The Belgian Malinois is also sometimes known as the Belgian shepherd dog, and they have a long and very varied history in a huge range of different working roles all over the world. Sometimes confused with the German shepherd based on a single glance, the Malinois is actually just as versatile as the German shepherd breed, and in many cases, an even better fit for certain jobs and tasks, due to their high intelligence and versatility.
The Malinois is also reasonably unusual in terms of the fact that the majority of dogs of the breed you are likely to see are probably working dogs rather than pets, and they can undoubtedly be challenging to keep within a domestic setting with no working role, due to their high energy and high intelligence.
This does not mean that it is impossible to successfully keep a Belgian Malinois as a pet, but that you should think very carefully about the traits and requirements of the bred before committing to buy or adopt a dog of the breed.
If you are wondering if a Belgian Malinois would make a good choice of companion or you simply wish to find out a little more about them, this article will examine four interesting insights into the Belgian Malinois dog breed, and some facts that you may not know about them. Read on to learn more.
As the breed’s alternate name of the Belgian shepherd dog implies, the Belgian Malinois was originally used for herding and livestock guarding in their home country of Belgium, and they are in fact one of four different Belgian breeds that were bred for herding work.
Like all of the various herding dog breeds, this means that the Malinois is a high energy breed with one of the most onerous exercise requirements of all dogs, and this combined with their high intelligence is what makes them such adept working dogs, but challenging pets.
Today, it is fairly unusual to see a Belgian Malinois used for livestock work outside of their home country, but they are one of the most versatile working breeds in the world and have undertaken a huge number of different roles that require bravery, intelligence and endurance.
They are very widely used as police dogs both in the UK and internationally, and a significant number of dogs of the breed also work with organisations such as Customs and Excise, border and ports control, and with the military. The US police have a recorded history of working Malinois dogs going back to the early 20th century, which reinforces the fact that this smart, versatile breed was widely exported for working purposes.
The combination of traits that makes the breed so workable include their endurance, energy levels and bravery, and ability to learn and follow complex commands on the fly, and not lose their head when the pressure is on!
One trait that all excellent working dogs tend to have in common is that they are also usually very good at canine sports too, and this is certainly true for the Malinois. It is unusual to see any canine sports classes take place at Crufts without at least one Malinois competing, often doing very well at it too!
The Malinois is an excellent pick for higher level obedience, heelwork and heelwork to music, and other activities including agility, flyball and herding dog trials.
During the Crufts dog show in 2015, Birmingham police dog handlers put on a display of their working dogs and what they do on a daily basis, using several Belgian shepherds. For many spectators, this was their first real introduction to the breed, but anyone who suddenly felt the desire to own one may have been warned off when one of the police dog handlers presenting the display told the audience that the breed does not make for great pets!
However, this does not mean that the Malinois cannot, in the right situation, make for an excellent pet-but there are some very distinct challenges to owning the breed within a domestic setting that all potential owners should be aware of.
First of all, the same traits that make them great working dogs-high energy, high intelligence and boldness-can make them very challenging to entertain and exercise within the average suburban home.
Additionally, novice dog lovers often make the mistake of thinking that the most intelligent dog breeds will also be the easiest to train, and in fact, the opposite is sometimes true. Very clever dogs, particularly those that are also confident and bold require an experienced handler that knows how to stay one step ahead of the dog and keep them learning and working in the right direction!
An inexperienced handler or inadequate training can be disastrous when it comes to the Belgian Malinois, as they can soon become dominant, pushy and destructive. However, with the right handing and lots of exercise, and something to keep their minds occupied, they can make for hugely rewarding companions that are deeply loyal, very loving and hard working.