Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
About the Belgian Malinois
Appearance of the Belgian Malinois
Is the Belgian Malinois a very hyper breed of dog?
Not all Malinois are the same. Different breeders are breeding dogs for certain characteristics, and “high energy” is one of these. There is a very important difference between a high energy dog and a hyperactive dog that does not know how to rest. The energy level of a dog should be looked much more on an individual basis than to label a whole breed of dogs as hyperactive lunatics. Hyperactivity, in my opinion, is overall not a desired trait. I can assure you that 98% of all Ot Vitosha Malinois sleep for many hours at a time (not in a crate), can travel for hours in the cabin on a plane, or just lay out in the sun and chill. In our Ot Vitosha breeding program we believe that the best dogs are the ones that have an “On” and “Off” switch. Our dogs love to work, however, they do not pace around the yard or the coffee table 24/7, nor do you have to run five miles every day to burn your dog’s energy! Pretty much, all of our Belgian Malinois love to be the couch potato next to you. Having said all this, I will have to say that no dog is happy to just sit around and eat cookies and go around the block on a daily walk. If you do not have the desire to spend quality interactive time with a dog, you really do not need to own one.
Is training a Malinois so different than training a different breed of dog?
This is yet another big misconception that goes around the internet forums and dog training websites. The quick answer once again is “NO”! A well-bred Malinois is highly intelligent, has excellent toy/play/prey drive, excellent food drive, loves to interact with his people, and is one of the most agile dogs ever bred. All this makes the training of a Belgian Malinois a very enjoyable experience for both trainer and dog. You may want to check out my Training Without Conflict video vault. The Belgian Malinois is one of the oldest European breeds of dog that was used for herding, police and military, protection dog sports – just to name a few. In fact, the Malinois, one of the varieties of the Belgian Shepherd (Chien de Berger Belge), was as a breed club founded earlier than the German Shepherd Club in Germany! I am giving you this background to show you that the Malinois has not only survived but thrived and dominated the Dog Training arena since its beginning in the late 1880’s– the Malinois has proven its resiliency to “read” its master and find the way to learn. Some trainers and breeders may try to convince you that only experienced person should own one, but this is just not true! It always amazes me to hear such statements, and I have come to the conclusion that such statements are not really directed to the Malinois breed. To close,I have to agree that a well-bred Malinois is certainly Special, but in a good way. They are very adaptable, and yes, you can make mistakes in training, contrary to what you hear and read on internet forums – Malinois WILL forgive your training mistakes and move on faster than most other breeds in training. As far as I am concerned, the Malinois is the most versatile dog breed on earth in present times!
When should I start training my Malinois?
If you just got a puppy, you should not wait. Start teaching manners, house rules and have quality interactive time which can be almost anything, from playing fetch, to learning tricks, going on car rides, hiking, playing with other dogs, starting puppy level exercises in dog sports, and yes, watching movies on the couch is a favorite, too. It is very important to teach your puppy how to play Fetch and other games. You may want to check out my Training Without Conflict video vault. Going to a dog training school is NOT always the best thing to do. The reason I say this is because Dog Trainers and Dog Training schools grow like mushrooms as almost everyone who has a dog likes to start a dog training business. Please be aware and do not trust fancy websites, it is very easy to look for credentials, experience and knowledge. Ask for proof! Dog Trainers love to say catchy phrases like “positive reinforcement” and “no prong collars”, etc. If you own or are about to own an Ot Vitosha puppy, I am here to help you raise it correctly. I can also recommend a trainer with experience pretty much anywhere in the world.
Is it true that Malinois have a problem being left alone?
The Belgian Malinois loves to be around his people, and they can become “needy” if they trick you into it. It is important and not difficult at all to teach a young puppy that the world does not revolve around them 24/7. When you teach your puppy to have its own quiet time around the house, and stay calm, not getting overly excited when you go away and when you come back home, you will eliminate this problem. It is true, there are individual dogs that just do not seem to want to lay down, they pace in circles in the yard or around the coffee table, but this is not necessarily a strictly Malinois trait. Some dog trainers unfortunately believe that keeping the working dog isolated during the day will help them with building their motivation for training and thus they actually create this separation anxiety on purpose in this way, and then try to say that the Malinois breed does not like to be left alone.
Can I trust a Belgian Malinois around my children?
Just as many of the FAQ s this one also does not apply strictly to the Malinois. A well-bred dog will not have problems interacting and trusting children. In general, dogs that have grown up around children have the social skills and know how to read them. They will understand when children are playing , crying, crawling etc., and can read the intentions behind the children’s actions better than a dog that lacks the exposure to them. There are certain things that you need to consider while the puppy is young, early socialization and exposure is a must for the education of any dog. As a human you must realize that dogs need to get this exposure in order to fit in our society better. Dogs that lack confidence tend to avoid children. Dogs that have behavior issues such as food or toy possession/aggression will have problems with children in these instances as well. Most dog bites that involved children are really the dog’s intention to only discipline, create boundaries and rules between the child and themselves. They can be 100% avoided if the parents take this responsibility for their dog thus taking charge to establish rules and supervise dogs and kids. I always give this analogy to my clients: Imagine what could happen if the children in kindergarten are left unsupervised, sooner or later there will be a conflict that they will not know how to resolve and one (or more of them) will be crying. If a dog wants to really hurt a child they could and this type of bite will be with a completely different intention and the damage will be much more serious than just the puncture wound they did on the soft skin. Children and dogs can develop a very special bond, but they REALLY need your supervision at all times!
What type of personality and temperament does the Malinois have?
Belgian Malinois can vary greatly in temperament and conformation! The most common flaws in temperament of Malinois are:
- Lack of Confidence – which will, in some cases, develop into fear aggression.
- Environmentally unsound – which means they can get scared by a plastic bag, that flies away on the sidewalk.
- Dominance – leading to possessive behaviors, and territorial aggression.
There are breeders who, at times, breed very aggressive and unpredictable dogs (usually breeders with very little experience and knowledge), however, this is not a Malinois subject only. If you do not want such dog, stay away from these kinds of breeders. The well-bred Malinois fits and finds great solutions on how to fit in society. Some are quite outgoing and some do not feel the need to run to greet everyone they meet. The personality or temperament of a dog has a strong genetic influence but how the dog is raised is crucial to what kind of dog it will grow up as. A well-bred and properly raised Malinois is NOT fearful, NOT aggressive for any reason, IS, in my opinion, the ultimate dog.
Be sure to visit the training vault for all of our training videos.
Does the Malinois shed?
All dogs shed. The Malinois is no different. It has double or undercoat and it sheds twice a year. The amount of shedding will vary depending on the climate you live in. If you live in a place with real winter, the shedding will be more than if you live in tropical climate. The Malinois does not shed as much as the German Shepherd, for example. Weekly grooming can keep the shedding to a minimum for sure.
Are the Malinois divided into show and working lines, in the same way as German Shepherds?
Yes they are. There are breeders who breed for either extreme, and there are breeders who try to breed a well-rounded dog. Our Ot Vitosha breeding program has the primary objective to breed healthy and sound dogs that are able to do what you would like them to do. As you may have already seen in our pictures and videos some of our dogs also have stunning looks, however, this is secondary to temperament and health for us.
Can you help me to decide if a Belgian Malinois is a good match for me?
Yes, send us an email and tell us about yourself, your lifestyle, if you have or had a previous dog, and if you have some, any videos can be of help as well. We will get back to you.
If I want an Ot Vitosha Malinois, do I get to choose the puppy?
No, I will choose the puppy. I have bred Belgian Malinois since 1989, and I know my lines of dogs better than anyone else. If you want an Ot Vitosha puppy you will have to tell me:
- what are your intentions,
- what are your plans for the puppy,
- do you want to do sport, or just have a dog as a pet, or for Protection, etc.
- would you prefer a male or a female, or you might be open to either,
- Size, color and whatever else you may think is important.
Should I have further questions I will contact you further. You will also have to prioritize. For example if a very dark color is more important than the working abilities etc. It will be my job to match you with the puppy based on what you tell me.
What is the average life span of a Malinois?
The average life span of some of our dogs is 16-17 years old, but for the most part, depending on if you as an owner feel that you have to make the decision, most of our dogs live to about 14 -15 yrs old.
Tell me more about the origin of The Malinois?
The Belgian Shepherd Club (Club du Chien de Berger Belge) was created BEFORE the German Shepherd Club (Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde) Official breed creation occurred around 1891, when the Club du Chien de Berger Belge (Belgian Shepherd Dog Club) was formed in Brussels. The founder of the breed is considered to be Prof. A. Reul. The first breed standard was written in 1892, but official recognition did not occur until 1901, when the Royal Saint-Hubert Society Stud Book began registering Belgian Shepherd Dogs. By 1910, fanciers managed to eliminate the most glaring faults and standardize type and temperament. There have been continued debates about acceptable colors and coat types. Structure, temperament and working ability have never been debated in regards to the standard. In Belgium (the country of origin) all four types are considered to be varieties of a single breed, differentiated by hair color and texture. In some non-FCI countries and other regions, they are considered separate breeds. For instance, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes only the Groenendael under the name “Belgian Sheepdog” but also recognizes the Tervuren and the Malinois as individual breeds (Belgian Tervuren and Belgian Malinois respectively). The Laekenois can be registered as part of the AKC Foundation Stock Service and should eventually be recognized fully by the AKC. At this time, the Malinois is by far the superior in temperament and working abilities! Having said this, we may still see – though very rarely! – a nice dog from the other three varieties. At times, in a Tervueren litter you may find a Malinois puppy, and from a Malinois litter there are occasionally long haired Malinois, which in some countries are registered as Tervuerens even though they come out of Malinois.