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The Belgian Malinois (pronounced MAL-in-wah), is a smart, confident and active herding dog. The breed is known to form strong bonds with their humans, and they absolutely love affection and attention. However, veteran dog trainer Robert Cabral, who has raised and trained a Malinois named Goofy, warns first-time dog owners that the Belgian Malinois may not be the right dog for them. 

Common traits

The Malinois is a strong, elegant and well-balanced dog. The breed’s coat is generally short and ranges from fawn to mahogany in colour whereas its ears are largely black. Known for their agility, enthusiasm and high prey and work-drive, the breed is often chosen to work alongside military and police handlers, as well as being magnificent show dogs. The Mal is also generally healthy, does well on a high-quality food (the food does not have to be breed specific) and its life expectancy is 14 to 16 years. 

What is it like to own a Belgian Malinois?

Cabral says that training a Mal is a 24-hour, 7 day a week job. Play, training and early socialisation is key to having a good experience with the breed. Although hard work, it is extremely rewarding to own a well-socialised Mal. So, if you do not have time to put in the work, your Malinois will literally drive you crazy. This is unfair to the dog and is not a good experience for the owner. 

Watch Robert Cabral share his experience here.

If you are considering owning a Malinois, ask yourself these key questions before bringing one home:

  • How experienced am I with training and socialising a high energy dog?
  • Do I have time to socialise my dog frequently?
  • Do I have a decent amount of time to spend on daily training, play or exercise?
  • Is there enough space in my yard for the Mal?

It is always advisable to get a pup from a responsible, ethical breeder or a rescue centre that puts a lot of effort into socialising and training their dogs before they are eligible to be adopted. Remember, a Mal is loyal and needs to be with you. If your day is just not structured in a way that allows you (or your partner) the time this breed needs to be happy, consider bringing a different breed into your home. However, if you do have the time, patience and drive to play or work with this dog, you will be rewarded with an unbreakable bond.

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