The existence of the Belgian Sheepdog can be traced back to Belgium in the 1800s where they were used for centuries to herd sheep and even guard property. One of four Belgian Sheepdog varieties, the Belgian Malinois (pronounced "mal-in-wah") was named after the town of Malines where he was most commonly found. During the 19th century, Professor Adolphe Reul of the Belgian School of Veterinary Medicine categorized the shepherd dogs of Belgium into eight groups, which were further condensed to the four varieties we see today that includes the Groenendael (longhaired, black), Laekenois (wirehaired), Malinois (shorthaired), and Tervuren (longhaired, "blackened" fawn or mahogany). In Belgium, they are considered four varieties of the same breed since all coat types would appear in one litter. Today, the Malinois is a popular breed used by the police and military, while also commonly being seen in guardian positions throughout the United States.
The Belgian Malinois is a sturdy, but elegant-looking herding breed that is commonly mistaken for a small German Shepherd Dog due to their fawn or mahogany-colored coat and black mask. Their angular dimensions make their bodies seem a little rectangular with a firm, alert-looking stance. Despite their sturdiness, the breed never looks bulky and are in fact quite agile for their size. The coat of the Belgian Malinois has a short, straight, all-weather topcoat and a thick undercoat with dark ears and a dark-colored mask to finish off the appearance. They have slightly almond-shaped eyes and very triangular ears that stand straight up to accentuate the alerting gaze these working dogs are known to have. The muzzle of the Malinois is moderately pointed with a black nose and they have a sturdy, medium-long length tail.
Observant and obedient, the Belgian Malinois is an exceptional watch and guard dog who is wary of strangers and will protect their families at all costs. Even though they are known for their hard-working positions, they have a lively and playful temperament that is loved by many to make a happy and affectionate companion. These strong-willed dogs can have a bossy personality, making them a bit dominant over other dogs and a tendency to chase cats due to their high prey drive. Highly intelligent, the Belgian Malinois is a quick learner and responds best to positive reinforcement with praise and treats. Regardless of their background, they are not to be kept outside and forgotten, which otherwise can lead to undesirable traits such as aggression and distrust towards strangers and others. It is important for them to be involved with the family since they love being given lots of affection and attention. The breed is known to do better with older, well-mannered children due to their size, strength, and intolerance of rough play. With a love for the outdoors, these herding dogs need plenty of daily exercise and a regular job to avoid destructive behavior indoors; remember, an active Malinois is a happy Malinois. With early socialization, proper training, and regular exercise, the Belgian Malinois can make a great addition as a guardian or active family companion.