Belgian Shepherd Dog (Malinois) illustration
Pastoral

Belgian Shepherd Dog (Malinois)

Versatile herding and armed services dog, with four distinct coat types

Breed characteristics

Size
Medium
Exercise
More than 2 hours per day
Size of home
Large house
Grooming
More than once a week
Coat length
Medium
Sheds
Yes
Lifespan
Over 10 years
Vulnerable native breed
No
Town or country
Either
Size of garden
Large garden

About this breed

Sheepdogs of this type date back in Belgium to the Middle Ages. Four varieties of the breed exist sharing the same physical attributes and alluded only by coat and colour - Groenendael: black and long coat; Tervueren: long coated and seen in red, fawn or grey, often with a black mask and overlay; Malinois: with a dense, short coat and with the same colourings as the Tervueren; Laekenois: a harsh wiry coat, red/fawn with some black shadings.

It was not until 1891, the first breed club was formed and Professor Adolphe Reul of the Belgian veterinary school examined 117 examples of the breed and classified the varieties which were named according to the area of Belgium where they originated. The Laekenois gained its name from the Château of Laeken – a royal residence of Queen Marie Henriette who favoured the variety.

Their physical attributes equip them to be excellent herding dogs: they are agile, fast and lightly built yet robust, but the breed has shown its versatility as a service dog, widely used by the police and armed forces. They have an appetite for work, being watchful, wary and highly intelligent.

Read the breed standard

Images for this breed

The Pastoral breed group

The Pastoral Group consists of herding dogs that are associated with working cattle, sheep, reindeer and other cloven footed animals.

Usually this type of dog has a weatherproof double coat to protect it from the elements when working in severe conditions. Breeds such as the Collie family, Old English Sheepdogs and Samoyeds who have been herding reindeer for centuries are but a few included in this group.

Breed standard colours

Breed standard colour means that the colour is accepted within the breed standard and is a traditional and well-known colour in this breed.

Breed standard colours in this breed include:

  • Fawn
  • Fawn Black Mask
  • Fawn Black Mask & Overlay
  • Fawn Black Overlay
  • Grey
  • Grey Black Mask
  • Grey Black Overlay
  • Red
  • Red Black Mask
  • Red Black Overlay
  • Red Black Overlay Black Mask
  • Red Fawn
  • Red Grey Sable

Other colour/s

'Other' means you consider your puppy to be a colour not currently known within the breed and one that does not appear on either the breed standard or non-breed standard list. In this instance you would be directed through our registrations process to contact a breed club and/or council to support you on identifying and correctly listing the new colour.

Non-breed-standard colours

Non-breed-standard colour means that the colour is not accepted within the breed standard and whilst some dogs within the breed may be this colour it is advised to only select a dog that fits within the breed standards for all points.

Colour is only one consideration when picking a breed or individual dog, health and temperament should always be a priority over colour.

Health

Whether you’re thinking of buying a puppy, or breeding from your dog, it’s essential that you know what health issues may be found in your breed. To tackle these issues we advise that breeders use DNA tests, screening schemes and inbreeding coefficient calculators to help breed the healthiest dogs possible.

More about health

Priority health schemes and tests

The Kennel Club's Assured Breeders must use the following schemes, tests and advice. All other breeders are strongly advised to also use these.

Important health schemes and tests

We strongly recommend that all breeders, both assured breeders (ABs) and non ABs, use the following schemes, tests and advice.

Find out about a particular dog's results

Please visit our Health Test Results Finder to discover the DNA or screening scheme test results for any dog on The Kennel Club's Breed Register.

You can also view the inbreeding coefficient calculation for a puppy's parents, or for a dog you're thinking of breeding from.

Have any questions about health in your breed?

If you have any concerns about a particular health condition in your breed then you may wish to speak to your vet or you could contact your breed health co-ordinator.

Breed health co-ordinators are individuals working on behalf of breed clubs and councils who are advocates for the health and welfare of their chosen breed. They acts as a spokesperson on matters of health and will collaborate with The Kennel Club on any health concerns the breed may have.

Contact the breed health co-ordinator for the Belgian Shepherd Dog (Malinois).

Breed watch

Category 1        

Currently no points of concern specific to this breed have been identified for special attention by judges, other than those covered routinely by The Kennel Club's breed standard.

Read more about Breed Watch

Breeding restrictions

There are a number of The Kennel Club's rules and regulations that may prevent a litter from being registered, find out about our general and breed specific breeding restrictions below.

More about breeding

Belgian Shepherd (Malinois) parents may produce one or more Belgian Shepherd (Tervueren) puppies in a litter. The option to register online is not available and must be submitted by post on a litter application form. A note should be made next to the relevant puppy or in the form of an accompanying letter.

More information

Dog in Kennel Club bed

Sign up to The Kennel Club

Create an online account and enjoy the many benefits, including your own online dashboard, as well as access to our newsletters and learning centre.

Find out more
Girl with dog

Visit us at Discover Dogs

Unsure of which pedigree dog to choose? Visit Discover Dogs where you can meet hundreds of pedigree dogs and speak with experienced owners/breeders.

Find out more
Labrador and girl

Use our Find a Puppy service

The Kennel Club's Find a Puppy service provides contact details for breeders who have puppies available. Let's help you find your new best friend.

Find out more