with smaller, more triangular
ears. The Malinois is a fawn dog, with black overlay (the tips of the
hair are black), while the GSD is typically tan, with a black saddle.
The Malinois is considered to be more alert and faster to respond
than the GSD, but also more sensitive, which can make its training
more difficult.

What kind of home is suitable for a Malinois?

An owner who gets the most out of his or her Malinois is usually one
who has had some previous experience of dog ownership and dog
training. Even so, many new owners are not prepared for the high
degree of "intensity" in this dog's personality. Whatever they do,
they do to the maximum: whether that be work, play, or just adoring
you, their master. The Malinois likes to be included in all your
activities, so if you like jogging, hiking, running, biking,
obedience, out-of-door activities, or just spending a lot of time
with your dog, then the Malinois may be a good choice for you.
However, if you often work extended hours, must travel frequently, or
have other activities that often keep you away from your dog, then
this is definitely not the breed for you.

What kind of training does the Malinois need?

The Malinois is an active, intelligent dog that requires early
exposure to different people and dogs so that he will be accepting of
them when he grows up. The Malinois also requires training to control
his high energy and exuberance and channel them into useful
activities. A puppy socialization or puppy kindergarten class is
recommended for Malinois puppies. First-time Malinois owners are
often amazed and delighted at how quickly these dogs learn and how
sensitive they are to corrections, but these same traits can get them
into trouble if their owner fails to take the time to train them
properly, or combines harsh corrections with poor training

What activities do Malinois excel at?

Just about anything their master asks them to do! There is almost
nothing a Malinois won't try if encouraged by his master. These dogs
excel at obedience, tracking, agility, flyball, herding, showing,
Schutzhund and other protection sports, search and rescue, police
work, and just about anything else a dog can do. There are even
Malinois who lure course! These dogs are described by professional
trainers as having high "play drive" which means that everything is a
game to them, and they love games!

Are Malinois aggressive?

The Malinois is a "protection" breed -- it will defend its master and
its master's home. However, a well-bred, well-socialized, and
well-trained dog will calmly evaluate every situation and use good
judgment in responding. It should not be aggressive or nervous in its
attitude towards strange people or situations. Dogs with poor
temperaments or who have been poorly socialized or trained, however,
may be "shy-sharp" -- snapping or growling out of fear or aggression.
For this reason, it is important to buy your Malinois from a breeder
who produces dogs with good temperament and to get your puppy used to
meeting new people and dogs early in life, so that he will have a
relaxed and accepting attitude towards them when he grows up.

Are Malinois good with children?

Yes, particularly if they are raised with them. If they are not raised
with children, they should be given ample opportunity when young to
meet and interact with children. Remember, however, that this is a
relatively large, very active, very quick-to-respond dog. As with any
such dog, they should never be left unsupervised with very small, or
unruly children.

What kinds of health problems do Malinois have?

Malinois are generally healthy dogs, living an average of 10 to 12
years. They are susceptible to hip dysplasia, however, which is a
crippling inherited disorder, so it is important when getting a puppy
to make sure that both its parents have had their hips checked and
been certified by the OFA (a canine orthopedic organization) as good
or excellent. Breeders will generally tell you that a sire or dam is
"OFA excellent" or "OFA good." If a sire or dam is not OFA
certified, be sure to ask why.

How can I learn more about Malinois?

The American Belgian Malinois Club can provide you with a packet of
information about the breed and about the club. Contact Susan Morse,
ABMC Corresponding Secretary, 7 Sunset West Circle, Ithaca, NY 14850.
Please enclose a self-addressed envelope stamped with 55 cents in
postage along with a check in the amount of $3 made out to the
American Belgian Malinois Club to cover costs of preparing the

An excellent place to see Malinois is at a local dog show. Don't
approach handlers waiting to go into the ring, however, since they
are usually very preoccupied at this time. Instead, wait until the
class is over and then introduce yourself. Most owners and handlers
will be more than happy to talk with you once the "main event" is

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