Intelligent, energetic and extremely strong, the Belgian Malinois also known as the Belgian Shepherd is a working breed best suited for experienced owners. Belgian Malinois dates back to the 1800s and they’re a breed accustomed to living outdoors. The name ‘Malinois’ comes from the city of Malines/Mechelen in Belgium, where the breed was first discovered. It’s said that breeders were keen to create a herding dog with a steadfast work ethic and protector mentality.
More recently, Malinoises are better known for their part as military and police dogs due to their fearlessness and sharp intelligence.
Find out everything you need to know about this working breed with our in-depth guide.
How much does Belgian Malinois insurance cost?
How much is a Belgian Malinois?
The typical litter size of a Belgian Malinois is around six to ten puppies. However, the litter size won’t really affect their price as a Belgian Malinois puppy can range from £900-£2,000 in the UK, depending on their seller.
How much is a Belgian Malinois to insure?
In 2022, the average cost to insure a Belgian Malinois with ManyPets was £424.38. Our average dog insurance cost for all our breeds was £412.25, so Belgian Malinois are very close to our overall average breed cost.
Belgian Malinois training
Like most herding dogs, Malinoises are drawn to moving objects. Because of this, they can sometimes be challenging to train when they’re puppies due to their inquisitive nature. This trait can lead them to chase vehicles, children and other animals. This behaviour should be redirected to more appropriate activities through proper training.
Malinoises are intelligent and very active dogs who need a lot of exercise. Still, they can sometimes be pretty sensitive and don’t respond well to harsh training methods. Depending on their temperament, some Malinoises are friendly and assertive, but others can be reserved and aloof with strangers.
Because of their energy levels, Malinoises are best suited only for people who have previously owned dogs and have experience with dog training. They can be very intense dogs that like to be involved in daily family life, so people who work long hours or are out of the house often will find this won’t be the dog for them.
Breed bad habits
Belgian Malinoises are incredibly energetic and must be kept active and engaged all day. If they aren’t, their boredom can get the best of them, and they can turn toward destructive behaviours such as chewing furniture to keep themselves occupied.
Malinoises have a strong prey drive and as a result they’re a breed that may not well suited for families with small children and other pets. Malinoises are best for families with older children and do better when introduced to other pets from a young age.
A poorly socialised Malinois may become aggressive out of fear or shyness, but with proper training from a young age this shouldn’t be less of a risk.
Belgian Malinoises are extremely energetic dogs who need lots of mental stimulation and physical exercise. If they don’t receive this daily, they can have a tendency to turn to destructive behaviour, so it’s important that they’re properly looked after by active owners who will take proper care of them.
In return, their naturally protective nature means they make great guard dogs — so be prepared for barking as they sit and watch your home!
Belgian Malinois gender differences
Female Belgian Malinoises mature quicker than their male counterparts, making them easier to train. They’re also much better at maintaining concentration and are typically more submissive toward their owners. Females often adopt a group mentality, making them more territorial regarding their family. They’ll likely not have a close bond with just one person but with their family equally.
As they’re smaller in size and have a gentler character, females are the perfect choice for first-time owners of the breed.
Female size information
Height: 55-60 cm
Weight: 18-27 kg
Male Belgian Malinoises are slower to mature and spend more time in their juvenile stage where they love to play. During this time, it’s much harder to get them to focus and train properly; however, with a bit of persistence and treat-based rewards and praise, it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. Their combined high-energy and adventurous spirit means they’ll always be excited about their next task; however, they can often be too restless to focus on commands.
Males also tend to be clingy with only one person and can be somewhat jealous of other family members if they spend time with their favourite person. When interacting with other dogs, male Malinoises can be highly territorial and prone to outbursts.
Male size information
Height: 60-66 cm
Weight: 25-34 kg
Belgian Malinois breed health
The Malinois is generally a healthy breed, and a responsible owner will ensure they visit the vet regularly. Due to their herding and working background, the Malinois is a strong and rugged breed.
The typical life expectancy for male and female Malinois is 10-14 years old.
Common health problems
Belgian Malinoises have some health conditions that can be a concern, especially if you aren’t cautious about who you buy from. Any reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed. Some of the most common health problems Malinois faces include:
Hip dysplasia — This condition is where the femur doesn’t fit properly into the hip bone (sometimes referred to as a ball and socket joint). Although it can be hereditary, environmental factors such as rapid growth from an inappropriate diet or injuries occurring from jumping can also trigger hip dysplasia. If your pooch shows signs of pain or lameness in one or both rear legs, it’s best to take them to see your vet who is likely to suggest an X-ray to diagnose the condition.
Elbow dysplasia — This hereditary condition is common to medium and large-sized dogs. It is thought to be caused by different growth rates of the three bones that make up a dog's elbow causing the joint to fit together improperly. This can cause painful lameness, so ensure that you get your dog checked by a vet when they show these signs. The vet may recommend surgery to correct the problem and/or medication to help control the pain.
Ocular Disease/ Eye Problems — Belgian Malinois’ can be susceptible to eye problems. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a degenerative eye condition that eventually causes blindness due to the loss of receptors at the back of the eye. Luckily, PRA is detectable years before a dog shows any signs of blindness. They can also suffer from cataracts, a condition where the lens of the eye clouds, which is caused by changes in water balance or protein levels within the lens. When the lens becomes cloudy, light isn’t able to reach the retina, causing blindness.
Hemangiosarcoma — This is an aggressive form of cancer that develops from blood vessels. Symptoms of hemangiosarcoma vary depending on dog to dog, but it can occur anywhere in the body. Most often it affects a dog’s spleen, heart, liver or skin. When a hemangiosarcoma tumour ruptures, it haemorrhages into a body cavity — usually the chest or abdomen. Emergency surgery may be warranted in these scenarios.
“Although the Malinois are often healthy dogs due to their active nature and background, they are susceptible to a few health conditions. Because of their larger size and tendency towards high activity levels, it’s common for me to see these pups coming in for limping and lameness,” says Dr Kirsten Ronngren DVM MRCVS.
“Make sure to keep a close eye on their gait, as any signs of lameness could be due to a more serious issue. If you notice a change, be sure to take them to your vet to have them examined. If your vet finds any abnormalities, then you have the opportunity to discuss lots of options for care.”
Belgian Malinois colours and variants
Colours and breed variants
The Belgian Shepherd is the only breed in the world that comes in four different varieties; the short-coated Malinois, the long-haired Tervueren, the long-haired Groenendael and the rough-coated Laekenois. Originally from Belgium, they’re all named after the areas from which they came.
The breed standard colours for the Malinois include:
Caring for Belgian Malinois
Malinoises are high-energy dogs that love being a part of anything their owner does. They’re highly energetic dogs that need a lot of exercise daily to keep them happy, healthy and stimulated.
Since they were originally bred for herding, the Malinois has some of the highest energy levels in the dog world. They tend to have puppy-like energy well past the puppy stage that can last until 3-5 years old.
To burn off its surplus of energy, a Belgian Malinois will need regular exercise consisting of at least three walks a day of high-level activity. A Malinois would be the perfect companion for those who hike, jog or take long bike rides.
A Belgian Malinois may not be the right pooch for you if you don’t class yourself as an overly active person.
The right amount of food for your Malinois will depend on various factors such as their dietary requirements, health issues and how active the breed is. To keep them healthy, it’s best to consult a vet to ensure they get the necessary nutrients.
As a puppy, a Belgian Malinois should be fed smaller, more frequent meals, such as 3-4 times a day.
Once your Malinois has reached adulthood, these meal sizes can increase and the frequency can be reduced to two per day with treats in between.
Most dogs need about 12-14 hours of sleep per day, but the Malinois is very different to this. For this high-active breed, anything from 4-5 hours per night is enough for them to take on the day.
Don’t expect them to take any afternoon naps, as this isn’t in their nature!
“Belgians need a lot of exercise to keep them happy, so a small walk in the park simply won’t do,” says Sarah Dawson, RVN (Registered Veterinary Nurse). “Making sure that they’re set in a routine is something that this breed thrives off, so be prepared to commit to regular activity to burn off that energy and provide mental stimulation!”
Belgian Malinois temperament
The Malinois is a knowledgeable and obedient dog with strong protective and territorial instincts. Typically, the breed needs extensive socialisation from an early age and a combination of firm but not harsh training.
How good are Belgian Malinois with kids?
When appropriately introduced, Belgian Malinois can be good around children. Since this breed has a high protection instinct, it’s vital that your dog is trained correctly from a young age to teach them tolerance and patience towards children.
Overall, Malinoises thrive in households with older children where they might not be as provoked as they would be with younger kids.
How affectionate are Belgian Malinoises?
Although they can often be quite reserved with strangers, the Malinois is affectionate with his family.
Since they have a strong desire to work, they’re often quick to respond to commands from their owner. They can also be quite cuddly, but it can take a little bit of training to see this side of your Malinois flourish. Essentially, a Malinois craves companionship and strives to do its best to impress its owner.
How territorial are Belgian Malinoises?
The Malinois has a strong protective and territorial instinct, and they’ll typically defend themselves, their family, or their property when they feel uneasy.
Because of these instincts, it can also make them highly territorial over simpler things such as strangers walking by the front garden or someone taking away their food bowl. Early training can help desensitise these pups to new situations so they feel less threatened when presented with a new person or place.
How friendly are Belgian Malinoises with other dogs?
Belgian Malinois can be quite aggressive towards other dogs if not socialised well. As they have a strong territory instinct, they may show signs of aggression when in close vicinity to other dogs, so it’s essential to ensure they’re kept on a lead when outside.
If you want your Malinois to be friendly toward other dogs, it has much higher chances to behave positively with other pets if exposed early on using positive experiences and high value rewards.
How much will Belgian Malinoises tolerate other pets?
Again, when properly introduced or raised alongside, a Malinois can get on quite well with other pets in the house without any aggression or concern.
Small dogs should be introduced with care and proper supervision if you already have a Malinois.
How much attention do Belgian Malinoises need?
Malinois crave attention and love to be by the side of their owner. Because they have such high activity levels, this breed will need to spend quality time exercising and training with its owner.
Most of these pups need at least one to two hours of vigorous exercise daily!
Belgian Malinois coat and grooming
Belgian Malinoises require a little bit of grooming but are generally quite clean and easy to care for.
The Malinois has a short, straight, dense double-coat that’s hard enough to be weather resistant. Their athletic tendencies mean they can get quite dirty quickly, so cleaning their coat after every adventure is important.
Since they have a dense double coat, they’ll shed moderately over the year.
However, like most dogs, the Malinois sheds its coat completely twice a year. During these periods, which happen in the spring and autumn, a daily brush-over will help remove and loosen the hair.
How often do I need to groom a Belgian Malinois?
The frequency that you’ll need to bathe your Malinois depends on how active a lifestyle they lead. They can be washed as frequently as once a week up to no longer than every six weeks. Regular baths, blowouts, and frequent brushing lay the groundwork for maintaining a healthy coat and skin.
Are Belgian Malinois hypoallergenic?
No, Malinoises are not considered a hypoallergenic dog breed because of how often they shed throughout the year.
Belgian Malinois bark sound
The Malinois is considered to be a very vocal dog breed. In other words, they’ll bark a lot — sometimes without reason!
Since they were originally bred for herding, they used their bark to communicate with the herd and protect them. Today, the breed is used by military and police forces meaning their bark is now a way to communicate with their handlers and alert them to danger.
The Malinois has a deep bark, and they’ll put it to use for several reasons. With everything from territorial barking to excitement, attention seeking and more, be prepared for one very vocal pooch!
Frequently asked questions about Belgian Malinoiss
How long can a Belgian Malinois be left alone?
Because of their high energy, Malinoises can only be left alone for an hour or two at most. If you leave them any longer, they may show their boredom in destructive habits.
Do Belgian Malinois get sick easily?
Like all dogs, Belgian Malinoises are susceptible to bacterial and viral infections such as parvo, rabies and distemper. Luckily, many of these infections are preventable through vaccinations.
How fast can a Belgian Malinois run?
Malinois can run as fast as 35 to 40 miles per hour. However, they can only run that fast for short distances.