The Belgian Malinois (prounounced MAL-in-Wah) is one of the four varieties of the Belgian Shepherd dog registered in Belgium and France as the Chien de Berger Belge. It was originally bred near the city of Malines, Belgium, from whence the breed name, Malinois, is derived. The Belgian Malinois was registered as a separate breed by the American Kennel Club (http://www.akc.org) (AKC) in 1959 and is considered to be a member of the Herding Group.

The other types of Belgian Shepherds are the Tervuren (long-haired fawn with black overlay), the Groenendael (long-haired black), and the Laekenois (curly, wire-haired fawn). The Laekenois is not recognized by the AKC.

When the breed was originally established, we have been told by a 4th generation breeder in Europe that the dog’s coloring was the same color as a wild rabbit. Through the years of breeding, different color variations have appeared, from light fawn to bright red to brown, all with a minimal amount of white. In some cases, some black appears on the hair in an “overlay,” or the ends of the hair are tipped with black. The mask and the ears are black.

The Belgian Malinois is quite often mistaken for a German Shepherd dog, but, upon comparison, there are many distinct differences including body, head, and ear shape; bone structure; and size.

The most obvious difference is the square shape of a Belgian Malinois compared to the severe slope of the back of today’s German Shepherd dogs. The frame of a Malinois is lighter than a German Shepherd, but its well-muscled build allows for a quicker response and more endurance. These proud, confident dogs are extremely intelligent and have powerful drive and great agility.