Belgian Malinois Temperament

Belgian Malinois Temperament

Maybe you stumbled upon an article about the Belgian Malinois who helped capture Osama Bin Laden.

Or maybe you’ve seen videos floating around the internet about this highly athletic and intelligent breed.

Whatever first drew your interest you’re now at a point where learning all there is about this dog is becoming a top priority.

And you may even be considering bringing home a Belgian Malinois of your own and want to go into the experience with your eyes wide open.

Bravo, my friend, on putting the time and research into learning all there is to learn about the Belgian Malinois temperament and personality because these really aren’t your average, everyday dog.

Also known as Land sharks and Maligators, Belgians love to use their mouth and hate staying still.

While most family pets will curl up on the couch after a bit, a Belgian Malinois will pace in circles all day long if he or she isn’t given the mental stimulation necessary.

In addition, even if they are, they still may pace circles all day long, hence the term Landshark. Moreover, the term Maligator comes from their intense desire to use their mouth.

Bite sports and protection sports are where this breed of dog excels, so if you are not considering something like that, this may not be the breed for you.

Belgian Malinois Temperament

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Belgian Malinois as a Working Dog

Belgian Malinois are working dogs. What that means is, for the most part, they have continued to be bred to the highest level of the breed standard.

People who are serious about breeding good Belgians are not only doing genetic testing, but they’re doing breed suitability testing to make sure that they’re going to produce puppies that live up to the high standards of a working line dog.

Belgian Malinois should be nearly fearless, highly trainable, and have an intense amount of drive. The drive is best explained as a dog’s desire to perform its task.

Most Malinois have a toy drive, meaning they’re working and performing tasks in order to earn a reward toy that their handler will use to play with them at the end of a task. When channeled correctly, that drive makes for amazing quality in a dog.

To check your shepherds’ health status or their DNA checks, please visit the Embark vet website for all the help you may need.

Belgian Malinois Temperament and personality
Image by janeb13 from Pixabay

The Goods

  • Belgian Malinois are almost so smart that it is scary.

They learn quickly, are eager to please, and have a very strong pack drive (which means they have the desire to remain with and be close to their pack).

If you are focused and dedicated to training your Belgian Malinois, they’ll continue amazing you at what they can learn.

  • Malinois loves being active

Malinois loves being active, meaning they’ll be game for doing just about any adventure you want.

Whether hiking, running, biking, or any other outdoor exploration, your Malinois will be by your side and ready to go.

  • Bonding with your Malinois will be a piece of cake.

Bonding with your Malinois will be a piece of cake. They are not aloof dogs; Malinois are highly affectionate and adore their owners. They typically bond more closely with one member of a family, but they have plenty of love to give the whole family.

  • Malinois are great natural guard dogs. 

Malinois are great natural guard dogs. They’re not trusting of strangers and will alert their owners if they hear something.

However, sometimes that something is really just the wind, so it’s important to train your Malinois on a ‘quiet’ command.

Belgian Malinois as a Working Dog
Image by Katrin B. from Pixabay

The Challenging

  • Your Belgian Malinois needs a job:

When it comes to dog temperament, breeding really does matter. These dogs have been bred for years to have a lot of energy.

If you plan on playing fetch with your Malinois every day to wear him or her out or going for a ten-mile run… sorry, friend.

That is not going to cut it. These dogs need to use their brains. Therefore, while they do need plenty of physical exercise, it’s having a job that keeps them from going crazy.

Start researching different dog sports, or things like search and rescue, early on. If you live on a farm with livestock, your dog will excel as a herding and protection companion.

But, if you live in the suburbs with a fenced backyard and expect your Malinois to be happy playing fetch a few hours a day, then hanging out in the house the rest of the time, you’re going to deal with a lot of destruction and behavioral issues.

  • Nervy and Reactive:

Belgian Malinois thinks a lot. Their brains are busy and overwhelming places, and it’s high-level obedience training and work-oriented tasks that allow those brains to remain healthy and stable.

Without proper attention being given to their training and proper time being spent working their brains out, they are prone to becoming easily stressed out, which can make them very reactive and nervy.

  • Prey Drive:

Belgian Malinois have a lot of prey drive, which is the natural instinct to chase things. This can be trained and worked on to make them safe companions for households with small children and small pets, but you need to be aware of that drive so that you can start early obedience to practice controlling that desire to chase.

  • Velcro Dogs:

These dogs tend to bond really, really intensely with their owner. Like Velcro, they want to stick to you at all times.

They think it’s perfectly acceptable to sit in the bathroom while you shower, and may even try to climb in because, hey, it’s more fun to be beside mom or dad than to be ten feet away from them. This can develop into serious separation anxiety if not properly handled.

To check your Belgian Malinois health status or their DNA, please visit the Embark vet website for all the help you may need.

Is the Belgian Malinois right for me?

A Belgian Malinois trained as a police dog will not think twice before leaping out of a car to chase a bad guy, or is trained in the military, won’t bat an eye at being repelled down from a helicopter.

This is truly an amazing breed, but you have to remember that those personality traits that make them amazing working dogs (intelligent, strong-willed, energetic, fearless, determined) can also create a really challenging pet.

Malinois temperament and personality can vary depending on breeding, but as a whole, you will have a really energetic, really smart dog who wants to learn, be by your side, and is prone to becoming nervy or aggressive if not properly trained.

If you are willing to put in the time and energy into your Belgian Malinois, he or she can make an incredible partner.

This dog is ideal if you want to get involved in a protection sport like Schutzhund, Ring Sport, or Mondioring because they love to use their mouth.

If you aren’t sure about committing to an advanced dog sport and are unsure of how much of the Malinois temperament and personality you can handle, consider reaching out to a Belgian Malinois rescue.

A local rescue can pair you with a dog whose personality and energy level suites you – maybe there’s a young Malinois who wasn’t quite driven enough to cut it as a police dog but would make a great family pet, just waiting for you.

Working with a rescue allows you to get the dog that’s best suited for you, and takes away the guesswork of bringing home a Belgian Malinois puppy.

If after reading all there is to read about the Malinois temperament and personality you still decide to dive into owning this breed, good luck! You’re in for a wild and rewarding ride!