First recognized in Belgium during the late 19th century, the Belgian Malinois was one of four varieties of Belgium Shepherd Dog having a consistent anatomy and type but differing in hair texture, color and length. Each of the four varieties was named for the region around Brussels where it was seriously developed; the short-haired fawn Malinois in the Malines region, the long-haired fawn Tervuren from the town of Tervueren, the long-coated black Groenendael from the town of Groenendael and the wire-coated fawn Laekenois from the town of Laeken. The first standard for the Belgian Shepherd Dog was adopted in 1892.

The first AKC mention of the Belgian Sheepdog was a small notice in the January 1908 AKC Gazette mentioning that five additional Belgian Sheepdogs had been added to the NYC police force to work with an American bred one. Two Malinois along with two Groenendael were imported into the US and registered into the AKC studbook in 1911. They were registered as German Shepherds with the affix Belgian given to their names; Belgian Blackie (AKC # 148516) and Belgian Mouche (AKC 148517). One, Belgian Blackie registered with Saint Hubert as Blackor became an early AKC champion. During the period of time from 1911 until World War II, the Malinois enjoyed American popularity with many dogs from the best Belgian bloodlines being imported and bred. There was some renewed interest after the war, but the breed did not flourish. In 1983, the Malinois was moved to the new Herding Group with any other herding breeds.

General Appearance

The Belgian Malinois is a well balanced, square dog, elegant in appearance with an exceedingly proud carriage of the head and neck. The dog is strong, agile, well muscled, alert, and full of life. He stands squarely on all fours and viewed from the side, the topline, forelegs, and hind legs closely approximate a square. The whole conformation gives the impression of depth and solidity without bulkiness. The male is usually somewhat more impressive and grand than his female counterpart, which has a distinctly feminine look.


Correct temperament is essential to the working character of the Belgian Malinois. The breed is confident, exhibiting neither shyness nor aggressiveness in new situations. The dog may be reserved with strangers but is affectionate with his own people. He is naturally protective of his owner’s person and property without being overly aggressive. The Belgian Malinois possesses a strong desire to work and is quick and responsive to commands from his owner.


Males are 24 to 26 inches in height; females are 22 to 24 inches; measurement to be taken at the withers.


The basic coloring is a rich fawn to mahogany, with black tips on the hairs giving an overlay appearance. The mask and ears are black. The underparts of the body, tail and breeches are lighter fawn, but washed-out fawn color on the body is a fault. Color should be considered a finishing point, not to take precedence over structure or temperament. The tips of the toes may be white, and a small white spot on the breastbone/prosternum is permitted, not to extend to the neck. White markings, except as noted, are faulted.

Learn more at the America Belgian Malinois Club.