Belgian Shepherd Malinois
The Malinois is one of four varieties of Belgian Shepherd Dog that originated in Belgium during the 19th century. Farmers had for many years kept dogs to herd both sheep and cattle, and when these dogs were bred, only the working ability was taken into consideration, never looks, with the best workers being mated together. Over a period of time the dogs started to develop a uniform look: a long, pointed face, triangular erect ears, and a body that was square in shape.
In 1891 a club was formed called the Club du Chien de Berger Belge -the Belgian Shepherd Dog Club. A meeting was held to determine if the shepherd dogs from the different parts of Belgium could all be described as one breed; the Belgian Shepherd Dog. However it was then found that the look of the dogs differed depending on what region they had been developed in. Some had long coats, some short, some wiry, some were red or fawn and others were black.
The dogs hailing from the region of Maline were all short coated and red/fawn with black face masks, and it was decided that this variety would be known as the Belgian Shepherd Dog, Malinois variety.
The other three varieties became known as the Tervueren (longcoated and red or fawn), The Groenendael (longcoated and black) and the Laekenois (wire coat and red or fawn).
As the need for herding dogs eventually became less, the breed started to be used more for protection work, which is still its main use today.
The Malinois is smaller and lighter in build than the German Shepherd dog, with sizes normally ranging from 56 to 66 cms (22-26 ") with a weight of 20-28 kgs. They are however incredibly fast and energetic dogs. This is not a breed to be kept as pure pets, no Malinois will be happy with just a couple of short walks a day. A Malinois needs a lot of exercise, is virtually impossible to tire out, and will be happiest when he has some form of work to do.
The police use Malinois, they are also used as security and protection dogs, for ring sport like schutzhund, and they are becoming very popular in agility, fly-ball, obedience and similar. They are a natural guard dog that they will protect both their owner and their home. Despite their tough image, the Malinois is a sensitive breed which needs a lot of early socialisation to ensure they do not develop fears, and so that they get used to being friendly around strangers. The breed is very loyal and loving towards their owners but are normally wary of strangers -however this must never take the form of aggression. A Malinois cannot be trained by force, they are incredibly strong and stubborn and if forced will simply refuse to do what is asked of them. Harsh treatment will result in a nervous dog. Reward based training is therefore essential.
The Malinois is overall a very healthy breed. Epilepsy is occasionally seen in the other BSD varieties and indeed does occur in the Malinois abroad, but it is very rarely if ever seen in Malinois in the UK.Malinois should always be hip scored before being bred from, and the breed average is as low as 9. Eyes should be tested annually for hereditary cataract, which also is rare. A Malinois will frequently live into its teens and they age well, staying healthy and energetic well into the years.