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13 Belgian Malinois Pros and Cons: Traits & Characteristics

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 19, 2024 by Dogster Team

belgian malinois walk with his owner

13 Belgian Malinois Pros and Cons: Traits & Characteristics

The Belgian Malinois is a world-class working dog known for their energetic nature. They are a special breed that thrives in an environment where all their needs are met, and they require an experienced owner who knows a bit about caring for a Belgian Malinois. You may be one of those experienced pet parents looking to adopt one of these fantastic breeds and know that it’s essential to understand the pros and cons before adopting a dog.

In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of Belgian Malinois and how they should be properly cared for.

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The 8 Belgian Malinois Pros

1. Highly Intelligent

Belgian Malinois are a highly intelligent breed. In fact, after a 2022 study where scientists tested 1000 dogs from 23 breeds,1 they surpassed the intelligence of the Border Collie and now rank as the smartest breed with a total of 35 out of 39 points. They had great results in most of the tests but stood out in many of the cognitive tests.

Once they put their mind to it, they can excel at almost anything they do; they will even try outsmarting you sometimes. They need a strong and confident owner who knows how to be a pack leader; otherwise, they will dominate the household.

belgian malinois obegience training
Image Credit: Svitlana Hulko., Shutterstock

2. Easily Trained

Given their intelligence and eagerness to please their owners, the Belgian Malinois is relatively easy to train. They can generally learn a new command within 5–15 repetitions.

Early training is vital for these dogs so that they know how to control and use their energy effectively. While they are quick learners, they can also be sensitive to harsh corrections, and positive reinforcement is the most effective method for training.

3. Loyal and Protective

The Belgian Malinois makes an incredible watchdog because they are inherently protective of their owners and their property without being too aggressive. They won’t hesitate to alert you when they spot a stranger or a perceived threat on the property.

Because of that, your Belgian Malinois must be socialized and trained to handle perceived threats. They are intelligent dogs that will quickly learn what is a threat and what isn’t, and they will evaluate the situation calmly.

aggressive belgian malinois dog
Image Credit: Aneta Jungerova, Shutterstock

4. Minimal Grooming Needs

The Belgian Malinois has a short coat that is relatively easy to take care of. They require occasional brushing to keep their coat smooth and clean and to help remove loose hairs. However, they have a shedding period twice a year when they shed more hair and need to be brushed daily.

Belgian Malinois do not need frequent bathing except when necessary, like when they have rolled in something dirty. You should also brush their teeth as frequently as possible and check that their nails, ears, and eyes are healthy.

5. Excels in Canine Sports and Performance

Belgian Malinois make great companions for fitness enthusiasts who enjoy hiking, running, and cycling. Regarding canine sports, the dog excels at agility, obedience, herding, flyball, tracking, and protection competitions.

belgian malinois with his owner
Image Credit: Gajus, Shutterstock

6. They Encourage You to Have an Active Lifestyle

If you are looking for a companion that will encourage and motivate you to have a healthy lifestyle, the Belgian Malinois is a great choice. They are active dogs that need a lot of mental and physical stimulation. However, the Belgian Malinois is highly adaptable and easily adjusts to their owner’s routine.

7. They Get Along with Children

A properly raised Belgian Malinois will not have a hard time getting along with children and is an excellent playmate because of their high energy level. However, they can accidentally run into small children, so it’s important to supervise their interactions. Children also need to know how to manage and treat the dogs correctly.

belgian malinois dog playing with young girl
Image credit: Toma Stepunina, Shutterstock

8. They Go Beyond Companionship

While Belgian Malinois make great companions, they also excel in protection, drug, bomb, gas detection, law enforcement, and search and rescue operations. They are also prized as therapy animals for disabled, elderly, or ill people.

The 5 Belgian Malinois Cons

1. They Demand Commitment

The Belgian Malinois is not your average pet, and adding one to your family is like adding a child. They require consistent mental and physical stimulation and an experienced owner to meet these needs. They thrive off routine and consistency and must be close to their family so they can’t be kept outside in a kennel. If they become bored, they can display destructive behaviors such as digging, scratching, barking, and chewing. Generally, Belgian Malinois are not suitable for first-time owners.

belgian-malinois with owner at the park
Image Credit: encierro, Shutterstock

2. They Need Intense Exercise

Since they’re energetic canines, Belgian Malinois need more than a walk in the park to stay happy and healthy. They thrive off having a job to do, and there are many activities you can do to provide appropriate physical and mental stimulation. Regular walks and hikes, nose work, fetch games, and canine sports will provide what they need and are vital to their happiness.

3. Wary of Strangers

As mentioned, Belgian Malinoises are excellent watchdogs because they are protective. While being wary and vigilant of strangers is a great asset, especially when looking for a guard dog, they can also threaten visitors. Early training and socialization are vital, so they grow into well-behaved and well-rounded dogs.

belgian sheepdog malinois barking
Image Credit: cynoclub, Shutterstock

4. Independent and Stubborn

Belgian Malinois can be independent and strong-willed, which can make training more difficult, especially for inexperienced owners. It is essential to show your Belgian Malinois that you are the pack leader, which is another reason why an early start in training is so important.

5. High Prey Drive

The Belgian Malinois was initially bred for herding, and like many other herding breeds, they have a high prey drive. This can lead to chasing cars or animals if not properly trained. Early training teaches your dog to use their energy in acceptable activities, and learning commands from a young age will provide the groundwork for optimum obedience.

Belgian Malinois
Image Credit: 825545, Pixabay

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Caring for a Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois make excellent pets for the right homes, even families with children, but early training is crucial. They are generally a healthy breed with a life expectancy of 12–15 years, but like all dogs, they are predisposed to a few health issues, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, cataracts, and progressive retinal atrophy.

To provide your Belgian Malinois with the happiest and healthiest life possible, you should ensure you get your pup from a reputable breeder who screens their litter for health issues. You should also keep up with your dog’s vaccine schedule and visit the vet twice a year. You must also provide vet-recommended flea, tick, and worm preventatives. Along with proper health care, physical and mental stimulation, and training, your Belgian Malinois should be fed a high-quality and well-balanced diet. It is best to consult your vet about the best choice of food, portions, and supplements if needed.

Overall, before bringing home a Belgian Malinois, you must determine if you can provide the dog with physical and mental outlets, be a pack leader, provide early and consistent training, and provide suitable health care.

woman with belgian malinois at the park
Image Credit: Tatiana Maksimova, Shutterstock


The Belgian Malinois is an outstanding working-class canine that is highly intelligent and known for its playful nature. They make excellent companions and therapy dogs but demand a lot of commitment and training from their owners and are not suited for everyone. However, with the correct knowledge and care, they will make excellent lifelong companions. Their pros far outweigh their cons, and their drawbacks can easily be managed or prevented with proper early training and socialization and, of course, an understanding of their physical and mental needs.

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Featured Image Credit: Y.Gq_photo, Shutterstock

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