If you are looking for an elegant black dog that will be a great companion, consider the Black Belgian Malinois. In case this is your first time to hear about this breed, let’s start with some basics. The Malinois is a short-haired variety of the Belgian Shepherd. They most commonly come in tan and black. However, other colors are available as well, like red sable, fawn sable, gray and more. But, in this article, we will talk about the black Belgian Malinois. However, don’t think that this dog is in any way a separate breed. The only difference really is the color of their coat, and the color genes that they inherited. The dog breed is the same, no matter what color your Mal may have.
So if you want to learn more about the short-haired Belgian Sheepdog, keep reading this article.
History of the Belgian Malinois
The roots of this breed lie in the “Noord-Brabant” region in Belgium. They reach back as early as the 18th Century. They were mostly used as guard dogs and herding dogs. The Malinois, Belgian Sheepdog, and Belgian Tervuren all have the same origin. The Malinois was developed mostly in the city of Malines, from where it gets its name.
The short-haired variant of the Belgian shepherd dog first appeared near the city of Malines in 1899. In 1901, the four varieties of the Belgian Shepherd were finally officially recognized. The Belgian shepherd also includes the rough-haired Laekenois, the long-haired Tervueren, and the purely black-haired Groenendael. But, Mali has since been the best-known Belgian shepherd dog and in addition to that — the most popular service dog.
Following World War I, many American veterans returned from Europe with Malinois and other Belgian Shepherd Dogs, and AKC registrations skyrocketed. In 1924, the first Belgian Sheepdog Club of America was founded, and it quickly became a member club of the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Belgian Malinois dogs have gotten a lot of press in the previous decade for their work in the military, drug detection agencies, search and rescue operations, and police departments around the country. As a result, a large number of Malinois have been imported into the United States in recent years.
Conan, a Belgian Malinois, was injured in a military operation in 2019 that was aimed at Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Conan was hailed as a hero at The White House after making a full recovery from the mission.
This breed has all of the qualities of a working dog breed. They are extremely intelligent and powerful. It is not without reason that the Malis are considered excellent service dogs. They are powerful and reliable guard dogs. But, they will never become aggressive for no reason. Their personality is fearless and they will do whatever it takes to protect you.
They are full of energy and will always give you their full commitment. A typical representative of this breed is a lively and fearless dog that is still friendly and sweet. They are strongly tied to their family and are considered loyal and affectionate. The black Belgian Malinois gets along well with other pets and humans. But, they do need early socialization.
Temperament, on the other hand, does not appear out of nowhere. A variety of things influence it, including genes, training, and socialization. Puppies with a good temperament are adventurous and energetic, and they enjoy approaching people and being held. Meeting the puppy’s parents, siblings, or other relatives can also be beneficial in determining what a puppy will be like as an adult.
Are they good family dogs?
Children are good with well-socialized Malinois, especially if they have been raised with them, although because of their herding history, they may nip at their heels and try to herd them when playing. You must teach your Malinois that this is not appropriate behavior. An adult Malinois who isn’t used to being around children may do best in a home with children who are old enough to properly interact with them.
Unless they’ve been raised with other dogs and cats since puppyhood, Malinois can be violent toward them. You must start early and praise proper behavior if you want your Malinois to get along with other animals. It is your obligation to keep your Malinois under control in the presence of other animals if he has not been socialized with them.
Malinois are only advised for persons who have previously had dogs and have experience with dog training because of their high energy level and sensitivity. Malinois are intense dogs who want to be a part of everything the family does. They’re not ideal for folks who work long hours or have to travel frequently while leaving their dogs at home.
If you’ve determined the Malinois is the breed for you, you should begin socializing your dog with a variety of people, dogs, other animals, and circumstances as soon as possible. For your Malinois puppy, puppy school is advised, followed by obedience training classes.
The Belgian Malinois has an elegant yet strong body frame. While many people confuse them with the German Shepherd dog, they are a bit more square and have a smaller build. They have a proportionally large head with erect black ears , that make him look a lot taller. The fur is a bit longer on the neck where it forms a collar.
There will, of course, be a slight difference in size when it comes to males and females. As with many other dog breeds, females will be a bit smaller than their male counterparts. Males stand 24 to 26 inches tall and weigh 60 to 80 pounds at the shoulder. Females stand between 22 and 24 inches tall and weigh between 40 and 60 pounds.
When it comes to the color — this one is pretty obvious, huh? The black Belgian Malinois has a black, short coat with a beautiful shine to it. The standard coat color of this dog can be many shades from fawn to mahogany with black masking. The most popular colors are tan, fawn sable, red sable, cream, but there are also rare options available like the merle Belgian Malinois.
Exercise Needs of the Black Belgian Malinois
This is an extremely active breed that requires a lot of exercise on a daily basis. If your days are spent lounging around on your couch and watching Netflix, know that this most definitely isn’t the breed for you. These dogs will thrive in a household where the members enjoy being outside, staying active, and giving their dog the amount of activity that he needs. As a result, you must be realistic about what you can provide him. At the absolute least, he requires 60 to 90 minutes of vigorous activity every day. With this guy, an hour-long stroll through the park isn’t going to cut it. To get his heart pounding, he needs full-on severe action.
Consider hours of mountain climbing, an hour or two of jogging, or hours of playing fetch in the park. He is exceptionally agile and has won awards in a variety of canine sports, including agility and flyball. His obedience is another strong suit, so whichever sport you enjoy playing, he’ll pick it up quickly. They are known for their police work, after all. So that should tell you all about what kind of lifestyle these dogs will thrive on.
This dog is an athletic powerhouse, and if his energy isn’t channeled properly, he’ll become disruptive and problematic. This is where a lot of Mal owners get stuck. If you don’t keep him occupied, he’ll trash your yard, sofa, fridge, shoes, or basically anything that he finds around him. In addition to his daily exercise, he need hours of playing and mental stimulation. That is where dog toys could come in handy. Because your dog’s brain needs to stay as active as his body does.
Training a Malinois Puppy
Like we already mentioned before, this is a breed with a high level of intelligence. And it’s because of his loyalty and desire to please his owner that he’s so easy to train. However, the intelligence of this dog breed is a double-edged sword, because the Mal could also get pretty stubborn. That’s why these dogs need a knowledgeable owner who knows how to take care of such high energy dogs.
These canines can suffer if they are left with an unskilled owner. Keep in mind that he needs to be taught how to obey. Although strict approaches are not encouraged, they may be necessary for dogs with a strong will. Invest in balls and toys to motivate the Mal, as he is particularly object oriented. With the Mal, fun training sessions are the way to go!
The importance of socialization leads us to the additional Mal responsibilities highlighted before. He will become overprotective, unpredictable, and dangerous if he is not socialized. Start with puppy obedience courses, canine park trips, and just going around town to introduce him to new experiences. You must learn about it and put it into practice, and you must commit to it for the rest of your life.
Although you may not employ your Mal as a herding dog, he is a natural herder. This means he might try to herd objects like other animals, humans, and automobiles. As soon as you discover this conduct, you must stop it. He will never truly outgrow out of it, however, it will still help if you try to distract him whenever you notice this behaviour.
Food & Nutrition
This dog breed is a huge dog with a lot of energy, so you can be sure that he will need a lot of food! Mal, as an adult, consumes approximately three cups of food every day. If your pup exercises a lot, is a working dog, or just had a super busy and active day, he’ll probably require a bit more. As your dog approaches his senior years, you can shrink his meals as older canines are less and less active. Make sure you feed your pup high-quality kibble that is made for larger breeds. Follow the package directions since it will provide you with personalized suggestions based on his age and weight.
If you can’t afford to buy so much high quality dog food, maybe go for a smaller dog. But being cheap and buying the least expensive dog food out there should not be an option. High-quality food will keep his body energized and allow him to spend more time with you. They’ll also provide a lot of omega fats, which are essential for supporting his joints and nourishing his skin and coat. Cheap dog food is full of fillers, such as corn and other grains which don’t add any real nutritional benefits to your dog’s diet.
The food you feed your canine should be mostly protein based. Mals grow out to be muscular dogs, and they sure need a lot of protein to help them develop this big. Some dog owners also choose to feed their dogs a raw diet. This diet mostly consists of raw meat, vegetables and other animal based food like eggs. However, if you are thinking about that, we would suggest talking to a vet first.
You can learn more about human foods in our “Food category” or check out the following articles:
- What Vegetables Can Dogs Eat?
- Can dogs eat honey? How safe is it really?
- Can dogs eat lettuce and should they even eat it?
- What fruits can dogs eat and which are toxic?
- Which Food Is Good Or Bad For Dogs?
Belgian Malinois Coat & Grooming
The Belgian Malinois has a short, easy-to-care-for double coat. They don’t require much grooming and are fairly clean and odorless dogs, so you won’t have to spend much time caring for them. They are not, however, hypoallergenic dogs due of their extensive undercoat. They’ll shed a lot, and their hairs will fly all over the place. You’ll have to spend a lot of time cleaning up after them.
You must keep these dogs healthy in order for them to keep their lovely coat. To do so, feed them only high-quality, nutrient-dense dog food. Because these are energetic dogs, feed them food that matches their energy levels. It’s important to keep their nails trimmed on a regular basis, and to keep their ears clean because they’re prone to infections. Take them to the vet for dog ear plucking if necessary. Brush their teeth at least once a week as well.
He just needs to be bathed around once every three months. He is a clean dog that will only need to be bathed once more. You should never wash him more than once every two months to avoid destroying his natural coat oils. To have him looking his best, use a doggy shampoo created with natural components, such as oatmeal shampoo.
As you can already suspect by their name, the black Belgian Malinois has a black coat. But there are many other colors available as well, like a rich fawn, fawn sable, tan, red sable or even gray. And all of them will have the iconic black mask that Mals are known for.
Health & Life Expectancy
Belgian Malinois are typically healthy, however they are susceptible to some health issues, as are all breeds. Although not every Malinois may contract any or all of these illnesses, it’s crucial to be aware of them if you’re thinking about getting one. If you keep your dog’s health in good condition, he could live up to 12 years.
The most important thing you can do to make sure your puppy is healthy is buying from a reputable breeder. The price may increase, however, it all be worth it, because reputable breeders do the necessary health scans and testings to determine if your dog inherited any diseases from his parents.
Irresponsible breeders don’t have your dog’s best interests at heart, and more often than not, they will try to sell you an unhealthy puppy. They will just take your money and disappear, not caring at all about the wellbeing of your pup. The same thing goes for puppy mills as well. Try to always meet at least one of your puppy’s parents, and see how they behave. Are they healthy, do you notice any abnormalities? The most common health issues in this breed are hereditary, so knowing the parents of your pup are healthy is incredibly important.
In addition to that, the lifestyle your dog leads will also have a huge impact on his health. Make sure you feed him a healthy diet and give him his much-needed exercise. We already touched on how important high-quality dog food is, but we just can’t stress it enough. We are what we eat, and our dogs are what they eat as well. While you can choose your own meals, your dog can’t. He depends on you. So it’s your responsibility to make his meals as healthy as possible.
Most common health conditions
Dysplasia, a genetic disorder that causes the joints to mature incorrectly and culminates in arthritis, can affect both the hips and elbows. Stiffness in your Malinois’ elbows or hips could become a concern as he grows older. You may notice that he develops lameness in his legs or has trouble rising from a seated position. Vets can treat arthritis, and the sooner the better, the less difficulty and pain there will be . In severe and life-threatening cases, surgery may be a viable choice. Remember that overweight dogs can acquire arthritis years before their normal-weight counterparts, causing unnecessary pain and suffering!
Progressive retinal atrophy
PRA is an inherited condition in which the eyes are genetically designed to go blind. Belgian Malinois, unfortunately, are slightly more susceptible to this illness than other dogs. PRA is neither painful nor treatable. Early indications of the faulty gene in dogs, such as night blindness or dilated pupils, usually appear between the ages of three and five years. For this condition, a genetic test is available. All reputable breeders will provide you with the needed test to make sure your puppy is as healthy as it gets.
Gastric Dilatation or bloat is a condition that affects dogs with deep, narrow chests. This means that your Malinois is more vulnerable than other dog breeds. The stomach twists on itself and fills with gas when a dog bloats. The twisting cuts off the stomach’s and sometimes the spleen’s blood flow. If left untreated, the sickness can kill your dog in as little as 30 minutes. Your dog may retch or heave, be agitated, have an enlarged abdomen, or lie in a prayer position. Preventive surgery, which involves tacking or suturing the stomach in place so that it does not twist, is the most reliable option. If you notice any signs, take your pet to an emergency clinic right away!
Primary epilepsy, also known as idiopathic epilepsy, occurs when no other cause of seizures can be detected. Belgian Malinois are frequently affected by this disease, which is often an inherited condition. Seizures usually start between the ages of six months and three years. To keep the seizures under control, medicine must be used for the rest of your dog’s life, with frequent blood tests required to assess side effects and effectiveness. If your dog has a seizure, keep a close eye on him to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself, but don’t try to control his mouth or tongue. It won’t help him, and he might bite you accidentally as a result! Make a note of how long the seizure lasted and contact your vet as soon as it stops.
Is the black Belgian Malinois the right dog for me?
Mali is a dog willing to work that is not suitable for everyone. This active dog demands an equally active owner. Active people living in a rural environment would be ideal for him. They are a great companion for jogging or other sports activities.
The Malinois is still a popular service dog in the military and police. During the First World War, they mainly served as registration dogs and helped the Red Cross. They are also said to have made ambulance transports. There is hardly a military today that does not count a few representatives of this breed on their team. A particularly heroic representative of the breed is the male Belgian Malinois named Cairo. He helped the US military track down Osama bin Laden. As a dog of the SEAL, he even got his own armor as well as a special night vision device.
If you like this dog breed, and want to get a Mal puppy, it will be up to you which color you may choose. Do you want a black Belgian Malinois, or maybe one in rich fawn, fawn sable, red sable, or maybe even a rare Belgian Malinois color,like the gray Belgian Malinois. All of them will be recognized by their elegant looks and black mask.
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