Showsight July 2020



I t is my sincere desire that those judging the Belgian Malinois attempt to know the breed beyond its standard; an under- standing of the history and purpose of the breed will give a judge more confidence in making the correct selections. The Belgian Malinois is unquestionably a sheep herding breed, and a very good one, but it should be understood that historically the breed was put to work in a variety of ways that required its struc- ture and temperament to be sound. This breed was used not only for herding, but as a guardian of home and farm, as a police dog, a guide dog and a valued family companion. Today, Malinois will be found in every performance venue, excelling not only in herding, but in agility, tracking and obedience as well. Beyond the show ring and performance venues, the Malinois has become well known as the dog of choice with the military and many police and security departments. The Belgian Malinois is bred for intelligence and sen- sibility, ease of movement, and strength without bulkiness. He is always alert to his surroundings and attentive to his master. The standard begins with “The Belgian Malinois is a well bal- anced, square dog, elegant in appearance with an exceedingly proud carriage of the head and neck.” Please keep these key words in mind as you begin your judging experience—Balanced—Square—Ele- gant—Proud. As I check in the entries, I prefer to have the entries gait around the ring to their standing/starting location without my watching movement. Most Belgian Malinois are owner-handled, and this allows both dogs and owners a few moments to feel at ease. I observe the entry from across the ring to appreciate that “first impression”—elegant, square silhouette, medium size, with the distinctive proud carriage of head and neck showing alertness and devotion to master. The group is then moved to gather a similar impression, but this time as a herding dog; movement that is grace- ful and seemingly effortless. Keeping the breed’s purpose in mind, as well as those first impressions, we are ready to begin the individual exams. I prefer to again view the silhouette of the dog, looking for a square body that

shows good balance and notable elegance. They should be distinctly Belgian in silhouette; the length, measured from the point of breast- bone to the point of rump, should equal the height. Bitches may be slightly longer—this is slightly longer in loin—we do still want them to appear square. Their legs are as long as their depth of body— shoulder to elbow equals elbow to ground. The breed standard does have size disqualifications; the ideal height is 24-26" for males and 22-24" for females—but no preference is given to variations within those limits. Dogs that are under 23" or over 27" and females that are under 21 inches and over 25 inches are to be disqualified. While all four Belgian standards have the same ideal size, they all vary as to the height for disqualification. I still remind myself of these numbers before judging. The overall balance of the individual dog is of greater impor- tance than size to me—but the dog should be “medium” in sub- stance. I look for a dog with a topline that is level and straight, the withers slightly accentuated, and the croup moderately long—a smooth flow from top of neck to tip of tail. Our dogs are typically free-stacked, so they may not hold a pose for long! When approaching the Malinois, please do it with confidence and conviction. Remember that the dog will be very focused on their handler, so any hesitation on the judge’s part in the approach may put the dog on alert. I prefer to greet the dog or handler as I walk up for the exam. Its natural protective instincts make it a breed which may appear reserved toward strangers, this is normal. It should be confident though on your approach, never fearful, and showing good manners. The standard says, “The dog may be reserved with strangers, but is affectionate with his own people.” By nature the Malinois is an active dog and likes to move about. They also have a wonderful sense of play, and it does not take much encouragement for them to exhibit their humorous side. Never accept poor temperament, excusing a dog that is having a bad day is okay. >


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