Like all Belgian Shepherds, the Malinois is a medium-sized 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.
ue 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 Laekenoisis 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.
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 3, though it is not uncommon for them to exhibit this energy level until the age of five. Many have excessively highprey drive.
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 as being very easy to train, due to their high drive for rewards.
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 aworking 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, Malinois (along with German Shepherds) are preferred breeds for use as working dogs.
Notable health problems prevalent to the Malinois include cataracts, epilepsy, hip dysplasia
and pannus, although these problems have been minimized through selective breeding.