Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Breed Profile: Belgian Malinois

By Ruthie Bently

This handsome dog is the newest member of the Pomona, California Police Department Canine unit. His name is Baco, and he was officially donated by CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods in March of this year, after the unexpected death of their previous dog Buddy. Baco is a three and a half year old Belgian Malinois.

The Belgian Malinois was first developed in the city of Malines, which is where it gets it name, and is one of four of the Belgian herding dogs. They are registered in France and Belgium as the Chien de Berger Belge. The Belgian Malinois is a member of the AKC Working group, which also includes the Belgian Sheepdog and the Belgian Tervuren. The three dogs share their foundations in common, though interestingly enough in its native Belgium of the three dogs, the Malinois is the favorite type of Belgian Shepherd. The Malinois’ original breeders prized it for its working character. Another interesting fact is that the United States is the only country in the world that the three breeds are judged by separate standards. In the rest of the world the judging standards for the three breeds are the same.

The Belgian Malinois was originally recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1959 as a member of the working group, and it was principally used for the herding of sheep. Males usually run from 24 to 26 inches at the withers, with the females being a bit shorter at 22 to 24 inches. The Malinois is sometimes mistaken for the German Shepherd, but the Malinois is lighter-boned and “more elegant in build” according to the AKC. This does not mean, however, that they are lacking in abilities for herding, agility or strength. Many Malinois’ and their owners participate in tracking, sledding, obedience, confirmation and Schutzhund.

The temperament for the Belgian Malinois according to the American Kennel Club states: “Correct temperament is essential to the working character of the Belgian Malinois. The breed is confident, exhibiting neither shyness nor aggressiveness in new situations. The dog may be reserved with strangers but is affectionate with his own people. He is naturally protective of his owner’s person and property without being overly aggressive. The Belgian Malinois possesses a strong desire to work and is quick and responsive to commands from his owner.”

Before its acceptance into the AKC in 1959, the Belgian Malinois was in the Miscellaneous class, though it was registered in the AKC Stud Book. The reason for this was that there were not enough dogs to compete for championships. The first Belgian Shepherds registered with the AKC were “Belgian Blackie” and “Belgian Mouche” and were registered in 1911 and up until World War II the Malinois saw an increase in popularity in the United States.

The Belgian Malinois is a dog that needs a strong owner who knows they are the alpha dog. The Malinois is happiest when working, and needs to have an active schedule. So if you want to share your life with an intelligent, very trainable, active dog, the Belgian Malinois may be just the dog for you.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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