Belgian Malinois Care

The Belgian Malinois is a medium- to large-sized breed that is intelligent and extremely active. Overall Belgian Malinois care takes a moderate amount of time, much of which is making sure these dogs get enough exercise. Below you'll find plenty of details on raising a Belgian Malinois: puppy care, exercise needs, diet and nutrition, and more. For all things Malinois-related, keep reading!

Belgian Malinois Exercise Needs

The Belgian Malinois is an extremely active breed--in fact, these dogs are often considered as energetic as any dog breed known. Exercise requirements for the Mal, therefore, are likewise very high. Since they were originally developed as sheepdogs, Mals have unbelievable stamina, and will need a good bit of vigorous exercise each day: jogging instead of plain walking, and a long game of fetch or Frisbee instead of just a few minutes set loose in the backyard. Though the amount may vary depending on the dog's age and activity level, the typical adult Belgian Malinois will need two hours of strenuous exercise per day at the very least. Puppies can begin exercising at three months of age by going on relatively short (15- to 20-minute) walks; owners can increase the walks' duration and intensity as the puppy grows.

Some things to consider when exercising your Mal: first, puppies younger than nine months of age shouldn't participate in activities that include a lot of jumping and running, as doing so can injure their still-growing bones and joints. And regardless of age, Mals have incredibly strong herding instincts and will try to "herd" most moving objects they encounter--people, other pets, bicyclists, even cars! Mals are also pretty protective, and usually have a natural distrust of strangers. So it's important to give your Mal some obedience training when the dog is young, and it's best to leash these dogs when in public.

Owners say the ideal exercise for these dogs is running free in a large, enclosed space--and it's best if they do so with one or more other dogs (particularly another Belgian Malinois!). If this isn't possible, the owners say, a game of "double fetch" is great: throw one ball or stick in one direction, then after the Mal retrieves it and is coming back to you, throw another one in the other direction. The Mal will drop the first one and chase the other. This method keeps the dog constantly running!

Exercise is a way of life for these dogs, so a lack of physical activity will make them miserable--and probably you too. An under-exercised Mal will be a hyperactive, disobedient mess: it'll bark, dig, pace, and become an undisciplined nuisance. A tired Belgian Malinois makes for a peaceful, contented dog! Here are a few exercise ideas:

  • Jogging/Walking: Two 30-minute sessions per day is ideal
  • Double Fetch: Have two balls or sticks, and throw them in opposite directions to keep the dog moving
  • Canine Sports: Mals excel in obedience and agility trials
  • Swimming: Most Mals love the water; great activity on hot days
  • Hiking: Great bonding activity--and the longer the hike, the better!

When indoors, it's good to give your Mal access to one or more balls or chew toys so it can release some pent-up energy (which, in all likelihood, it'll have plenty of). It's also recommended that you have a consistent daily exercise regimen for your Malinois, such as jogs or walks after breakfast and dinner along with a sustained play session in the afternoon.

Belgian Malinois Maintenance

Caring for these dogs in terms of shedding and drooling takes a moderate amount of time. Belgian Malinois shedding is fairly regular for most of the year, and is heavy during the twice-yearly shedding seasons; drooling is pretty minimal.

Does the Belgian Malinois shed a lot overall? Depends on the time of year. These dogs have short coats--but they're double-layered, which means the undercoats shed continually (but lightly) most of the time. During the spring and fall, though, Mals "blow" their winter and summer coats and shed like crazy. Weekly brushing for most of the year, owners say, reduces the amount of shed hairs; during shedding season, your Mal will need to be brushed daily. Even so, these dogs will still leave some hair on clothes and furniture, so owners will need to use the vacuum cleaner and lint rollers fairly regularly.

Mals may drool in anticipation of food and perhaps when they're very hot and pant, but not much otherwise. If your Belgian Malinois is drooling excessively, it may be a sign of a medical issue, in which case veterinary care is needed.

Belgian Malinois Diet

Belgian Malinois food and diet choices are vital in keeping these active dogs healthy and happy. As energetic, athletic animals, dog food for the Belgian Malinois must be high in animal proteins and healthy fats--which means that if you give commercial food to your Mal, it needs to be a premium brand. Inexpensive dog foods contain many empty "filler" calories that don't come close to meeting these dogs' nutritional requirements, so any commercial food a Mal eats must be high-quality, as these have much higher protein content.

The ideal Belgian Malinois diet, according to breeders and experts, is one consisting only of lean meats (beef, chicken, fish) and vegetables (carrots, beans, peas). Many owners, however, find feeding their Mals a strictly raw/fresh food diet too difficult and time-consuming, so the most popular choice is high-quality dry food. Depending on its age and activity level, the typical adult Belgian Malinois will need 2.5 cups (about 1,800 calories) of food per day, divided into two meals. Interestingly, growing Malinois puppies don't need much less food--and more, in some cases: a six-month-old Mal puppy, for example, can eat three cups of food, divided into three meals. For more info, see this Belgian Malinois feeding guide:

Belgian Malinois Feeding Chart
Dog AgeDog WeightFood TypeAmountFrequency2 Months15 lbsDry0.5 cups3x/day3 Months25 lbsDry0.75 cups3x/day6 Months45 lbsDry1 cup3x/day9 Months55 lbsDry1.5 cups2x/day12 Months60 lbsDry1.25 cups2x/day18 Months+65 lbsDry1.25 cups2x/day

Like many breeds, obesity in Belgian Malinois dogs is a serious--and often overlooked--health issue. A fat Malinois will have breathing, digestive, and joint problems, not to mention heart issues and a shortened lifespan. And according to veterinarians, the number-one cause of canine obesity is "free-feeding," whereby food is left in the dog's bowl all the time so it can eat anytime it wants. While this may seem like a good idea to its owners, free-feeding is terribly unhealthy for the dog. Vets recommend putting your Mal's food dish down only at mealtimes, then picking it up about 20 minutes after the dog begins eating. It's also a good idea to have a consistent feeding schedule for your Mal, so the dog can get used to eating at the same time each day.

If you're worried that your Malinois is overweight, give the dog this simple Ribs Test: run a hand along its side, and if you can't feel any ribs, it's diet time. Reduce the Mal's daily food consumption by one-fourth, and add an extra jog, walk, or play period to its daily exercise schedule.

Living Environment

Overall, the Belgian Malinois is both an inside and outside dog. As is their herding instinct, Mals will love spending time roaming around outdoors--but they'll need some indoor time with their loved ones as well. A Belgian Malinois in an apartment is okay, but a lot of daily outdoor exercise will be a must.

In regards to climate, a Mal will handle warm and cool weather with equal ease, but will likely be uncomfortable in temperature extremes.

Temperature Range

These dogs are versatile when it comes to the climate. Their double-coat gives them protection in cooler weather, but they can adapt to warmer climates as well.

Belgian Malinois Grooming

Read the grooming requirements for Belgian Malinois including coat care and other maintenance.

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About this Article

Authored by:Dog-Learn
Updated:December 19, 2017