Dog Health & More
Canines of the Belgian Malinois dog breed were originally bred to be herding dogs. Today, they also work as police dogs, protection dogs, and family companions. In the hands of an experienced dog person, they are intense, intelligent and athletic companions.
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The Belgian Malinois (pronounced MAL-in-wah) is a medium-size Belgian shepherd dog that at first glance resembles a German Shepherd Dog. Malinois are shorthaired, fawn-colored dogs with a black mask. They are one of four types of Belgian herding dogs, and have been shown in the U.S. as a separate breed since 1959.
Originally developed in Malines, Belgium, Malinois have a great deal of stamina and truly enjoy working. They are intelligent and very active dogs that excel at many tasks. In addition to herding, they also do well with police work, search and rescue, and in performance events, such as agility.
People who are not familiar with the Malinois often confuse him with the German Shepherd Dog (GSD), but there are significant differences in the body structure and temperament of the two breeds. Malinois are smaller dogs with lighter bones. They stand with their weight well on their toes, which gives them a square body profile, while today's GSD has a long, sloping back and carries his weight flatter on his feet.
Malinois are fawn-colored, red, or brown, and the tips of their hair are black, while the GSD is usually tan with a black saddle. Additionally, the Malinois has a more refined, chiseled head that the GSD and smaller, more triangular ears.
Many think that the Malinois is more alert and quicker to respond than the GSD. They're also very sensitive dogs that don't respond well to harsh training methods. Some Malinois are friendly and assertive, but others are reserved and aloof with strangers. They should never have a fearful or aggressive temperament. Because of their energy level and sensitivity, Malinois are recommended only for people who have previously owned dogs and have experience with dog training. Malinois are very intense dogs who like to be included in all of the family activities. They aren't well suited for people who work long hours or must travel often, leaving their dog at home.
If you have decided that the Malinois is the breed for you, you should expose yours to many different people, dogs, other animals and situations as early as possible. Puppy kindergarten classes are recommended for your Malinois puppy, followed by obedience training class.
Malinois are quick learners and eager to do whatever their people ask of them. They excel are obedience, tracking, agility, flyball, herding, showing, Schutzhund and other protection sports, search and rescue, and police work. Trainers describe them as having a high "play drive," which means that they love to play, and about anything you ask them to do is play to them.
But the Malinois' owner should never forget that this is a breed that was developed to protect and herd. Poorly bred Malinois or ones that have been poorly socialized may be aggressive out of fear or shyness. Additionally, although well-socialized Malinois are good with children, especially if they are raised with them, they may have a tendency to nip at their heels and try to herd them when playing.