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The Belgian Malinois: Police and Protection Dog

29 15:13:41

Originally there were as many as eight Belgian breeds of the same genetic inheritance that were used as herding dogs and drovers in Belgium and Germany. Through the years the Belgian Sheepdogs have been narrowed to four “types” or representatives. The Belgian Sheepdogs are represented in the American Kennel Club registry by the four types known as follows: the Groenedael, the Lakenois, the Malinois and the Tervuren. The Belgian Malinois is one of the most well known of the Belgian breeds, having been used not only as a dog that will herd the flocks but having gained much recognition in the armed forces and with police units as a dog that is a great drug, narcotic and bomb detector. In Search and Rescue the dog has also shown that it has a great aptitude.

The Belgian Malinois at first may appear to look similar to that of a German Shepherd but a closer look reveals a dog that is of smaller proportion and has a somewhat “snipier” look to the head. The instinctive behaviors of a herding dog, being a protector and a drover, is the inheritance of the Belgian Malinois, but the reputation of the breed in modern times has become that of a highly respected and courageous police dog breed, a dog whose protective instincts of taking care of his “flock” have been channeled into a protective instinct to care for his human companion and “partner”.

The character of the Belgian Malinois should be one of extreme loyalty to his master. He should be watchful and alert, ready to guard and protect but never being vicious. He can be and often is trained as an effective “attack dog” but should never demonstrate aggressive behavior, rather should behave exactly as commanded with speed and a steady temperament. Increasingly these dogs have been used as detection dogs not only for their sense of smell which is highly regarded but also for their strong “prey drive”, which when translated into “play drive” makes these dogs willing to perform for hours on end for a chance to play with their favorite “toy”. Persons who enjoy the ring sport of Schutzhund often have found that the Belgian Malinois can be a top performer in this area and in the area of Obedience competitions.

The Belgian Malinois is a medium sized dog of moderate build. The coat is very similar in appearance and texture to that of the German Shepherd. His head is of “cleaner ” lines than the Shepherd. The Malinois should be agile and quick, showing speed for short bursts and great power . He should move gracefully and have the ability to make sharp turns as any dog with herding abilities can. The face often has a black mask and the color of the coat can range from shades of gray to red to black and tan, typically of a double pigment (where each lighter colored hair has a black tip). The coat is easy care, needing a brushing with a medium stiff brush regularly and an occasional bath, but it is not long enough to tangle or mat and sheds out easily. The breed generally exhibits few health problems, there is a propensity to hip and elbow dysplasia and the responsible breeders should x-ray for this condition before using the dog for breeding. Also CERF examinations should be undertaken on a regular basis.

Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Dogs