The Belgian Malinois, a Pet Worth Investing In?
Dogs are one of the few animals it seems that mankind can have a truly impactful relationship with. After all they are referred to as ‘man’s best friend” for a reason. The species is know for all types of breeds and crosses that make every individual one unique. In recent weeks, I have come across a breed that has sparked a new interest of mine. From a distance it looks like a German Shepard only there are some subliminal hints that point to it being a different breed. The breed we will be looking at today is the Belgian Malinois, we look at the beauty and pain of owning one and how the dog can be looked at in popular culture and beyond.
The Malinois breed is originally derived from France, not Belgium despite the name. It is unknown when the breed first appeared but the breed is suggested to have been named after a Flemish city called Mechelen. Around Antwerp. At the time the city was under French control which is why the name is French deriving from the word Malines which means Mechelen in French. In theory it should be referred to as the French Malinois but that is another debate for another article.
Why the Belgian Malinois is the best dog to have?
As previously mentioned there is a strong resemblance from a distance to a German Shepard. For those of you who have never seen or even heard of one (like me two weeks ago) the Belgian Malinois is a member of the sheepdog family which also includes Saint Bernard’s, Collies, Catahoula’s and the Shepard Breeds. This breed prior to being a simple house pet was used primarily in herding of sheep or in some cases cattle and ducks. They are often not large dogs but most often due to the climates that they come from they have an abundance of fur that keeps them warm doing the colder months.
The Malinois is best identified by its appearance which like a German Shepard is a Mahogany and tan with a black mask. Furthermore, their tail can be a strong identifier if grown out as it is long and flowing. A big resemblance to the German Shepard is the ears though as the long pointy ears of a Malinois can often lead to it being mistaken for a German Shepard. Belgian Malinois typically have longer hair than the rest of their species of Malinois and are surprisingly more recognizable as adults than as puppies.
The Belgian Malinois is not a small dog at all and is a good companion for a fully grown adult. Mostly because if they stand on two feet they can almost reach an average adult’s face. They do not get as big as a Saint Bernard but still pretty big. The males average about 24-26 inches in length which females reach between 22-24. They are not nearly as big as a Saint Bernard either as they can weigh in as much as 70 pounds. Recently, I had one sit on me which can be quite a heavy load to take on if your legs appear to be toothpicks.
Here is where the Malinois appears to be far above anything in its family. Malinois are active and intelligent, well maybe yours but the one I hang around not so much. They can be extremely friendly towards almost anyone and are harmless to a fully grown adult. They have more energy than any other dog and consistently push the limits to what the meaning of tired truly is. They usually take about 2.5 hours of time to burn all the energy out of themselves but even then still have some adrenaline. Their hearing is sensational and at a moment’s notice they are triggered by any disturbance in their environment. They have a high prey drive which you will find if they ever are chasing something like a stick or a bird.
Delving deeper into the Prey Drive of a Malinois they are great for any type of difficult test which can include but is not limited to climbing, tracking, dock diving, swimming, herding (obviously), as well as flyball. With this in mind the Malinois is very assertive in all of its trials. Despite the fact that you may not think of it as a difficult task the Malinois asserts is as though it is its one goal. The Malinois has excellent agility and with proper testing you will see him or her fly high above mostly anything but a fence will be difficult for him so do not worry.
Why not own one?
Yes, in my honest opinion the Malinois is the best dog breed. However under all of the signs of positivity there are some aspects that someone should know prior to looking into owning one. The biggest one is that a Malinois is a constant attention grabbing machine. They need attention all the time, literally. A Malinois needs to be engaged while it is still in its development stages otherwise it will not have nearly the abilities that a typical Malinois possesses. Typically 2.5 hours of training is not required but often recommended. In addition they shed worse than most dogs. Literally they take one step and they shed. If you are clean and tidy this is not at all the dog for you.
Another quite strong issue with a Malinois is its jumpy and quick behavior. The Malinois can light up like a firework at almost any moment, even while writing this my own Malinois exploded into a bark from a wind blowing something over. That can be taken as a bad sign if you slightly do not like an aggressive dog. They are not openly aggressive in that they will bite you but in that their prey drive is a blessing and a curse depending on what you may use them for. Aggression is good for a search and rescue dog but not for a dog that is simply around to play with you.
They can grow quickly. Within a year they are almost fully grown into their natural 26 in. frame. This may not seem like a con to owning one but after a year of feeding it the Malinois appears to behave like a horse and attempt to eat you out of house and home like a teenager. They will eat practically anything which is not a usual trait for a dog. Mine actually ate my sandwich right when I was about to watch Seinfeld, keep your food out of reach of this thing.
Lastly, this one may seem like a suggestion more than a “why you should not own” but heed the warning. If you have a child under 10, this dog is not for you. Everyone has a different experience when it comes to this but in my personal experience I would not at all keep a Malinois near a child for an extended period of time. They are playful but if not given the right incentives they can snap very easily and this could be potentially harmful to a child. Luckily, I was old enough when I met mine so this was not as big of a problem for me at all but even for as playful as mine is he is still not something that I would bring around children of a certain age.
Moving away from the why and why not section, you have seen a Belgian Malinois in popular culture you just may not have realized it. In Belgium, the United States, UK, and Germany they are often more popular than their distant relation the German Shepard. They are used to sniff out crime scenes and even sometimes they have been used to plant explosives by the US Army. In 2011, a “war dog” named “Cairo” was used in the operation that killed known terrorist Osama Bin Laden. They even guard the White House. “King Tut” was Herbert Hoover’s dog and was featured in many campaign photos during his 1928 bid for President.
On television, CBS’s series Person of Interest (2011-2016) featured a Malinois named Bear who appeared frequently in the series. In The Walking Dead (2010-2020) notable character Daryl Dixon has a Malinois starting in season 9. They have also been featured in various documentaries and films, especially war movies because of their use by the military.
They have even been featured as secondary characters in novels such as Kane in the Tucker Wayne Series Also in another detective series, the Reed and Billie the title character Billie is a Belgian Malinois. Aside from these notable examples the Belgian Malinois specifically has made many cameos in police and war novels as well.
The Belgian Malinois is one of the finest breeds of dogs in the world and more notably owning one will put you into a different perspective regarding the species. With the prior knowledge that I have bestowed upon you though you should make a wise decision about owning one. I was glad with my decision but depending on the type of person you are this decision may or may not benefit you as much as it has done for me.