A Malinois is not a breed of dog. The
Malinois is a VARIETY of the breed BELGIAN SHEPHERD DOG. Within the UK
and Europe, The Belgian Shepherd Dog comes in four varieties:
Tervueren, Groenendael, Malinois and Laekenois. In the US however the
varieties are classified as separate breeds.
All the varieties of the Belgian Shepherd Dog should have the exact
same body, the only thing making them differ is the coat and/or the
colour. The Tervueren is a longcoated dog that comes in either Red,
Fawn or Grey, always with a black mask, with differing amounts of
black overlay. The Groenendael is longcoated and always Black. The
Malinois is shortcoated and comes in the same colours as the
Tervueren. The Laekenois finally is curlycoated and comes as Reddish
Fawn, sometimes without the black mask. All the four varieties may
have a small amount of white on their chest and hindtoes. You do
occasionally see blue Malinois (where the mask, ears etc are blue
instead of black) and all black ones, or those with half a white leg
or similar. This is not correct for the show ring but makes no
difference at all if the dog is going to be worked only. Which colours
that are acceptable vary from country to country. Some only accept
Fawn or Red and not Grey, for instance. The UK lists all three as
acceptable. Way back in the beginning, Grey (sometimes referred to as
Sand) and also Black was included in the breed standard in its country
of origin. These were later removed. A word of warning about blue:
Blue in any breed of dog is a dilute colour (i.e. a "washed out"
version of black) and it is never a good idea to mate two blue dogs
together as the resulting puppies may suffer from various skin
problems such as alopecia.
Thus the correct name for the Malinois in the UK is the full "BELGIAN
SHEPHERD DOG (MALINOIS)". This is normally shortened to just Malinois,
or the affectionate "Mali" or even just "Mal". You can also refer to
the variety as the "BSD Malinois" or the "Belgian Shepherd Malinois".
"Belgian Malinois" is the American breed name, and is not
technically correct in the UK. It is however often used, in particular
among owners/breeders of working line Malinois. In its home country of
Belgium, the Malinois is known as the "Belgische Herdershond
The Belgian Shepherd Dogs were developed in various regions of
Belgium, where they were used for both herding and guarding livestock.
The shortcoated variety from Malines (Mechelen) became known as the
Malinois. The four varieties were split and named and given breed
standards in 1891.
According to the UK Kennel Club breed standard, the ideal height of a
dog is 61-66 cms (24 to 26 ") and for a bitch 56-61 cms (22-24 ").
Working line Malinois are often bigger and in particular heavier with
stronger bones. Malinois bitches can weigh from 17 to 30 kg and even
above, with the average for showline bitches being around 22-24 kgs.
Dogs are larger and as such weigh in at 25 kgs and above, although
both smaller and bigger dogs do exist. The Belgian Shepherd should be
a square dog -imagine fitting the body, minus its head, into a square
box. To read the Kennel Club breed standard for the Belgian Shepherd
Dog, go to
The Malinois has proved very popular with the police and army. They
tend to be faster and above all healthier than the German Shepherd.
The variety has been split into two (as with so many other breeds) -
show type and working type. The main differences between a show type
and a working type Malinois is that the working type has been bred to
have a much higher drive ("work ethic"!) than the show type, it tends
to be bigger, heavier in bone, and with a broader head, larger ears
and often a smoother/shorter coat. Some breeders, both in the UK and
abroad, are aiming for a Malinois that both can work and be shown,
i.e. having the look of a show dog (as per the breed standard) but
with the working type's higher drive. Show line Malinois can still
work, and indeed the UK's first MOD and police Malinois were from
showlines. The working type has however been bred with particular
attention paid to their drive, and as such they are more frequently
used by professionals these days. A working type Malinois does NOT
make a pet and is best suited with police, army, search and rescue
etc, plus of course the serious dog sports competitor, such as IPO,
working trials etc. The show type is ideal for agility, obedience,
flyball, some do take part successfully in working trials, and they do
of course make good pets -as long as they are still kept ACTIVE.