The Malinois /ˈmælᵻnwɑː/ is a medium-to-large breed of dog, sometimes classified as a variety of the Belgian Shepherd dog rather than as a separate breed. The name "Malinois" is derived from Malines, the French name for the breed's city of origin.
The breed is used as a working dog for tasks including detection of odors such as explosives, accelerants (for arson investigation), and narcotics; tracking humans for suspect apprehension in police work and search and rescue missions. The U.S. Secret Service uses Belgian Malinois to guard the grounds of the White House.
The Malinois is a medium-to-large and square-proportioned dog in the sheepdog family. The Malinois has a short mahogany coat with black markings. It has black erect ears and a black muzzle. It has a square build in comparison to the German Shepherd.
Coat and color
Due to its history as a working dog (i.e., being bred for function over form), the Malinois can vary greatly in appearance. The acceptable colors of pure-bred Malinois are a base color fawn to mahogany and tan with a black mask and black ears with some degree of black tipping on the hairs, giving an overlay appearance. The color tends to be lighter with less black agouti or overlay on the dog's underside, breeching, and inner leg. White markings are also allowed on the tips of the toes and the chest, as long as the white on the chest does not extend up to the neck. The other varieties of Belgian Shepherd are distinguished by their coats and colors: the Tervuren is the same color as the Malinois but has long hair, the wire-coated Laekenois is fawn and lacks the black mask and ears, and the Groenendael (registered as Belgian Sheepdog by the American Kennel Club) has long hair and is solid black.
Males are about 61–66 cm (24–26 in), while females are about 56–61 cm (22–24 in) at the withers. Female Malinois average 20–25 kg (44–55 lb); males are heavier at 25–30 kg (55–66 lb).
- Malinois with a black mask
- Malinois puppy
- Ten-week-old Belgian Malinois
Malinois in the ring competing in dog agility
Well-raised and trained Malinois are usually active, intelligent, friendly, protective, alert and hard-working. Belgian Malinois exhibit energy levels that are among the highest of all dog breeds. A typical Malinois will have puppy-like energy until the age of three, though it is not uncommon for them to exhibit this energy level until the age of five. Many have excessively high prey drive. Some may be excessively exuberant or playful, especially when young. They can be destructive or develop neurotic behaviors if not provided enough stimulation and exercise. This often causes problems for owners who are unfamiliar with the breed and are not prepared to provide the exercise they require or a job for them to do. They are medium-sized, strong dogs that require consistent obedience training, and enjoy being challenged with new tasks. They are known to be very easy to train, due to their high drive for rewards.
A Belgian Malinois working with Naval Security.
In Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and other European countries, as well as in the United States, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong, the Malinois is bred primarily as a working dog for personal protection, detection, police work, search and rescue, and sport work like Schutzhund. The United States Secret Service and Royal Australian Air Force use the breed along with other working lines such as Dutch Shepherd, and also GSD. In the United States Armed Forces, German Shepherds lead the way, but close behind follows the Belgian Malinois.
In India, The ITBP and National Security Guard (NSG) commando unit have inducted Malinois breed into its K-9 unit.
Malinois dogs are used by the Oketz, the K-9 unit of the Israel Defense Forces. Malinois are a suitable size to be picked up by their handlers when required, while still being large enough to control human aggressors. Compared to previously used breeds (such as German Shepards and Rottweilers), the shorter coats and fair and neutral colors of Malinois are better adapted to natural conditions and less prone to induce heatstroke.
United States Navy SEALs used a Belgian Malinois war dog named Cairo in Operation Neptune Spear, in which Osama bin Laden was killed.
On 18 November 2015, Diesel, a seven-year-old Malinois RAID assault dog employed by the French police, was killed in a shootout with suspected terrorists in the Saint-Denis area of Paris, while searching for suspects involved in the November 2015 Paris attacks.
A U.S. Air Force Belgian Malinois atop an M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle in Iraq in 2007.
Malinois can compete in dog agility trials and in flyball, herding, obedience, showmanship, and tracking events, and are one of the most popular breeds used in protection sports such as the Schutzhund. In America herding is a popular activity.
Herding instincts can be measured at noncompetitive herding tests. In 2011 alone, the AKC awarded 39 new herding titles to Belgian Malinois.
The average lifespan of the Belgian Malinois is 10–12 years. Notable health problems prevalent to the Malinois include cataracts, epilepsy, thyroid disease, progressive retinal atrophy, hip dysplasia and pannus, although these problems have been minimized through selective breeding.
In popular culture
- Kane, the co-star of James Rollins and Grant Blackwood's Tucker Wayne series, is a Belgian Malinois.
- The American science fiction crime drama television series Person of Interest features a Malinois named Bear as a regular cast member.
- The titular character of the 2015 feature film Max is a Malinois, returning from service with the US Marine Corps.
- It was also used in Naaigal Jaakirathai (English: Beware of Dogs), a Tamil language Indian film
- Three different Malinois played the role of "Tracker", the faithful but vicious companion of Sam, the merciless rifle-toting vigilante of Desierto
Notable Belgian Malinois
The police dog killed in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks was a Malinois named Diesel who was given a funeral with full honours. Rocket, a Belgian Malinois raised in India's National Security Guard's K-9 unit, as an expert assault and sniffer dog was recommended for gallantry award in 2016, for detecting fidayeen presence in Pathankot airbase attack. During the operation he received burn injuries on his paws and forehead, but after treatment for weeks he was back on duty.