Belgian Malinois Dog Breed Information

Belgian Malinois Dog Breed Information

With a similar personality and appearance to the German Shepherd, the Belgian Malinois Dog, also known as a “Mal” is such an amazing breed. They are smart, hardworking, and confidant in what they do. They are common aids in military and police forces even more so than German Shepherds. These muscular bodied dogs succeed well in this work but they didn’t always start off in that line of work.

Belgian Malinois Dog Quick Stats:

  • Breed Popularity: Fairly Popular (Ranks 43 out of 197 from AKC)
  • Life Expectancy: 14 – 16 years
  • Group: Herding
  • Height: Male 24″ – 26″ Female 22″ – 24″
  • Weight: Male 60 – 80 lbs Female 40 – 60 lbs
  • Temperament: Smart, Hardworking, Confident
  • Coat colors: Tan, Black-tipped Fawn, Mahogany

History of the Belgian Malinois Dog:

The Belgian Malinois Dog is actually a shepherd. It is one of the four variations of the Belgian Shepherds. The others being Laekenois, Tervuren, and the Groenendael. Belgian Shepherds are registered as Chien de Berger Beige from France and Belgium.

They got their name from starting off in the city of Malines in the northwestern region of Belgium. It all started with cattlemen looking for some real sterling working dogs for herding livestock. The Belgian Malinois Dog was bred to be more upper class. The people who bred this dog were very serious about what they were doing.

In 1911 these cattlemen brought this new breed to America. They began rising in popularity, especially when World War 1 came along and many Mals served in it. But then came along the great depression, and as everything went down hill so did the breed’s popularity. After waiting around for quite a while, when the 1960’s came around, they finally got back that attention. You can still see male Mals as herding dogs, but most have transformed over to other work and activity.

Cairo The Belgian Malinois Dog:

Our United States Navy SEALS did get rid of Bin Laden once and for all, but there was only one canine team on the mission. A Belgian Malinois Dog named Cairo and his handler Chesney. They were heroes in the act of taking down Bin Laden.

On June 30, 2009 Chesney and Cairo were in combat. Cairo had picked up a scent to follow so Chesney let him off his leash to run ahead. He had gone so ahead that Chesney lost sight of him. He heard loud gunshots and became worried. Chesney called and called for Cairo.

Cairo finally emerged and then quickly collapsed in front of him. He was shot in his chest and foreleg. He was bleeding out. Chesney knew he needed to act fast. He called in to the medics and they soon arrived. As they pressured gauze on the wounds, they scurried in the helicopter and flew to a safe base. Not veterinarians but combat surgeons then did surgery right away on him and saved his life.

After Chesney retired he didn’t let that come between him and Cairos strong bond. He jumped in to adopt Cairo. Finally after lots of paperwork Cairo was officially his. Sadly Cairo passed a year later.

Belgian Malinois Dog Breed Standards:


The Belgian Malinois Dog always looks alert. With a clean cut and strong head, this dog breed may look very similar to the German Shepherd Dog but it is much more slim and has a tighter body. The overall proportion of the head should match up with the body.

With medium sized almond shaped brown eyes. Yet not protruding. The rims of the eyes should be black. The ears stand high and alert like the rest of the breeds face. They should stand as a triangular shape. The ears should also be proportional to the head.

Ears should not be hanging down or bent over as an adult. Having flapping ears is a stage of the breeds puppies but they should stand up after eight months of age.


The neck of this dog is round. The topline is leveled. The withers are also leveled from withers to hip joint, yet fairly higher than the topline, sloping into the back. The croup is slanting steadily and a medium length. Like I said before this dog’s body has a powerful, muscular built look, yet it should not look too bulky. The chest is deep not broad. It should come down to the dogs elbows.

The underline should gradually curve up from the low chest to the abdomen. The tail, like all other parts of this dog is strong and well developed. The tail bone reaching to the hock. A Mals tail should never be stubbed or cropped.


Like the body the forequarters should be firm and powerful but never any bulkiness. The shoulders are long and places flat against the body. The legs all the way down should stay parallel. The dogs pastern is medium length and lightly sloped. Dewclaws may be taken out.

The feet are a round shape, never oval with well padding. All the toes curve tightly together and have strong black nails. They can be white if your dog has white toe tips.


The forequarters and hindquarters are equitable between the two. The angle at the hock is nearly sharp. The thighs to upper legs should be parallel. The bones should be oval, not round. And of course the legs going down should be parallel to each other. The thighs should look powerful yet not bulky. The dewclaws should be removed if still present.

The feet may be slightly expanded but the toes still curve together. Like the front feet, the paws should be well padded and have black nails. Nails could be white due to white toe tips. Like the forequarter the hindquarters should look well muscled and powerful.

Caring for a Belgian Malinois Dog:


The Belgian Malinois Dog has high energy requirements and loves to play and go on long walks. They must be given lots of exercise daily and given plenty of dog toys to keep them occupied. You should live in a house that has a good sized fenced in yard. This breed is not a good apartment dog and would not be happy living in one.

Mals are eager to please and take pride in everything they do meaning they are always active. Make sure to given them the needed attention so they don’t become bored.


The Belgian Malinois Dog has a short coat that is weather resistant. They have dense undercoats though. They shed mostly when shedding seasons come around. Your dog will need a little more of basic grooming procedures to stay clean and healthy. Meaning brushing them once a week or so, keeping their nails cut short, and brushing those teeth! You don’t want this beautiful dog’s coat to get all tangled.


Herding dogs overall are some of the healthiest dogs so the Belgian Malinois Dog has few problems. Listed below are some common health problems you might see in them.

Hip Dysplasia:

Hip Dysplasia is one of the most common problems in medium to large dogs, especially herding dogs. This condition occurs when the dog’s hip joint placement is messed up. This can form over time. Causes may be rapid growth, certain exercises, and unhealthy eating. This forms pressure on the dog’s bone wearing it down.

Elbow Dysplasia:

Elbow dysplasia is the same kind of health problem as hip dysplasia except it occurs in the elbow instead of the hip. This is also caused by things like rapid growth, certain exercises, and unhealthy eating.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy:

Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a disorder that leads to blindness. It’s a disease that affects the photoreceptor cells in your dog causing them to fail. One way to know if your Belgian Malinois Dog is going blind is by checking to see if their eyes are cloudy. Also if your dog is bumping into things or becoming more anxious.


With any dog you should of course feed them the right food. But when it comes to this active working breed they need healthy food to help them stay themselves. You could make them cooked food. This is very healthy for your dog and will surely please them.

Here is our other article “What Can German Shepherds Eat?”. This article is not just for German Shepherds, it goes for Mals too! The article includes the healthiest food to make and how to prepare it for them.


Belgian Malinoises are working dogs. They aim to please, making this breeds training stage easier than most. They are highly intelligent, hint hint, which is why they are chosen for the types of work the are used for. Here is an article on training including tricks to train your shepherd. It also includes how to potty train and discipline.

Are Belgian Malinoises Good Family Dogs?

Like all shepherd breeds they are very friendly outgoing dogs, making them perfect for big families. This breed can get a bit protective and doesn’t tolerate strangers much once grown so if you do get this dog make sure to get it at a young age so it grows up with everyone in your household.

Even though Mals are friendly and will protect your family in any circumstances, don’t let them get too riled up around little kids. Due to their herding instinct they can begin to nip at the kids heels.

With other small pets make sure to go slow. If your Belgian Malinois Dog is already grown and it’s their first time meeting this certain pet let them slowly get closer and closer through the days. Your dog may think it is a threat or something to chase. If your dog grows up with that pet then they should connect a bond and be good friends when grown.

But overall Mals are excellent family dogs, especially with active families. You want to make sure your dog is busy throughout the day or they can become bored and that’s really not good for them. Here are some games to play to make sure that doesn’t happen.

How Much Do Belgian Malinoises Cost?

This wonderful dog breed can be quite expensive. Well depending on what age or training ability you want. If you just want a puppy from a breeder they can cost up to $3,000. You can search on if you would rather have a purebred. You can search for one at a local shelter though and get one for about a $300 adoption fee. is a great place to look.

If you are looking for an already highly trained protection dog they have these for sale from professional trainers. But keep in mind that one Belgian Malinois Dog can range between $45,000 and $65,000.

Five Interesting Facts About Belgian Malinoises:

  1. The Belgian Malinois Dog Can Skydive! German shepherds are much heavier than Mals so military operations use “mals” because they are easier to parachute down with.
  2. The breed guards the white house. These dogs have such amazing noses and alertness that they are used for big positions like this.
  3. Eva Mendes’ protection dog Hugo. Back in 2011 Eva Mendes was dealing with a stalker but she felt safe because her Belgian Malinois Dog Hugo was there to protect her.
  4. This is the Navy Seals favorite breed. Mals are so brave and intelligent they can even train to jump out of an airplane, parachute, and land on their own.
  5. The breed is frequently rehomed. This may come as a surprise to some considering how smart and fun this dog breed is but they are commonly underestimated. Most owners don’t understand the level of energy and socialism you need to own this dog. It takes a lot to keep up with this breed.

Belgian Malinois Dog In Closing:

The Belgian Malinois Dog overall is quite wonderful. They have such amazing appearance and excellent personalities. They would love to be a part of your family, just don’t underestimate them. Mals can be a challenge, yet a perfect guard dog. I hope you’ve learned a lot about this amazing breed from our article.

Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

Have you ever owned a Mal? If so we would love to hear about their story? Let us know your favorite memory or moment spent with your furry four legged friend.