5 Things You Should Know Before Getting a Belgian Malinois
You’ve seen the viral videos of the incredible athleticism Belgian Malinois possess. You’ve seen how heroic and brave the breed is in police work, and you may have even watched recent big screen movies about Mals and decided that they are, well…the coolest dogs ever and you definitely want/need one.
In reality – they ARE in fact the coolest dogs ever, but also the most underestimated and misunderstood as actual family pets.
In this article, I will share my own personal experience from being what I call a “normal dog owner” to owning several working dog breeds including Belgian Malinois in hopes to give you a better understanding of why this breed is so different.
THEY ARENT YOUR TYPICAL HOUSE PET
Flashback though all the years of my life and I have always had dogs. Usually, smaller breeds because I just thought they were sooo cute with their oddly oversized bobble heads and tiny little bodies. Yep you guessed it…Chihuahuas. But I also had Boxers, Rottweilers, Cocker Spaniels, Daschunds, an American Bully, Pit Bulls, and probably any and all mixed breeds in between. We all know each breed has its own set of characteristics and traits, but they were all for the most part – typical dogs.
When I was introduced to working dog breeds, Mals specifically, it took me a while to comprehend just how incredibly intelligent they really were. I was used to dog breeds that really served no other purpose but to sit there, look cute, sleep, eat, poop, and have the occasional case of zoomies. Mals, to me, were on a whole new level. I realized, WOW, now THIS is a companion. There’s an actual brain in these dogs that operates on a much higher level of intelligence. They know exactly what they are doing, what tasks that are asked of them, and put together a solution to achieve it. They actually learn, and then comprehensively problem solve! It is incredible to witness!
THEY HAVE TO HAVE CONSTANT STIMULATION
Mals possess a heightened sense of smell and sound. This is why they make the perfect scent detection and protection dogs. And once they are “activated” it’s like a switched is turned on and the dogs go into full on working mode. So, interaction and constant stimulation is a must for this breed. They do NOT do well locked up in kennels all day. They have been known to injure themselves by spinning or trying to find a way to get out of a kennel. They’ll also bark until they get let out which would not make them a good apartment dog. Lots of people ignore this fact which is why a lot of Mals get sent to shelters or re-homed often.
THEY HAVE TO HAVE A JOB
This breed is the absolute happiest when it is put to “work”. When they are given a task to do, they will stop at nothing to complete it and get their reward. As I watched protection and bite work for the first time, I thought the dog was under a lot of stress because I had never seen other breeds have that much energy before. But it was the opposite! They have so much energy and drive to do what is needed of them to please their owners and gain rewards that it makes them HAPPY to work! These dogs MUST be given something to do in order to be the happiest. Whether they are trained to protect their family, run a sport dog course, detect scents/odors, seek out objects, or simply be by their owner’s side while hiking, they must be given constant stimulation.
THEY CAN SCALE A 6-8 FOOT FENCE
I mentioned the viral videos earlier. Where the Mal runs in slow motion and effortlessly scales a massive wall. Or the one where a dog walks on a single tight rope blind folded and navigates his way to the other side of the platform. Or the one where the dog jumps over 6ft high to grab a toy hanging from a tree branch. The dogs are SUPER athletic. These fur missiles have athleticism paired with intelligence which means, they can’t be left outside for long periods of time. They will find a way out of a backyard within minutes and think of it as a game! Again- not a good breed to leave alone so if you know that you will be away a lot, then definitely do not get a Malinois.
THROUGH THE ROOF PREY DRIVE
I already mentioned not leaving them alone for long periods of time. But another reason for that is that these animals have the highest drive for prey. So, they need to be watched while having outside time because they might just mistake Ms. Betty’s poodle next door as their prey. They can be trained to stray away from certain other small animals but unless you have your dog professionally trained to allow distractions, be cautious leaving them around other house pets like cats, other small dogs, birds, ferrets, hamsters…. you get the point. Outside animals like chickens, ducks, rabbits, etc. could also send them into prey drive as well. You’ll know when they are in drive when the ears go up and they become hyper focused. Some Mals will even “chatter” by snapping their teeth together, hence the nickname “Malligators”.
If you’ve been doing your research on Belgian Malinois, hopefully I am not telling you anything you do not already know. But if you stumble upon this article in the beginning stages of research for a pet for your family, I hope it conveys how special they are, how different they are from other dogs, and that they are not the breed for just anyone.
However, if you can spend A LOT of time with your Mal, consistently train them on a task or a “job”, do not leave in in a kennel or unsupervised in a back yard, and be physical capable to handle the strength of these dogs, then congratulations! A Mal would be a great fit for you, and you’ll be rewarded for years to come with absolute loyalty from your pup. They are extremely loving to their owner and family including children and can give the best, warm snuggles on a rainy day one minute, and then protect your family from an attacker the next.