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Life span: 12-14 Years

Height: 61-66cm (Male); 56-61cm (Female)

Weight: 40-80 pounds

Often confused with the German Shepherd, this dog belongs to one of four Belgian dog breeds known as the Belgian Shepherd Dogs. They are intelligent and enjoy having a task to do, as well as spending time with those it considers its family.

Physical Characteristics

The body of the Belgian Malinois is well proportioned and lean but strong,with especially muscular legs. Its ears stand high atop its head and erect, while its tail is long with a slight curve and laying low while resting. Its eyes are brown with a black nose. Their coat is short and can be brown, light brown or sable, with the longer hair around its neck and back a lighter or deeper color with black tips as well as in the snout and ears.


With no records previous to 1891, this breed’s history begins when Adolphe Reul, a professor, found four breeds with an uncanny resemblance and named them the Belgian Shepherd Dogs. These were not separated into different breeds until the 1900s. This particular breed is thought to have originated from Malines, giving it the name of Belgian Malinois. The first record of a registered Belgian Malinois is from 1891. In 1911, the American Kennel Club accepted the four breeds as one, denominating them the Belgian Sheepdog breed. It was not until 1959 that the breeds were separated in the AKC, leading to the acceptance of the Belgian Malinois as a breed of its own in 1965.


The Belgian Malinois is a protective and caring breed. It is highly intelligent and praised for its ability to recognize how much force is needed to protect its family and territory. They tend to be very reserved towards strangers until properly introduced to them by their owner. They are especially good with children and love playing with them. Even though they get along with other pets, they might attempt to become the leader and boss them around, sometimes even chasing them due to its herding instinct. They need early training and socialization in order for it to become a good pet and not chase running kids or become aggressive or overly shy towards strangers.


Although a generally healthy breed, the Belgian Malinois may suffer from:

Pannus, which produces an abnormal coating of fibrovascular tissue over the cornea, joint surfaces, or a prosthetic heart valve and can appear to be tumor-like.

Cataracts, in which the lens of the eye clouds, causing partial or complete loss of vision.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), in which the dogs may become night blind at first and progressively lose their day eyesight as well.

Epilepsy, a neurological disorder that can produce seizures.

Hypothyroidism, a disease that affects the thyroid gland, its symptoms are ear infections, skin infections, hair loss, lethargy, and depression.

Ear Infections, which can be prevented by constant cleaning of any debris or excess wax.

Anesthesia Sensitivity, which, as the name suggests, is a high sensitivity towards general anesthesia that can result in death during surgery or even a simple teeth cleaning session.


Its short coat is waterproof and has to be brushed only occasionally. They shed twice a year, in which they should be brushed daily. Their teeth should be brushed regularly and their nails trimmed. They need daily exercise, and a simple walk might not suffice. They are best when given a task to complete, such as training for an agility, obedience, or tracking competition, or running and hiking with its owner. This breed needs early socialization and obedience training that can commence as early as 8 weeks old. This is important due to the breed’s herding instinct, which can lead to following and nipping at children and animals in an attempt to herd them.


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