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Belgian Malinois

Tags: herding, Large-sized, Kid-friendly, Requires firm, dedicated training

You'll need a scorecard to keep track of the all the Belgian sheep dogs developed in the Middle Ages, crossing canines like Mastiffs, Deerhounds, and Central European shepherd types. By the 1800s were all hardworking sheepdogs -- pretty much alike under our various-length coats of different colors. Luckily a Belgian veterinary professor, Dr. Adolphe Reul, laid down the rules when he named four breeds according to the parts of Belgium where they seemed to be concentrated in 1891: Malines, Tervuren, Groenendael, and Laeken. We're the Malinois, the ones with the comparatively short weather-resistant coat colored rich fawn to mahogany and the black "mask" on the face and ears. We're still the favorite of Belgian sheepherders -- although the others will probably claim otherwise. The Belgian Malinois was recognized by the AKC in 1959 and placed in the Herding Group.

Rave review

  • Affectionate, devoted family friend
  • Aloof and proud
  • Always alert
  • Born to run, happy to walk
  • Busy is better than bored
  • Coat needs regular care
  • Confident and self-assured
  • Courageous canine

Report card

  • Independent thinker
  • Intelligent and ready to learn
  • Lives to work
  • Loves kids and vice-versa
  • Caters to the country, tolerates town
  • Socialization and training must start early
  • Steadfast and strong
  • Training must be firm, patient, consistent
  • Wary of strangers
  • Willing watchdog

What to expect

Don't be surprised or disappointed if I suddenly forget all my careful obedience training as my one-year birthday approaches. It's just a phase we Malinois go through. Stick with us, gently reaffirming the rules every day and week and month. By 18 months of work together, I promise to be back on track.

Watch for

Generally sound hips, but ask for parents' CHD scores if possible.

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