The Belgian Malinois is a large breed dog that was bred for herding in the hills of Belgium. Since then, they have also been used by the defense force and police as service dogs due to their personality and physical attributes.
The Belgian Malinois stands around 22-26 inches to the shoulder and weighs between 40 and 80 pounds (females on the lower end, males on the higher end of the scale).
Belgian Malinois live for a long time, with a life expectancy of around 12-14 years.
At peak speeds, Belgian Malinois can run at up to speeds of 30 miles per hour (approx. 48km/hr). Whilst they are not able to maintain this speed for too long, it’s an incredible feat to reach that sort of speed. This makes the Belgian Malinois one of the fastest dog breeds on the planet. The fastest is the greyhound, reaching speeds of around 45 miles per hour.
With all that speed, you would assume your Belgian Malinois would make the perfect running companion if you are into this sport. Whilst Belgian Malinois love to be active and have excellent stamina and endurance for long-distance running it’s important to protect their bodies. This breed needs to be conditioned before running great distances. This prevents muscle sprains or strains and paw pads from wearing thin. Your Belgian Malinois can become your best running buddy, but you need to start slow and build their fitness level up. Vary the intensity of the walk or run and make sure to avoid peak speeds until your dog is fit enough to cope with the exercise.
When your Belgian Malinois is under the age of one do not overexercise them or partake in high-intensity exercises such as flyball. This is because their bones are still growing and calcifying. Repetitive strain injuries can cause permanent non-reversible damage to the bones that can lead to physical abnormalities and bone defects, affecting their health later on in life.
Belgian Malinois are prone to a condition called GDV, which is also known as bloat or a twisted stomach. This disease can be fatal if it occurs out on a run a long way away from any veterinary medical facility. To reduce the chance of this disease happening in your Malinois, always avoid feeding your dog one hour before and after exercise. It is now common to do a preventative surgery called gastropexy, which sutures the stomach to the body wall reducing the risk of twisting. This procedure is done at the same time as your dog’s spay or castration surgery. Ask your veterinarian for more information if you are interested in this life-saving procedure.
Your Belgian Malinois is a very active breed and will become destructive around the home if you do not exercise this breed enough. A minimum of one hour of exercise a day is recommended, and some dogs when they are fit can need up to three hours. You can split the exercise over walks, training, and playing in the home, but you must give your Belgian Malinois the attention and exercise they need.
Belgian Malinois are affectionate and need affection from you as an owner as well as exercise to feel fully involved in family life. They fit in well in the home and get on well with other dogs and children, which can be useful to keep them entertained. Make sure your Malinois has plenty of toys and puzzles to keep them entertained whilst you are working.
If your Malinois is not properly exercised they will show negative behaviors such as digging, destroying furniture or soft furnishings, barking, and howling whilst you are gone.
This athletic-built dog can jump heights of over 6 feet! This makes them useful as service dogs and in disciplines such as agility but it can be a double-edged sword. Make sure your garden has a secure fence that is a minimum of 6 feet tall to prevent your Belgian Malinois from accidentally escaping. Even if your dog is perfectly trained, they can suffer a fright in conditions such as thunder or an unexpected storm and attempt to escape.
Belgian Malinois have a reputation for being difficult to train. They are very, very intelligent dogs, and will tire easily of repetitive obedience training. Whilst they bond easily to one individual owner, they sure know how to test the boundaries with an inexperienced owner. Being a large breed dog, some first-time dog owners can struggle to control their Malinois when out on walks due to their physical strength and speed.
Whilst it’s not impossible for a first-time dog owner to take on a Belgian Malinois, it requires a huge time commitment from their new owner, and a willingness to learn and adapt. Signing up for group training classes or enrolling in activities such as agility, heelwork, or doggy dancing will help strengthen your bond and increase your chances of successfully training your Malinois.
Early socialization is key for this breed. During their first few weeks of life, plenty of exposure to people, animals, and noises will help desensitize your dog to these stimuli, making training and socialization easier.
Your puppy is still at risk of contagious diseases such as parvovirus and leptospirosis when they are under 16 weeks, so carry them around until they are fully vaccinated. If unsure of your dog’s vaccination status, a veterinarian will be able to help you identify if your puppy is due for any shots.
Belgian Malinois are built for speed and endurance. They can run all day if you let them, but should only run at their peak speeds of 30 miles per hour for a few minutes at a time to prevent injury or overexertion. They are a loyal and loving breed, sure to be a faithful companion to any owner willing to give them the exercise and attention they need.