Let’s Talk Breed Education!
BY LINDA A. FRIEDOW, ABMC JE CHAIR
BELGIANMALINOIS JUDGING THE
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. Th e standard begins with “ Th e 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 “ fi rst impression”—elegant, square silhouette, medium size, with the distinctive proud carriage of head and neck showing alertness and devotion to master. Th e group is then moved to gather a similar impression, but this time as a herding dog; movement that is grace- ful and seemingly e ff ortless. Keeping the breed’s purpose in mind, as well as those fi rst 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. Th ey 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. Th eir legs are as long as their depth of body— shoulder to elbow equals elbow to ground. Th e breed standard does have size disquali fi cations; 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 disquali fi ed. While all four Belgian standards have the same ideal size, they all vary as to the height for disquali fi cation. I still remind myself of these numbers before judging. Th e 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 fl ow 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 con fi dence 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 con fi dent though on your approach, never fearful, and showing good manners. Th e standard says, “ Th e dog may be reserved with strangers, but is a ff ectionate with his own people.” By nature the Malinois is an active dog and likes to move about. Th ey 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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Th e Belgian Malinois is not a head breed, but a correct head is a thing of beauty and is important to de fi ne the breed. Th e head should be in proportion to the rest of the body, well-chiseled with no looseness of skin. Th e head is long, but without exag- geration, strong, but not appearing heavy. Th e length is equal from nose to stop and stop to occiput—the skull should not be wider than its length. Th e planes of the head are parallel and the topskull fl at. Look for a head that is balanced and a slight wedge. Commonly seen head faults include a too short muzzle, a rounded topskull, cheeki- ness, or head planes that are not parallel. Th e eyes should be almond shaped and a dark brown, with an alert, intelligent and kind look. Round or light colored eyes can destroy the look of a good head and would be faulted. Th eir ears are high set and not large, an equilateral triangle in shape and moderately cupped. Th e ears should be fi rm and not soft even when the dog is moving, although they can fold them back against their heads. Ears hanging as on a hound or semi-prick ears are a disquali fi cation. Cor- rect eyes and ears are essential to good breed type. When combined with proper head structure, the Malinois head should never be confused with that of a German Shep- herd, a Collie or an Elkhound. Th e Belgian Malinois is to have a black mask—that may be simply a black muzzle and black ears or a nearly black head. My preference is a mask that extends beyond the eyes, but color is a fi nishing point to me. A black mask is rarely solid black, there will be a combina- tion of dark brown and even fawn hairs, but the overall appearance is to be a blackened mask. Th ere is often what we refer to as “frosting” on the chin—white hairs—this is acceptable and normal, some puppies are born with it. Pigment around the eyes and mouth, as well as the nose, should be black. Expression in the Malinois includes the balance of head proportions, the earset, the eyes, the masking and ultimately, how they use it. When judging, you will see the best expression when the owner-handler is allowed to bait their dog, rather than you attempting this. Remember the standard stating, “May be reserved with strangers, but a ff ectionate with his own people.” If you notice a dog looking away from the handler into the crowd, chances are he has found his owner; they are vigilant in keep- ing an eye on those they know. As a herding dog, the bite is of consid- erable importance; traditionally the bite most desired was a level pinching bite. As a breeder though, I am more comfortable using dogs that have a scissors bite. Either a
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IF YOU NOTICE A DOG LOOKING AWAY FROM THE HANDLER INTO THE CROWD, CHANCES ARE HE HAS FOUND HIS OWNER;
THEY ARE VIGILANT IN KEEPING AN EYE ON THOSE THEY KNOW.
scissors or level bite is acceptable. I prefer to have the mouth checked at the end of the exam. Th e owner should show you the front bite as well as lifting the lips on both sides so you may view for full dentition. Although it is rare that a dog is missing teeth other than premolars, we do want judges to check for full denti- tion, but do not pry open their mouths—simply lifting the lips usually o ff ers the necessary information. Th e standard reminds us, “An overshot or undershot bite is a fault. An undershot bite in which two or more of the upper incisors lose contact with two or more of the lower incisors is a disquali fi cation. One or more missing teeth is a serious fault.” You may see short center incisors, which are not a disquali fi cation in an otherwise correct bite. I appreciate a beautiful neck, medium long and slightly arched. Proper neck arch is more evident when the dog is allowed to look forward naturally rather than up at its owner-handler. We do desire a well laid back shoulder, with the scapula and upper arm being of equal length. As a breeder, I realize it is hard to consistently produce dogs with correct angulation in a square silhouette, but it is the ideal and what we want. I like the dog to feel muscled, but never bulky. Correct feet thrill me nearly as much as a correct head! Th ey should be cat-footed, not turned in or out, tight, and well padded. Good feet are what a herding dog works on. Th e rear should balance the front—moderate, well muscled, but not over angulated or stilted. Th e hocks should be set rather low for e ffi cient working ability and moderately bent. I want a level back that is straight with a short loin, fl owing into the croup which slopes toward the tail. Th e last vertebra of the tail should reach the hock. A cropped or stump tail is a disquali fi cation. Th is can be checked e ffi ciently when running your hands over the back, then down the tail to the hock. When standing at rest, the tail is dropped (never held by the handler). Th e tail is lifted when the dog is in motion, and ideally is a fl uid line continuing from the back. I’m not fond of a tail carried gaily above the back, nor one that is tucked between the legs. It is not uncommon to see young males carry their tail too proudly; that I can forgive in an otherwise cor- rect dog. A tail carried too high, or curled over the back can ruin the elegant look we strive for. >
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JUDGING THE BELGIAN MALINOIS
Correct movement in the Malinois is free and easy, seemingly e ff ortless. Th ey should single track at a fast pace, with full extension of the front and rear. Th ey should not be raced around the ring, nor move with any excessive action (no paddling, hackneying, weaving, crabbing—nothing that interferes with the dog’s ability to work in an e ffi cient manner). Th e topline should remain fi rm and level. Since the Malinois is usually owner-handled, it is not uncommon to see a novice dog that is too intent on watching his/her owner—looking upward at them and causing them to throw their front. You must judge what you see, but oftentimes a judge may point this out and ask them to move the dog again. Correct coat texture is also very important in a herding dog—they should have a harsh straight outer coat with a thick dense undercoat. It is a natural dog and they should not be trimmed or groomed to give the appearance of an open coat. Many exhibitors now blow dry their dogs; they should allow the coat to fall back naturally lying fl at—it should repel moisture if the dog was working in adverse weather conditions. Th e coat should conform to the body, without standing out or hanging down. Th ere is naturally a range of coat length and density of undercoat. Th e hairs are shortest on the head and legs, longest on the neck collar, breeches, and tail. A lack of undercoat may be seen seasonally or in bitches’ hormonal cycle, but should never be completely absent. Th ere should not be any appearance of feathering (as in the Tervuren or Sheepdog) on the legs or ears, or a curl to the coat (as in the Laekenois). While color is truly a fi nishing point in a herding dog, the rich fawn to rus- set mahogany color of our breed is a point of pride for many Malinois owners. Th e standard describes the ideal color of the Belgian Malinois as “rich fawn to mahogany, with black tips on the hairs giving an overlay appearance.” If in a judge’s opinion the black tipping is so pronounced that it gives the appear- ance of a dog that looks more black than fawn to mahogany as described in the standard then it should be faulted to the extent of the deviation. If in your opinion the dog so deviates by its color that it is not worthy of a ribbon, that is your decision. While the standard also states that “color should be considered a fi nishing point, not to take precedence over structure or temperament,” it was never the intent of the parent club that colors other than the ideal and
preferred described would be exhibited. Colors other than those identi fi ed in the standard or those with a distinct pattern in their coat color would be consid- ered an unacceptable color in accordance to the AKC approved breed standard. Th e underparts of the body, tail and breeches are a lighter fawn, but a washed-out fawn color on the body is a fault. White is allowed on the tips of the toes and a small spot on the prosternum is permitted, but it should not extend to the neck. In review, please remember that the Belgian Mali- nois is a square and elegant breed, their head clean, chiseled and in balance with an expression that speaks of intelligence and readiness. Th ey should exhibit bal- anced, e ffi cient movement. Th ey have a straight double coat of warm rich hues and a black mask. Th ey are watchful, con fi dent, alert and devoted to their own- ers. A judge should consider the entire dog determin- ing which faults deviate from the standard and how they would a ff ect the dog’s ability to work as a herd- ing dog. We all wish our chosen breed to be judged positively and with respect, a little humor doesn’t hurt either. Enjoy! For additional information visit the American Belgian Malinois Club’s website at malinoisclub. com or contact a member of the ABMC’s Judges Education committee. WHILE COLOR IS TRULY A FINISHING POINT IN A HERDING DOG, THE RICH FAWN TO RUSSET MAHOGANY COLOR OF OUR BREED IS A POINT OF PRIDE FOR MANY MALINOIS OWNERS.”
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1. Where do you live? What is your occupation? How many years in dogs? 2. Do you have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? 3. What first interested you in the Belgian Malinois? 4. How is the breed different from its Belgian cousins? The Ger- man Shepherd? The Dutch Shepherd? 5. Why does the FCI classify the Malinois as one of four varieties of the Belgian Shepherd? 6. Is the breed a good partner for Performance Events? Herding? Schutzhund? 7. What about the Malinois’ role as a detection, police, and search & rescue dog? 8. Is the breed suitable only for the experienced owner? 9. Has the Malinois’ appearance in films and television helped or harmed the breed? 10. Despite the breed’s serious reputation, does the Malinois have a silly side? 11. Is there anything else you’ d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. LINDA FRIEDOW I live in North Central Iowa. I am a library director. I have “always” had dogs—Terriers and Spaniels as a child. My first show dog (an Afghan Hound ) in 1974, my first Belgian in 1979, my first Malinois in 1989. Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and show- ing dogs? Sharing a life with family and dogs is a lifestyle. I enjoy showing, training and playing with them. I am an avid reader, love to travel, and time with my grandchildren is always time well spent. What first interested me in the Belgian Malinois? My husband and I first had Belgian Tervuren (he met them while traveling in Europe). Our first Malinois was a young rescue that came into my husband’s veterinary practice right before Christmas—he found his forever home with us. When we lost him due to serious health conditions, we missed having a Malinois even though we still had Tervuren. How is the breed different from its Belgian cousins? While all Belgians are intelligent, inquisitive, active and attentive—Malinois are just a bit “more” of it all. They are incredibly smart, impressively athletic, yet a cuddly clown when they choose to be. Compared to a German Shepherd, they are smaller, lighter, more agile and faster, and wicked smart. Why does the FCI classify the Malinois as one of four varieties of the Belgian Shepherd? Science shows us that the Belgian “breeds” are one breed, so the FCI has this correct. The division of Belgians into four separate breeds in the US has more to do with people, per- sonalities and a desire to win than what is best for the dogs. While inter-variety breeding is rare, the ability to register puppies as the breed they are (based on coat/color) could enhance the small gene pool and offer additional choices to breeders. Is the breed a good partner for performance events, herding or Schutzhund? What is so outstanding about the breed is its devo- tion to its owners and the strong desire to work together. Belgian Malinois can truly excel in any venue. They can be found in the top ranking of all performance venues. Their only limit is their owner’s time and ability.
What about the Malinois’ role as a detection, police, and search and rescue dog? The same work ethic translates to the roles of police, military, and security. While some of the dogs may not look like my Malinois—due to breeding for characteristics outside of the breed standard—I will always greatly respect the work these dogs do and the incredible bond they share with their handlers. Is the breed suitable only for the experienced owner? I do believe that the breed is best with an experienced owner. Too many indi- viduals see the dogs in their professional working role and assume that just happens. Belgian Malinois deserve a home that under- stands them for the incredible dogs they are. They deserve a home that will devote the time to training and companionship. Obviously all homes cannot be experienced, which is where a good breeder or mentor is so important. If all homes understood their needs we would see a huge reduction in the work ABMR (American Belgian Malinois Rescue) does. Has the Malinois’ appearance in films and television helped or harmed the breed? I would like to say it has helped, but only so far as in recognition that these are not German Shepherds. Movie and TV roles use highly trained dogs, but the general public doesn’t see that. Popularity has never been a friend to breeds. Despite the breed’s serious reputation, does the Malinois have a silly side? I mentioned they can be a cuddly clown. Belgian Malinois have a great sense of humor. Mine have all been a part of our fam- ily—with children, grandchildren, friends. They love to play games with the kids—frisbee, hide-and-seek, ball, swimming—but they also enjoy being read to and belly rubs. LISA KNOCK I live in Fairfax Station, Virginia. I am a senior manager for the Navy. I grew up in dogs, showing and training my family’s dogs since I was seven. Needless to say I have many decades in the sport of dogs. Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? Besides my husband, I enjoy outdoor adventures, cooking, entertaining for my friends and family, and gardening. What first interested me in the Belgian Malinois? We had many breeds of dogs when I was growing up. My mother was smitten with the intelligent look and elegance of the Malinois and its versatility and work ethic; and our first Malinois, CH Diadem Gemma de Charleroi, sealed our love affair with the breed! How is the breed different from its Belgian cousins, German Shepherd, and Dutch Shepherd? It is smaller in size and weight than the GSD and more agile. Unlike the other two breeds, the Malinois is a square dog. Malinois shed twice a year (a lot) versus all the time as does the GSD and tend to be more a constant companion (think “canine Velcro”) to their person. They are impervious to pain and have an all-consuming work ethic. Why does the FCI classify the Malinois as one of four varieties of the Belgian Shepherd? In Europe there is the Belgian Shepherd breed with four varieties identified by coat type. Otherwise they are considered the same breed in type, form and function. Is the breed a good partner for performance events, herding, and schutzhund? They are excellent for performance. A more suitable question: Is the owner a good fit for the breed for these activities? What about the Malinois’ role as a detection, police, and search & rescue dog? The breed has more than proven and validated its effectiveness as evidenced by their use by the US Marine Corps, Airforce, various security forces, border patrol, municipalities, >
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BELGIAN MALINOIS Q&A
police forces and airport security. It searched for victims after 911, found Bin Laden, and is used extensively as a detection and search and rescue dog. Is the breed suitable only for the experienced owner? In general, yes! While they are very smart and learn quickly, they are also very manipulative if they think you are not a credible pack leader. There is a learning curve in living with and training a dog—and Mali- nois are smart, fun and energetic—an experienced handler will be able to enjoy all these traits. A Malinois can be too much dog for an inexperienced handler. The responsible owner needs to make a commitment to participating in many activities with them. Has the Malinois’ appearance in films and television helped or harmed the breed? A little bit of both. Awareness of the breed is good. However, some folks like the idea of having a dog like the one they may see on TV and in the media, but don’t understand the responsibility of owning a Malinois and all of the training that goes into making the dog a joy to live with. Also, a Malinois is a very high energy dog. They want and need a job to do, mental stimulation and lots of exercise. Greater recognition and popularity of the breed has resulted in more litters being bred. Unfortunately, this means more Malinois end up in rescue and “casual” breeding increases the risk of congenital issues increasing as has occurred in other popular breeds over time. Despite the breed’s serious reputation, does the Malinois have a silly side? Absolutely! My step-children used to dress my Malinois up, paint their nails and ride them around the house—the Malinois loved this and would play right into it. They also have a wonderfully wicked smile, will bring you every toy in the house, or hide every toy in the house depending on the day. They love to play games, do tricks, anything that demands your full attention! And in quiet moments they love to cuddle. Is there anything else I’d like to share about the breed? They have enriched my family’s and my life! They have facilitated many deep and lasting friendships. Spending time with my Malinois is better than any movie! ANNMACKAY Ann MacKay has owned Bel-
challenges they faced, how they worked through them, and what became of their lines. Yes, it is history, but it is inspirational to me. What first interested me in the Belgian Malinois? I grew up with a Bouvier, and she was a fabulous dog that lived a long, healthy life. I thought hard about what I loved about her, and what I would like different. While in college, I studied the breed standards in the Herding Group, and landed on the Belgian Shepherd Dog, simply from reading the standards. I loved what I read of their intelligence, athleticism and devotion. I knew I wanted the less glamorous and more business-looking Malinois, with its no-fuss coat. It would be a few years before I was in a situation to own one. But I had the good fortune to live in Michigan, which has a legacy of experienced own- ers and breeders in all flavors of Belgians. Luckily, I found a breeder willing to take a chance on me. How is the breed different from its Belgian cousins, German Shepherd and the Dutch Shepherd? The differences between most Malinois, Tervuren, Groenendael and Laekenois (aside from the obvious coat) can be attributed to the way different breeders’ lines develop over time. There really are more similarities than differ- ences between the varieties. The German Shepherd is longer in body, usually heavier-boned. While the Dutch Shepherd and the Belgian Shepherd standards describe somewhat different dogs, they do share common origins, so unsurprisingly, there are similarities. Why does the FCI classify the Malinois as one of four varieties of the Belgian Shepherd? The country of origin has always con- sidered the Belgians to be one breed with varieties. Malinois (even pedigrees with many generations of Malinois) can produce Ter- vuren. Malinois can produce Laekenois coat, as well. These dogs were useful in expanding the gene pool of all varieties following the World Wars. There have been many published articles demonstrat- ing how the Belgians were eventually classified as separate breeds in the USA. In the end, history, genetics, and the whelping box tell us the true story about our breed. Is the breed a good partner for performance events, herding, and Schutzhund? The breed is an excellent partner for just about any kind of event you can imagine. You set yourself up for success if you find a breeder active in the sport that interests you. What about the Malinois’ role as a detection, police, and search and rescue dog? The Belgian Malinois has a long history of bril- liance in these areas. While its origins are that of a herder and farm dog, the decline of the agricultural lifestyle meant that new occu- pations were necessary for survival. Some breeds, like the Belgian Mastiff, went extinct. However, those interested in training police dogs found exemplary partners in the Belgian Shepherd Dog. Is the breed suitable only for the experienced owner? All of us purchased our first Belgian Malinois from someone! Some individ- ual dogs or lines may be more suited to an experienced owner. It is best to develop a relationship with a breeder and discuss interest, experience and expectations, and take their advice on choosing the best dog for you. Has the Malinois’ appearance in films and television helped or harmed the breed? We have seen an uptick in breed inquiries and rescue following film and television appearances. Our very dedi- cated National Breed Rescue organization is frequently at capacity and looking for suitable foster homes. Does the Malinois have a silly side? The Belgian Malinois, with its upright, ears forward, no-muss, no-fuss look, does appear all- business. It is often serious about its work. They do need physical and mental exercise and, ideally, it includes their person. But they are also our beloved pets, and often silly, too. Sometimes the silly side comes out as a clever solution to something you are working on, or to a “problem” you didn’t know you had, or a creative inter- pretation of something you accidentally taught them. Sometimes it is simply an extraordinarily close cuddle, with more-than-expected intensity. They are always watching, evaluating, anticipating, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make us laugh!
gian Malinois for over 30 years, and breeds under the prefix “Avon- lea.” Belgian Malinois owned and/ or bred by Ann have been awarded National BISS eight times, and Avonlea Malinois have earned AKC championships in conformation, herding, agility, obedience, and
tracking. They’ve been Herding Group winners and RBIS. They’ve also competed successfully in France. She has been an officer and active member of the American Belgian Malinois Club, as well as local all-breed and specialty clubs, and was a grateful recipient of the Outstanding Sportsmanship medal from the American Belgian Malinois Club. She has served as Show Chair, Chief Ring Steward, Trophy Chair, as well as bar-setter, mat-roller and the myriad of other jobs performed by any dedicated club member. I was born and raised in Michigan, and I presently live in Min- nesota. I had a career in IT and Sales and Marketing at Ford Motor Company, now retired. I’ve been showing Belgian Malinois for 33 years and have titled my dogs in conformation, agility, herding, tracking, obedience, and rally. Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? Aside from dog training, I love reading, travel and music. I especially enjoy reading history and I am probably at my best geekiest self when those things merge. For example, seeing “Hamilton” in London after Crufts. Recently, I have been study- ing some of the earlier breeders of Belgian Shepherd Dogs in Bel- gium and France. It is interesting to learn more about their lives, the
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LIVING WITH THE Belgian Malinois
By Ann MacKay
A t first glance, the Bel- gian Malinois may seem an unremarkable, rustic dog in an unglamorous short coat. But take a closer look. You won’t have to go further than their inquisitive, sparkling eyes to see there is a whole lot more under that plain brown fur! A friend described the Malinois this way: “ Th e Malinois is the Ferrari of the dog world: built for sport, powerful and instantly responsive to expert handling. But you can go right through the guardrail and over a cli ff if you are a poor driver.” Intrigued? I hope so! Please allow me to introduce that exotic sports edition amongst dog breeds, the Belgian Malinois. Th e Belgian Malinois is known in its country of origin as a variety of the Belgian Shepherd Dog, along with its cousins, the Tervuren, Groenendael and Laekenois. It is
distinguished by its business-like attire—a short, wash and wear type of coat. In Belgium, April 1892, the newly formed Club du Chien de Berger Belge approved a written standard for the native herding dog of Belgium, as written by Pro- fessor Adolphe Reul. Th is standard defined it as a breed with three varieties: long hair, rough hair and short hair. It wasn’t until 1909 that the designation “Malinois” was used in an o ffi cial show catalog to describe the shorthaired variety. In May 1892, the first sheep trials in continental Europe were held in the markets of Cureghem-Brussels, Belgium. However, because of market conditions, the sheep population was rapidly declin- ing in Belgium. Sheep-herding skills were becoming less valuable. Fortunately, the Belgian Shepherd Dog had already attract- ed many admirers, and new tests were designed to feature their talents. Th e first
“dressage” trial showcasing the working talents of the Belgian Shepherd Dog took place in Malines, Belgium in July 1903. Th e Belgian Shepherd Dog, especially the Malinois, has enjoyed a reputation for its marvelous intellect and trainability ever since. Like many herding breeds, the Belgian Malinois is known for is athleticism, intel- ligence and trainability. Th ey’re brilliant, exuberant dogs that thrive on living and working with its owner. In his book A Hundred Years of His- tory of the Belgian Shepherd Dog, noted breed historian Jean-Marie Vanbutsele said “ Th e Belgian Shepherd Dog pos- sesses a particularity of the breed concern- ing its behaviour: it is characterized by a greater sensitivity than any other breeds; it is a hyper-a ff ectionate. Th is feature is expressed in its relation with its master.” He goes on to quote another breed author-
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ity, Dr. Yves Surget, who said, “With an impulsive character, the Belgian Shepherd is a dog who puts much vivacity in its responses to di ff erent stimuli.” If you are getting the picture of an ath- letic, hugely devoted, highly responsive dog, you are getting close to the heart of the Belgian Malinois. Th e Malinois loves its family, but is intensely bonded to its favorite person. When I move from room to room, my Malinois almost always follow. When an injury kept me immobile for a short period of time, all three of my dogs stayed close by. My 14-year old was snug in her bed on the floor, my 6-year old pressed up against me on the bed, and my 3-year old was always nearby in case I needed her and sometimes I did! She willingly retrieved my cell phone when it slipped to the floor, or brought me the remote control from the other side of the room, or (yes, she really does this!) brought me my slippers when asked. Socialization is important for any dog, and even more so for herding breeds that instinctually notice everything in their environment. It is important for a young Malinois to be exposed to all the sights and sounds you expect her to cope with as an adult. For instance, Malinois raised with children are usually wonderful fam- ily members. While Malinois are natu- rally inclined to be reserved with strang- ers, the well-socialized dog is at ease in public spaces. While the Belgian Malinois has a short- er coat than the Tervuren and Groenen- dael, its coat is of identical structure. It has a hard topcoat, along with a dense, wooly undercoat. Th e Malinois coat is simply
shorter. While regular brushing is not needed to ward o ff coat tangles, it is need- ed on occasion to manage a shedding coat. In other words, we have dust-bunnies, too! And the vacuum sees regular activity in our home. If you have a Malinois, you’ll need to plan activities for both of you! Fortunately, the Malinois continues to excel in a wide variety of sports. Most of our dogs are owner-handled in the conformation ring, and it is not at all unusual to find an own- er-handler racing from the conformation ring to the obedience or rally ring at the same show. Malinois also shine in agility and tracking. We are blessed to have a breed that is still proficient in herding. Because herd- ing skills became unnecessary, many gen- erations passed without being able to select for herding aptitude. And yet, even today, Malinois excel in herding. Over one doz- en Malinois have achieved AKC Herding Championships. It speaks to the strength of our foundation gene pool, our breed’s heritage, our dedicated owners, as well as the ongoing selection for intelligence and working qualities. Of course, you will also find Belgian Malinois at the highest levels in Ring Sport and IPO competitions. In addition, Malinois and their owners enjoy flyball, dock-diving, lure-coursing, freestyle, and disc-dog sports, just to name a few! Life with a Belgian Malinois can be many things, but it is rarely boring. As my friend said, the Belgian Malinois can be likened to an exotic sports car. If you are prepared, you may be in for the ride of your life!
Ann MacKay has owned Bel- gian Malinois for over 25 years, and occasionally breeds under the prefix “Avonlea”. She has owned and/or bred five National Spe- cialty BISS winners, and Avonlea Mali-
Photo by Salina J. Photography
nois have earned AKC Championships in Conformation, Herding, Agility, Obedi- ence and Tracking. Th ey’ve also competed successfully in France. Most recently, her Malinois earned the AKC Champion Tracker title when she passed her VST test in October 2012. Ann travels regularly to Europe for specialty shows. She is pas- sionate about the “Chien de Berger Belge”, especially the shorthaired variety, the Bel- gian Malinois. She has been an o ffi cer and active member of the American Belgian Malinois Club, and is the show chair and past President of the North Star Herding Group Club in Minnesota.
“If you have a Malinois, YOU’LL NEED TO PLAN ACTIVITIES FOR BOTH OF YOU!”
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