Belgian Malinois

  • Overview

    Belgian Malinois are the oldest of the Belgian herding breeds. They are extremely intelligent, highly trainable and have an intense desire to work. They excel in police work, military performance and even help out on special intelligence missions. Although their identity has been kept secret to protect the highly-trained team who raided Osama bin Laden's compound in Afghanistan, it has been rumored that a Belgian Malinois was a member of the team to complete that special mission. Belgian Malinois make fiercely devoted, protective watchdogs and companions for families who get excited about spending plenty of time training their intelligent, hard-working dogs. Plan to spend lots of time with these guys, teaching them polite manners and helping them display their naturally obedient instincts. They don't require excessive grooming, but they do shed, so they need to be brushed consistently.

  • Personality

    Belgian Malinois make excellent watchdogs. They have naturally protective natures, and they are constantly on alert. When they are not given a job to do or an activity to occupy them, they move around the house in circles, practicing their herding behaviors.

    These natural herders are active working dogs who need plenty of outdoor exercise to keep them busy and well-behaved. Belgian Malinois also need to be socialized continually, beginning at an early age, to make sure that they do not become overly protective or timid around strangers. They have a tendency to be reserved around new people and other dogs and will always warm up gradually, but socialization will help them show off their friendly, playful sides. Because Belgian Malinois are so intelligent, they can be a little dismissive of training that is not firm and respectful. They need to build strong relationships with experienced trainers to display their hardworking, intense desire to obey.

  • Coat Care

    Belgian Malinois have short-haired coats in shades of fawn, ranging from light apricot to mahogany. Their hair is longer around the tail, thighs and neck, where it forms a ruff. Their appearances are characterized by their black mask and the black tips of hair throughout their coat, which distinguishes them from German Shepherds and from the other breeds of Belgian sheepdogs. They also have pointy triangular ears and a chiseled head. Belgian Malinois should be brushed once a week with a firm bristle brush to remove dead hairs and keep their coat from looking scraggily.

Brushing

Belgian Malinois shed twice a year, so if you want to decrease the amount of hair left around the house, brush them daily to remove dead hair and stimulate a healthy growth pattern for new hairs.

Bathing

With preparation, perseverance and a positive attitude, bathing can become a fun and fulfilling part of the regular grooming cycle, while helping your dog avoid many diseases and infections.

The general rule of thumb for dog bathing is every three months but dogs with short coats do produce a distinctive dog odor, so your nose may encourage you to bathe them more frequently - about every 8-12 weeks. The coat should end up fresh smelling, shiny, with no loose or shedding hair. First give the dog a good brushing to remove dead hair and mats. Place a rubber mat in the tub to provide secure footing and fill the tub with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Use a spray hose, pitcher or unbreakable cup to wet the dog, taking caution to avoid getting water in the eyes, ears and nose. Massage in pet shampoo, saving the head for last. Immediately rinse thoroughly, starting with the head to prevent soap from dripping into the eyes. Towel dry. Wipe wrinkled breeds with a soft cloth and make sure they are totally dry after bathing; high-velocity dryers work great to remove excessive loose hair with shedding; coat should be fresh smelling, shiny, with no loose or shedding hair.

Hair Clipping

Clipping or trimming your dog’s coat is far easier than you would ever imagine. With the right clipper, trimmer and scissors, giving your dog a haircut is easy on your wallet and your schedule.

Most dogs with short coats generally require occasional trims and tidying up in areas of excessive hair growth with trimmers or blunt scissors. It's always wise to take a dog for a short walk or exercise to calm them down before trimming. Remember to brush the coat first to remove tangles and mats. Use a trimmer or a scissors to even out areas around the tail, paws, sanitary areas and chest, as needed.  When finished, the coat should lay flat and smooth against the body of most short-haired dogs.

Nails

Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.

Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.

You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

Eyes / Ears

Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.

It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Some short-coated dogs, like hounds and mastiffs, have large, sensitive ears that should be checked  weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. If you have a small dog, like an Pug, take special care to  clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes to make sure they are comfortable. Dogs with facial wrinkles, like Pugs and Dogues de Bordeaux, be wiped down at least weekly to prevent infection.

Teeth

Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.