The Belgian Malinios
The Belgian Malinios is also known as the Belgian Shepherd. However, despite its superficial resemblance to the German Shepherd, the Belgian Malinios is actually a type of sheep dog. Weighing in at 60 to 80 pounds when fully grown, and measuring between 22 and 26 inches in height, the Malinios is classified as a medium-sized working dog. This breed has a striking appearance but a relatively narrow color range; their primary coat comes in mahogany or fawn with black tips, and their mask and ears are always black. Sometimes, although rare, they come in all black.
The Belgian Malinios as a working dog is used in many of the same ways as a German Shepherd. The Malinios is more slightly built than the German Shepherd and somewhat smaller and lighter as well. Nevertheless, the Malinios as a working dog has proved itself extremely effective and useful as a police, military or guard dog. Its lighter weight has been seen as an asset in working situations because the dog can be easily lifted and carried from place to place by a moderately strong human companion.
What makes the Belgian Malinios so effective in protective roles is its extreme trainability. These dogs are very intelligent, and their owners are generally amazed at how eager they are to learn and how quickly they can understand what they are being asked to do. As a show dog, the Belgian Malinios has proven to be a winner in a number of different types of competitions. Among the activities these dogs excel at are obedience, agility, Schutzhund (a police-y and military-style competition), Frisbee, flyball, herding, sledding and tracking. As can be seen by this list, the Malinios is not only highly trainable and intelligent, but also highly athletic and competitive.
The Personality of the Belgian MaliniosIf you have a high-energy family, then the Belgian Malinios might just be the dog for you. While other breeds may enjoy physical activity, for the Malinios it is a biological and psychological necessity. You might say that the Belgian Malinios is a super-working dog that needs to have something to do all of the time. When they are in the role of family companion instead of being used for work, they need room to roam and run and play in order to be happy. If you are a bicyclist, jogger or hiker, your Belgian Malinios will be thrilled to follow you anywhere. You can run or ride as fast as you want, and when you look back you will see your Belgian Malinios right behind you, joyfully and tirelessly tailing along right on your heels.
A Malinios kept as a pet will do much better if he has a fenced-in back yard to run around in when you are not at home. Try to keep him inside all day while you are away at work, and when you come home and open the door you most likely will not recognize the place. You first impression may be that a mini-tornado somehow entered your house while you were away. But in fact, it was just your Belgian Malinios doing what he does best, running around and having fun. Actually, if a Malinios is denied the chance to go outside and run and jump on a regular basis, he can develop neuroses that can manifest in destructive and even harmful behavior. The hyper nature of this dog also expresses itself in a strong prey instinct; if you have small children or other animals, it is best to get your Malinios as a puppy so he can be exposed to his new household companions at a young age. If you get an adult Malinios who has not been properly socialized at a puppy school or otherwise familiarized with human beings and other animals, he could easily end up chasing your poor kitty or your bewildered four year old son all about the house.
The Belgian Malinios is extremely loving and protective towards the members of his family. He is wary of strangers, however, and this trait combined with his high intelligence and keen observational skills make the Malinios an excellent watchdog. In the mind of the Malinios, he is not just a pet, he is a member of the family, and if you try to keep him outside or otherwise separated from his human beings you are going to end up having a very unhappy dog on your hands.
Hyper Can Make You HappyAs you can see, the Belgian Malinios is a high-maintenance dog in personality and temperament. Overall, it might be accurate to classify this dog as a more hyper version of the German Shepherd. However, there is a difference between high-maintenance and difficult, and the Malinios is in fact the opposite of the latter. This dog loves people, and that is a part of the reason why they are so easily trained. They crave human attention and praise, and they will return your favors with unswerving loyalty and affection. They do have one somewhat unpleasant characteristic, and that is that despite having a coat that is only medium-length, they shed heavily and should be brushed often. While they are a somewhat healthier breed generally than the German Shepherd, like the latter breed they are vulnerable to inherited hip dysplasia, a painful and degenerative disease. Before adopting any Malinios puppy, you should make sure that both of his parents were tested for dysplasia, and that the person who you are acquiring the dog from has the papers to prove it.
Because of the Belgian Malinios’ exuberant behavior and well-developed prey instincts, puppy school or some other kind of socialization should be considered all but mandatory. A Malinios needs to be exposed to other dogs at a young age, and he needs to receive some level of training from an expert in dog behavior so that his exuberance does not turn into aggressiveness or a lack of self-control in social situations. This kind of dog is generally excellent with children, but he should be trained to make sure he knows how to control himself at all times in the presence of the small and the vulnerable.
The Dog for You?The rule with the Belgian Malinios is this – if you think he might be too much dog for you to handle, then he probably is. But if you want a dog that will play with you, and run and jump with you, and truly be a part of your family every moment of the day, then the Belgian Malinios could make the perfect companion for you. He may be a lot to handle, but if you can handle him, the rewards of having such a fun-loving and enthusiastic dog will make the occasionally frustrating moments totally worth the while.