Search Menu
  • Temperament: Confident, Smart, Hardworking
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 47 of 194
  • Height: 24-26 inches (male), 22-24 inches (female)
  • Weight: 60-80 pounds (male), 40-60 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 14-16 years
  • Group: Herding Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Belgian Malinois standing in three-quarter view
Belgian Malinois head facing left
Belgian Malinois sitting in three-quarter view
Belgian Malinois coat detail
Belgian Malinois

Find a Puppy: Belgian Malinois

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Belgian Malinois Puppies

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Belgian Malinois is a well balanced, square dog, elegant in appearance with an exceedingly proud carriage of the head and neck. The dog is strong, agile, well muscled, alert, and full of life. He stands squarely on all fours and viewed from the side, the topline, forelegs, and hind legs closely approximate a square. The whole conformation gives the impression of depth and solidity without bulkiness. The male is usually somewhat more impressive and grand than his female counterpart, which has a distinctly feminine look.

HEAD

The head is clean-cut and strong without heaviness; overall size is in proportion to the body. The expression should indicate alertness, attention and readiness for activity, and the gaze is intelligent and questioning. The eyes are brown, preferably dark brown, medium size, slightly almond shaped, not protruding. Eye rims are black. The ears approach the shape of an equilateral triangle and are stiff, erect, and in proportion to the head in size. The outer corner of the ear should not come below the center of the eye. Ears hanging as on a hound, or semi-prick ears are disqualifications.

BODY

The neck is round and of sufficient length to permit the proud carriage of the head. It should taper from the body to the head. The topline is generally level. The withers are slightly higher and slope into the back which must be level, straight and firm from withers to hip joint. The croup is medium long, sloping gradually. The body should give the impression of power without bulkiness. The chest is not broad but is deep with the lowest point reaching the elbow. The underline forms a smooth ascendant curve from the lowest point of the chest to the abdomen. The abdomen is moderately developed, neither tucked up nor paunchy. The loin section, viewed from above, is relatively short, broad and strong, and blends smoothly into the back. The tail is strong at the base, the bone reaching to the hock. In action it is raised with a curve, which is strongest towards the tip, without forming a hook. A cropped or stumped tail is a disqualification.

FOREQUARTERS

The forequarters are muscular without excessive bulkiness. The shoulder is long and oblique, laid flat against the body, forming a sharp angle with the upper arm. The legs are straight, strong, and parallel to each other. The bone is oval rather than round. Length and substance are well in proportion to the size of the dog. The pastern is of medium length, strong, and very slightly sloped. Dewclaws may be removed. The feet are round (cat footed) and well padded with the toes curved close together. The nails are strong and black except that they may be white to match white toe tips.

COAT

The coat should be comparatively short, straight, hard enough to be weather resistant, with dense undercoat. It should be very short on the head, ears, and lower legs. The hair is somewhat longer around the neck where it forms a collarette, and on the tail and backs of the thighs. The coat should conform to the body without standing out or hanging down.

HINDQUARTERS

Angulation of the hindquarters is in balance with the forequarters; the angle at the hock is relatively sharp, although the Belgian Malinois should not have extreme angulation. The upper and lower thigh bones should approximately parallel the shoulder blade and upper arm respectively. The legs are in proportion to the size of the dog; oval bone rather than round. Legs are parallel to each other. The thighs should be well muscled. Dewclaws, if any, should be removed. Metatarsi are of medium length, strong, and slightly sloped. The hind feet may be slightly elongated, with toes curved close together and well padded. Nails are strong and black except that they may be white to match white toe tips.

1
2
3
4
5
6
belgian malinois illustration

About the Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois are squarely built, proud, and alert herders standing 22 to 26 inches. Strong and well-muscled, but more elegant than bulky, there’s an honest, no-frills look about them, as befit dogs built to work hard for their feed. A breed hallmark is the proud carriage of the head. Coat colors range from a rich fawn to mahogany. The black ears and mask accentuate bright, questioning eyes the color of dark Belgian chocolate.

If you have ever seen a Mal perform an obedience routine, you know firsthand what a smart and eager breed this is. Problems set in, though, when this people-oriented dog is underemployed and neglected. Exercise, and plenty of it, preferably side by side with their adored owner, is key to Mal happiness.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Belgian Malinois

Find a Puppy: Belgian Malinois

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Belgian Malinois Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Belgian Malinois should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

The short, waterproof coat of the Malinois is quite easy to take care of. Occasional brushing with a medium-bristle brush, a rubber grooming mitt or tool, or a hound glove will keep the dog looking his best, and promotes new hair growth and distributes skin oils throughout the coat as well. Malinois do shed twice a year; during these periods, a daily once-over with a slicker brush will help to remove the loose hair. As with all breeds, the nails should be trimmed regularly, as overly long nails can cause the dog pain as well as problems walking and running.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

Highly intelligent, athletic, and muscular, and exceedingly devoted, the Malinois need to be actively engaged with his owner, both mentally and physically. This is not a dog who can be left in the backyard, and daily walks are not enough, either. Exercise, and plenty of it, preferably side by side with his owner, is paramount to the breed’s happiness. To deprive a Malinois of activity and human companionship is to deprive him of his very reasons for being. Malinois make great running, hiking, and biking companions, and they excel at agility, tracking, herding, obedience, and Schutzhund (protection) competitions.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Energetic

TRAINING

Like most herding breeds, Malinois have a high prey drive and are strongly interested in moving objects. This trait can lead to chasing children, vehicles, or other animals and so should be directed into acceptable activities through training. Early socialization and obedience training are musts.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Easy Training

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Reserved with Strangers

HEALTH

The Malinois is generally a healthy breed, and a responsible breeder will screen breeding stock for health conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia and certain eye problems. As with all breeds, the ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed frequently.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Belgian Malinois
Belgian Malinois
Belgian Malinois
Belgian Malinois
Belgian Malinois
Belgian Malinois

History

The Belgian Malinois (MAL-in-wah), first bred around the city of Malines in the northwestern region of Belgium, are one of four closely related breeds of Belgian herding dogs. In some countries, the Malinois is classified together with the Tervuren, Laekenois, and Belgian Shepherd (aka Groenendael) as a single breed collectively known as the Belgian Sheepdog. In America, the Malinois has been registered as a separate breed since 1959. He bears a passing resemblance to the German Shepherd Dog but has a different head, and is leggier and finer boned, than his better-known German counterpart.

Mals have long been acknowledged as a peerless livestock herder in their native land. They were first bred by serious dog people who were primarily concerned with producing dogs of sterling working character and who spurned passing fads and fancies of pet owners. This emphasis on performance made the Mal the go-to dog for Belgian sheepherders and cattlemen.

It was in 1911 that Mals were first brought to America. They flourished here until the outbreak of World War II put an end to the importation of European breeding stock. The breed languished in the postwar years until the early 1960s, when the Mal’s admirers began the process of replenishing its American population.

Mals are still prized as herders of all kinds of stock, but their versatility and high work-drive have opened careers in many other occupations and activities. They are highly sought after as police and military K-9s. They have served with such distinction that the Fayetteville, North Carolina, memorial to military dogs features a life-size bronze of a Belgian Malinois.

Did You Know?

The Malinois is one of four types of Belgian sheepherding dogs registered in Belgium and France as the Chien de Berger Belge.
The Malinois shares a common foundation with the Belgian Sheepdog and the Belgian Tervuren.
The Malinois was bred basically around the city of Malines from whence the name is derived.
In Europe and other countries besides the US, the Belgian breeds (including the Malinois) share a common standard.
The Malinois is historically a herding dog and protector of farm and family, qualities that make him equally important to his owners today.
In the twenty-first century, the breed has proven invaluable to the military. Cairo, a Belgian Malinois, a member of Seal Team Six, played a critical role in the 2011 raid that took down the world’s most notorious terrorist, Osama Bin Laden.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Belgian Malinois is a well balanced, square dog, elegant in appearance with an exceedingly proud carriage of the head and neck. The dog is strong, agile, well muscled, alert, and full of life. He stands squarely on all fours and viewed from the side, the topline, forelegs, and hind legs closely approximate a square. The whole conformation gives the impression of depth and solidity without bulkiness. The male is usually somewhat more impressive and grand than his female counterpart, which has a distinctly feminine look.

HEAD

The head is clean-cut and strong without heaviness; overall size is in proportion to the body. The expression should indicate alertness, attention and readiness for activity, and the gaze is intelligent and questioning. The eyes are brown, preferably dark brown, medium size, slightly almond shaped, not protruding. Eye rims are black. The ears approach the shape of an equilateral triangle and are stiff, erect, and in proportion to the head in size. The outer corner of the ear should not come below the center of the eye. Ears hanging as on a hound, or semi-prick ears are disqualifications.

BODY

The neck is round and of sufficient length to permit the proud carriage of the head. It should taper from the body to the head. The topline is generally level. The withers are slightly higher and slope into the back which must be level, straight and firm from withers to hip joint. The croup is medium long, sloping gradually. The body should give the impression of power without bulkiness. The chest is not broad but is deep with the lowest point reaching the elbow. The underline forms a smooth ascendant curve from the lowest point of the chest to the abdomen. The abdomen is moderately developed, neither tucked up nor paunchy. The loin section, viewed from above, is relatively short, broad and strong, and blends smoothly into the back. The tail is strong at the base, the bone reaching to the hock. In action it is raised with a curve, which is strongest towards the tip, without forming a hook. A cropped or stumped tail is a disqualification.

FOREQUARTERS

The forequarters are muscular without excessive bulkiness. The shoulder is long and oblique, laid flat against the body, forming a sharp angle with the upper arm. The legs are straight, strong, and parallel to each other. The bone is oval rather than round. Length and substance are well in proportion to the size of the dog. The pastern is of medium length, strong, and very slightly sloped. Dewclaws may be removed. The feet are round (cat footed) and well padded with the toes curved close together. The nails are strong and black except that they may be white to match white toe tips.

COAT

The coat should be comparatively short, straight, hard enough to be weather resistant, with dense undercoat. It should be very short on the head, ears, and lower legs. The hair is somewhat longer around the neck where it forms a collarette, and on the tail and backs of the thighs. The coat should conform to the body without standing out or hanging down.

HINDQUARTERS

Angulation of the hindquarters is in balance with the forequarters; the angle at the hock is relatively sharp, although the Belgian Malinois should not have extreme angulation. The upper and lower thigh bones should approximately parallel the shoulder blade and upper arm respectively. The legs are in proportion to the size of the dog; oval bone rather than round. Legs are parallel to each other. The thighs should be well muscled. Dewclaws, if any, should be removed. Metatarsi are of medium length, strong, and slightly sloped. The hind feet may be slightly elongated, with toes curved close together and well padded. Nails are strong and black except that they may be white to match white toe tips.

1
2
3
4
5
6
belgian malinois illustration

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Fawn Check Mark For Standard Color 082
Fawn Sable Check Mark For Standard Color 338
Mahogany Check Mark For Standard Color 128
Red Check Mark For Standard Color 140
Red Sable Check Mark For Standard Color 155
Black 007
Brindle 057
Cream 076
Cream Sable 348
Gray 100
Gray Sable 339
Liver 123

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Black Mask Check Mark For Standard Mark 004

Other Breeds to Explore

TOP