The Belgian Malinois is strong, eager to please and beautiful to look at. With recent war movies coming out that show all of the Malinois’ great potential, it can be hard not to fall in love with them. Unfortunately, in the movies, we only get to see the end result of very well-trained dogs. We are therefore not given the full picture as to how much work these dogs can actually be. Let’s take a closer look at the needs and personality of the Malinois in order to determine if this breed may be a good addition to your family.
Characteristics and Maintenance:
Being a part of the herding group, these dogs were originally bred to withstand harsh weather conditions, and to have high levels of energy in order to increase the performance expected of working dogs. For this reason, the Belgian Malinois is a very sturdy dog who loves to work and is incredibly eager to please his owner. Although they are not overly large, weighing in between 55-60 lbs, they are very strong dogs, so they require an equally strong handler. Since they have such a high energy level, giving them simple daily walks will not be enough exercise for these dogs. They love to work and need to have a job to do in order to feel fulfilled. If the Malinois does not get enough exercise or does not have a job to perform, he will become restless and bored and will turn to destructive behavior to show his displeasure.
These dogs do require regular brushing since they will shed. They are also meant to have a lean body, so a good diet that is balanced and carefully measured is essential to keep these dogs healthy.
They are very loyal and are great with their families. They can be good with children, although it is essential that they get socialized at a young age. Keep in mind they are a herding breed, so children that scream and run will provoke the Malinois to chase them. It is extremely important that these dogs be not only socialized with children, but with people in general and with other animals. They can have aggressive tendencies and therefore a dog not well socialized can become reserved with strangers and can be aggressive toward other dogs.
Is this dog right for me?
As previously mentioned, these dogs are very energetic and require a great deal of exercise. They are great companions for hiking and biking, especially since they are so sturdy. They love to work and giving them a constant job to do is essential, therefore participating in sports such as agility is strongly recommended for this breed. If you are not the type of person who enjoys being outdoors and participating in daily activity, the Malinois is not the right dog for you. By under-working this breed, you will most likely end up with a stressed and anxious dog that will turn to destruction as a way to deal with his stressor.
All dogs, big and small, come with veterinary expenses. Unfortunately, some breeds are more prone to genetic health issues, and therefore their veterinary expenses can add up quickly. The Malinois is a hardy dog, but they do have a few genetic illnesses that can be passed to them. They have been known to battle obesity, sometimes due to thyroid problems, so this is another reason to keep them active. Giving them a good diet that is well controlled will not only help with any weight issues they may have, it will also help prevent the joint issues they are known for such as hip and elbow dysplasia.
They can have issues with their eyes such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy, both of which can cause blindness. It is very important to have their eyes checked regularly for any changes. Epilepsy is also a well know illness found in this breed, and they are prone to developing a specific cancer called hemangiosarcoma. These health issues can cause a lot of problems and are quite expensive to treat. A pet fund or pet insurance is highly recommended if you are considering adding a Malinois to your family. It is also recommended that you ask any breeder you go to if they have done some genetic testing to help eliminate these illnesses from their breeding line.
Another thing to watch out for his aggressive behavior. If these dogs have been properly bred, trained and socialized, they can be amazing dogs to have in your family. Unfortunately, many people think that the perfectly trained dog they saw in the movie they watched is something that comes naturally. This is not the case for any dog, and although the Malinois is eager to please, proper training and socialization is essential for them to grow to their full potential.
The Belgian Malinois has the potential of being a great dog that will keep you and your family active. If properly socialized, they can be good with children and other dogs, and if given constant exercise they will develop into an incredible companion. If your lifestyle does not allow you to be extremely active with your dog, then the Malinois is not the right fit for you.
Although sturdy, they are still prone to some serious illnesses. Therefore, it is important that you are aware of the financial strain they may cause you.
Before considering the Belgian Malinois as your next companion, please do your research and speak with your veterinary team to determine if this breed is the right fit for you.
Certified Animal Health Technician