Picture this scenario, you and your family just went to see the movie Max. It’s a great little story about a Belgian Malinois that was formerly a MWD (military war dog). Through a crazy series of events this malinois ends up with your everyday family. While they struggle a little at first, eventually it all works out and everyone is happy. You then come home thinking maybe you want one of these great dogs for your family. They seem so smart and protective, and they’re so easily trained. I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble, but for the love I have for these breeds I need to encourage everyone to PLEASE NOT BUY ONE.
Most people that buy a Belgian Malinois as a pet are going to be in for a very big, unhappy, stressful surprise. These dogs, at least the well-bred ones, are extremely high drive dogs. That means a little 30 minute walk and some fetch in the backyard is not going to be enough to keep them out of trouble. An unsupervised malinois can destroy your couch in minutes, shred your carpet, and knock down every valuable knick knack you own before you even realize it has happened. Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherds are working dogs. They should be bred with a specific job in mind, and that job is not to sit on the couch and occasionally chase the cat. There are very few breeds out there that, as a whole, still are capable of performing very demanding work. These dogs are not meant to be the everyday family pet. These dogs have been bred to perform very specific jobs. Unless you intend to compete in dog sports, I beg you to please choose a different breed.
Now that there is a demand for these dogs in the pet market, we are already seeing a decline in the quality of dogs being produced. When only people who intended to work these dogs wanted a puppy, breeders were more inclined to only breed those dogs that have the best traits for that job. With more and more people looking to buy these dogs as pets, many breeders are simply looking to produce as many as they can with no forethought to the future of the breed as a working dog. This leads to many unhappy pet owners, and many unhappy working dog enthusiasts.
I do not say this to scare you away from the breed, or to make you believe that people with a Belgian Malinois are somehow “special” or “better” than other dog owners. I say this because the more demand for “pet-quality” malinois there is in the world, leads to more “pet-quality” malinois being produced. This muddies the gene pool of the true working dog we know and love.
If you are truly interested in what is best for the Belgian Malinois I encourage you to look for a local working dog club. Spend some time with them and get to know the commitment it takes to truly train one of these dogs to the levels you see. Once you understand that commitment and think you can make it work for you and your family, then maybe start to look into getting one. Ask knowledgeable people about what breeders they would recommend. Better yet, get on working-dog.eu and look at some of the best of the best out there. Once you can really see the differences in quality then you will know what to look for when looking for a breeder.
If you realize your lifestyle and schedule do not allow you to commit to that level of training, then I beg you to please consider a different breed. Let the malinois continue to be a working dog and look somewhere else for your next pet. If you like the intelligence and trainability of the malinois, then maybe consider a Golden Retriever. If you like the look of a malinois, then maybe the German Shepherd would be an acceptable option. My love for this breed as such an amazing working dog is what triggers my fear and disdain for these dogs ending up in the wrong hands. I want this breed to continue as the gifted working dogs they are, and not go the way of so many other breeds.