Belgian Malinois Breed Information Guide: Photos, Traits, & Care

Written by: BARK

September 13, 2022

Powerful and proud, the Belgian Malinois is a hard-working dog breed known for its boundless energy. These pups are highly protective of their families and eager to show their love. Hailing from—you guessed it—Belgium, you can expect a sturdy, muscular dog breed, easily identified by their cute pointy ears, triangular head, and muscular haunches.

belgian malinois in a field

One of four different Belgian shepherd breeds, the Malinois has a yellowish, short-haired coat with a dark-colored muzzle. Highly intelligent and trainable, Malinois crave plenty of action and are happiest when they have space to run and play to their heart’s content—and, because of their herding origins, when given plenty to do (even if it has nothing to do with the flock). Energetic companions, thoughtful protectors, and just plain good dogs, Belgian Malinois have an outstanding reputation in the canine community.

Breed Overview

  • Height: 22–26 inches
  • Weight: 40–80 lbs
  • Lifespan: 10–14 years
  • Breed Size: Medium–Large
  • Colors: Fawn, mahogany, red, black.
  • Good With: Kids, other dogs, cats
  • Temperament: Confident, protective, loyal

Also Known As…

Mals, Malis, Maligators. Belgian Sheepdogs. Chien de Berger Belge, in their home country. It just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

What Is The History Of The Belgian Malinois?

Belgium may be best known for its beers, chocolate, and majestic castles, but this working dog breed is one of its most impressive exports. In the late 1800s, Belgian breeders were working on perfecting a breed to meet the needs of shepherds. The Belgian Shepherd Dog Club (Club du Chien de Berger Belge) was founded in 1891 with a mission to identify the country’s varieties of shepherd dogs.1 Breeders and fanciers met to pin down the specifics of the breed and share their findings throughout the various provinces of Belgium. After defining the various physical characteristics of the breed—body type, size, and ear shape—the work began to properly categorize the four native types of Belgian shepherds.

The Malinois breed, in particular, can be traced back to Belgian breeder Adrien Janssens and his shepherd dog Vos I. Janssens’s dog is considered the primary ancestor of the breed, but it wasn’t until the formation of the Malines Club in the city of Malines, Belgium that the breed became cemented in Belgian hearts, minds, and homesteads.

Over the course of the 20th century, the breed left the farm. While they remained trusted sheepdogs, they found new occupations as police and military dogs. They became battlefield heroes of World War I, serving as messengers and working as cart dogs for ambulances and artillery. Following the war, Malinois were exported throughout the world, finding new homes in Europe, the United States, and South America.

In 1992, the American Belgian Malinois Club received AKC parent club status, further establishing the breed, though they’d already won the hearts and minds of American families.2 Today, the breed continues to impress—not only as personal companions but also as specially trained dogs for the US military, Secret service, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies. Few dog breeds have the courage and valor that Malinois has displayed for more than 100 years.

police dog belgian malinois

How Big Do Belgian Malinois Get?

Height: 22–26 inches

Weight: 40–80 pounds

How Long Do Belgian Malinois (Generally) Live?

Belgian Malinois are a particularly hardy breed and tend to live for 10–14 years.

What Is A Belgian Malinois’ Temperament & Personality Like?

This breed exudes confidence. Whip-smart and highly sensitive, Belgian Malinois are rarely shy or aggressive. They’re friendly and sweet around their families, though they may be a little wary of strangers because of their protective nature. Most importantly, they’re supportive, sweet, and loyal.

Are Belgian Malinois Good With Kids? Cats? Dogs?

Through and through, you’ve found a fierce familial protector. With proper training, Belgian Malinois are fantastic around children and other dogs  such as German shepherds, huskies, or border collies.. Because of their heritage of sheep herding, they’re naturally inclined to watch over your entire family—cats, dogs, and kiddos included.

As with any dog, show young children the proper way to handle and care for your Malinois and supervise them while they get to know each other. Likewise, introduce your Belgian Malinois dog to your other pets in a controlled environment, ideally at an early age.

belgian malinois running

Are Belgian Malinois High Energy?

“High energy” might be an understatement. These dogs are all about living active lifestyles and may suffer mentally and physically without regular stimulation. Daily exercise is a must, and Belgian Malinois will look forward to 60–80 minutes of moderate physical activity per day. If you can, find a space where your guard dog can run free, and consider exploring a variety of activities—from swimming to fetch—to keep your pup occupied.

Are Belgian Malinois Hard To Train?

You get what you put in when it comes to training a Belgian Malinois. 

Like many working dogs, Belgian Malinois crave structure. We recommend giving your pup plenty to do, including brain-engaging activities and complex tasks. There’s basically no limit to what these dogs are capable of, as long as you have a steady hand and plenty of treats.

Do Belgian Malinois Have Health Issues?

Fortunately, Belgian Malinois aren’t particularly prone to major dog health issues, and your dog is likely to live a long and healthy life.

That said, there are a few dog health concerns for this breed that all owners should take into account, including:

  • Elbow dysplasia – Genetics, injuries, diet, and other factors can contribute to joint and bone issues in Belgian Malinois.3 These issues are more likely to affect larger breeds, but with medical intervention and vigilant care, you may be able to mitigate joint-related problems.
  • Eye issues – Some Belgian Malinois may develop cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, or an autoimmune disease called pannus.4 Without medical intervention, these health concerns and problems can lead to vision loss, so be sure to ask your vet about regular eye exams and potential treatments, if diagnosed.
  • Cancer – Belgian Malinois may be susceptible to the specific strain of cancer known as hemangiosarcoma. The exact causes of this disease aren’t fully understood, but thankfully, treatment options are expanding as veterinary science continues to develop.
belgian malinois being pet on the face

Do Belgian Malinois Need To Be Groomed?

Belgian Malinois have low-maintenance coats, but they do require regular brushing. Consider investing in some quality brushes, and be sure to sit down for a short grooming session at least once per week.

Additionally, you’ll want to keep your Belgian Malinois dog clean with a doggy bath every 1 to 6 weeks, depending on what kind of messes they’re getting into. If a bubble bath for your burly beast isn’t in the cards, consider making a professional grooming appointment. A groomer can also help with regular ear cleaning, teeth brushing, and nail clipping—all essentials for healthy dogs.

Do Belgian Malinois Shed?

They may have short coats, but Belgian Malinois can shed like the best of ‘em. Expect the occasional fur tornado, especially when the seasons are changing. You can do your best to minimize dander through consistent brushing and baths, but you might want to invest in a quality vacuum cleaner to keep the fur contained (and a portable lint roller for the days when that plan fails).

How Much Does It Cost To Care For A Belgian Malinois?

You can’t put a price on puppy love, though you’ll likely have to pay an adoption fee to bring your Belgian Malinois home. And as with all four-legged friends, you’ll have to shell out some cash to keep your dog happy and healthy. Expect to spend anywhere from $80 to $200 per month taking care of your pooch.

belgian malinois with black face


Active dogs need quality diets to maintain their energy levels, and Belgian Malinois are no exception. On average, this breed should eat 2 to 3 cups of dry dog food per day, adding up to $50–$80, depending on what brand you choose.

Why not opt for dog food designed just for your Belgian Malinois? BARK Eats provides breed-specific food formulated by veterinary nutritionists and delivered straight to your door. Pre-portioned, affordable, and doggy-approved, BARK Eats offers a simple way to ensure your pup’s intaking the nutrients they need. Order today and get 50% off your first month!

Routine Care (Healthy Dog)

Your Malinois might not love visiting the vet, but regular checkups are a must for every breed. A standard checkup typically costs around $50, but that doesn’t include any additional treatments, medications, or tests. If something comes up, be prepared to spend several hundred dollars to investigate any potential medical problems.

Preventative Medications For Belgian Malinois

Even if you keep a close eye on your Belgian Malinois, they’re still susceptible to puppy parasites and diseases. Vaccinations may cost between $100 and $200, while dog flea and tick prevention will run you about $100 per year.

Belgian Malinois Grooming

This hearty breed doesn’t require any major haircuts to maintain their dashing good looks. That said, you’ll need to purchase a few grooming accessories, including brushes ($10–$30), nail clippers ($5–$15), and doggy shampoo ($10–$30) for at-home spa days.

If you’re less inclined to get down and dirty with your pup, you can arrange for an appointment with a professional groomer. The cost will vary depending on the services and groomer, but rates start at about $80–$100 per session for bigger dogs like the Malinois.

belgian malinois lying on concrete

Toys, Treats, Beds, & Accessories

Now for the fun part! Your Belgian Malinois needs plenty of toys, treats, and exciting extras to stay engaged and happy. From chew toys to tug-of-war ropes, you can explore a range of options for playtime with your pup.

For mouth-watering treats and toys every month, check out BarkBox. Starting at $23 a month, you’ll receive 2 toys, 2 full-size bags of treats, and a delicious chew. Does your Malinois love to chomp? Upgrade to the Super Chewer subscription for 2 fluff-free, durable toys, 2 full-size bags of treats, and 2 meaty chews, at only $29 per month. (DOUBLE YOUR FIRST BOX FREE!)

Don’t forget about those doggy accessories, either. You’ll want to factor the following items into your budget:

  • Dog crate ($100–$150)
  • Dog bed ($50–$100)
  • Food and water bowls ($10–$50)


  1. Pet MD. Belgian Malinois.
  2. American Kennel Club. Belgian Malinois.
  3. American College of Veterinary Surgeons. Canine Elbow Dysplasia.
  4. VCA Hospitals. Pannus.
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Written by: BARK

September 13, 2022


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.