Belgian Malinois is also known as a Belgian Shepherd

Did You Know Some Belgian Malinois Dogs Can Skydive!?


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Dog lovers who also happen to be fans of Channing Tatum are in luck. In Tatum’s recent film ‘Dog‘ you get the best of both because a Belgian Malinois is his co-star. But just so we’re not confused, this article is all about the Belgian Malinois breed. And not Channing Tatum. Tempting as that is…

These gorgeous and extremely talented canines are known for their exceptional physical skills. They have unique abilities that set them apart from many other breeds. For example, they can climb (well, run) up trees and can even learn to skydive!

Find out if this pooch is a good fit for your household, why it’s a military favourite and where it comes from. But first, here are some behind the scenes from the movie Dog.

History of the breed

Where did the Belgian Malinois originate from? Like many other purebred dog breeds the name gives you a clue as to the answer. This dog was first bred in Belgium, and more specifically in the city of Maline. So that’s pretty much why and how the dog got its name.

Similar to the German Shepherd, the Belgian Malinois was bred to have a great work ethic, guarding instinct and herding ability. While it shares these similarities, the Belgian Malinois is generally smaller built, with a more refined head and is also much lighter.

Why are Belgian Malinois used as police dogs?

Belgian Malinois dogs have a strong guarding instinct. Once they’re well trained and socialised they’re your protector for life.

In South Africa recently, a Belgian Malinois rescued a little girl from a hyena that grabbed and dragged her from her home! And hyenas can be feisty with their bone-crunching jaws (even lions prefer not to tackle them).

It’s this furtastic guarding capacity, awesome agility and intelligence that makes the Belgian Malinois a firm favourite with the military. In fact not only is this breed the top dog with both the military and police force, but it’s a popular search and rescue dog too.

army training presentation for school kids

Are Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds related?

It’s easy to mistake a Belgian Malinois for a German Shepherd. But are they related?

The two certainly resemble one another closely. They also tend to have careers in the same fields of work too. However, it turns out these loyal herding dogs aren’t actually related.

In fact, one of the main reasons the Belgian Malinois is selected over the German Shepherd for military operations is… It’s a better skydiver! OK, even we didn’t see that one coming. Not only can they be trained to skydive, they can also even be trained to jump alone. Which BTW is safer than tandem jumping when the dog is landing in water.

Check out this video that includes a skydiving clip with a Belgian Malinois:

Is a Belgian Malinois the same as a Belgian Shepherd?

The Belgian Malinois is sometimes also called a Belgian Shepherd. Actually, ‘Belgian Shepherd’ is an umbrella term for four related varieties of this particular breed of dog:

  • Malinois
  • Tervuren
  • Groenendael
  • Laekenois

A Belgium veterinary professor first documented their breed standards in the late 1800s. They’re all very similar with the main differences being in coat colour and texture.

Fast breed facts

The Belgian Malinois falls under the ‘working dog’ group. (Find out which dog group your favourite dog falls under in our article on dog breed exercise requirements.) Here are more fast facts about the Belgian Malinois breed in particular:

Life span12 – 15 years
Weight20-35 kg
CoatShort, flat, straight double coat
ExerciseVery high
TrainabilityVery high
Watchdog abilityVery high
A Belgian Malinois in New Zealand

Can a Belgian Malinois be a family dog?

Given the Belgian Malinois makes a great watchdog and protector, you might want one as your family pooch. They’re loyal by nature, develop strong ties to their people and are highly protective of them.

However, just like the Rottweiler and German Shepherd, it’s a dog with very high guarding instincts that needs lots of socialisation, training and playtime. It’s not a nice to have, it’s an absolute must. Without the proper training, the Belgian Malinois can become overly protective or aggressive. They may also be a little too boisterous for other pets and small children.

Have your heart set on this dog breed and you’ve kids too? Read how to introduce kids and dogs for tips.

As a working dog breed, the Belgian Malinois has great stamina. With great stamina comes great exercise needs. Think carefully about your daily grind and ensure you have adequate time and energy before investing in this bundle of joy.

If you’re away all day or you’re a couch potato, you may be happier choosing a dog with low exercise needs. Like a Pug or a Dachshund for example. All that said, Belgian Malinois make wonderful and affectionate companions for experienced dog owners.

Owner pets their Belgian Malinois

Care and health considerations

While the Belgian Malinois is very high maintenance when it comes to exercise and playtime needs, it’s very low maintenance on grooming needs. This is thanks to a waterproof coat. Give your BM a brush every week or two and a bath if they get all muddy or smelly.

Like many purebred dogs, the Belgian Malinois is more prone to certain health conditions. (Read “Are mixed breed dogs healthier than purebred dogs?” to find out why).

For example, like German Shepherds and many other bigger dog breeds, the Belgian Malinois is prone to hip dysplasia in dogs. Other common concerns to safeguard against include elbow dysplasia, epilepsy and eye problems. Find out more about epilepsy in Beagles and Belgian Malinois.

Help your Belgian Malinois avoid these health concerns with a great health plan. Give your pup plenty of exercise and training to keep him physically and mentally fit. And speak to your vet about getting the right diet. Also be sure to read these puppy healthcare milestones.

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