Belgian Malinois Information


Often viewed as the favorite of the four types of Belgian Shepherd breeds in its native home country, the Belgian Malinois is an alert dog with high energy that is most commonly found in police and military work. Currently ranked as the 71st most popular dog breed in the United States by the American Kennel Club, the Belgian Malinois also makes a great companion due to its above-average intelligence and natural protectiveness. If you are considering adopting this hard-working dog, the following is a full breed description to determine whether the Belgian Malinois is the perfect match for your home.

Belgian Malinois
Basic Info
NameBelgian Malinois
Other NameMechelse Scheper, Pastor Belga Malinois, (Chien de Berger Belge), Mechelaar, Mechelse Herder
Size Type Large Dog Breeds
Breed Group Herding Dog Breeds
Life Span 10 -14 years
TemperamentConfident, Protective, Watchful, Active, Stubborn, Alert
HeightMale: 24–26 inches; Female: 22–24 inches
Weight40 to 80 pounds
Colors Black-masked fawn, Black-tipped Fawn
Puppy Price Average $500 - $700 USD

Belgian Malinois

Physical description

Body Type

With an elegant and lighter-boned build that does not lack plenty of strength, the Belgian Malinois has a square-shaped body with a level topline and deep chest that slightly slopes at the shoulders. On the proportionate-sized head and flat skull, the dogs have a somewhat pointed muzzle and a moderately defined stop. While the nose and tight lips are black in color, the medium-sized almond-shaped eyes are typically brown.

With erect triangle-shaped ears that stand high on the head, the breed is also known for having a long tail that is thick at the base and reaching to the hocks. On the straight forelegs and curved hindlegs, the dogs have cat-like paws with rather pronounced toes. The male Belgian Malinois is usually between 24 to 26 inches at the shoulder height with a weight ranging from 64 to 75 pounds, but the females are slightly smaller at 22 to 24 inches and weighing between 55 to 66 pounds on average.


While the mask and tips of the ears are usually black, the coat color can range in various shades of rich fawn, red, mahogany, or black. In most cases, the underbelly, tail, and hindquarters are a lighter shade of fawn than the rest of the body.


The Belgian Malinois possesses a thick double coat of short straight hairs. Known for having a dense water-resistant coat due to its history as a working dog, the breed is a light constant shedder with heavy shedding periods twice a year with seasonal changes.

Good with Kids
Cat Friendly
Dog Friendly
Hypoallergenic  No


Since the Belgian Malinois has a smooth-haired short coat, it is no surprise that the breed has relatively minimal grooming requirements that make it easy for keeping the coat in peak condition. It is recommended that owners brush their dog weekly with a firm bristle brush to remove dead hairs and redistribute the natural oils. During the heaviest shedding seasons though, it may be necessary for the dogs to be brushed on a more frequent basis to avoid accumulating clumps. Due to the fact that bathing removes the waterproofing of the coat, owners are encouraged to only bathe the Belgian Malinois when absolutely necessary.


Originating in the Belgian city of Malines where it got its unique name, the Belgian Malinois shares a somewhat common development with the cousin Belgian Groenendael, Belgian Laekenois, and Belgian Tervuren. After all, the Belgian dogs share the same breed standard in all international countries of the world except the United States. Prized for their tough character and strong work ethic by the original breeders, the Belgian Malinois quickly became one of the favorite breeds in its country of origin.

Although it remains one of the most popular breeds in Belgium, the dogs have had a considerably rockier road in America. After the first Belgian Malinois was brought to the United States in 1911, the breed had a good deal of popularity, but registrations plummeted after World War II. Becoming the first of the four sheepdogs to establish type, the Belgian Malinois was officially recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1959. From then on, the Belgian Malinois grew in popularity again for their reputation as one of the best breeds for narcotics or bomb detection, protection, search and rescue, herding, obedience, and agility.


With strong protective and territorial instincts, the Belgian Malinois is often described as being intelligent, obedient, determined, observant, confident, loyal, watchful, and devoted. Since the breed does have a tendency to develop excessive shyness or aggressiveness towards strangers, it is essential that the dogs are socialized well from puppyhood by a firm and consistent leader. The breed may instinctively display herding behaviors like chasing, circling, or nipping at heels, but obedience training often solves these behavioral issues.

When the dogs are well-raised and trained, they often are active, friendly, protective, and hard-working with seemingly endless amounts of energy. Exhibiting energy levels that are among the highest of all breeds, the typical Belgian Malinois will retain their puppy-like energy until the age of three or older. Therefore, it is strongly advised that the dogs are provided an active outdoor life with a long daily walk and plenty of exercise in an off-lease fenced-in open area.

Interesting Belgian Malinois Facts

  • Often surpassing the abilities of even the popular German Shepherd, the Belgian Malinois named Cairo famously accompanied the United States Navy SEALs in Operation Neptune Spear in which terrorist Osama bin Laden was killed.


  • Being more alert with faster reaction times, one of the most famous uses of the Belgian Malinois is by the Israel Defense Forces’ Unit Oketz, which uses exclusively the breed to help them in their policing and protection.
  • Despite sharing its close ancestry with the other three types of Belgian Shepherd dogs that were bred to herd sheep, the Belgian Malinois is the only one of the group to possess a short-haired coat.