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How Long Do Belgian Malinois Live And What Affects Their Lifespan?

How Long Do Belgian Malinois Live And What Affects Their Lifespan?
The Belgian Malinois breed is growing more and more popular in the United States, and the American Kennel Club ranked them as the 36th most popular dog breed in 2021. Due to their strong physical characteristics and protective personality, these canines make amazing military and police dogs. However, when in good hands, this popular breed can also make a wonderful family companion. All they need is an active lifestyle, a lot of positive reinforcement training, and some good-quality dog food. They would be the best choice for an active person who already has some experience with sheepherding dogs. However, as robust as Belgian Malinois dogs seem, they are still prone to some major health issues that can affect how long they live. So if you are wondering “How long do Belgian Malinois live?” keep on reading to find out. 

How long do Belgian Malinois live?

Belgian Malinois have an average lifespan between 10 and 12 years. However, that is just the average number, and a dog can either live longer or shorter than that. The life expectancy for this breed is similar to that of other working dogs, such as the German Shepherd or Labrador Retriever. As a general rule of thumb, it is said that larger dogs age faster, which also makes them live shorter. That’s why Chihuahuas have a longer life expectancy than Great Danes. However, the oldest dog to ever live on a planet was an Australian Kelpie named Maggie. Australian Kelpies are a large dog breed with an average life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. But Maggie died peacefully at 30 years old! 
 
When predicting the number of years that your dog may live, you have to take into consideration how long his parents lived if he or she has any health conditions, and the overall lifestyle your dog lives. The lifestyle our dogs live largely affects how long he or she will stay on this planet with us. It’s pretty similar to how our human bodies work. The healthier you live, and the more you take care of your health, the longer you are probably going to live. To get a better understanding of all the factors that can have a role in the life expectancy of your dog, we will go over some of the most significant ones.
 

Factors that determine how long do Belgian Malinois live

As we have already explained, there are different factors that will have a say in the lifespan of your dog. We already explained that the most obvious one is his lifestyle. That includes the food he or she eats, the level of exercise he or she gets, but also other things such as the number of hours they sleep at night, if they are often trapped in stressful situations, and simply the way that your dog spends his or her days. 
 
However, there are other major factors that can take a great toll on your dog’s life expectancy as well. Those are his or her genes, and if you take them for their annual vet visits. Lastly, it’s important to note that all of these factors aren’t only important for how long your dog is going to live, but what the quality of his life is going to be like as well. A healthier dog will have more energy, and he will be more able to enjoy his days than a sick dog.

Genetics

We have to start on a serious note. While a healthy lifestyle is undoubtedly important, how long your dog lives also has to do with his or her DNA. That’s why it’s so important to avoid getting a dog from puppy mills and backyard breeders. Nowadays, there are ways to test dogs and puppies for the most common diseases of their breed, that can help determine reputable breeders if they are breeding healthy canines. These tests are expensive, which is one of the reasons why reputable breeders do charge significantly more than a puppy mill. However, the price of a puppy is a one-time expense, that can have a significant impact on the rest of your dog owner’s life.

Dietary needs 

We are what we eat. And the same rule applies to our dogs as well. If your dog only eats super cheap kibble that is full of filler food such as corn or cereal, you can’t expect him to be healthy and full of energy. Such large canines need a lot of protein to fuel them. That’s why you should only get one of these canines if you are able to provide them with a healthy and balanced diet. But it doesn’t only have to be pre-made dog food. Some dog owners also opt for home-cooked meals or a raw food diet. Either way, we would suggest talking to your vet to determine what type of diet would be the best fit for your dog.

Activity

The Malinois is a working breed, which means that they are energetic dogs. Their bodies weren’t made to just lay around the house all day. They are a working breed, after all, that is known for their police work and as military working dogs. Mals would make great jogging buddies, they would gladly accompany you on a hike, and they also love to play different games. And while all of these seem like fun activities, it’s still plenty of exercise on a daily basis. That’s why you have to make sure that each day your Belgian Malinois gets at least one hour of physical activity.
 
A beautifil Belgian Malinois sitting on a bench

Source: Instagram (@connie_the_malinois)

Vet visits

Almost any disease can be treated if it was diagnosed on time. That’s why it’s so important that you make sure your dog never skips one of his or her annual vet visits. When talking to your vet, you always have to be honest and open about any type of symptoms that you may have noticed in your dog in the previous year. Was there any difference in his or her behavior, were their bowel habits different than usual, or have you noticed any changes in their appetite? Maybe you noticed that your dog doesn’t enjoy running as much as they did previously, or that they are often quiet and closed off. Whatever it is, make sure your vet knows it. That way the cause of these symptoms can be diagnosed as quickly as possible.

The most common health conditions in the Malinois 

While generally speaking, this is a healthy and robust dog breed, Belgian Malinois unfortunately still can get sick. The most important thing that you can do as a future Mal owner is to make sure that you buy your puppy from a reputable dog breeder. A reputable dog breeder will do all the necessary health screenings and tests to make sure that you are getting yourself a healthy dog.
 
That’s why you should never be afraid to ask questions and require documentations that prove your dog is healthy when buying a puppy. If you can, also try to meet at least one of the parents of your future dog companion. That will also give you a general idea about the temperament that your dog may inherit, and it’s another way to make sure that the parents of your dog are healthy and without any hereditary illnesses.

Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a common health condition, especially in larger dog breeds such as the Belgian Malinois or German Shepherd. It is a hereditary condition in which the hip joint grows in an abnormal way. Usually, the ball of the femur perfectly fits into the socket of the hip bone. However, in this condition, the joint fails to connect properly, causing friction and grinding. This can cause a loss of mobility in your dog’s hind legs, but it can also be agonizingly painful.

Elbow dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia is pretty similar to hip dysplasia, however, it affects the elbows. Similarly, this is a hereditary condition that can be passed down from generation to generation. It causes a loss of cartilage in the elbow joint, causing pain and loss of mobility. Both elbow and hip dysplasia can be diagnosed with the help of health screenings. So make sure you ask your breeder about the necessary health documentation.
 
Dog in nature while his owner wonders what is the rarest belgian malinois color

Source: Instagram (@epic_malinois)

Anesthesia Sensitivity

Some dog breeds, such as the Belgian Malinois, are sensitive to anesthesia. This could cause a major issue if your dog is facing surgery or any other procedure that involves anesthesia. Make sure you always discuss your concerns with your vet if your dog ever has the need for surgery. This condition won’t affect every Belgian Malinois, and it will display differently in each dog. Some of them may show no symptoms of anesthesia sensitivity at all. But whatever the case may be, it’s always useful to be aware of this condition.

Progressive retinal atrophy 

PRA is another hereditary disease that could highly impact the quality of your dog’s life. As the name says, progressive retinal atrophy causes your dog’s retina to atrophy over time, making him go blind. As this is a hereditary condition, there isn’t really a way to prevent this from happening. But what you can do is make sure the breeder of your puppy did the necessary testing to make sure your future dog is clear from it. While this doesn’t directly shorten the lifespan of your dog, it does make him more prone to accidents, and it also makes his life more difficult than it has to be. But that does not mean that a blind dog can’t live a fulfilled life if he gets the necessary support from his owner.

What you can do to make sure your dog lives as long as possible

As you can tell by everything that we have said above, there are many different ways in which you as a dog owner can help your dog prolong his life. But life isn’t only about living as long as possible. Quality of life is important too. So the goal isn’t only to ensure your dog stays with you for longer than the average 10-12 years, but also that he or she is healthy, and still has enough energy left to enjoy his or her days. That’s why a healthy lifestyle is key. A healthy canine lifestyle is actually pretty similar to a healthy lifestyle a human would live. That includes a balanced diet, enough exercise, and mental stimulation.
 
The Malinois isn’t a low-maintenance dog. They are very active canines that need at least 60 to 90 minutes of exercise a day. Similarly, they also eat quite a bit. So if you want to be the proud owner of this dog, you have to be aware of the responsibility that comes with it. Owning these powerful canines won’t be cheap, and you will have to invest a lot of your own money, patience, but also time. But in the end, the payoff will be well worth it. Because you will have a loyal and reliable companion by your side.