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Belgian Malinois:

Origin & Development

The Malinois (French, pronounced ma-lin-wäh') is one of the four varieties (Malinois, Laekenois, Tervuren, Groenendael) of the Belgian Shepherd Dog. The name Malinois came from the Belgian city of Malines, where this breed was born towards the end of the 19th Century. At the beginning, the Malinois was bred to be a herding dog. Because of his alertness and strong protective instinct, the breed was employed in the first and second World Wars and has been further developed to better suit military style of patrol, guard, detect, and search work. Currently, Malinois is used extensively in police, military, detection, security, personal protection, and competitive sports through out the world especially in Europe and North America.


The Malinois is a bright, bold, spirited, energetic, and instinctual animal with plenty of drives. He is territorial and protective of his pack. The breed possesses a strong desire to work and is quick and responsive to commands from his master. He is wary of strangers but affectionate to family members.

Malinois are very rapid learners, for both good and bad things. They need extensive exposures with a broad range of environments, people, and domestic animals from an early age, due to their heightened senses and guarding nature . A lack of early exposures might result as a shy, unsure, insecure, or overly aggressive dog.

To bring out the best of their working ability, motivational training foundation from handlers with a high level of self control is highly recommended. Harsh, unfair, and erratic handling will create either a very stubborn and handler aggressive dog, or an overly sensitive dog always worrying about punishments from his master. Therefore, a Malinois owner should start educating his puppy from a young age, and develop a strong pack relationship with his dog.


Malinois is a well-balanced, square-structured dog with a light frame. Despite their lighter weight comparing to a German Shepherd Dog, they are very fast, agile, and powerful. Whatever is lacked in size is made up by his courage, will, and speed. The dog is strong, muscular, alert, and full of life.

Males are 60 to 67cm in height; females are 55 to 62cm; measured from the dog's shoulders to the ground. The length from shoulders to base of the tail equals to the height approximately. Bone structure is moderately heavy in proportion to height so that the dog is well balanced throughout. The weight of a male is about 28 to 35kg, with females a little lighter.

The smooth, short coat of the Malinois is easy to groom. The basic colouring is rich fawn to mahogany, with black tips on the hairs giving an overlay appearance. Medium size ears are carried up right and pointed. His face is decorated with a black mask. Gait is free and effortless.

Working Malinois in Different European Countries


Every pure-bred Malinois' pedigree traces back to Belgium. Being the original land where the breed came from, Belgium has produced many elite working Malinois of the highest calibre, and is still producing some of the best dogs to date. The national dogsport of Belgium is Ring, the oldest protection dogsport of the world. In Category 1 (The highest level) of Belgian Ring, dogs are required to work up to 30 to 40 minutes continuously, completing each exercise in the disciplines of Obedience, Jumping, and Protection, with the Muzzled Object Guarding exercise usually scheduled towards the end of the program. While the order of the disciplines is always the same, the arrangement of the exercises within them is different in every trial. The judges can arrange exercises in such ways to confuse, frighten, overwhelm, and sabotage the dogs. While the dogs are allowed to bite in the arms and legs of the decoys, the decoys can use a wide range of objects, sounds, body gestures, and movements to intimidate the dogs in the protection phase. If a handler hopes to have a chance to compete in the national championship, he has to be prepared to compete with his dog almost every week of the year to make the rank. Through the demanding structure of Ring, Belgian breeders has been producing Malinois that excel in endurance, mental clarity, trainability, environmental soundness, jumping, robustness, determination, and health, with a full, hard, forward pushing grip.


The national dogsport of France is French Ring, in which the jumps are more demanding than Belgian Ring, KNPV, and Schutzhund/IPO. While the dogs are allowed to bite anywhere of the suits, the decoys are permitted to esquive the dogs' attacks during the protection phase. The esquive is a very well-known move by the French Ring decoys, in which a decoy targets the dog to one area of his body, such as the leg, and at the last second moves that area out of reach of the dog, making them miss the bite on entry.  When the decoy is standing, he has his center of gravity in the middle of his body.  As the dog enters, he shifts all his weight to one leg, so he can lift the other leg and quickly move it out of the way.  The leg that he shifts his weight to is called the pivot leg, because he is pivoting around on that leg.  When teaching the dog the art of the esquive, the goal is to teach the dog to read the decoy, and instead of chasing the non-weight bearing leg, bite the pivot leg. As a result of the system of French Ring, the French Malinois are bred to be bright, fast, athletic, and are usually excellent jumpers.

The Netherlands

KNPV was designed in the Netherlands to title working dogs for police, military, and law enforcement services. It is a no-nonsense program intended to prepare dogs that can quickly adapt to street patrol and crowd control soon after passing the examination. During the long attack in the protection phase, the decoy charges at the dog with a shouting frontal stick attack at full force, often resulting the two colliding together violently. The stick hit comes before the bite. The force of the hit is so hard that as a result, the decoys often break the reed stick on the impact of hitting the dogs. KNPV is sometimes viewed by enthusiasts from other dogsports as somewhat less sophisticated, but people that understand the program know the complexity involved. Exercise such as searching for the small ring and bullet casing and then retrieving them without damage requires much finesse from the handler in training. Some of the Dutch working dog breeders are known to cross their Malinois with German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds, and other breeds, creating hybrid vigor to improve hardness, power, and size of their dogs. Many of these breeders would later bring their stock back to only using pure-bred Malinois again, to stabilize their gene-pool. Many of the well-calculated crosses from experienced breeders have been proven to be highly successful in KNPV and also other dogsports and service work. Combined with their unique traditions of KNPV training, the Dutch have created a new version of Malinois that are pronounced in hardness, courage, and recovery speed.


Schutzhund/IPO/VPG, the national dogsport of Germany, was originally designed to test the working abilities of the German Shepherd, and it had been dominated by this breed, until Malinois began to out-shine them in their own sport. The worldwide popularity of Schutzhund, along with the long-established Ring, French Ring, and KNPV, have certainly contributed in promoting the Malinois as a versatile working breed. The strict criteria in style, precision, and enthusiasm in tracking, obedience, and protection of Schutzhund favors trainers with a creative, methodical, and meticulous mind. At the same time, Schutzhund has shaped the German's Malinois breeding to be distinctive in producing dogs with much temperament, great willingness, high spirit, and an enormous amount of trainability.


FMBB – International Belgian Shepherd Federation
FCI - Fédération Cynologique Internationale
KKUSH – Belgian Kennel Club
AKC - American Kennel Club
UKC - United Kennel Club
KCGB - Kennel Club of Great Britain
CKC - Canadian Kennel Club
ANKC - Australian National Kennel Club
NZKC - New Zealand Kennel Club
HKKC – Hong Kong Kennel Club

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