7 Fun Facts About Belgian Malinois You Didn't Know

7 Fun Facts About Belgian Malinois You Didn't Know

Author WDF Staff | Last updated: Jul 16 2023


The Belgian Malinois is one of the four Belgian Sheepdogs from different parts of the same country. This is a breed known for their working ability and obedience, and most of all, their intelligence. If you are considering getting one of these dogs, be prepared to get a puppy with insane amounts of energy. This is not a breed that will wait patiently or just chill at home; they are one of the most active dogs that will demand your time and dedication.

By getting a Malinois, you will get an extremely trainable dog capable of performing various jobs and tasks, and it is entirely up to you to help your dog develop to their full potential. This is a fascinating breed, and we decided to bring you a list of fun facts you probably didn’t know about them.

1. They are a part of the same breed

The first fun fact about the Belgian Malinois is that they are a part of the same breed as the Groenendael, Tervuren, and Laekenois. Because these dogs are from Belgium, the Belgian Kennel Club has patronage over the breed. At the end of the 19th century, breeders and dog lovers decided to classify Belgian dog breeds indigenous to that area. They have concluded that four shepherding breeds have similar roots and are all a part of the same dog breed.

Years later, DNA testing proved that these dogs are, in fact, part of the same breed, with the most significant difference being their coats. Malinois has a short, smooth coat, Groenendael has a long, black coat, Tervuren has a long sable coat, and the Laekenois has a medium-long, rough coat. The original name of the breed is Belgian Shepherd Malinois.

malinois with tongue out

2. Favorite K-9 officers

Not only are these dogs brilliant, but they are also lighter, quicker, and more agile than their cousin, the German Shepherd Dog. These two breeds are often chosen for their intellect and their working ability. However, Belgian Malinois started playing bigger and bigger roles when the military noticed that these dogs were just as sharp as the GSD but lighter and easier to maintain.

Malinois are often used for skydiving operations. They have a long partnership with their handler, and the dog has to completely trust them. Because they are lighter, they are more often tasked with parachuting in hostile territory. German Shepherds are too heavy and big-boned for these sorts of missions.

Militaries and police forces around the world are drafting Belgian Malinois for their K-9 units. In 2008, Belgian Malinois and the New York police department celebrated an unusual anniversary - they have worked together for 100 years!

belgian malinois attack training

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3. Search and Rescue dogs

Aside from being the best military and police dogs, Belgian Malinois is often one of the first picks for Search and Rescue operations. All dogs have sensitive noses and have the potential to become S&R dog, but they are often chosen based on their intelligence and trainability.

Needless to say, Belgian Malinois is one of the most trainable dog breeds in the world. Only a few other breeds can go toe to toe with these smart cookies. These dogs can perform different, complicated tasks after only a few repetitions. Their intelligence is precisely what makes them so great at this job.

malinois running in water

4. Part of popular culture

Many films have had dogs in leading roles; usually, it is a friendly breed like St. Bernards, Labradors, or Golden Retrievers, but the Malinois was the star of a popular film series. The movie called “John Wick 3 - Parabellum” starred two well-trained Belgian Malinois that Halle Berry’s character Sofia had.

If you are a cinema buff like us, then you saw what these dogs are capable of. The fun fact behind this is that the actress Halle Berry trained the dogs herself. The film director and the actress agreed that they didn’t want their Malinois to obey a hidden trainer on set, and the actress stayed and trained dogs every day for months after her combat training and shooting. Talk about commitment!

belgian malinois with a bird

Check out the list of Best Police Dogs.

5. Created for a different purpose

Even though we know these dogs today as versatile dogs employed by military and police forces worldwide, their original purpose was slightly different. As their name suggests, the Belgian Shepherd Dog was originally used for herding sheep.

Their agility and intelligence allowed these sheepdogs to control large flocks of sheep on wide fields across Belgium and could even navigate them through the narrow streets of their hometown of Malines. All four varieties of the same breed have the same abilities when it comes to working flocks of sheep, and even these days, these dogs are praised as one of the best herding dogs in the world.

malinois laying on deck

6. Served in both World Wars

Since their beginnings, Belgian Malinois was recognized and praised for their intelligence and working ability, which led them to a role in both World Wars. These dogs were used primarily as assistance dogs to the Red Cross. In World War I, Malinois were messenger dogs and helped pull carts with medicine and wounded soldiers.

In World War II, these dogs were used on both sides as messengers, military attack and defense dogs, ammunition dogs, and versatile working dogs. Even today, Belgian Malinois was used in military actions that resulted in the deaths of some of the most wanted men in the world - Osama bin Laden and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

malinois running after a ball in water

7. Malinois bloodlines

Modern-day cynology understands dog breeding to the tiniest details. With the advancement of medicine and veterinary medicine, doctors and breeders could eradicate a lot of inherited diseases and health problems that trouble different dog breeds. When it comes to the Belgian Malinois, breeders have bred different bloodlines with specific functions in mind.

Some Malinois were bred exclusively for work; they are more energetic, obedient, faster learners, and overall better workers. The primary goal of the breeding of that bloodline was their working ability. Other bloodlines were bred to be better family pets and personal protection dogs.

The focus with them was their looks and their working ability. There are some differences between the bloodlines, and if you are interested in this breed, it would be wise to learn about those bloodlines.

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