The Belgian Shepherd – Malinois, Purebred.

Cora de L'Enclus - September 13th 1903
Cora de L’Enclus – September 13th 1903

The shorthaired shepherd could be found in the Antwerp and Dutch border area around the early 1900’s

These dogs were primarily found at farms where they performed an important daily routine of guarding and protecting the farm, its livestock and its inhabitants of those willing to do harm. The Malinois was described by Professor Dr Reul (founder of the Club Chien du Berger Belge in 1891) as follows: They have the size of a fox or wolf, are short haired and have a fawn streamed color, their ears are admirably straight, fine and pointed, worn openly and pointing forward. Other traits are the pointed snout, the black nose, the well carried tail, worn almost straight but slightly elevated at the tip, shaped not unlike a wheat stalk in its outer appearance

In 1898. In Malines/Mechelen Belgium the Club tot Verbetering van den Kortharige Schaapshond (Club for Improvement of the Shorthaired Sheepdog)  was founded. Its purpose was to improve the types of the short haired Belgian Shepherd as it was primarily bred in the Mechelen/Malines area.

Until the year 1899 the Belgian Shepherds were subdivided in 3 groups. The long, short and rough haired varieties in which the color of the coat was of no importance. In 1899 the CLub Chien du Berger Belge took a one sided decision to divide the groups into colors without consulting with the Mechelse/Malines Club. They were divided into the following groups. Black for longhaired, pepper and salt for rough haired and lion color/fawn charbonné with black mask for the short haired. The Mechelse/Malinois club called this decision a coup of sorts because they had quite the different view and idea on the short haired shepherd.

Before anything, their dogs were to be working dogs. Not the outside of the dog was to be used as a measure but a combination of out and inside. They prefered a well trained dog that had a strong build with a smooth and smart appearance. Color was a distant second in their view since they did not want the breed to turn into a luxury dog, in which it was very likely that it would lose its unique and amazing character.


The Malinois is extremely loyal, eager to work, determined, has a sharp intelligence, is a hard dog, very attentive smart, courageous, not for the faint of heart. It will protect its family and their possessions in a very convincing way against all wanting to do harm and it is the reason that this breed has been chosen to work as a police dog in many forces in the past and continues to do so today.

A Malinois needs an extreme amount of exercise, they are filled with energy that needs to be drained constantly in order to keep the dog manageable and to ensure that the dog will not find its own energy outlet. Raising a Malinois is not an easy task and consistency is required. A black and white world with no deviation is an absolute must for this breed!  They are the ultimate working dog and have proven time and again that they do not perform well in a low activity environment. They are not to be confused with a random family pet which they will soon prove by showing their breed characteristics.

Specific traits of the Malinois:

Hair, short on the head, outside of ears and the lower limbs. Short on rest of body but fuller around the neck and tail area. At the neck the coat appears to be a fuller and forms a wide standing collar starting at the bottom of the ear and continuing down towards the throat. The back of the thighs are covered with longer fur feathering out towards the back. The tail appears like a wheat stalk but does not form a so called tail feather.

Fur colors:

Mask:  With the Malinois the mask should be very pronounced and extend to bottom and top lips, corners or mouth and eyes meaning one large black mask without fault. For the mask there are 8 very strict visible pigmentation points. Both ears, both upper eyelids and both upper and lower lips should be black.

Flame black (Charbonné) For the Malinois this means that the tips of the fur are black which give the base color a shaded look. This black color should at least be flamed en is not allowed to be visible in large blots and or streaks/stripes. Small amounts of white are allowed on the chest and or toes.


Hip and Elbow dysplasia can be found in the Malinois as well as Epilepsy.


General weight and height for a male are 30/35 Kilo – 60/66 CMs.

General weight and height for a female are 25/30 Kilo – 55/62 CMs.

The malinois does not need a lot of fur maintenance, A daily brushing during shedding season to remove loose and dead hairs is a must but apart from that there is not much need for anything else. If working your Malinois on grassy or soft areas only then it is wise to keep an eye on the nails to ensure they do not grow too long.

Raising your Malinois:
The Malinois is a quick and eager student willing to learn. Raising a Malinois would normally not be a problem as long as the dog is raised in a consistent manner. The Malinois is known to have a strong character and therefore needs an owner willing to provide the dog with a job or task. If the dog is not provided with a job or task he will start to feel unhappy and will start to show inappropriate behaviour.

As a pup the Malinois is in need of a good and strong socialisation in which it is introduced to different situations, people, animals and areas. This will build a good character in the dog and ensure less problems in the dogs future. The Malinois is good with children but should always be supervised since even the sweetest and nicest dog will at some point react if it has had enough. (children can pull ears, poke eyes, take away toys etc etc…)

Friends and Family will be greeted enthusiastically but do not take this for granted. The Malinois, in its very heart and nature is a guardian and protector of its family and will act according to what the Malinois deems fit in whatever situation.

The Malinois is most suited for any kind of dog sport or working dog venue like Obedience, Bitework, Protection, Flyball, etc etc …. They enjoy participating in these venues immensely due to their high need of both  physical and mental stimulation. A rule of thumb is: A bored Malinois is not a happy Malinois and will occupy itself to relieve its boredom by showing unwanted behaviour and or redecorating your favorite living area.

Regards, Alice Mackenzie.


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