Dog handler: focus on the Malinois shepherd

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The Malinois Shepherd is the most iconic working dog and the most used. Very versatile, it can be found just as well in the field of private security as in that of the police and the military. Let’s find out together why the one we also call Belgian Shepherd has become so essential to dog handlers and dog officers around the world.

Summary :

The Belgian Shepherd Family

Originally from the region of Mechelen in Belgium, the Malinois is one of the four varieties of Belgian shepherds :

  • le berger belge Groenendael

  • le berger belge Tervueren

  • the Belgian shepherd Malinois

  • the Belgian Shepherd Laekenois

The Malinois Shepherd was officially recognized as a variety at the very beginning of the 1900s. The breed belongs to group 1 which includes sheepdogs and cattle dogs.

The extraordinary physical abilities of the Malinois shepherd

Malinois shepherd

Medium-sized, this Belgian Shepherd dog goes everywhere. His lean muscles and his power are all assets that have allowed him to establish himself as a intervention dog and war dog ; disciplines that require bite, endurance and physical strength. Added to its many strengths is a certain hardiness that allows it to adapt to a wide variety of environments and climatic conditions. It requires little maintenance, apart from brushing once a week outside of the moulting period.

The “identity card” of the Malinois shepherd:

  • Size: 56 to 62cm at the withers

  • Weight: 20 to 30kg

  • Origin: Belgium

  • Coat: short

  • Color: tawny-charcoal

  • Breed distinctions: black mask on the face

  • Life expectancy: 12-14 years

  • Common diseases: hip dysplasia

Malinois Shepherd, a mind of steel at the service of the dog handler

Dog with a strong temperament, the Malinois Shepherd is balanced, lively and endowed with great learning capacities which must be called upon on a regular basis. If he is well trained, he is obedient, faithful to his master and reckless without being oblivious.

The character traits of the Malinois shepherd:

Working dog: the learning abilities of the Malinois

Malinois shepherd puppy

His playful demeanor, his liveliness and his great intelligence make the Belgian Shepherd a dog predisposed to training. Less greedy than other breeds of dogs (the Labrador for example), it is nonetheless still sensitive to treats. The Malinois seeks above all to please his master. Of a wary and nervous nature, the puppy should be well trained and socialized so as not to pose problems once they reach adulthood. The Malinois Shepherd is not an ideal breed for a “first dog”. To flourish, it must be entrusted to an experienced person.

Adult dog needs

As long as his needs are met, the Malinois shepherd can just as easily live in an apartment as in a house with a garden. Very intelligent and jock, it is a dog who must spend several hours a day physically (long walks) and mentally (tracking games, walks rich in new smells, meeting with other dogs, …). If the master of a Malinois shepherd does not take care of him enough, he is a dog that can develop destructive behavior.

Malinois Shepherd, a utility dog ​​with many caps

Malinois shepherd in portrait

The Malinois Shepherd is very commonly used as intervention dog and assault by the dog brigades of the army, the police and the gendarmerie (GIGN, RAID, army, paratroopers, etc.). For the National Gendarmerie, for example, the Malinois shepherd represents no less than 75% of the herd.

It can also be used by search and rescue dog teams (gendarmerie, firefighters, …) after natural disasters or accidents: avalanches, fires, rubble, … etc.

In the private sector, it is a very good guard and defense dog and is frequently used in the field of private security for guarding, surveillance of buildings or during sporting or cultural events and other large gatherings.

The Malinois has a good sense of smell which allows him to work in customs or armed forces dog teams looking for narcotics, explosives, fire accelerators, etc. However, other dog breeds excel more in this role. This is for example the case of Saint-Hubert which is used more and more, in particular by the national gendarmerie.

As its name so aptly emphasizes, the Belgian Malinois shepherd is originally a herding dog although today, it may be the last role that comes to mind when we think of this iconic animal.

Outside the professional framework, the Belgian Malinois shepherd is an animal that excels in all dog sports : cani-cross, agility, ring, obédience, …

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