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Belgian Malinois - History and Health

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015
Belgian Malinois


The Belgian Malinois dates back to the 1800s. It originated in the area around the city of Malines, Belgium, which is where it got its name. One of the first short-coated Belgian shepherds was born in 1891 and later was registered with the Societe Royale Saint-Hubert. Since then, this short-haired, fawn dog with a black mask and erect ears has been selectively bred for its working character and is perhaps the most popular of all Belgian sheepdogs in its native country. The first two Malinois – named Belgian Blackie and Belgian Mouche - were registered with the American Kennel Club in 1911 as members of the Miscellaneous Class, even though the breed enjoyed individual AKC Stud Book registration. At that time, there simply were not enough Malinois to provide competition for conformation championships in this country. In 1965, once its numbers had risen, the Belgian Malinois was moved into the American Kennel Club’s Working Group. When the Herding Group was formed in 1973, the Belgian Malinois was reclassified as a member of that Group, where it remains today.

Many fine representatives of this breed were imported into the United States from Belgium between 1911 and the start of the Second World War. The breed did not particularly thrive in this country after World War II, but it did regain some of its popularity in the 1960s and continues to grow slowly but steadily in numbers to this day. The Belgian Malinois has one of the lowest annual registration rates of all recognized AKC breeds. The American Belgian Malinois Club was founded in 1978 and became the parent club for the breed recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1993. While the Malinois originally was bred as a sheep-herding dog, its intelligence, trainability and tenacity has led these dogs to serve more often as police and military dogs, search-and-rescue dogs, service dogs and guard dogs. They also are active and competitive in conformation, obedience, herding, sledding, Schutzhund, agility, therapy and tracking.

Health Characteristics

The average life span of the Belgian Malinois Dog Breed is 10 to 14 years. This is slightly higher than the median lifespan of most purebred dogs (10 to 13 years). Like many other large dogs, they have a predisposition to developing the following health disorders

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