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12 May 2022


Belgian Malinois 101: Everything You Need to Know About This Herding Breed

The Belgian Malinois has found new fame this year, as one of these beautiful dogs recently starred in the movie Dog with Channing Tatum. While you might now be thinking about how you can add one to your family, we’d encourage you to pause and do some research on the breed. The dog in that […]

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The Belgian Malinois has found new fame this year, as one of these beautiful dogs recently starred in the movie Dog with Channing Tatum. While you might now be thinking about how you can add one to your family, we’d encourage you to pause and do some research on the breed. The dog in that move (as with most celebrity canine stars) was highly trained for the role. So, before you go purchase an adorable puppy, we’d advise you to do some research about the breed.

To help you started, we put together some of the most important information you’ll need to understand if a Belgian Malinois might be a fit for you and your family!

About the Belgian Malinois

A member of the American Kennel Club’s Herding Group, these dogs are described as confident, smart, and hard-working. They are medium or large breed dogs. On average, they stand between 22 and 24 inches tall and weigh between 40 and 60 pounds. Like most breeds, females tend to be on the smaller side of this range, and males on the larger side.


While they are smaller than some other working breed dogs like the German Shephard, many of them are still over the weight limit for apartments. And if you’re a renter, it’s critically important to understand if your landlord has breed restrictions – as the Belgian Malinois may be on that list.

These dogs have a life expectancy of 14-16 years on average. So, before you purchase or adopt that puppy, think about your life for the next decade and a half, can you commit to caring for a working dog that needs plenty of training and exercise? If you’re planning to grow your family, make a big move or change jobs, how will the dog fit into that equation? Will you still be able to care for them and ensure their needs are met?

History of the Belgian Malinois

Originating from the City of Malines, located in Northwest Belgium, these dogs were initially bred as herding dogs. The American Kennel Club says,"In some countries, the Malinois is classified together with the Tervuren, Laekenois, and Belgian Shepherd (aka Groenendael) as a single breed collectively known as the Belgian Sheepdog.” But, here in the states, they have been registered as their own breed since 1959.

The Belgian Malinois has been in the United States since 1911, well before the breed was even officially recognized. They were continuing to grow in popularity until World War 2 began and the importing of breeding stock from Europe ended.

In the 1960s devoted fans of the breed began to grow the us-based population. And today, you will see them serving as police and military dogs, working as herding pups, champion canine athletes, and even as pets.

Pros of a Belgina Malinois

1. Form deep bonds with their handlers

The Belgian Malinois is a dog that likes to please its people and prefers to work in partnership with its handler. They can enjoy hiking, running, and competing in dog sports like agility, where they are working as part of a team. It’s also important to know that the malinois can become quite protective of their people (while this can be a very strong pro of the breed it can also fall into the cons if not properly managed).

2. Very intelligent

The malinois intelligence is what makes them attractive as working dogs. They work well with police and military personnel but can also perform many other jobs. These are dogs that love and take pride in their work, so before welcoming one into your home it is important that you have a job for them to do!

3. Easy to care for coats

These pups have fairly minimal grooming needs. The occasional brushing will prevent any tangles and will spread natural oils through their coats. They do shed about twice a year and during their sheds, they will need daily brushing to remove the loose hairs.

Cons of the Belgian Malinois

1. Need to work and get a lot of exercise

This is not a breed that will be content with some time in the yard or a few walks around the block. When we say exercise we really do mean it – these are very athletic dogs. So if you do welcome one of these pups into your family you will want to make sure you have a plan for them to get plenty of exercise every day so they don’t resort to destructive or unwanted behaviors.


2. Can be leery of new people

Remember that protective side we talked about? It’s important to know that a Belgian Malinois can be leery of new people. If you have a lot of houseguests or want a dog who likes to go out to the beer garden or on big-pack walks with you, this might not be the right breed to choose. To help your dog feel comfortable around new people, early socialization is key.

3. Require a lot of structure and routine

If you travel a lot and don’t keep to a routine schedule, that could be stressful for your Belgian Malinois. These dogs seem to thrive on consistency, order, and routines – so if yours is frequently disrupted you’ll need to do a lot of training to ensure this does not stress your dog.

Is a Belgian Malinois a good choice for a first-time dog owner?

We don’t think so but it would really depend on the person and their situation. In order to welcome one of these intelligent, athletic, high energy,and hard-working dogs into your home as a first-time dog owner you’d need to do a lot more preparation than you would for some other dog breeds.

Even experienced dog owners may want to bring in a trainer who has experience working with and teaching Belgian Malinois to ensure the dog is being appropriately challenged and is getting enough exercise and the structure they need to be successful in the home.

The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out Ollie.com.

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