Meet “Mal” the Adventurous and Daring Belgian Malinois Dog Breed

belgian malinois dog breed pictured near a lake

Here’s a notice to all energetic, adventurous, outdoorsy kinds of people: If you want the perfect companion, one that can handle military-type adventures and skydive, look no further than the majestic Belgian Malinois dog breed. A Mal’s need for camaraderie is only surpassed by their eagerness to work. 

Although they are often mistaken for German shepherds, Mals’ origins trace back to Belgium (hence the name), while German shepherds’ origins trace to neighboring Germany. Both dogs are among the AKC’s herding group, which includes shepherd dogs, cattle dogs, sheepdogs, and collies.

Does the Belgian Malinois Breed Bark a Lot?

Belgian Malinois are highly protective and territorial dogs, which is why they make excellent canine options for law enforcement and search-and-rescue teams. In addition, Mals have a range of temperaments and aggressiveness. This combination of inherent traits and personalities makes Belgian Malinois a very vocal breed. Training this breed not to bark excessively can be a difficult task. However, there are a few things that can help.  

Why Belgian Malinois bark so much

Like any dog, the Mal’s main form of communication is barking. And given their size and makeup, the Mal’s bark tends to be very loud. Resist the urge to shout over any dog’s cacophony of incessant barking, especially this breed. Their simple minds will likely tell them that your shouts aren’t commands; they’ll likely assume you’ve joined them with your own version of barking!

If any breed is well-suited for The BarxBuddy ultrasonic trainer, it’s the Belgian Malinois. First, however, you have to figure out why the dog is barking. Then you can use the training tool to get their attention, issue a command, and reward good behaviors.

belgian malinois with a favorite toy

Is your pet’s incessant barking related to protecting what’s his (you and your home) or is it boredom, separation anxiety, or alerting you to something he deems dangerous? 

  • Territorial barking occurs when your pet barks in response to people, dogs, or other animals within or approaching their territory, like your yard, car, or any space where he spends a good deal of time.
  • Alarm barking is your dog’s effort to alert you to every sight and sound. This type of barking isn’t necessarily a problem — you want your dog to alert you about visitors, deliveries, and potential threats. 
  • Boredom barking happens when your dog has excess energy. For high-energy dogs like a Belgian Malinois, nonstop barking related to boredom is typical and can bring other destructive behaviors.
  • Separation anxiety barking can occur because Belgian Malinois have an incredible bond with their humans. Indications that this is an issue for your pet include excessive barking (as reported by your neighbor) and other destructive behaviors like chewing on furniture or tearing up pillows. 

How to stop Belgian Malinois excessive barking?

If your dog barks at everything that moves outside your home, blocking or cloaking his ability to see people, cars, and other animals can help reduce your pet’s territorial or alarm barking episodes. Close curtains and blinds to obscure your pet’s view. Play music or the television to further drown out alarm barking triggers. Redirecting your dog’s attention to another activity like a game of fetch or tug of war can also encourage him to be quiet. Exercise is always a great preventive measure to high-strung Mals. As we like to say: A tired dog is a quiet dog.

Mals need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation every day.  Belgian Malinois need to work hard pretty much all day — at least 60 to 90 minutes of daily activities, which you can break into 15- to 20-minute segments. This breed is highly intelligent and requires mental stimulation to feed their minds every day. Walk your pet 45 minutes once or twice a day and include high-intensity activities and strength training like fetch, frisbee toss, and swimming throughout the day. 

A few things that may reduce your dog’s separation anxiety include leaving him with something he loves, like a peanut-butter-filled toy that you give to him only when you leave. You might also give him a favorite blanket or toy, or a piece of clothing with your scent. Try hiding a few treats around the house to keep him occupied for a while. 

Facts About Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois breed has an impressive storied history. Named after the Belgian city Malines, Mals were initially bred for herding. However, many Belgian Malinois were needed for another purpose during World War I when they served as Red Cross messengers and assistants. The Belgian Malinois dog breed works with police departments and military, including Navy SEALS.  Mals are highly intelligent and thrive on exercise and human interaction. The best environment for a Mal is a home that has a yard with plenty of space to run.

belgian malinois close up

  • Size: Belgian Malinois range from 22 to 26 inches in height and 40 to 80 pounds in weight.
  • Life expectancy: Belgian Malinois have an average lifespan of 14-16 years.
  • Coat: The coat of a Belgian Malinois is short and waterproof. Colors range from a deep fawn to mahogany with black ears and mask. 
  • AKC group: Belgian Malinois dog breed belongs to the AKC herding group.

Are Belgian Malinois Easy to Train?

The obedient Belgian Malinois is quick to respond to commands, but may not cooperate with domineering or rude owners. Because this breed has a high prey drive and tends to chase anything that moves, including cars, children, and other animals, you’d be wise to ensure plenty of early socialization. A Mal requires an incredible amount of mental stimulation and physical exercise. A walk a day is not sufficient for a Belgian Malinois. Failing to meet his energy needs may lead to boredom and destructive habits like chewing and barking.

Do Belgian Malinois Need Grooming?

In general, Belgian Malinois are easy to take care of in the grooming department. Occasional brushing with a medium bristle brush or a hound glove or rubber grooming mitt will help distribute the skin’s natural oils to keep their coat looking its best. Brushing a Mal’s coat once daily with a slicker brush during shedding season, which is twice a year, will remove loose hair and keep them from covering you and your house. Regular nail trims prevent overgrowth, which can make walking and running difficult and painful. Routinely check ears for signs of infection and brush teeth frequently. 

What If My Breed Is a Belgian Malinois Mix?

Congrats! If your pet is a Belgian Malinois mix, you have one smart and cute dog. Mixing breeds bring a lot of uncertainty; however, researching both parent breeds can reveal some characteristics their offspring may possess. Belgian Malinois tend to be a healthy breed, hip and elbow dysplasia can be an issue.  

Here are some popular Malinois breed mixes:

  • Akita Malinois — Belgian Malinois + Akita 
  • Belgian Boxer — Belgian Malinois + boxer 
  • Belgian Malamute — Belgian Malinois + Alaskan Malamute 
  • Belusky — Belgian Malinois + Siberian husky
  • Dobernois — Belgian Malinois + Doberman pinscher
  • German Malinois — Belgian Malinois + German shepherd
  • Labrador Malinois — Belgian Malinois + Labrador retriever 
  • Mali-Dutchie — Belgian Malinois + Dutch shepherd 
  • Malinois Greyhound — Belgian Malinois + greyhound 
  • Malinois Italiano — Belgian Malinois + cane corso 
  • Pitbull Malinois — Belgian Malinois + American pitbull terrier 

Resource Links for More Belgian Malinois Info