Malinois dog

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Belgian Malinois
Female Malinois 2005-01-29.jpg
Other namesMalinois, Chien De Berger Belge, Mechelaar, Mechelse Herder, Mechelse Scheper, Pastor Belga Malinois, Mechelse schaper
Weight Male 25–30 kg (55–66 lb)[1]
Female 22–25 kg (49–55 lb)[1]
Height Male 61–66 cm (24–26 in)
Female 56–61 cm (22–24 in)
Coat short
Colour fawn
Life span 10–15 years
Kennel club standards
Société Royale Saint-Hubert standard
FCI standard
Dog (domestic dog)

The Malinois (/ˈmælɪnwɑː/; French: [malinwa]) is a medium-to-large[2] breed of dog, sometimes classified as a variety of the Belgian Shepherd dog rather than as a separate breed. The name Malinois is derived from Malines, the French name for the breed's Flemish city of origin: Mechelen.[3]

The breed is used as a working dog for tasks including detection of odors such as explosives, accelerants (for arson investigation), and narcotics; tracking humans for suspect apprehension in police work; and search and rescue missions. The U.S. Secret Service uses Belgian Malinois to guard the grounds of the White House.[4]


The Malinois is a medium-to-large 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.[2]

Coat and colour[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 colours of pure-bred Malinois are a base colour 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 colour 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. A Belgian malinois may have a longer and darker hair coat than the typical malinois, but may still be referred to as a Belgian malinois.

The other varieties of Belgian Shepherd are distinguished by their coats and colours: the Tervuren is the same colour 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. When the Malinois was first bred, the four breeds would usually be cross bred; this would result in Malinois with longer hair, or even a darker coat. Today the four breeds are considered different breeds.


Males are about 61–66 cm (24–26 in), while females are about 56–61 cm (22–24 in) at the withers.[5] Female Malinois average 20–25 kg (44–55 lb); males are heavier at 25–30 kg (55–66 lb).[1]


A Malinois in the ring competing in dog agility

Well-raised and trained Malinois are usually active, intelligent,[6][7][8] friendly,[6] protective,[7] 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 three, 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.[6][7]

They can be destructive or develop neurotic behaviours 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.[6][7]

Working dog[edit]

A Belgian Malinois working with US 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.[9] The United States Secret Service and Royal Australian Air Force[10] use the breed along with other working lines such as Dutch Shepherd, and also GSD.[11][12][13] In the United States Armed Forces, German shepherds lead the way, but close behind follows the Belgian Malinois.[14]

In India, the ITBP and National Security Guard (NSG) commando unit have inducted Malinois breed into its K-9 unit.[15]

Malinois dogs are used by the Oketz, the K-9 unit of the Israel Defense Forces. Malinois are a suitable size to be picked up by their handlers when required, while still being large enough to control human aggressors.

In 2011, United States Navy SEALs used a Belgian Malinois war dog named "Cairo" in Operation Neptune Spear, in which Osama bin Laden was killed.[16][17][18]

In 2014, two Belgian Malinois dogs, Jordan and Hurricane, were used to stop a man who jumped over a fence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.[19]

Belgian Malinois have also been called a "game changer" in the fight against rhino poaching in South Africa's Kruger National Park, where one dog, K9 Killer, has been responsible for more than 100 arrests.[20]

In 2019, a male Belgian Malinois, Conan, was used during the Barisha raid to chase Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.[21][22][23]


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

Malinois can compete in dog agility trials and in dock diving, flyball, herding, obedience, showmanship, and tracking 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, the AKC awarded 39 new herding titles to Belgian Malinois.[24][25]


The average lifespan of the Belgian Malinois is 10–12 years.[7] Notable health problems prevalent to the Malinois include cataracts,[8] epilepsy,[8][26] thyroid disease, progressive retinal atrophy, and hip dysplasia.[7][8]

Notable dogs[edit]

Dickin Medal recipients[edit]

Awarded the Dickin Medal for conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty while serving in military conflict

PDSA Gold medal recipients[edit]

Awarded the PDSA Gold Medal for animal bravery:


  • King Tut, US president Herbert Hoover's "Belgian police dog" (Malinois)[27] was prominently featured during his 1928 election campaign.[28]
  • Conan, participated in the Barisha raid in Syria, which resulted in the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He was received at the White House by President Trump
  • Lucas, a Belgian Malinois working as a K9, saved a Mississippi Sheriff Deputy's life in 2015. Deputy Todd Frazier had approached a vehicle parked at a rest stop when he was ambushed by the driver and two other men who cut him with a box cutter, choked him, and began dragging him off toward the woods. He was able to activate the door release remotely, releasing Lucas. The dog attacked the men, who fled the scene.[29]

In popular culture[edit]


  • Kane, the co-star of James Rollins and Grant Blackwood's Tucker Wayne series, is a Belgian Malinois.[30]
  • Billie, the four-year-old black Belgian Malinois partner of Detective Reed Mattox in the "Reed and Billie" series by Dustin Stevens.[31]


  • The American science fiction crime drama television series Person of Interest features a Malinois named Bear as a regular cast member.[32]
  • The military drama SEAL Team includes a Malinois named Dita the Hairmissile who plays 'Cerberus the detection dog'.
  • Daryl Dixon's companion Dog is a Malinois from Season 9 onwards of The Walking Dead.



  1. ^ a b c "Belgian Shepherd Dog" (PDF). FCI. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 April 2015. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Belgian Malinois Dog Breed Information". American Kennel Club. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  3. ^ Contemporary English speakers refer to the city by its Dutch name, Mechelen. The city is located in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern portion of Belgium. Belgium has three official languages.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "Breed Standard". The Kennel Club. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d "Frequently Asked Questions". Belgian Shepherd Dog Club of Canada. Retrieved 2011-05-07.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved 2011-05-07.
  8. ^ a b c d "About Belgian Shepherd Dogs". Northern Belgian Shepherd Dog Club. 2004-01-01. Retrieved 2011-05-07.
  9. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions FAQs". Scott's Police K9 LLC Protection Dogs. Retrieved 2018-05-19.
  10. ^ "Military working dogs". Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  11. ^ "The U.S. Secret Service Today". National Archives and Records Administration. Archived from the original on 9 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-07.
  12. ^ "Belgian Malinois Dog Breed". Retrieved 2011-05-07.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "How 'Super Dogs' aid Navy SEALS". WKYC. May 7, 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-07.
  15. ^ "NSG inducts dog breed that sniffed out Osama Bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan". October 26, 2014.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Brammer, Jack; Steven Thomma (7 May 2011). "Obama thanks special forces for daring bin Laden raid". Seattle Times. Archived from the original on 18 September 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  18. ^ "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.
  19. ^ "K-9 'Agents' Lift Spirits of the Secret Service With Heroics at the White House". The New York Times. 23 October 2014.
  20. ^ "Anti-poaching dogs a game-changer for Kruger".
  21. ^ "Trump declassifies photo of heroic Belgian Malinois dog who chased down Baghdadi". Washington Examiner. 28 October 2019.
  22. ^ "Pentagon releases first images from raid that killed ISIS leader". CNN. 31 October 2019. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  23. ^ "Hero dog Conan in Baghdadi raid to visit White House, Trump says". CNN. 31 October 2019. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  24. ^ "Events: Annual Statistics" (PDF). AKC. 2011.
  25. ^ Hartnagle-Taylor, Jeanne Joy; Taylor, Ty (2010). Stockdog Savvy. Alpine Publications. ISBN 978-1-57779-106-5.
  26. ^ "Health and Temperament". The Belgian Shepherd Dog Club of Canada. Retrieved 2011-05-07.
  27. ^ "The First Family's Pets". The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. 8 May 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  28. ^ "Herbert Hoover's Dog King Tut". Presidential Pet Museum. 22 July 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  29. ^ "Police dog saves partner's life after ambush attack in Mississippi woods". May 3, 2016. Fox News. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  30. ^ Rollins, James; Blackwood, Grant (2014). The Kill Switch.
  31. ^
  32. ^ "Bear – Person of Interest (TV Series)". Dog Actors. 2012.

Further reading[edit]

  • Hartnagle-Taylor, Jeanne Joy; Taylor, Ty (2010). Stockdog Savvy. Alpine Publications. ISBN 978-1-57779-106-5.
  • Kaldenbach, Jan (June 15, 1997). The Malinois (1st (paperback) ed.). Detselig Enterprises. ISBN 1-55059-151-7.
  • Linzy, Jan (October 2003). Belgian Malinois Champions, 1996–2002. Camino E E & Book Co. ISBN 1-55893-126-0.
  • Pollet, Robert (September 1, 2005). Belgian Malinois. Kennel Club Books. ISBN 1-59378-650-6.

External links[edit]