Malinois Belgian Shepherd breed guide
Malinois Belgian Shepherd dog

Malinois Belgian Shepherd breed guide

26 May 2023

Reviewed by Dr Jill McMaster BVM&S MBA MRCVS, Veterinary Surgeon and in-house expert at BorrowMyDoggy on 26 May 2023

Let’s talk about… Belgian Malinois: what are they?

  • Belgian Malinois, also known as Belgian Shepherds, were traditionally bred as cattle-driving dogs, and as their name suggests originate from Belgium.
  • As well as being pets, these super smart pooches love to work and are often found in the police or the armed forces. Individual Malinois have won many different honours for their heroic work in conflicts, as far back as the First World War.
  • If they are well-socialised with children and other animals from a young age they can be happy in their company.
  • A well-enclosed garden is a must for these dogs, as they are known to jump some terrific heights and can scale up walls and fences easily!
  • They can live up to 15 years, with an average lifespan of 12 years old.
  • They can weigh between 18 and 35kg with the males usually a good bit heavier than the females.
  • They are usually between 56 and 66 cm tall.
Belgian shepherd: exercise 5/5, grooming 4/5, trainability 2/5

What is the temperament of Belgian Malinois like?

  • Belgian Malinois are very attentive, tough and brave.
  • They can create a really close bond with their family or handler, but can be unsure of strangers.
  • These pups are super lively and intelligent, and love to work, so it’s very important to make sure they are entertained and their brains are kept stimulated.
  • They tend to bond well with children and other animals if well-socialised from a young age, but some Belgian Malinois don’t like the company of other dogs.
  • They are known as being guard dogs, so can be quite protective of their families, so early, structured training is needed to make sure they don’t become over-protective.

Autumn’s owner says:

Well where do I start with autumn, I can not explain enough how lovely and caring and loyal she is. She just loves to play and walk and loves us as humans. She loves a good cuddle also and is good with other children as well as mine. She's bouncy and happy and likes to say a million hellos along walks.

Ellie, the Malinois Belgian shepherd

What kind of exercise do Belgian Malinois need?

  • An adult Belgian Malinois needs more than 2 hours of physical exercise a day. Ideally some of this should be running to give them a good workout.
  • Although full of energy, when puppies, Belgian Malinois should get less exercise than this, and a basic guide is 5 minutes per month of age. They should not be on full exercise levels until they are fully grown, which is usually around 18 months old.
  • As well as physical exercise, these smart pooches need mental stimulation so make sure to keep walks engaging and interesting, and play games with them at home too.
  • A lot of them enjoy ball games, swimming and retrieving.

Dutch’s owner says:

Dutch is an energetic boy who loves to play with his ball and could do this for hours! He loves to go walking in the woods and loves to go in water!

Do Belgian Malinois need a lot of grooming?

  • Belgian Malinois come in a variety of colours including fawn, grey and red with variations of each.
  • They have a short, course hair coat, and although they do moult, with bigger moults seen 1-2 times a year, they don’t need groomed too often.
  • A good brush weekly, should be enough, and they should be bathed every 6 weeks or so, but more often if needed!
  • Like any dog, regular tooth brushing with a dog-specific toothpaste twice daily is ideal. If you can’t manage that often, just do it as often as you can.

Are Belgian Malinois easy to train?

  • Belgian Malinois are a very smart breed of dog and as a result they learn very quickly.
  • However, with such a big brain, they can get bored easily, so it’s important to keep training interesting but consistent.
  • Belgian Malinois tend to do best when training with someone experienced and confident, especially as they can sometimes become dominant or stubborn.
  • Originally bred as herding dogs they can be known to herd children or other dogs, so it’s important with positive praise, to correct these types of behaviours at a young age.

Beowulf’s owner says:

Beowulf, AKA "Bear", has a lovely temperament and is very good on the lead. He's motivated by meeting other dogs, then humans, then food in that order. He loves long walks in new spaces and to jump on high obstacles. He needs as much mental stimulation as physical, so we also practice a lot of calm observation. He also enjoys heelwork.

What do Belgian Malinois eat?

  • Adult Belgian Malinois should eat a complete, balanced dog food twice daily. They can also have occasional treats, but like any dog, watch out for the extra calories. Puppies should initially eat four times a day, then down to three, then to two at six months old.
  • For most Belgian Malinois you can make the change from puppy to adult food gradually at between 12 and 15 months old. Your pet food supplier and/or vet can advise on individual cases and food brands.
  • They are known to get a bit overweight, so watch how much food they get and make sure they keep active!
  • Belgian Malinois love a good treat as a reward, but like any dog, this should only make up a maximum of 10% of their daily calorie intake.

Rosie and Gypsy’s owner says:

Rosie's favourite thing to do is look out the window and Gypsy loves chasing flies.

Are Belgian Malinois healthy?

Like any breed of dog, there are health conditions that Belgian Malinois dogs are more prone to than others.

Bones and Joints -

  • Elbow Dysplasia - this condition is where there is an issue with how the bones fit together at the elbow joint
  • Hip Dysplasia - a condition where the thigh bone and pelvis do not sit together properly at the hip joint

Cancer -

  • Lymphoma - a cancer of the lymph nodes and lymphatic system of the body

Eyes -

  • Cataracts - a common cause of blindness due to a clouding of the lens of the eye
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy - over time the back of the eye becomes damaged which can reduce your dog’s vision, eventually leading to blindness

Gastrointestinal -

  • Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) - this occurs when the stomach twists and gas and contents get trapped inside. It is a very serious condition and a vet should be contacted immediately!

This list is by no means comprehensive, if you have any concerns about the health of your dog, or if you want to discuss further if a Belgian Malinois is right for you, consult with your vet.

Our vet top tip

Belgian Malinois are wonderful dogs for active people who are willing to spend lots of time keeping them physically fit and mentally entertained too. In general, if you don’t want to exercise much, they are not the dog for you.

BorrowMyDoggy loves Belgian Malinois

BorrowMyDoggy has 336 Belgian Shepherd Malinois members.

What do BorrowMyDoggy owners and borrowers say about their Belgian Malinois?

Maia’s owner says:

Maia is an intelligent, loyal and extremely loving dog. She absolutely loves getting outside and exploring, but equally enjoys a good snuggle on the couch. She would love to make a new best friend- it’s her favourite hobby.

Maia, the Belgian Malinois shepherd

Rain's owners says:

Rain is the most loving, cheeky and friendly girl who just loves to play with her ball and swim! She is known for her amazing mali cuddles, and rolls on her back when meeting new people. She is super friendly, and just loves being around people. She can walk as little or far as you like and has great recall. She really is a great girl to be around and always brightens your day! She snorts with excitement when I get home each day and loves to chill on the sofa or bed :) an absolute sweetheart who is dearly loved.

Rain, the Belgian shepherd

Belgian Malinois Names

The most popular name for a Belgian Malinois on BorrowMyDoggy is Luna.

8 most pupular Belgian Malinois names on BorrowMyDoggy

  1. Luna
  2. Bella
  3. Bear
  4. Milo
  5. Zeus
  6. Freddie
  7. Freya
  8. Loki

Information on this page should never replace advice given by your veterinarian.  Potential health issues presented are given as a guide only and are not meant to be comprehensive.  If you ever have any concerns about your dog’s health contact your local vet.

Want to borrow a Belgian Malinois in your area? Register for free to discover Belgian Malinois searching for new friends in your neighbourhood!

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