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Meet the breed: Belgian Malinois

Choosing to add a furry friend to your growing household is a long-term commitment, and picking a breed that fits your lifestyle is the key to a happy home. With over 160 American Kennel Club-recognized breeds, that decision can seem overwhelming. We’re here to help you meet the breed that’s right for you. If you’re looking for a sharp and intelligent guard dog to add to your home, learn everything you need to know about the Belgian Malinois.

Breed at a glance

  • Protective
  • Active
  • Intelligent
  • Obedient
  • Enjoys working

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Bred in Malines, Belgium, where the breed gets its name, the Belgian Malinois is often confused with the German Shepherd. One of the four Belgian sheepdogs, the dog was the first of its kind used as a herding dog and watchdog. Enjoying work, this breed is typically used today as a police or guard dog. Naturally protective, the Belgian Malinois requires early socialization to become a loving family dog.

Breed standards

  • AKC group: Herding Group
  • UKC group: Herding Dog
  • Average lifespan: 12 – 14 years
  • Average size: 55 – 65 pounds
  • Coat appearance: Short, straight, water-resistant double coat
  • Coloration: Fawn, red or mahogany with black tips, or all black
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Other identifiers: Medium-sized, square body similar to a German Shepherd; pointed, erect ears; deep chest; black nose; thin, tight lips; brown almond-shaped eyes; cat-like paws; and strong tail.
  • Possible alterations: Minimal mask on face, drooping or hanging ears, docked tail

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Is this breed right for you?

Meant as a working dog, the Belgian Malinois is happiest if given a job to do. A devoted companion, it does not enjoy living outdoors or being kenneled. The breed requires regular grooming, sheds heavily once a year and is best in cooler climates. Enjoying family, it needs to be socialized early with both children and other animals. Although the Belgian Malinois does OK with apartment life if efficiently exercised, it does best with a yard. If not trained in obedience or given daily athletic opportunities, this breed may become restless and destructive. The Belgian Malinois needs a strong and dominant owner to avoid any aggressiveness.

breed characteristics

A dream day-in-the-life

The Belgian Malinois will wake up at the crack of dawn to get down to work. After a hearty meal, it’ll be out the door, set for its day of guarding and herding. Once inside, this dog will be happy to hang with the family and do a bit of obedience training. It’ll be happy to end its day with a run around the block and a bone.

Other breeds you might like

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