Temperament Of The Belgian Malinois

Temperament Of The Belgian Malinois

Author WDF Staff


The Belgian Malinois is one of the best working dogs we know today. They are one of the first picks for military and police dogs because of their fantastic working ability and incorruptible temperaments. These days, more and more dog lovers decide to get a Belgian Malinois as a family pet. Some of them don’t know what they are getting themselves into.

It is pretty hard to describe what it’s like to have one of these dogs; only when you become a Malinois owner, can you really see their true colors and temperament. These dogs need work, not just training all pet dogs need. If you are thinking about getting one of these dogs, here is what you need to know about them and their temperaments.

Start of the Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Shepherd dogs were developed in the 1800s and were primarily used as a working breed. These dogs were used for herding, protecting, and were the first dogs ever used by the Belgian police.

belgian malinois running

Most of the characteristics they had back then remain with them even today. That is precisely why these dogs were the first choice when it came to police work. The Malinois is one of the four Belgian Shepherd varieties; the other ones are the Groenendael, Laekenois, and Tervuren. Each of the breeds was named by the Belgian villages they were discovered in. The Malinois is named after the town of Malines.

What are these dogs like?

Belgian Malinois is a special breed. They are hard-working, dedicated, intelligent dogs that can learn new things in a matter of minutes. It is not a coincidence that these dogs end up this way. They have been selectively bred since their beginning, and the main focus was their working ability and not their looks.

New owners should thoroughly understand them, and if they fail to do so, they will end up with an overly enthusiastic dog inexperienced owners cannot handle. A couple of essential characteristics define the Malinois, and all owners should know them; activity, intelligence, trainability, and loyalty.

malinois puppy running after ball


This is a characteristic that is clear from the moment you first lay your eyes on a Malinois. They are lean and muscular with long limbs. That build allows these dogs to be extremely agile and light. They are nimble and seem to have endless energy.

Many new owners got this dog and weren’t ready for the activity level the Malinois requires. One owner described it like this,

I took my dog (2-year-old Malinois) for a training session in the park where I threw the ball for an hour. He was running like crazy and was dead tired by the time we were finished. All it took was a half-hour ride home, and by the time he was out of the car, he was ready for round two. They have a tremendous amount of energy.”

If you cannot provide your Malinois with the physical activity they require, they WILL become destructive and develop behavioral problems.


Border Collie might be the most intelligent dog breed in the world, but the Belgian Malinois is not far behind them. From the beginning of the breed, these dogs needed to be smart and able to decide to protect and herd flocks of sheep. These dogs have worked alongside people for over 200 years, and they had to be intelligent to do that.

malinois jumping obstacle

The best way to engage the mind of a Malinois is to work with them. They can complete complicated tasks, but only if they have an owner that invested plenty of time into their training. It is not enough just to tire them out; they need to be intellectually challenged. The best way to do that is to play games, learn new tricks, give them different commands, and buy them interactive toys. The last part is particularly challenging because they will get bored once figuring out how a certain toy works. One owner recommended this Dog puzzle.

Interested in finding out which dogs are the most active? Check out this article - Active dogs.


For a dog to be the perfect working dog, it needs to be highly trainable. The Belgian Malinois can go toe-to-toe with the best service dogs such as Labradors or German Shepherds. The physical activity, stamina, and intelligence make them a top pick for military dogs. They even have the edge over the German Shepherds because they are lighter, so they can perform tasks GSDs are too heavy for - like skydiving.

Want to know more about military service dogs? Check out this article - Military working dogs.

malinois laying with ball

Training a Malinois should be easy, but only because these dogs are focused on people and intelligent. Their training will still require a lot of time and patience. The absolute best result is achieved by using positive training methods and plenty of positive reinforcement. Malinois is a highly food-motivated breed, so pick their favorite treats and enjoy working with your dog.

Not only do these dogs love training, but they also love spending time outside as well. They don’t do well in apartments where they don’t have enough space for running or patrolling. If you get a Malinois, make sure you include them in all family activities, even if the family is only the two of you.


Working dogs need to be loyal, and there is a reason why the Malinois is among the best of them. These dogs are loyal to the bone, and once they understand who their true owner is, there is nothing they won’t do for them. They will listen to their owner’s commands, protect them, and cuddle with them when it’s downtime. Their loyalty extends to the whole family.

They are also protective and territorial, so make sure you control that part of their character as well. If that part is left unchecked, they can quickly become borderline aggressive and react even when the situation doesn’t require them to respond. These dogs are so loyal and intelligent, they can spot and react to the slightest movements and even facial expressions.

malinois running through water

In short

Getting a Belgian Malinois should not be taken lightly. It is an intelligent, energetic, working breed that needs to have plenty of physical activity and training to truly thrive and be happy. This is not a breed that is great for novice owners. If you get one, make sure you have plenty of space and time to spend and work with your dog.

World Dog Finder team

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