The Belgian Malinois dog, originally a part of the variety of Belgium Shepherd dog, was developed in the 1900s. This dog was bred to be an intelligent and loyal dog in the city of Malines and was the favorite there, and in Belgium. In 1911, the first Belgian Malinois was imported in the United States and recognized by the AKC. Initially they were registered as part of the miscellaneous group. Finally, in the late 1900s the AKC recognized them as part of the herding group.
The Belgian Malinois is a medium-sized, hard-working dog in the sheepdog family. In many ways, the Malinois is similar to the German shepherd. They strong, muscular dogs with a level back and a slope at the withers and deep chest that goes down to the elbow. It has a long tail that reaches to the hock. The hair is short coated, eyes are dark and almond shaped, and ears are erect and alert. The most basic color of the Belgian Malinois is a rich fawn color to mahogany with black tips on the hair. Most dogs with the fawn to mahogany color also have white spots or patches on the paws and chest. They have a very elegant appearance of being strong and solid but not bulky.
Being a smooth short-coated dog, they are easy to groom. Because they have a double coat, they will shed constantly, but they do their heavy shedding twice a year. They require a regular brushing with a firm bristle brush. As with any dog, it is important to keep their ears clean and have regular nail clippings. There are dental products for dogs, from rinses to toothbrushes, which can be used to avoid future dental problems. These health routines should be started on your dog when he is a small puppy to get him used to the idea of daily hygiene.
The Belgian Malinois is a very versatile dog. They are serious and watchful, but yet loving and playful. They are a great watchdog, very protective and territorial with their family and home. They have a tendency to become loyal to one or two people and will bond very strongly with them. Some Malinois may be shy, but this is usually a result of too little socialization from a young age. From a very young age, the Belgian Malinois needs to be social with people and needs firm but loving training.
Malinois dogs need as much exercise as you can possibly give them. They are highly energetic dogs that need more than just an occasional walk around the block. They love the outdoors and do not do well living in a kennel. They excel in almost every dog sport they participate in, which include agility, lure coursing, herding, search and rescue, competitive obedience and flyball. Because of their loyalty, high-energy drive and intelligence, they participate and succeed in Schutzund training. These are some of the traits that make them excellent police dogs, one similarity they have with the German Shepherd Dog.
Because of their high energy level, it is important to start their training at an early age to deter them from negative and destructive behavior brought out by boredom. The training should begin at a very young age and good behavior should be rewarded with praise. Positive reinforcement works very well with this dog as all he wants to do is please you. Often, the Malinois that isn't properly socialized as a pup will grow up to be either a shy dog or an aggressive dog. This problem can be avoided if proper care and socialization is given throughout his life.
The Belgian Malinois is basically a healthy dog. Once more like the German shepherd, they are occasionally prone to hip or elbow dysplasia, which is a crippling genetic problem. Other health concerns that sometimes occur are skin allergies, or eye problems such as progressive retinal atrophy. Bloat, or gastric torsion, which is a life threatening condition, can also affect this breed. Luckily, these conditions are rare. Most Malinois live a long, healthy life when properly cared for.
While these dogs do require a lot of time, attention, and exercise, their owners will tell you it is all worth it! They make great pets, companions, and friends. As with any breed, please do your research to be sure you get the dog that is best suited for you and you lifestyle.
For more information visit the American Belgian Malinois Club website.
written by Kellie Murphy
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