Belgian Shepherd Dog (Malinois)

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Belgian Shepherd Dog (Malinois)
Female Malinois 2005-01-29.jpg
A Belgian Malinois
Other names (Chien de Berger Belge)
Mechelse Herder
Mechelse Scheper
Pastor Belga Malinois
Country of origin Belgium
Weight Male 25–30 kg (55–66 lb)
Female 20–25 kg (44–55 lb)
Height Male 61–66 cm (24–26 in)
Female 56–61 cm (22–24 in)
Coat short
Color fawn to mahogany with black markings
Life span 10-12 years
Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The Malinois /ˈmælɨnwɑː/ or Belgian Shepherd Dog is a medium breed of dog, sometimes classified as a variety of the Belgian Shepherd Dog classification, rather than as a separate breed. The Malinois is recognized in the United States under the name Belgian Malinois. Its name is the French word for Mechlinian, which in Dutch is either Mechelse herder or Mechelaar (one from Mechelen). The breed is used as a working dog for tasks including detection of odors such as explosives, accelerants (for arson investigation), and narcotics; tracking of humans for suspect apprehension in police work; and search and rescue missions. The U.S. Secret Service uses the Malinois Dogs to guard the grounds of the White House.[1]


A Malinois with a black mask.
A Malinois puppy.
Belgian Malinois at 10 weeks

Like all Belgian Shepherds, the Malinois is a medium-sized and square-proportioned dog in the sheepdog family. The Malinois has a short mahogany coat with black markings. It has black erect ears and a black muzzle. It has a square build in comparison to the German Shepherd.

Coat and color[edit]

Due to its history as a working dog (i.e., being bred for function over form), the Malinois can vary greatly in appearance. The acceptable colors of pure-bred Malinois are a base color fawn to mahogany and tan with a black mask and black ears with some degree of black tipping on the hairs, giving an overlay appearance. The color tends to be lighter with less black agouti or overlay on the dog's underside, breeching, and inner leg. White markings are also allowed on the tips of the toes and the chest, as long as the white on the chest does not extend up to the neck.

The other varieties of Belgian Shepherd are distinguished by their coats and colors: the Tervuren is the same color as the Malinois but has long hair, the wire-coated Laekenois is fawn and lacks the black mask and ears, and the Groenendael (registered as Belgian Sheepdog by the American Kennel Club) has long hair and is solid black.


Male dogs are about 61–70 cm (24–28 in), while females are about 56–61 cm (22–24 in) at the withers. Female Malinois are said to average 25–30 kg (55–66 lb), while males are heavier at 29–34 kg (64–75 lb).


Malinois in the ring competing in dog agility

Well-raised and trained Malinois are usually active, intelligent,[2][3][4] friendly,[2] protective,[3] alert and hard-working. Belgian Malinois exhibit energy levels that are among the highest of all dog breeds. A typical Malinois will have puppy-like energy until the age of 3, though it is not uncommon for them to exhibit this energy level until the age of five. Many have excessively high prey drive. Some may be excessively exuberant or playful, especially when young.[2][3] They can be destructive or develop neurotic behaviors if not provided enough stimulation and exercise. This often causes problems for owners who are unfamiliar with the breed and are not prepared to provide the exercise they require or a job for them to do. They are medium-sized, strong dogs that require consistent obedience training, and enjoy being challenged with new tasks. They are known to be very easy to train, due to their high drive for rewards.[2][3]

Working dog[edit]

A Belgian Malinois working with Naval Security.

In Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and other European countries, as well as in the United States, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong, the Malinois is bred primarily as a working dog for personal protection, detection, police work, search and rescue, and sport work like Schutzhund. The United States Secret Service and Royal Australian Air Force[5] use the breed along with other working lines such as Dutch Shepherd, and also GSD.[6][7][8] In the United States Armed Forces, German shepherd dogs lead the way, but close behind follows the Belgian Malinois.[9]

In India, the National Security Guard(NSG) commando unit have inducted Malinois breed into its K-9 Unit.[10]

The dog is also used by Israel Defense Forces. Malinois are the perfect size to be picked up by their handlers, while still being able to attack their enemies, and their shorter coats and fair and neutral colors make them less prone to heatstroke.[citation needed]

Whitehouse Malinois
Secret Service Malinois
Whitehouse Malinois

Malinois are also the dog chosen by the Secret Service to protect the President and Whitehouse.

United States Navy SEALs used a Belgian Malinois war dog named Cairo in Operation Neptune Spear, in which Osama bin Laden was killed.[11][12][13] The breed is relied upon by the US Military in a number of roles. The dogs, using video cameras, will enter certain danger zones, allowing their handlers to see what’s ahead before humans follow. SEAL dogs are also trained parachutists, jumping either in tandem with their handlers or solo if the jump is into water. In 2010, a canine parachute instructor and his dog Cara set the world record for highest man-dog parachute deployment, jumping from more than 30,100 feet up — the altitude transoceanic passenger jets fly at. Both the instructor and Cara were wearing oxygen masks and skin protectors for the jump.[14]

The television series Person of Interest features a Malinois named Bear as a regular cast member.[15]


A U.S. Air Force Belgian Malinois atop an M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle in Iraq in 2007.

Malinois can compete in dog agility trials, obedience, showmanship, flyball, tracking, and herding events, and are one of the most popular breeds used in protection sports such as the Schutzhund. In America herding is a popular activity. Herding instincts can be measured at noncompetitive herding tests. In 2011 alone, the AKC awarded 39 new herding titles to Belgian Malinois.[16][17]


The average lifespan of the Belgian Malinois is 12–14 years.[3] Notable health problems prevalent to the Malinois include cataracts,[4] epilepsy,[4][18] thyroid disease, progressive retinal atrophy, hip dysplasia,[3][4] and pannus, although these problems have been minimized through selective breeding.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schmidt, Michael S. (September 21, 2014). "White House May Check Tourists Blocks Away". The New York Times. Retrieved September 22, 2014. At all times, there are several muzzled Belgian Malinois on the White House grounds, officials said. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Frequently Asked Questions". Belgian Shepherd Dog Club of Canada. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  4. ^ a b c d "About Belgian Shepherd Dogs". Northern Belgian Shepherd Dog Club. 2004-01-01. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  5. ^ "Military working dogs". Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "The U.S. Secret Service Today". National Archives and Records Administration. Archived from the original on 9 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  7. ^ "Belgian Malinois Dog Breed". Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  8. ^ Melanson, Philip H. (2005). The Secret Service: the Hidden History of an Enigmatic Agency. Basic Books (via Google Books). p. 189. ISBN 0-7867-1617-7. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  9. ^ "How 'Super Dogs' aid Navy SEALS". WKYC. May 7, 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  10. ^ "NSG inducts dog breed that sniffed out Osama Bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan". October 26, 2014. 
  11. ^ Viegas, Jennifer (2 May 2011). "A U.S. Navy Seals' Secret Weapon: Elite Dog Team". Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2011. 
  12. ^ Brammer, Jack; Steven Thomma (7 May 2011). "Obama thanks special forces for daring bin Laden raid". Seattle Times. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  13. ^ "Belgian Malinois: The Dog That Took Down Osama Bin Laden?". Huffington Post. May 5, 2011. Archived from the original on 6 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Bear – Person of Interest (TV Series) | Dog Actors
  16. ^
  17. ^ Hartnagle-Taylor, Jeanne Joy; Taylor, Ty (2010). Stockdog Savvy. Alpine Publications. ISBN 978-1-57779-106-5. 
  18. ^ "Health and Temperament". The Belgian Shepherd Dog Club of Canada. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Belgian Malinois (Comprehensive Owner's Guide) (Comprehensive Owner's Guide Kennel Club), written by Robert Pollet, published by Kennel Club Books; Limited edition (November 30, 2005), 160 pages, ISBN 1-59378-650-6
  • The Malinois (Paperback), written by Jan Kaldenbach, published by Detselig Enterprises; 1st edition (June 15, 1997) 94 pages, ISBN 1-55059-151-7
  • Belgian Malinois Champions, 1996–2002, written by Jan Linzy, published by Camino E E & Book Co. (October 2003), 121 pages, ISBN 1-55893-126-0
  • Hartnagle-Taylor, Jeanne Joy; Taylor, Ty (2010). Stockdog Savvy. Alpine Publications. ISBN 978-1-57779-106-5. 

External links[edit]

Belgian Shepherd Dog (Malinois) at DMOZ