The Belgian Malinois is a short-haired dog considered to be one of the four breeds of Belgian Sheepdogs. Although they are genetically bred to be herding dogs, the Malinois is most notable today as a service dog who works for the police and the military in the United States. To know more about the Belgian Malinois, here are its origins, its characteristics that make it different from other sheepdogs and its proper grooming for owners.
Origins of the Malinois
The Belgian Malinois came to be as a result of cross-breeding between other breeds of Sheepdogs in the early 1800s. After several other Sheepdog breeds began to appear, breed regulators in the 1980s were prompted to study the Belgian Sheepdog breed again, and their research allowed them to divide the breed into four types. The four breeds are the Groenendael, the Laekenois, the Tervuren, and the Malinois. The Belgian Malinois was named after its city of origin, Malines.
In the 1910s, the breed was brought to the United States, where it gained recognition for its loyalty and obedience. The Malinois was eventually recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as an official dog breed in 1959. More than 40 years after its recognition as a breed, several Belgian Malinois dogs were trained by the US police and military to serve as drug detection and rescue dogs. Because of the breed’s good track record in the fields it was trained in, it was eventually utilized to serve as patrol dogs for The White House. Besides being the patrol dog for the president of the United States, the Belgian Malinois has become famous recently for being the one responsible for tracking Osama bin Laden during a Navy SEAL operation in 2011.
Characteristics of the Malinois
Height: 22-26 inches
Weight: 49-66 pounds
Life Expectancy: 10-15 years
The Belgian Malinois is different from the other three Sheepdog breeds because they have a short coat rather than a long coat typically found in the Tervuren and the Laekenois. The color of their coat is usually light brown or mahogany, and they would have spots of black fur in their body, specifically in the tails, ears, and face. There are some Malinois dogs that have longer coats, although this only happens when it is cross-bred with other Sheepdog breeds.
The three other breeds of Sheepdogs also have distinguishing features that make them different from each other. The Belgian Malinois has a short mahogany coat, while the Tervuren possesses the same color of fur but has a longer coat. The Groenendael, which is registered internationally as the “real” Belgian Sheepdog, has a long coat that is black in color, and the Laekenois has a fawn-color fur but doesn’t have the black mask or face usually seen in the other breeds.
Most Malinois dogs are active and smart, and these two traits are what makes them suitable for police or military tasks. Their obedience and loyalty are also taken into consideration when it comes to their training. However, they can sometimes be so hyperactive that they won’t obey orders in an instant, resulting in them being destructive. Proper and extensive training is needed for Malinois dogs in order to control their activeness, and their consistent need for training make them difficult pets for ordinary pet owners. However, if they are trained properly, one will find out that they are quite easy to train, and because of their innate trait of being obedient, they will follow orders instantly.
Caring for the Malinois
Despite having a short coat, the Belgian Malinois tends to shed frequently, hence the reason why they are not suitable for people with allergies. On the other hand, their short coat is much easier to groom compared to the other Sheepdogs breed with a longer coat. It is important for the owner to brush its coat often so that it won’t have excessive shedding.
Since they are also active, a wider room or house is needed in order for them to run around. If the space of your apartment or home is not big enough, there may be a tendency for the dog to become stressed out or restless since he or she cannot perform activities around the area. Also, Malinois dogs need walks for them to get their fix of activity, and walking on concrete helps trim their nails as well. Because of its need for activity and training, they are not the right dog breed for most people. Those who know how to train and take care of the Belgian Malinois properly are the better owners for this breed. In addition, their frequent hyperactivity may also make them not suitable for children. However, no matter what breed you own at home, it is essential that you keep an eye on your children whenever they are playing with your pets.