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Belgian Malinois


Country of Origin: Belgium

Height: Males 23–26.5 inches, females 21–24.5 inches

Weight: Males 55–66 pounds, females 44–55 pounds

Coat: Double coat with short, straight, hard, dense, close-fitting, weather-resistant outercoat and dense, woolly undercoat

Colors: Rich fawn to mahogany; black mask; may have white markings

Other Names: Belgian Sheepdog, Malinois; Chien de Berger Belge; Malinois

Registries (With Group): AKC (Herding); UKC (Herding)




The hardworking shepherds’ dogs from Belgium have rated raves since the Middle Ages. In those days, type varied widely and breeding was based on herding ability. It didn’t matter so much what the dog looked like as long as he did his job. It wasn’t until 1891 that Professor Adolphe Reul of the Belgian School of Veterinary Science cataloged and established standards for the various types of Belgian Sheepdogs. He found them remarkably similar in type, with the main differences being color, length, and coat texture. Reul divided them into varieties, of which four exist today: the Malinois, the Laekenois, the Tervuren, and the Sheepdog.

The short-coated Malinois, bred primarily near the city of Malines in Belgium, was a sheepherder par excellence and was especially admired by working competitors. His abilities and tenacity became prized by the military, and he continues to be used as a police dog. His high level of trainability earns him and his admirers top prizes in many types of canine competitions today.




The Malinois, like the other Belgian Sheepdogs, is smart, self-assured, loyal, and honest. He is extremely sensitive and very family-oriented. Devoted and protective, the Malinois likes to spend as much time as possible with his owners. Police value the Malinois for his keen intelligence and willingness to work.




  • Exercise: The Malinois has a lot of energy, and many owners find the breed almost impossible to wear out. If they don’t engage in plenty of activity, they can become destructive.
  • Grooming: The Malinois’s short coat is relatively easy to maintain. He should be brushed with a bristle brush a few times a week. The Malinois sheds lightly through most of the year, with a twice-yearly heavier shed.
  • Life Span: The average life span of the Belgian Malinois is 10 to 14 years.
  • Training: Malinois are quick and eager learners and excel at activities like herding, tracking, obedience, agility, and Schutzhund. They have a desire to please their owner and respond to positive, reward-based training methods. Training is necessary with the Malinois or his natural drive and protective nature could lead to problems. He requires early socialization.
Find a Nylabone chew, treat, or toy for your Belgian Malinois or large dog!

Excerpted from World Atlas of Dog Breeds, 6th Edition. © 2009 T.F.H. Publications, Inc. Used by Permission.

World Atlas of Dog Breeds

World Atlas of Dog Breeds Book

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