Belgian Malinois. try before you buy.

I just spotted this great article called Belgian Malinois. Look but don’t touch. It is aimed at dissuading the general public from buying them as pets and i would whole heartedly agree but would also go further. They are also becoming popular in law enforcement circles too but they aren’t for everyone.

 It seems the higher the drive of the dog, the more handler sensitive the dog is. This certainly seems to be borne out by the mali’s I have seen. They don’t cope well with harsh methods and can become flighty and snappy. They struggle with self-control issues and can get confused very easily. They are best suited to calm, consistent handlers who understand the positive/scientific methods. There are no short cuts to training these dogs and they don’t generalise as well as the German shepherd. The flip side is they are able to discriminate very well and can be single-minded when it comes to the job in hand. My current dog is as sociable as you could hope for a police dog to be but can be switched on and off again in a split second. This is great when you are used to this style of working but most shepherd handlers will be used to a dog that reacts more spontaneously. It is a case of horses for courses and my advice would be to get as much experience of the breed before you commit to 8yrs on the street with one.

Check out this link to see what they can be like from puppy hood.


6 Responses to “Belgian Malinois. try before you buy.”

  1. I second everything said here – do not get a Malinois if you are inexperienced and haven’t got the right environment for these high drive dogs’ needs. These dogs can be more challenging, but also more interesting to work with, than GSDs.
    Sadly, we see too many people intrigued by them and don’t understand the breed and temperament.
    Think long and hard before opting for a Mali and consider whether YOU are the right person for them.

  2. Mr A Cameron Says:

    I own 4 x Dogs I use for Security purposes, I have 2 x (Male) Rottweilers, a (Male) GSD, & a Malinois (Bitch) & they all live together in perfect harmony. & are all socilaised to live inside the Home & also outside in Kennels. They all exercise daily together fulfilling their needs to be in a “Pack” And then they Train together & Individually, on Sleeve work, obedience, & security duties. Having handled & trained 3 x types of Security Dog breeds, I would say that the “Malinois” is the most versatile for Security doing work as they have a better prey drive, and definitely are faster, more agile, and willing to work & stay focused longer.

    Out of the 3 x Breeds I would always recommend the “Malinois” for doing Security work, they maybe smaller, lighter, than other Guard Dog breeds, but believe me they pack a big punch so dont ever mess with a “Maligator” or ever underestimate a “Malinois” !!!

  3. Mario Cesare (author) The Man with the Black Dog Says:

    Like human beings no two animals are alike and broadly speaking we should look at their general characteristics. For example it is well documented that lions are good mothers. However, while this is true, some are better at it than others, better hunters, better at choosing den sites, some aggressively chase danger away, others will quietly move the cubs out of harms way and so on. So, by way of example again, while it appears there are Malinois which will be excellent with kids, or be content with owners who watch a lot of TV, these are not a general traits of this breed. And this is important. Reading between the lines of what I have researched, I’d say this dog would be better suited to spending most of its time outdoors, be more of a colleague or working companion to its owner for serious work or competition. The Belgian Malinois is not the dog for you if you want a pet to throw the odd Frisbee to on the beach on weekends, or if it needs to tolerate the kids pulling its ears while it sleeps, or the cat sneaking leftovers from its bowl.

    • My kids pull my dogs ears and because he has been raised with them from a puppy is more than tolerant. I engineered this situation and it didn’t happen without lots of work. The biggest down side to this breed (there are alwyas exceptions to the rule) is the sheer amount of energy they have. They need a lot of work both mental and physical. My dogs are out the house for 10hours a day whilst i’m on shift. They biff around the house on days off but for most people this amount of input isn’t possible. Add to that the sheer speed they react and they will make a mockery of anyone who doesn’t have a good understanding of operant training and good timing to put it into practice.

  4. Probably a good idea to warn and perhaps discourage people who aren’t really serious about this type of dog. We have two Malls and three German Shepherds, one of whom is the only male in the pack. All five live together and get along very well, not withstanding the occasional momentary spat about something. We have two homes with large yards and swimming pools, which they all enjoy. It’s interesting to observe the differences between the Malls and the Germans, i don’t need to repeat the obvious that the Malls and lightning fast, run circles around the Germans, and are definitely high strung with an attitude. They all get a long walk in the morning and a shorter one in the evening, and a bit of play time in between. We have not specifically trained any of them for protection, as it’s obvious they all have this instinct, and with five of them looking out, not likely that any unwelcome visitors would try to get near the house. In summary, i would agree that anyone needs to think very hard about whether they can handle a Malinois, and i certainly would NOT recommend one for apartment living. But they are super friendly and affectionate with their family, especially if acquired as a small puppy and made to feel like a genuine family member.

  5. After extensive research and 30 years of dog ownership and training I recently acquired a stunning 2 year old Mali bitch. She was bred to be a service dog, but despite good prey, ball and most of all food drive she does not have the aggression to make a service good. This makes a great dog for me. Her obedience is 100% and her only downside at present is nervousness in urban/domestic situations as she was bred and lived out in the countryside. She learns fast and has stopped being so worried by mirrors, stairs, lawn mowers and vacuum cleaners etc. She is great in crowds and wary of large vehicles passing too close.

    I don’t need or want a protection dog, but I will teach her to speak on command and ‘watch’ but to put her under any real threat would break her very quickly.

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