The Belgian Malinois is one of the most loyal, hardworking breeds there is. They're often confused with German Shepherd Dogs, which are bigger and heavier boned than the Malinois. Malinois also have their own unique work ethic, and they excel at a wide variety of tasks. Here are more interesting facts about the Belgian Malinois:
1. They Were Named for a Belgian City
The Belgian Malinois (pronounced "mal-in-wa") was developed in the Belgian city of Malines and was thus named for its birthplace.
2. They Were Bred to Be Herding Dogs
The Belgian Malinois is actually one of four breeds of Belgian sheepdogs that were all bred for herding and were developed in different parts of the country. Over the last century, the Mals have expanded their resume far beyond herding and have proven themselves to be extremely versatile.
3. They Have Long Worked With Police Officers
In the January 1908 issue of the AKC Gazette, there was a small notice that five Belgian Sheepdogs had been added to the New York City police force. The breed was relatively new to the United States at the time, and this was the first time the AKC had ever mentioned them. Today, the Belgian Malinois is one of the top breeds chosen by police departments around the country.
4. They Served in World War I
The Belgian Malinois started its military career during World War I, when they served as messengers, and assistants to the Red Cross. According to some accounts, they also pulled ambulance carts and carts carrying firearms.
5. They Work With Navy SEALS
Today, Mals are incredibly important members of the U.S. military. Most of the dogs that work with the elite Navy SEALS are Mals, including Cairo, the brave canine that helped SEAL Team 6 take down Osama bin Laden in 2011. SEAL dogs like Cairo are given their own special body armor and even get their own night-vision goggles.
6. They Skydive
One of the reasons Belgian Malinois are favored over German Shepherds for many military operations is that Malinois are better skydivers. Malinois are lighter than German Shepherds, so it's easier for military parachutists to do tandem jumps with their dogs strapped to them. Mals can even be trained to jump on their own, which is safer for the dogs when they land in water.
7. Eva Mendes Has a Malinois
Actress Eva Mendes depended on her Belgian Malinois, Hugo, to keep her feeling safe and secure when she had to get a restraining order against a stalker in 2011. Malinois are extremely protective and make excellent guard dogs.