The Belgian Malinois is a member of the Belgian Sheepdog family. Like other Belgians, the Malinois is a sturdy, alert, loyal companion, and can thrive as a farm dog or a family dog. As with all Belgian Sheepdog breeds, Malinois were bred to herd and protect livestock, so they must have constant activity, whether playing with children, going on long walks, or chasing a frisbee. Ever vigilant, they make excellent watchdogs, and can be trained to do a variety of tasks.
Malinois need a lot of vigorous activity in order to remain happy and healthy and should not be kept in an apartment. If they don't get enough activity, Malinois can quickly become destructive.
Farms or houses with big, fenced-in yards are the most ideal settings for this breed. Active and able participants in outdoor activities, Malinois will want to be included in all family activities, whether doing farm chores, chasing a frisbee in the yard, or taking long walks in the park. They love to spend time outdoors, among their family and engaged in interesting and fun activities.
Though sometimes willful and stubborn, Belgians are highly trainable and thrive on advanced obedience, trick and agility training. They can read small movements and even changes in facial expression, and are famous for being so “in tune” with their trainers that they can literally stay one step ahead of the person giving commands.
Though they learn quickly, Belgians are not for the first-time dog owner. They are highly intelligent and manipulative, and can easily walk all over someone who lacks consistency or wears their heart on their sleeve. Positive reinforcement is the best method to train a Belgian Malinois, as discipline can lead to avoidance behavior and stubbornness.
Malinois are herders and this instinct can lead them to chase and nip. Bikes, cars, kids, or other animals can set them off and running. If this breed doesn't have enough interesting activities to do, he can take to herding children and nipping at their heels.
This herding instinct also makes Malinois, like all Belgian Sheepdogs, protective of their home and family. They can be wary of strangers so it is important that they be socialized as early as possible to learn the difference between a welcome guest and an unwelcome guest, or aggression can develop.
Chewing, barking and separation anxiety can sometimes develop in this breed, but that can be attributed to lack of exercise and boredom. Adopting a Belgian Malinois means adopting an active lifestyle.