Belgian Malinois: Complete Owners Care Guide

The Belgian Malinois is an exceptional dog breed that has captured the hearts of dog lovers around the world. With its distinctive features and unique characteristics, the Belgian Malinois stands out among dog breeds.

In this comprehensive guide, we will dive deep into the fascinating world of the Belgian Malinois, from its breed information to essential care tips, explaining in depth:

  • Belgian Malinois history
  • Belgian Malinois characteristics
  • Male vs Female Belgian Malinois
  • Belgian Malinois colors
  • Belgian Malinois temperament
  • Belgian Malinois health issues
  • Belgian Malinois lifespan 
  • Belgian Malinois care
  • Belgian Malinois price
  • Belgian Malinois pros and cons

This guide centralizes all the resources needed to learn more about the Belgian Malinois dog breed, ownership and how to properly care for them from diet requirements, exercise,training, grooming, Belgian Malinois breeders, where to find Belgian Malinois puppies for sale, where to find Belgian Malinois for adoption, Belgian Malinois pet insurance and know whether a Belgian Malinois is the right dog for you.

Whether you’re an enthusiast, a new Belgian Malinois owner, or a seasoned owner, this comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge you need.

So, let’s roll up our sleeves and embark on this journey to understand the Belgian Malinois dog breed and discover what makes this breed truly exceptional and whether it’s the best dog breed for you.

Quick Belgian Malinois Facts


Working breed


22 to 26 inches (male) 20 to 24 inches (female)


60 to 80 pounds (male) 40 to 60 pounds (female) 


Short double coat

Coat color

Various colors, often tan with a black mask


Intelligent, alert, protective, energetic


Moderate to heavy shedder


Quick learner, highly trainable


10 to 14 years


$1,000 – $2,500

Belgian Malinois History

Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois is a breed of dog with a rich and storied history that traces its roots back to Belgium. 

The breed is one of the four Belgian Shepherd breeds, each named after a different Belgian region. The Malinois, named after the city of Malines, is renowned for its exceptional working abilities. 

Developed in the late 19th century, the breed was initially used as a herding dog for livestock, particularly sheep. However, as the world entered the 20th century, the Belgian Malinois began to excel in various roles beyond herding.

During World War I and World War II, the Belgian Malinois proved to be an invaluable asset to the Belgian army. Their intelligence, agility, and unwavering loyalty made them ideal messenger dogs, sentry dogs, and even Red Cross search and rescue dogs.

After the wars, their reputation as dependable working dogs continued to grow, and they became popular choices for police and military roles worldwide.

In addition to their military and police service, Belgian Malinois have also made their mark in other areas, such as search and rescue operations, detection work, and as loyal family companions. 

Their versatility and adaptability have earned them recognition and admiration in the canine world. 

Today, the Belgian Malinois is celebrated for its intelligence, athleticism, and unwavering dedication, making it a sought-after breed for those in need of a loyal and capable working partner or a loving family pet.

Belgian Malinois Appearance

Physical Features

The Belgian Malinois is a striking and athletic breed known for its elegant yet robust physical appearance. 

They are a medium-sized dog with a well-proportioned, agile build. Their head is typically in proportion to the body, adorned with alert, almond-shaped eyes that are dark brown in color, exuding intelligence and attentiveness. 

The Malinois has a strong, well-defined muzzle with a black nose and well-developed jaws. Their ears are erect and triangular, adding to their alert and focused expression.

Moving down the body, the Malinois has a muscular neck that gracefully transitions into a deep, well-sprung chest. 

Their back is strong and straight, leading to a slightly curved and muscular loin. The breed’s tail is set high and tapers to a fine point, typically reaching the hock when extended. 

Belgian Malinois have straight, sturdy legs with well-arched toes and strong, black nails.

One of the most distinctive features of the Malinois is its short, dense double coat. The outer coat is straight and firm, providing protection and insulation, while the undercoat is dense and soft. 

Common coat colors include various shades of fawn with a black mask, and sometimes a small white spot on the chest or toes. 

Their coat is designed to be weather-resistant and durable, suitable for their history of working in various outdoor environments.

The Belgian Malinois presents a picture of grace, strength, and agility. Their physical attributes are finely tuned for the breed’s history as a working dog, and their striking appearance reflects their intelligence, alertness, and readiness for action.

Male vs Female Belgian Malinois: Belgian Malinois size and weight

The Belgian Malinois is characterized by their large size and muscled body. They are truly massive dogs.

The male Belgian Malinois are slightly taller and heavier than the female Belgian Malinois.

Adult male Belgian Malinois stand between 24 to 26 inches (61 to 66 centimeters) at the shoulder with an average weight of 60 to 80 pounds (27 to 36 kilograms) while the adult female Belgian Malinois stands at 22 to 24 inches (56 to 61 centimeters) with a weight of 40 to 60 pounds (18 to 27 kilograms). 

Belgian Malinois Colors

Belgian Malinois coat colors are relatively limited but distinct. The breed is known for its characteristic coat coloration, which primarily consists of various shades of fawn with a black mask. 

The fawn can vary from a rich mahogany to a lighter, tawny color. This primary fawn color covers most of the dog’s body, including the legs and chest.

The most striking and defining feature of the Belgian Malinois coat is the black mask, which typically extends over the dog’s muzzle, giving them an alert and distinctive appearance. This black mask contrasts sharply with the fawn fur and highlights their expressive eyes.

The American Kennel Club’s official breed standard for the Belgian Malinois describes the  following acceptable coat colors:

  • Fawn
  • Fawn Sable
  • Mahogany
  • Red
  • Red Sable
  • Black 
  • Brindle
  • Cream
  • Cream Sable
  • Blue or Gray
  • Gray Sable
  • Liver

Belgian Malinois Temperament

The Belgian Malinois is known for its intelligent, alert, and highly active temperament. This breed is renowned for its unwavering loyalty and strong work ethic. 

Malinois are often described as confident and protective, making them excellent choices for various working roles, including police work, search and rescue, and military service.

Their intelligence and eagerness to please make them quick learners, and they excel in obedience training and agility activities. 

However, it’s important to note that their high intelligence also means they require mental stimulation and regular exercise to prevent boredom and potentially destructive behavior.

Belgian Malinois are typically good with their families and can be affectionate and friendly. They tend to be reserved and may be cautious around strangers, which makes them excellent watchdogs. 

Socialization from a young age is important to ensure they remain well-adjusted and comfortable in various social situations.

Due to their strong protective instincts, Belgian Malinois can be territorial and may need early training and socialization to ensure they don’t become overly aggressive or overly protective. 

Also, their high energy levels mean they require plenty of physical activity and mental challenges to stay happy and well-behaved.

Overall, Belgian Malinois are intelligent, loyal, and protective dogs with a strong work ethic. While they make excellent working dogs and loyal family companions, they require active, engaged owners who can meet their physical and mental needs to ensure a well-balanced and contented Malinois.

Belgian Malinois Health Issues

Generally, the Belgian Malinois is a healthy dog breed, however, they are susceptible to the breed’s specific health problems and conditions that affect large breed dogs.

These health conditions include:

  • Hip Dysplasia: This hereditary condition occurs when the hip joint doesn’t develop correctly, leading to arthritis and mobility problems. Regular screening and responsible breeding practices can help reduce the risk.
  • Elbow Dysplasia: Similar to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia involves improper development of the elbow joint, potentially leading to lameness and discomfort.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is a group of genetic eye disorders that can lead to blindness. Responsible breeders test for this condition to minimize its occurrence in Malinois.
  • Cataracts: Belgian Malinois can develop cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s lens, which may impair vision. Regular eye exams can help detect and manage this issue.
  • Epilepsy: Some Malinois may be prone to epilepsy, a neurological disorder that can result in seizures. Medication can often control seizures in affected dogs.
  • Bloat (Gastric Torsion): This life-threatening condition involves the twisting of the stomach, which can cut off blood flow and lead to rapid deterioration. Malinois owners should be aware of the symptoms and take preventive measures, such as feeding smaller meals and avoiding strenuous exercise after meals.
  • Allergies: Like many breeds, Belgian Malinois can be prone to allergies, including food allergies and environmental sensitivities. Skin issues and digestive problems may arise as a result.

To ensure the best possible health for your Belgian Malinois, it’s important to choose a reputable breeder who conducts health screenings on their breeding dogs. 

Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and a safe and loving environment are also essential for maintaining their well-being.

Belgian Malinois Lifespan

The Belgian Malinois’s lifespan is 10 to 14 years. Although long, this lifespan is shorter compared to small breed dogs which have a longer life expectancy compared to large breed dogs. 

Belgian Malinois Care

Belgian Malinois diet requirements

Belgian Malinois grow rapidly and require a nutritiously balanced diet for large-giant breed dogs, for healthy growth and prevention of developmental problems.

The basic essential nutrients of the Belgian Malinois diet should have water, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

Belgian Malinois supplements are also essential to promote bone and joint health. These are glucosamine and chondroitin supplements.

Probiotics and prebiotics in the diet support gut health.

The amount of food depends on a Belgian Malinois’s age, size, level of activity, and health. 

All Belgian Malinois at all stages of life should not be fed one meal per day because this increases the risk of the development of bloat which is life-threatening to the breed.

Belgian Malinois puppies grow rapidly and a proper diet regulates this growth so that they do not develop bone and joint health problems as they grow.

The Belgian Malinois puppy diet should therefore contain high-quality large-giant breed puppy dog food which is formulated with the right proportion of nutrients that regulates the rate of growth and supports healthy development. 

Also always provide access to fresh, clean water for your Belgian Malinois. Proper hydration is vital for their overall health.

Some Belgian Malinois may have allergies or food sensitivities, so be attentive to any signs of digestive upset or skin issues. If you suspect food-related allergies, consult your veterinarian for guidance on switching to a hypoallergenic or limited-ingredient diet.

Read more: Belgian Malinois sensitive stomach: Causes and how to help

A discussion of the Belgian Malinois dog food should always be done with a veterinarian, who will guide on a dog’s specific needs and diet requirements.


Belgian Malinois are a highly active and energetic breed that thrives on exercise and mental stimulation. Daily exercise is not just a preference for them; it’s a necessity. 

These dogs were originally bred for herding and later excelled in various working roles, so they have a strong work ethic and require regular physical and mental challenges to stay happy and well-behaved.

Aim for at least an hour of vigorous exercise each day, which can include activities such as brisk walks, jogging, hiking, agility training, and interactive play sessions. 

Malinois also thrive on tasks that engage their intelligence, like obedience training, puzzle toys, and fetch games. They enjoy having a job to do, so consider involving them in dog sports or training activities.

Early socialization is important for Belgian Malinois to ensure they are well-behaved and comfortable around other dogs, pets and people.

Regular exposure to different environments, people, and other animals helps them become well-adjusted dogs.

As Belgian Malinois age, their exercise needs may change and this requires adjustment of their activity level to accommodate any mobility issues or arthritis that may develop in their senior years.

Belgian Malinois training

Training a Belgian Malinois is an important aspect of owning this powerful and intelligent breed. Proper training is essential to ensure they become well-behaved, obedient, and well-adjusted companions.

This includes socializing your Belgian Malinois. Socializing your Belgian Malinois puppy should start as early as possible. 

This is done by exposing them to various people, animals, and environments to help them become confident and comfortable in different situations. 

Early socialization can prevent behavioral issues later in life.

The use of positive reinforcement training methods, such as treats, praise, and toys, to reward desired behaviors helps to reinforce good behavior. Belgian Malinois respond well to positive reinforcement and tend to be eager to please.

Consistency in training is important. Establishment of clear rules and boundaries for your Belgian Malinois and ensuring that all family members enforce them consistently is essential. Inconsistent training can confuse your dog.

Obedience Training: Basic obedience training is essential. Teach commands like sit, stay, come, and heel. Obedience training provides structure and helps establish you as the pack leader.

Proper leash training is essential for this breed due to their size and strength. They can be strong pullers, so teaching them to walk on a loose leash is important for both their safety and the handler’s control.

Teaching them to walk on a loose leash and respond to commands while on a leash is important.

When engaging in off-leash play, it is essential to supervise your Belgian Malinois, especially if they are interacting with other dogs. Their protective instincts can sometimes lead to conflicts with unfamiliar dogs.

Seeking the assistance of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist with experience in working with the Belgian Malinois is important to prevent behavioral issues.



Grooming a Belgian Malinois primarily focuses on maintaining their coat, cleaning their ears, trimming their nails, and providing general hygiene care. Belgian Malinois grooming is not difficult. 

Despite their short coat, regular brushing can help remove loose hair, dirt, and debris. Use a bristle brush or a grooming glove to keep their coat in good condition and minimize shedding. 

During shedding seasons, you may need to brush more frequently to manage the increased hair loss.

Bathing is only required once a month (4 – 6 weeks), depending on their level of activity and how often they get dirty. The use of a mild dog shampoo is needed to avoid stripping their skin of natural oils is necessary. 

The teeth should be brushed two to three times a week and the nails trimmed once a month. The ears must also be checked weekly with cleaning once a month and properly dried after each bath. 

Cleaning of  a Belgian Malinois’s ears should be done regularly to prevent wax buildup and infection. A dog ear cleaner and a soft, damp cloth or cotton ball should be used and proper cleaning is done by gently inside of the ear flap and the visible parts of the ear canal.

Regular nail trimming is important in preventing overgrown nails that can cause discomfort and affect a Belgian Malinois’s gait. 

Brushing of a Belgian Malinois’s teeth regularly is essential. This is done by use of a dog toothbrush and dog toothpaste. Dental chews and toys can also help maintain oral hygiene.

Regular checking of your dog’s eyes regularly for any signs of redness, discharge, or irritation is required. The use of a damp cloth to gently wipe away any debris from the corners of their eyes is done to keep the eyes clean.

Keeping an eye on your Belgian Malinois’s skin for any signs of irritation, hot spots, or allergies is also part f keepeing their skin healthy. Appearance of any issues requires consultation with your veterinarian for appropriate treatment.

Ensuring that your Belgian Malinois’s genital and anal areas are clean is also important. If needed, gentle cleaning of these areas with a damp cloth should be done to prevent discomfort or infections.

Belgian Malinois Price: How much is a Belgian Malinois?

The average Belgian Malinois price is between $1,000 to $2,500 for a Belgian Malinois puppy from a reputable breeder.

However, prices can go higher for puppies from champion bloodlines, with exceptional working abilities, or those intended for show or breeding purposes, the breeder’s reputation, and their location.  

Well-established and reputable breeders who focus on producing healthy, well-tempered Belgian Malinois tend to charge higher prices for their puppies. Also, some coat colors and markings are rarer and may be priced higher.

Belgian Malinois puppies are generally more expensive than an adult or older Belgian Malinois. 

It is important to do thorough research, choose a reputable breeder, and ensure that the puppy you are considering comes from a responsible breeding program with a focus on the health and well-being of the dogs. 

Avoid purchasing puppies from puppy mills or unscrupulous sources, as they may offer lower prices but often lack proper care and breeding standards. 

Also, consider adoption from a rescue organization, which can be a more cost-effective option while giving a loving home to a Belgian Malinois in need.

Where to find Belgian Malinois puppies for sale

Belgian Malinois puppies can be purchased from Belgian Malinois breeders. Professional Belgian Malinois breeders who practice ethical breeding produce healthy puppies.

Breeders provide the health history and certificates of their puppies which confirms the health status of a puppy before purchase. 

Approved and certified Belgian Malinois breeders can be found on the American Kennel Club’s marketplace.

The Belgian Malinois breeders include:

Where to find Belgian Malinois for adoption

Belgian Malinois for adoption are available at Belgian Malinois rescue groups or centers. Belgian Malinois rescues help to rehome Belgian Malinois that need forever homes and provide assistance in getting a Belgian Malinois.

When you obtain a Belgian Malinois from a rescue center, ensure that they go through health checks to know their health status.

Belgian Malinois rescues in the United States include:

Belgian Malinois Pet Insurance: Should I get one?

Belgian Malinois pet insurance is a health insurance policy for Belgian Malinois that pays for medical expenses for your pet.

Unexpected illnesses or injuries can occur and large veterinarian bills can be emotionally and financially stressful. 

Getting medical cover is a way to guard yourself against this which also ensures your Belgian Malinois’s health care needs are met. Therefore it is important to have health insurance for your dog.

Belgian Malinois pet insurance costs on average $ 53 – $ 90 per month. The cost depends on the age of a Belgian Malinois and the type of cover.

Belgian Malinois Pros and Cons

While the Belgian Malinois has many positive traits, they are not the right breed for everyone. Potential owners should carefully consider their ability to meet the breed’s exercise, training, and socialization needs and be prepared for the responsibility of caring for a powerful and protective dog. 

Choosing a responsible breeder or considering adoption from a rescue organization is also important in ensuring the health and temperament of your dog.

Pros and cons of the Belgian Malinois to consider include:



Intelligent and Highly Trainable

High Energy Level

Loyal and Protective

Requires Extensive Exercise

Excellent Working and Utility Dog

May Not Be Ideal for Inactive Owners

Versatile in Various Roles

Can Be Reserved or Suspicious of Strangers

Strong Work Ethic

Prone to Separation Anxiety

Athletic and Agile

Needs Mental Stimulation

Low Grooming Needs

Intense Shedding Seasonally

Good Health and Longevity (if well cared for)

May Have Specific Health Concerns

Great Companionship for Active Individuals

Not Ideal for Apartment Living

Belgian Malinois are incredibly loyal and intelligent dogs that excel in various roles, including police work, search and rescue, and as loyal family companions. 

Their versatility, protective instincts, and strong work ethic make them a favorite among working dog enthusiasts. However, their high energy levels and need for extensive exercise and mental stimulation can be challenging for less active owners or those living in smaller spaces. 

They have specific health concerns, and their intense shedding during certain seasons requires regular grooming and cleaning.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of home is best for a Belgian Malinois?

The Belgian Malinois are extremely energetic dogs that require regular exercise and mental stimulation. The best home for a Belgian Malinois is one that offers an active lifestyle, such as one with individuals who enjoy jogging, hiking, or engaging in dog sports like agility or obedience, is ideal. They thrive when they have a job to do or tasks that engage their intelligence.

Are Belgian Malinois good with kids?

Belgian Malinois can be good with children when they are properly socialized, trained, and raised in a positive and loving environment. They have a natural protective instinct, which can make them watchful over their family, including children.

Are Belgian Malinois Good with other dogs?

Belgian Malinois can get along well with other dogs, but their compatibility with other dogs often depends on factors such as socialization, training, and individual temperament. 

Are Belgian Malinois hypoallergenic?

No, Belgian Malinois are not hypoallergenic. Belgian Malinois shed dander and can produce allergenic proteins. While individual dogs may vary in the amount of allergens they produce, the breed as a whole is not classified as hypoallergenic. If you have allergies to dogs, it is essential to spend time with a Belgian Malinois to see how you personally react before bringing one into your home. Regular grooming and cleaning can help reduce allergen levels in your living environment.

Is the Belgian Malinois a good guard dog?

Yes, the Belgian Malinois is renowned for its natural guarding and protective instincts, making it an excellent guard dog. Their loyalty, courage, and protective nature make them well-suited for the role of a guard dog and protector of their family and property. 

Summary: Is a Belgian Malinois the right dog for you?

A Belgian Malinois can be an excellent addition to the right home, but it’s important to carefully consider whether this breed is the right fit for you and your lifestyle.

If you’re considering a Belgian Malinois, it’s important to be honest about your ability to meet their exercise and training needs. 

They are best suited for experienced dog owners who can provide an active and structured environment. 

If you have the time, dedication, and experience to invest in their training and exercise, a Belgian Malinois can be a loyal and capable companion in various roles, whether as a family dog, working dog, or guard dog. 

However, if you’re unable to commit to their needs, it may be better to explore other dog breeds that are a better match for your lifestyle.