The Belgian Malinois, as evidenced by its use in police forces and militaries across the world, is an extremely capable and intelligent dog. They excel in just about every dog sport and competition - this breed consistently does well in events such as Schutzhund, agility trials, obedience competitions, and search and rescue, among other things. As far as watchdogs go, you can't find a dog better than the Belgian Malinois. Though bright and willing to learn, the Belgian Malinois is a dog that will require an owner willing to commit time to his or her dog, especially when it is young. The Malinois is protective by nature and needs a lot of socialization to learn that people and animals approaching “his” territory are not threats. These dogs require a master who can establish him or herself as the pack leader, is consistent and firm, but does not resort to harsh punishment. This is a sensitive and discerning breed - owners who the Malinois judges to be unfair will be rewarded with uncooperative behavior. This breed is very demanding and many inexperienced owners find that it is too much for them to handle.
Socialization and training is especially important with this breed. Ideally, the puppy should be meeting new people and dogs on a daily basis. Puppy obedience classes are an effective way to achieve this end while teaching the dog valuable lessons. Though the Malinois benefits greatly from time spent off-leash, care should be taken to let this dog run when small animals are present, as they may run off chasing a squirrel or cat. If properly socialized, however, the Belgian Malinois can live peacefully around cats and other animals.
This dog has bountiful stores of energy and should be exercised multiple times a day if it is not performing some kind of job. Under-stimulated dogs may resort to unwanted behaviors such as chewing or digging. They may also resort to such behavior if left alone for too long. These dogs form strong bonds with their family and will be unhappy if neglected. Belgian Malinois should not be left outside or kenneled for long periods of time.
This breed is not for everyone. But for owners who can establish themselves as a leader, challenge their dog both mentally and physically, and wish to welcome their dog into the family home, the Belgian Malinois will be an immensely rewarding and loyal pet.