Breed of the Month: Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois Shepherd

Description: The dark brown eyes are slightly almond shape while the erect ears are in the shape of an equilateral triangle. The muzzle is slightly pointed and teeth meet in a level or slightly scissor bite. The body of the dog is muscular but not stocky and, viewed from the side, creates a square shape. The tail is curved but not in a complete hook shape. It has a dense undercoat and a rough weather resistant outer coat. The coat color can be anywhere from fawn to mahogany while the mask and ears are black and the underside and tail are more fawn or washed out.

History: In 1891, Adolphe Reul gathered together over one hundred Belgian Shepherds in order to devise a breed standard. The main difference between the Belgian Shepherds was the coat type and color. The veterinarian instructed the owners of these dogs to breed these dogs by their coat type. Before the outbreak of World War I, the Societe Royale Saint Hubert recognized four varieties of the Belgian Shepherd in one breed.

The Belgian Shepherd saw a dramatic decline in population during World War I and II and nearly became extinct during these times.

In 1911 the AKC officially recognized the Belgian Shepherd but in 1959 divided the Belgian Shepherd into four distinct breeds; the Belgian Malinois is one of four breeds that make up the Belgian Shepherd. In the United States, according to the AKC, the Belgian Malinois, Belgian Goenendael, and the Belgian Tervuren are all recognized as separate breeds. However, elsewhere in the world, these three breeds as well as the Belgian Laekenois – not recognized by the AKC – all make up the Belgian Shepherd. The only real distinction between these four types of dogs are their coat, ranging from short to long and wiry.

Belgian Malinois is a dog registered the least in the United States and thus, it is not nearly as popular in the USA as its country of their origin, Belgium. These dogs were named after the city Malines, Belgium.

Size: Males: 22–24 inches at the withers, weighing 70-100 pounds. Females: 20–22 inches at the withers, weighing 60-80 pounds.

Temperament: The Belgian Malinois is affectionate and protective around its family while reserved around strangers. This is a dog which needs firm training and may not be the best choice for inexperienced dog owners. The Belgian Malinois was bred for working hard and herding, so even today, this dog needs a job to do. Due to its high energy, this is a dog that is probably not going to want to hang out with you all the time. If properly socialized, they can do well with other dogs or small animals. They must be trained and socialized at an early age in order to deal with possible behavioral issues like excessive shyness and excessive aggressiveness. Protective, loyal, and possessing a good work ethic, this breed is very popular as a police and military dog.

Grooming: The Belgian Malinois is a heavy shedder and requires brushing every week. During the Spring and Fall the Malinois will shed more, so brushing will need to take place on a daily basis. Bathing is only required when necessary.

Health: The Belgian Malinois is a generally a healthy breed. However, some health concerns owners should be aware of are hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), cataracts, and occasionally epilepsy.

Exercise: Being bred as a working dog, the Belgian Malinois has very high energy requirements. Like all dogs, this breed needs a daily pack walk to keep from getting bored. This breed is active and needs more than just a daily walk. Letting this dog run around off leash in a safe area as well as engaging him in play will be most beneficial.

Lifespan: About 12 to 14 years.

Trivia: The dog Cairo, a Belgian Malinois, worked with US Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6 and assisted them in raiding Osama bin Laden’s compound.

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