Are you thinking of bringing a Belgian Malinois into your home, but not sure you have all the information you need to make a proper decision? We’re here for you! In the material that follows, you’ll learn everything you need to know about this impressive breed.
Belgian Malinois Overview
The Belgian Malinois has its origin, as you could probably guess from the name, in Belgium, where the breed was initially known as the Belgian Shepherd Dog, and used for herding. Today, the Malinois is more likely to be found doing police work, search and rescue, or serving in the armed forces.
By the late 1800s and early 1900s, there were numerous types of Belgian Shepherd Dogs, with different purposes. Many strains were still used for herding, while others were developed for hauling and police work. With the advent of the First World War, the dogs were also used for military work.
Post-war, several kennels were developed in Belgium and dogs were exported to several other countries, including the United States. American soldiers also brought Belgian Shepherd Dogs home after the war, and it wasn’t long before the breed became highly popular. In fact, by the late 1920s, Belgian Shepherd Dogs were among the top five most popular dogs in the United States.
Of course, what goes up must come down, and within ten or so years, the popularity of the Belgian Shepherd Dog waned. This had nothing to do with the nature of the breed – rather, it was due to the fact that Belgian Shepherd Dogs had become so expensive that most people simply couldn’t afford them.
The converse is true, though – these things go in cycles, and the breed that is today known as the Belgian Malinois began to regain popularity in 1949, thanks to the post-war boom. More recently, the Belgian Malinois Club was recognized by the AKC in 1992, and the Malinois now ranks at number 90 of the 155 AKC-recognized breeds.
Belgian Malinois Puppy
Your Belgian Malinois puppy is going to grow into a very powerful dog. Once he reaches adulthood, he will weigh in the neighborhood of 60-80 pounds, and stand 24-26 inches. That’s way too much dog for most people can handle, so it’s important to begin training early on.
Training always begins with socialization. This is something that’s very easy to do, since all it involves is taking your Belgian Malinois puppy with you and letting him meet as many people and other dogs as possible. You have any number of opportunities for socialization – at the supermarket or mall parking lot, on walks around the neighborhood, and even simply in your own home when you invite friends and neighbors over.
You might also consider enrolling your Belgian Malinois puppy in daycare or kindergarten. He’ll meet other puppies, and all kinds of people who want to make a fuss over him! The more people, dogs and experiences you can expose him to, the more socialized he’ll be. Just make sure, before taking him for walks, or exposing him to other dogs, that his shots are fully up to date.
Another thing that’s very important is crate training your Belgian Malinois puppy. The first thing you need to keep in mind is that a crate is not a prison, unless you use it like one. All dogs love having a safe space that they can go to, and your Belgian Malinois is no exception.
A crate should be big enough for a dog to sit, lie down, stand and turn around in comfortably. It should be equipped with a blanket, food, water and toys. Properly equipped, a crate is a very pleasant place for a dog to occupy. It keeps him safe and out of trouble when you can’t be around, and it can also serve as a respite if you have other animals or rambunctious children in your home. It’s also very useful for house training.
Many owners of new puppies, regardless of breed, will tell you that house training is the hardest thing. For sure, it’s time consuming. Newborn puppies are accustomed to having their mother clean up their pee and poop, licking it away.
Obviously, you don’t want to do that, LOL! So you’re going to have to train your Belgian Malinois puppy to go outside. With a smaller breed, you could use puppy pads if you wanted to, but a Belgian Malinois is going to be a big dog, and that means a big mess! So, outside.
This is where you begin with crate training. Now, your natural inclination might be to allow your Belgian Malinois puppy to sleep on your bed with you, and certainly there’s nothing wrong with that. But until he’s house trained, it’s best to have him sleep in his crate overnight. The reason is simply this – no dog wants to mess where he sleeps.
Put your Belgian Malinois puppy out last thing at night, and then put him in his crate. Of course you can have the crate beside your bed if you like, so that he doesn’t feel lonely. If he needs to do his business during the night, he’ll probably wake you up by whimpering or barking. Then you can take him out, have him do his thing, and put him back in his crate. In the morning, let him out and make sure he’s peed and pooped. Then he can come in the house.
You should also put your Belgian Malinois puppy out approximately half an hour after he’s eaten. A trip outdoors is also desirable every couple of hours. As soon as he’s done his business, bring him back in. Don’t praise him, though – if you do, essentially what you’re saying is “You peed and pooped, and that makes you a good dog!” He won’t understand why you’re not equally pleased when he does it in the house.
Keep in mind that it’s not going to matter how vigilant you are – accidents will happen in the house. So when (not if) they do, don’t get all bent out of shape, and don’t scold your Belgian Malinois. Just clean it up. Even more important, if you go away and leave him out of the crate, and you find a mess, don’t react at all – he’s not going to have any idea why you’re scolding him. Hey, that might have happened a whole 10 seconds ago, which is an eternity in “dog time”!
Teaching your Belgian Malinois puppy where you want him to “go” isn’t going to happen overnight. It doesn’t happen with any puppy. So if you have a real problem with the occasional “deposit,” please, just don’t get a puppy at all. Patience is vital here. You don’t want to make your puppy feel like he’s horrible because he’s had an accident. Just keep working at it, watch for the signs that your little guy has to “pump ship,” and house training will likely happen faster than you’d think.
House training takes a bit of time, but if you make proper use of the crate, and also make sure that your puppy goes out first thing in the morning and last thing at night, you’ll see results probably faster than you might think. On a final note, when your puppy does his business outside, don’t praise him – just take him back indoors.
With a Belgian Malinois, obedience training is even more important than it is with most breeds, since you’re dealing with a dog that can be very strong-willed (more on this in the section on temperament). You don’t want to wait until your Belgian Malinois is an adult dog, and too big to handle. So start right away, and make sure that you’re a firm but kind trainer – a Belgian Malinois is never going to respond to harsh training.
The key here is treats and lots of praise. So load up your pockets with treats, and get started.
There is no command easier to teach than “Sit,” and that’s a good thing, because it’s the command that will lead you into every other command. Just wander around the house with your dog, and wait for the point when he’s facing you. Pull a treat out of your pocket, say “Sit,” and move the hand holding the treat over your Belgian Malinois puppy’s back, slowly. He’ll lower his butt to the floor. Say “Sit” again, just to reinforce the command, and give him the treat. You’ll have him sitting on command in no time!
“Down” is essentially the same as “Sit,” but with a different motion. Place yur Belgian Malinois puppy in the sit, and with a treat in your hand, use a sweeping motion to bring it toward your feet while saying “Down.” There’s about a 99% chance that your puppy is going to follow the motion of the treat, and lower his front quarters so that he’s lying down. Say “Down” again, and give him the treat.
This is a bit more difficult, but only because your Belgian Malinois puppy’s natural inclination is going to be to want to be wherever you are. “Stay” is a very important command, though, because it keeps your dog safe. If he’ll stay on command, you know that you can keep him in place and out of any danger that he might want to run into.
To teach “Stay,” place your Belgian Malinois puppy either in the sit or the down – whichever you think he’s most likely to hold. Now, take a treat out of your pocket, and with the hand that isn’t holding the treat, hold it palm outward next to your head. Say “Stay” while moving your hand toward your dog – he’s probably going to react by staying where he is. If he doesn’t, don’t worry about it. Just repeat the procedure. Once he’s held the position, even if it’s just for a second or two, tell him what a wonderful, amazing dog he is, and give him the treat.
This is going to be time-consuming, because every time you tell your Belgian Malinois puppy to stay, you’re going to want him to hold the position for a little longer. You’re also going to want to begin backing away, increasing the distance between you and your dog. His natural inclination, as we’ve said, is going to be to move toward you, and that’s what you want him to stop doing. So every time he holds the “stay” for a bit longer, give him lots of praise and another treat. He’ll get the idea, but it will take time.
Are you wondering “What do I do now? I just got my Belgian Malinois puppy to stay – does he have to stay that way forever?”
No, he doesn’t. “Come” is the “release” command that comes after “Stay.” And it’s equally important. You want your Belgian Malinois to come to you every single time you call, without fail. If he’ll do that, he’s not going to run into danger.
To teach “Come,” it’s best done outdoors using a long training leash – if you can get a 40-footer, that’s perfect! Again, fill your pockets with treats. Attach the clip of the leash to your puppy’s collar, and make sure that the collar is tight enough that he can’t slip out of it, but not so tight that he has trouble breathing.
Now, to through the “stay” routine. This time, though, once he’s in position, take a treat out of your pocket, and with the hand that isn’t holding the treat, pat your shoulder and say “Come!” Sound enthusiastic. If he seems reluctant, do it again, and turn your body in such a way that it looks as though you’re about to run off in the opposite direction. He’ll want to follow you, and when he does, place him in the sit, tell him that he’s the best dog in the entire world, and give him the treat.
Now, keep increasing the distance. The idea here is that you want your Belgian Malinois to come to you no matter where he is, as long as he’s within hearing distance.
When you’re dealing with a large, powerful dog, it’s important to ensure that he’s not frightening other people, and that’s where teaching him to walk at heel comes in. You don’t want him pulling at the lead when he encounters other people and dogs, so having him understand when you want him to walk at your side is useful.
To teach your Belgian Malinois to heel isn’t all that complicated. Again, it just involves treats, hand signals and reinforcement. Take your little guy out for a walk, and let him blow off some steam. Once he’s settled down a bit, pull a treat out of your pocket, tell him “Heel,” and using a sweeping motion, bring the threat out in front of your knee on the side where your puppy is walking. Say “Heel” again, and when his head is roughly level with, and close to, your knee, say “Heel” again and give him the treat. It’s just that easy!
Always remember, when training your Belgian Malinois puppy, that it’s important to be firm but kind. A Belgian Malinois can be headstrong, but still wants to please you.
Belgian Malinois Rescue
As is often the case with strong-willed dogs, Belgian Malinois dogs may end up in rescue facilities. These dogs can come with serious issues, and are not always suited to homes where a confident, firm handler is not in place. Belgian Malinois rescue dogs are also not generally well-suited to homes where the primary handler has no experience with the breed.
Belgian Malinois Price
How much will a Belgian Malinois cost you? The short answer to this is, we don’t know what the typical Belgian Malinois price might be. We Googled vigorously, and despite the fact that the Belgian Malinois is not an uncommon breed, we were unable to find one single site that gave us an answer we’d be comfortable passing on. There are so many scam sites out there. Some sites promise you a Belgian Malinois for next to nothing. Others want a small fortune, but promise you “next day delivery,” which no responsible breeder is ever going to do – a good breeder wants to know about you, and get a feel for what type of home you’re going to provide.
As a general rule of thumb, a puppy of virtually any breed, from good bloodlines, is going to cost you in the neighborhood of a thousand dollars.
Belgian Malinois Temperament
The Belgian Malinois is a dog that requires firm handling. He’s not suitable for a first-time owner. The Malinois is smart, and learns very quickly. He’s outstanding when it comes to tracking, herding, agility and showing. He is, however, not always all that willing to do what you ask.
Belgian Malinois are also very protective and if they think that you’re being threatened, even if you aren’t, they might move to take care of you. This is another area in which socialization is absolutely vital – your Malinois might try to protect you from someone who actually isn’t a threat at all.
Keep in mind, too, that the Belgian Malinois was originally bred for herding, and that’s not something that’s been bred out. If you have small children or other animals in the house, your Belgian Malinois might try to herd them, and might even nip or bite them if they don’t feel inclined toward being herded. Once nipped or bitten, the child or other animal might cry or react in other ways, and then might be considered as prey by your Belgian Malamute. There’s no good outcome here.
Belgian Malinois Breeders
When looking for Belgian Malinois breeders, do your research and be careful. There are a lot of scammers out there who want to do nothing more than promise you a puppy, take your money, and then disappear. When shopping online and looking for Belgian Malinois breeders, make sure that the breeder you’re looking for is affiliated with a breed club. Then, ask a lot of questions. If a breeders seems overly eager to sell you a puppy without knowing anything about you, that’s a red flag. A good breeder always wants to know about you, and will most likely ask for references.
Never, ever pay money to a so-called breeder who offers overnight delivery. It’s a scam, every single time.
We know how it is – you want a puppy, and you want to believe that the person out there who’s saying “Hey, I’ve got one for you” is on the level. But it’s not always the case, so be careful.
Belgian Malinois Training
Belgian Malinois are every bit as trainable as any other breed of dog. Just take a look at the section above on Belgian Malinois puppies, and you’ll have a great handle on everything you need to do. One thing that is very, very important to remember when you’re training your Belgian Malinois puppy, though, is that he is NOT going to respond to harsh training. Most dogs don’t, but the Malinois even more so.
If you handle a Belgian Malinois roughly and aggressively during training, chances are that he will challenge you. And what you have to remember in this scenario is that you are dealing with a dog that can weigh up to 80 pounds. Are you up for that?
Train firmly, but train kindly. You want your Belgian Malinois to respect you, but not fear you.
In this section, we’re going to deal, just briefly, with a few questions that weren’t dealt with in the preceding material.
1. Are Belgian Malinois good family pets?
Properly trained, a Belgian Malinois can be a very good family pet.
2. Are Belgian Malinois dangerous?
Any dog can be dangerous, if not properly trained and socialized. A Belgian Malinois is no more dangerous than any other dog if he’s raised properly.
3. Can Malinois be left alone?
A Malinois is much like any other dog, in that he should never be relegated to a kennel. He wants to be with his family.
4. Do Belgian Malinois shed a lot?
Not really. A brushing once a week or so will keep your Belgian Malinos’ coat in good shape.
5. Why do police use Belgian Malinois?
Police forces today generally prefer the Belgian Malinois over the German Shepherd because breeding for show standards has rendered the German Shepherd weaker and less suitable for police work than the Malinois.
6. How much exercise does a Malinois need?
Ideally, a Malinois should have at least half an hour of vigorous exercise twice a day.
7. How often to Belgian Malinois go into heat?
A Malinois female will go into heat at about the same rate as any other breed – usually about every six months.
8. Are Belgian Malinois smarter than German Shepherds?
The conventional wisdom is that both breeds are equally intelligent.
We hope that you have enjoyed this introduction to the Belgian Malinois. If you’re considering adopting a Belgian Malinois, you’re contemplating one of the most loyal, intelligent breeds, but also one that can be hard to handle. Know what you’re getting into, and proceed accordingly. We wish you much happiness with whatever breed speaks to your heart!