Belgian Malinois Dog Breed: Pictures, Colors, Bark, Characteristics, and Diet

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Developed in the 1800s, Belgian Malinois, with its nickname Malinois or Mal, is a purebred, medium-to-large herding dog from Belgium.

Nowadays, this breed is a loving family pet and a hardworking military, police, and protection dog.

A close-up image of a Belgian Malinois looking up
The Belgian Malinois

Malinois dogs have become famous for helping in tracking and capturing the notorious terrorist Osama Bin Laden in 2011.

They are fearless and intense dogs with a bite force of 195 PSI and are only recommended for professional or experienced owners.

While Mal dogs have a lifespan of around 10 to 12 years, their size makes them vulnerable to severe diseases.

To keep them healthy, feed them highly nutritious 2 to 3 cups of dog food with at least 25 to 30% protein. 

Belgian Malinois are well-muscled dogs that make them very elegant and robust. Their short, straight, double coat is in rich fawn and mahogany color with black tips.

They have dark brown, almond-shaped eyes, erect ears, a black nose, and a well-defined jaw.

Male Malinois dogs stand 24 to 26 inches (61 to 66.04 cm) and weigh about 60 to 80 lbs (27.2 to 36.3 kg).

On the other hand, female Malinoises grow between 22 to 24 inches (55.9 to 61 cm) and weigh around 40 to 60 lbs (18.1 to 27.2 kg).

Known to have a high prey drive, Mal dogs can be aggressive. They have a moderate potential to bark, especially at strangers who can be distrustful.

When bored, Belgian Malinoises may display anxiety and behavioral problems. They need early training, regular exercise, and mental stimulation.

Belgian Malinoises are well-known for their intelligence and eagerness. They excel in obedience training, making them easy to learn and willing to follow their owner’s commands.

They are people-oriented, so they don’t like being left independently. They’re also good at sports as they can reach a top speed of 31 mph (50 km per hour).

If you’re looking for an active and devoted companion like the Belgian Malinois, read our comprehensive guide to learn more about this dog breed.

Table of Contents

What is a Belgian Malinois?

A Belgian Malinois lying down on the grass
The intelligent Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois is a medium-to-large-sized herding dog that originated in Belgium.

As its name suggests, the breed is most commonly found in the Belgian countryside, where it has been used for centuries to herd sheep and other livestock. 

In recent years, however, the Belgian Malinois has become increasingly popular as a working dog in various fields.

The breed is prized for its intelligence, athleticism, and trainability, and it is now used extensively as a police and military dog.

Why are They Called Belgian Malinois Dogs? 

Belgian Malinois owe their name to their country of origin. This breed was developed in Belgium, in the town of Malines.

Their name “Malinois” came from the town name they came from, the Malines. They are also referred to as “Mal” as their nickname.

Where Did the Belgian Malinois Come From?

Two Belgian Malinois dogs sitting outdoors
Joy and Sky, two Belgian Malinoises, who enjoy their outdoor time – Image source

As their name suggests, Belgian Malinois came from Malines, Belgium.

They are part of the Belgian Shepherd family with three other varieties: the Laekenois, the Groenendael, and the Tervuren.

When Did the Belgian Malinois Originate?

Belgian Malinois dogs originated in the 1800s by developing the Belgium Shepherd to come with many varieties.

In 1911, Malinois dogs were brought to America and flourished in the US until World War 2, when importing European dogs had stopped.

In 1959, the American Kennel Club recognized this breed as separate from the other Belgian Sheepdog varieties.

How Many Belgian Malinois Dogs are There in the World?

The total population of Belgian Malinois is challenging to estimate because this breed is all over the world. There is no data available about their exact numbers either.

However, in terms of popularity, Belgian Malinois dogs ranked37th in the AKC’s 2020 list of the most popular breed.

What are the Characteristics of Belgian Malinois Dogs?

A Belgian Malinois on a mountain
Meet Yuko, a fearless Belgian Malinois – Image source

Belgian Malinois dogs have a wide range of temperaments. Hence, any aspiring owner must know this breed before deciding to have them.

Owners must be committed to caring for this breed if they don’t want to waste money buying this expensive dog.

Here are the behavioral traits of Malinois dogs:

  • Fearless: Belgian Malinois dogs are courageous, making them excellent guard dogs. Like other guard dogs, this breed has keen senses and is very observant. They can quickly tell when a stranger is suspicious.
  • Aggressive: Mal dogs have aggressive tendencies. If not trained since puppyhood, they can be more aggressive growing up. They need early training to know whether there is a threat or not. Otherwise, they may attack due to their territorial and protective nature.
  • Energetic: Malinois dogs have a high energy level that needs to burn off. They need their owner to do it. While they can be great house dogs, they need enough room to play. If their owner has a small house, walking for one to two hours in the park will do.
  • Loving: Belgian Malinois dogs are very affectionate toward their family. While they may have a strong working dog history, this breed craves human love and companionship.
  • Obedient: Mal dogs are easy to train because they are intelligent and obedient. Once trained, it’s easy to follow basic commands and show people their tricks.

Take a look at this table to know how it would feel like having a Belgian Malinois in your life:

Belgian Malinois Characteristics Rating
Relation with Family 4
Good with Children 3
Friendly with Strangers 3
Friendly with Other Dogs 3
Easy to Train 5
Energy Level 5
Barking Level 3
Mental Stimulation Needs 4

What Does a Belgian Malinois Look Like? 

A Belgian Malinois standing in the grass
Meet Rufus, a gorgeous Belgian Malinois – Image source

Belgian Malinois is an elegant medium-to-large-sized dog breed. They have slim, muscled, and well-proportioned bodies.

Their posture and facial expression give off a strong character, making them a great representation of herding dogs.

Malinois dogs have sunken, almond-shaped eyes, ears set upward, chiseled jaws, and black noses.

Their neck is long and hairy, while their slim body has short coat. They come in sable, rich fawn, and mahogany colors.

While the Malinois dogs are well-muscled, they are not bulky, allowing them to move quickly. 

How big does a Belgian Malinois get? 

Like other dogs, the male Belgian Malinois is bigger than their female counterparts.

Male Belgian Malinois’ height is somewhere between 24 to 26 inches (61 to 66.04 cm) and weighs about 60 to 80 lbs (27.2 to 36.3 kg).

However, a female Mal stands 22 to 24 inches (55.9 to 61 cm) and weighs around 40 to 60 lbs (18.1 to 27.2 kg).

Take a look at the table below for a more detailed comparison of male and female Belgian Malinois’ stature:

Belgian Malinois
Physical Features
Male Female
Height  24 to 26 inches
(61 to 66.04 cm)
22 to 24 inches
(55.9 to 61 cm)
Weight 60 to 80 lbs
(27.2 to 36.3 kg)
40 to 60 lbs
(18.1 to 27.2 kg)

How long does a Belgian Malinois dog grow? 

Generally, Belgian Malinois dogs will take 15 to 18 months to attain their full adult height. Once they reach this age, they will stop growing their height but gain some weight. 

However, female Mal dogs tend to reach their adult height earlier. Typically, they stop growing around 11 to 13 months but may still gain weight until 16 to 18 months. 

What is the average weight of Belgian Malinois dogs? 

Male Belgian Malinois dogs weigh 60 to 80 lbs (27.2 to 36.3 kg). While female Belgian Malinois dogs are 40 to 60 lbs (18.1 to 27.2 kg).

Male and females may have different sizes, but they are equally strong and brave dogs. 

What is the Average Life Expectancy of Belgian Malinois Dogs? 

The average life expectancy of Belgian Malinois is 10 to 12 years.

Like other dogs, serious diseases may adversely affect their life span. These dogs are susceptible to Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and Elbow Dysplasia.

Regular vet checkups are recommended for early detection and start treating your companion sooner.

What Coat Type Do Belgian Malinois Dogs Have? 

A Belgian Malinois lying down in the grass
Joy, a Belgian Malinois, flaunts her stunning coat – Image source

Belgian Malinois dogs have a flat-lying, short, and straight double-coat. They have a hard topcoat and dense undercoat.

Their coat is rugged and waterproof, making them well-protected in any dirt and weather type.

The hair on the tail and neck tends to be longer while the rest of the body is short.

Mal’s undercoat has abundant hair, and its lack is considered a fault. It is also a fault when an alleged Belgian Malinois has a long, wiry, or silky fur. 

What is the Belgian Malinois dog’s coat like? 

Belgian Malinois dogs have a fawn to mahogany double-coat. The upper coat is rough, while the undercoat is dense or hairier.

They have moderate-shedding fur, which is stiff. Their coats tend to be thinner in the summer and thicker during winter. 

How long is the Belgian Malinois’s coat?

Belgian Malinois has a short and straight coat that makes them slimmer. Their hair is longer on the neck and tail.

Despite the length of their fur, they are weatherproof and therefore can withstand both hot and weather temperatures. 

What is the Belgian Malinois’s coat density?

Belgian Malinois dogs’ coats have an average density. The undercoat is denser than the upper coat. As such, they tend to have more hair on their undercoat.

Overall, their undercoat protects them from harmful elements like weather, dirt, and insect bites.

Do Belgian Malinois dogs shed much?

Mal dogs have moderate-shedding fur. They only shed twice a year. But brushing their hair regularly will prevent hair fall and maintain the healthy oil on their skin.

It is not also advised to bathe them regularly to keep their coat weatherproof unless they love to roll on the floor.

Can Belgian Malinois Dogs Live in Hot Weather?

A smiling Belgian Malinois lying down on the grass
Loki, a Mal, enjoys the warmth of the sunlight – Image source

Belgian Malinois dogs are an all-weather breed type. Thanks to their short, double coat, they are weatherproof and can withstand hot weather and cold climate.

However, they can withstand the best temperature between 50 to 60°F (10 to 16 degrees Celsius).

Mal dogs’ undercoat in hot weather acts as a barrier from the sun’s heat. Also, their coat protects them from snow, wind, and frigid temperatures during the chill season.

Do Belgian Malinois Dogs Love Water?

Yes, Belgian Malinois dogs love water. They are solid swimmers, and some adore swimming activities as an exercise.

They are not born swimmers, but they can be excellent swimmers with proper processes and precautions knowledge.

What Coat Colors Do Belgian Malinoises Have? 

A side view of a Belgian Malinois lying down on the grass
The beautiful coat of the Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinoises have rich fawn (yellow) to mahogany (brown) colors with black markings on their hair tip.

The black markings should not be brindled or patched. White markings on the breastbone and toes are permitted by the AKC.

The underparts of their body, breeches, and tail feature a light fawn color. 

Do Belgian Malinois change color? 

Belgian Malinois dogs’ colors may change in terms of lightness and darkness as they grow up. However, their patterns on markings will never change.

Their coat may also become thicker and shinier, but their color will not entirely vary. 

What is a Blue Belgian Malinois? 

A blue Belgian Malinois is a dilution of the black color of this breed. This type of appearance is rare, which makes them more expensive.

However, a blue Belgian Malinois is not recognized by most International Kennel Clubs. The recognized colors of Malinois dogs are fawn, sable, and mahogany.

What Markings Do Belgian Malinois Dogs Have? 

A Belgian Malinois posing outdoors
Nikita, a Belgian Malinois, knows her attractive coat gets your attention – Image source

Belgian Malinois dogs have black markings on the hair tip, giving them an overlay look.

Their underside of the tail, breeches, and body have lighter fawn color markings, while the ears and mask are black.

They may have tiny white spots on their breast area and white markings on the tip of their toes. 

Are Belgian Malinois Dogs Good Family Pets? 

Four Belgian Malinoises posing for a picture
A pack of joyful Belgian Malinoises – Image source

Belgian Malinois dogs are good family pets. They are loving, affectionate, and devoted breed to their owners.

It is best to have them as a puppy to train them to be more sociable and instill good behavior.

Malinoises are much more devoted to their favorite person, their owners. While their owners are away, they tend to be clingy with other family members.

While this breed is a good defender of themselves, they are also a great protector of their humans.

These herding dogs are very active, which means they will thrive in an equally active household. They need a lot of mental and physical stimulation for their well-being.

Moreover, this breed will become a great family pet if well-trained. 

Check out the table below to know if Malinois dogs are suitable for your family:

Belgian Malinois’ Temperament Rating
Adaptability 3
Friendliness 4
Mouthiness 3
Playfulness 5
Family-Oriented 4
Stranger Tolerance 3

Are Belgian Malinois dogs good with other dogs?

No, Belgian Malinois dogs are not naturally good with other dogs. They have authoritarian tendencies, so they like to be the master of a pack of dogs.

They also have a high prey drive, making them dangerous with small canine and non-canine animals.

Are Belgian Malinois dogs friendly with other people? 

Generally, Belgian Malinois dogs are friendly, but only to people, they know.

As such, they are not friendly with people other than their family. This breed needs time to warm up to people they just met. 

People should not pet adult Mal dogs upon meeting them first. This breed may think that you are a threat and will not hesitate to attack you.

Can Belgian Malinois dogs get along well with strangers?

Belgian Malinois dogs are typically aloof and reserved toward strangers. They can be protective against strangers, especially if they act suspiciously or are provoked.

If you are looking for guard dogs, this breed is a perfect fit. They will never allow anyone they don’t know to come into your house. 

How do Belgian Malinois dogs get along with young children?

Unfortunately, Belgian Malinois dogs are not ideal in a household with young children.

These dogs don’t like messy and highly active kids because they might annoy this breed. Mal dogs are easily agitated by children who don’t know how to handle them.

However, you can always remedy their aggressive behavior with proper training.

It’s also essential for Malinois dogs to grow up with children so they will get used to mingling with them.

Can Belgian Malinois Dogs Adapt Easily?

A Belgian Malinois standing indoors
The adaptable Belgian Malinois – Image source

Malinois dogs are an adaptable breed. Known for their versatility in their profession, these dogs are flexible.

Whether they live in the fields, in small apartments, or big houses, they can always thrive. As long as they have human companions, this breed will do just fine.

Are Belgian Malinois Naturally Aggressive?

Belgian Malinois dogs can be aggressive to visitors and unfamiliar guests if they are not trained properly and are not socialized at an early stage.

It’s recommended to socialize your dog when they’re young and teach him that strangers are not a threat to you or him.

Are Belgian Malinois Dogs Dangerous? 

A Belgian Malinois in the woods
Luka, an alert Belgian Malinois – Image source

Yes, but they can only be dangerous when people make them uncomfortable.

For instance, if a stranger is acting suspicious or making fun of them, this breed will most likely be alerted and chased.

Small animals and dogs are not also advised near them because Malinois dogs have a high prey drive.

Do Belgian Malinois Dogs Bite? 

Like other dogs, Malinoises do bite. When their huge prey drive kicks in, this breed has a possibility to bite. They have 195 PSI biting forces.

They may not have the strongest bite, but they can chase and attack other animals or anyone who acts suspiciously around their family without thinking twice.

However, their biting potential is not due to their aggressive behavior. They typically bite due to a lack of mental and physical stimulation.

This breed bites when they are scared, restless, and bored.

Are Belgian Malinois Dogs Protective? 

A smiling Belgian Malinois on a leash
Meet Arrow, a protective Mal – Image source

Yes, the Belgian Malinois is one of the most protective dogs out there. Dog enthusiasts refer to them as “protection sports.”

They are protective of themselves, their owners, and their property. Any stranger should not try to touch their things as they may attack a person violently.

Are Belgian Malinois Dogs Affectionate?

While Belgian Malinois dogs can be aloof toward strangers, they are very affectionate. They are cuddly to their family and people they are familiar with.

Once they feel a sense of belonging to a person, they will crave it even more. They are independent dogs, but they love human companionship more than ever.

Are Belgian Malinois Dogs Loyal?

A Belgian Malinois looking up
Meet Akasha, a devoted Belgian Malinois – Image source

If you are looking for a loyal dog, the Belgian Malinois is perfect for you. This dog is faithful toward its owners.

They may love to wander outside, but they know how to go home. They use their smell to trace back to their owners.

Do Belgian Malinois Dogs Like to Cuddle?

Untrained Belgian Malinois are not cuddly dogs. But once trained, you will be surprised how much they love cuddle time with their owners.

They are clingy and obsessed dogs toward their favorite person.

Does the Belgian Malinois Love Freedom?

Belgian Malinoises are independent dogs. Hence, they love freedom, especially when working. There are also times when they feel like being on their own with their toys and food.

However, they should not be left home alone for an extended period because they crave human attention.

Are Belgian Malinois Dogs Easy to Train? 

Belgian Malinois dogs are intelligent, making them easy to train. They have to be trained early in life as untrained adult dogs are difficult to handle.

However, the good thing is that they are obedient dogs, so professional trainers will not have a hard time training them.

Here’s a video of a well-trained Belgian Malinois to make your day:

How Smart is the Belgian Malinois?

When it comes to the intelligence level and working IQ, the Belgian Malinois is one of the brightest dogs.

They ranked 26th intelligent dog out of 138 dog breeds. Their intelligence makes them a gold standard in police K-9 work. 

A working Belgian Malinois in training
A Belgian Malinois in training

Can Belgian Malinois dogs be used as working dogs?

Initially, Belgian Malinois dogs are working dogs before they become a famous family companion.

They are herding dogs, and their profession usually includes assisting military or police forces in their search and rescue operations.

Do Belgian Malinois Dogs Bark a Lot?

Belgian Malinoises bark moderately. Their bark is often compared to the German Shepherd, a vocal and notorious barker dog, due to their intelligence, energy level, and guardian instinct.

For Belgian Malinois, barking is their way to communicate and express themselves.

Their bark is used to alert their owners of intruders and harm and to convey to people what they need. 

How does a Belgian Malinois bark?

Belgian Malinois has a deep and loud vocal cord.

They bark non-stop to gain the attention of their owners when there is a suspicious person in the house or their territory.

They also like to howl to communicate. They howl at dogs and strangers to ward them off. 

Do Belgian Malinois Dogs Have High Energy Levels?

A Belgian Malinois playing outdoors
Kobe, a Belgian Malinois, enjoys playing outdoors a lot – Image source

Belgian Malinois dogs have high energy levels. Hence, they are not fit for busy and first-time owners.

They have a lot of energy to expend, and they need their owners to burn them off. They need regular exercise to minimize their energy throughout the day. 

Once this breed doesn’t get the physical stimulation they need, they will become more enthusiastic, destructive, and clingy.

As such, physical exercises are essential to become comfortable and calm the entire day.

Are Belgian Malinois Dogs Active?

For those looking for a breed full of activity, you can never go wrong with Belgian Malinois. This breed has always had the energy to do mental and physical activities.

Anyone who likes to have a workout buddy will be delighted to have a Mal dog in their lives.

How Fast Can a Belgian Malinois Run?

A Belgian Malinois running with a toy
The speedy Belgian Malinois

As an athletic dog, the Belgian Malinois excels in sports that involve speed and endurance.

They are one of the fastest dog runners globally, with a recorded speed of 31 mph (50 km per hour). This dog is so fast that it can outrun you even if you’re on a bike.

Are Belgian Malinois Dogs Playful?

Belgian Malinois dogs are play-oriented. They never run out of energy, and they like playing with their owners.

Mals love to play and wander outside. They always crave fun activities.

It is advisable to allow this breed to play outdoors. While they would be at home, nothing beats having an ample space where they can move freely.

Playing in the garden or yard will be good too. 

A Belgian Malinois puppy playing with a toy
A playful Belgian Malinois pup with a toy

Does the Belgian Malinois Drool a Lot?

Malinois dogs have a low tendency to drool. While drooling can be expected for other dogs, seeing this breed drool can indicate a severe health problem.

Take your Mal dog to the vet for any drooling issues. 

What Does the Family Life of Belgian Malinois Dogs Like?

Any family who has a Belgian Malinois is assumed to be energetic, outgoing, and dog lovers. Malinois dogs are very hyper that they need an owner who can match their energy.

For this reason, they are not recommended for first-time owners because their overall temperament can be overwhelming.

Taking care of this breed required commitment. Mal dogs are very demanding, making them appropriate for experienced owners.

They are also not ideal for messy children because they may harm each other.

What is the Average Cost of a Belgian Malinois Puppy? 

Three Belgian Malinois puppies
Three Belgian Malinois pups ready to receive love

The Belgian Malinois dogs are one of the most expensive breeds. They cost more, around $595 to $2,500.

As such, it’s essential to get to know this breed before deciding to have one.

Buy from a reputable breeder to ensure that you get healthy Malinois, or you can have one at rescue centers for a more affordable price.

What Kind of Food Should Belgian Malinois Dogs Eat? 

Belgian Malinoises are active dogs that love meat. As an active breed, they need high protein food, around 25 to 30%.

They eat vegetables, but they need more meat-based protein food. They also need at least 10% fat to sustain their energy level.

In terms of quantity, this breed should receive 2 to 3 cups of food per day.

What are the Best Dog Foods for Belgian Malinois Dogs?

A Belgian Malinois waiting for food
Pixy, a Belgian Malinois pup, patiently waits for her food – Image source

Belgian Malinois are inherently sharp-minded, agile, and muscular dogs. So, as an owner, you would want to give the most nutritious food to boost their full potential.

To improve this breed’s quality of life, feed them with these healthy dog foods:

For growing Malinois puppies, serve them with these healthy dog foods:

For adult Malinois dogs, these are the best dog food products for them:

What Other Dog Breeds Look Like the Belgian Malinois?

Belgian Malinois are attractive and elegant dogs. They are easily recognizable because of their beautiful colors.

If for some reason, you couldn’t find a reputable Malinois breeder, the best way to do it is to get an alternative dog that looks like them.

Here is a list of the breed that resembles a Belgian Malinois:

Belgian Sheepdog

A Belgian Sheepdog lying down on fallen leaves
Lili, a Belgian Sheepdog, enjoys autumn – Image source

Belgian Sheepdog, Groenendael, is a medium-to-large breed herding dog breed from Belgium. Like the Belgian Malinois, this breed is another variant of the Belgian Shepherd. 

Belgian Sheepdogs are versatile working dogs and family companions. They are sensitive souls craving human attention and dislike being neglected.

The perfect color of this breed is solid black or black with limited white markings.

Belgian Laekenois 

A Belgian Laekenois on a hill
Scotia, a Belgian Laekenois, likes climbing on hills – Image source

Belgian Laekenois is also a variant of Belgian Shepherd. This breed is a herding dog originating in the 1880s from the Laken Castle in Brussels, hence the name.

Belgian Laekenois is rare and just getting known.

This breed loves and is affectionate to its humans, making them great family dogs.

They crave human companionship, so they should not be left home alone for an extended period.

They look like the Belgian Malinois because their coat also comes in fawn, mahogany, and red. 

Belgian Tervuren

A Belgian Tervuren hiking
Phoenix, a Belgian Tervuren, enjoys hikes – Image source

A well-known variant of the Belgian Shepherd, Belgian Tervuren dogs are intelligent, athletic, and versatile herding dogs.

They come in rich fawn to mahogany color with black markings and black on the tips of their hair.

Terv dogs are beautiful, elegant, and have a good sense of humor. Leaving their owners pleased, these dogs are quick to pick up commands.

This breed also works as a police dog, therapy dog, and accomplished assistance.

Final Thoughts: Is it Worth it to Have a Belgian Malinois? 

Belgian Malinois dogs are reliable, protective, and intelligent dogs.

Hence, this herding dog breed is now famous as a protection dog. They are costly because they are helpful in the military and police operations.

If you prefer highly trainable dogs, this breed is perfect for you.

However, physical prowess and high IQ mean that owners need to be more committed to taking care of them.

Mal dogs need regular physical and mental exercise to keep themselves healthy and thriving. 

Belgian Malinoises are people-oriented and loving family pets when properly socialized.

They require extensive training, and people who decide to have them should devote time and effort to their excellent upbringing.

Do you have a Belgian Malinois dog? What do you love most about them? Let us know in the comments!

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