Badass Guard Dog – The Belgian Malinois


We continue our Badass Guard Dog series with a truly hardworking breed. I admit, when I think of “guard dog,” I usually envision dogs not unlike the Cane Corso from the last issue of BP – ripped, square-jawed, and just massive. But there are some breeds out there that don’t resemble those traits at all. If you asked me to suggest a breed of dog to you that would be an awesome guard dog, what would be your reaction if I told you a sheepdog?

You would probably think immediately of the Old English Sheepdog – big and shaggy, with moist hair around its eyes and muzzle – and you would probably laugh. Well, my friend, there are other sheepdogs, also known as shepherd dogs, that can tear you a new asshole faster than you can say “Lass das sein.” And, if I only said shepherd, you’d probably think immediately of a German Shepherd. Not to discredit the German Shepherd, for they make great guard dogs, but another close relative, who comes in a slightly smaller package but nonetheless fierce, is none other than the Belgian Malinois.

Viga, ship's mascot, USS Kroonland (U.S. Navy)

Viga, ship's mascot, USS Kroonland (U.S. Navy)


The Belgian Malinois (MÆL-in-NWA), also known as a Belgian Shepherd Dog, is a breed of dog similar to the German Shepherd but possessing a frame more square than that of the German.


U.S.-Navy-photo-by-Photographer’s-Mate-2nd-Class-Johansen-LaurelIn the U.S., Europe, Australia, and in Canada, Mals are bred primarily as a working dogs for law enforcement, military, security forces, and sport competition. The United States Secret Service is one such security force/law enforcement agency that uses the breed exclusively. Their compact frame and thinner coats make Mals the preferred choice over other breeds. The smaller frame allows for greater maneuverability and handling, and the lighter coat keeps the breed less prone to heat exhaustion. Mals are like the sports cars of the working breeds.


The official FCI standard calls for Mals to stand from 24-26 inches (61-66 centimeters) at the withers, while females should stand from 22-24 inches (56-61 centimeters). Female Mals are said to average 55-65 pounds (25-30 kilograms), while males carry a slightly heavier load at 65-75 pounds (29-34 kilograms).

The body is often described as square, with a deep chest, and a level topline that slopes slightly at the withers. The overall size of the head is in proportion to the body with a flat skull and somewhat pointed snout. The nose and lips are black, with a nice set of pearly whites that meet in a level bite. Ears are erect and triangle-shaped. The Mal’s coat is said to be weather resistant because of the dual nature of the hair, yet the overall appearance is short and sleek. Mals come in rich colors from fawn to red to mahogany, all the way to black and black/tan (similar to Dobermans and Rottweilers and rare). The neck hair is slightly longer and resembles a collar.

The Belgian Malinois is an intelligent and well-mannered breed. Mals are extremely obedient, while also exhibiting very territorial and protective traits.


Mals are versatile and highly intelligent. They can do police work such as, narcotics and bomb detection, protection and schutzhund, search and rescue, also obedience, agility, tracking, and herding. They also work well as guide or assistant dogs for the blind or disabled.


These dogs make great family pets as well, as long as they are properly trained and socialized at an early age. They can thrive in an apartment setting if given sufficient exercise outdoors. They are full of energy and love to be physical. Mals make excellent running companions, and they love to be with their people.

The Belgian Malinois is a healthy, hardy breed. They have no major health concerns, but they could experience some eye and skin problems, as well as hip and elbow dysplasia. They have a long lifespan of 12-14 years if kept healthy.

Things to Consider

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Stephen Linch

Mals are protective, determined, and observant. They are extremely intelligent; therefore, they need leadership and must be challenged mentally. Mals have a tendency to be shy or sensitive. It is imperative that these dogs be socialized well at an early age to avoid this type of behavior.

You need to be firm but not heavy handed with this dog. They will respond well to that, but if you are mean or heavy-handed, they will be uncooperative or can even become shy. Just display a natural confidence and authority over the dog, and it will obey your every command. This breed needs to be part of the family and not locked up outside or in a kennel. They play well with other pets if properly introduced; however, they will display dominance if not taught otherwise.

tanakawho - Flickr

This is my bear! There are others like it, but this one is mine!

Mals are natural herders, so you can expect constant circling and other movement for extended periods of time and nipping at people’s heels if not properly trained.

Shedding is light normally, with two heavy, annual sheds.


You could certainly do worse than acquiring a breed such as the Belgian Malinois for a guard dog. Mals aren’t too big, don’t slobber, and are obedient as hell.

If you like getting outdoors with your pup, and possibly doing some cool agility training, you will be very happy. If you’re a lazy, fat-ass, homebody without ambition, you won’t be getting a Mal, or at least you shouldn’t. Be prepared for a workout partner who will probably bother the shit out of you until you get off the couch or out of the bed and take them for a run or a long walk.

If you need to find a bomb in your office or a stash of cocaine in a car, you have the perfect tool to do it, provided you know how to train the dog properly.

Whether you’re a super-paranoid cartel boss or Hollywood celebrity, or just a person who likes having a badass guard dog as a family pet and guardian, this hound should be in your top five for consideration.

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  1. Sgt Rock says:

    I have a Beligum Malinois, I am a disabled vet with a hearing impairment. He is my service dog. Yes the military working dogs are BAD ASS DOGS! But, the same portective qualities that apply to military work for the Malinois is found to be a force multiplyer. As a service dog the Malinois not only pays attention to any and everyting thing around you but their hard drive to achieve is also found in their desire to please their master in any and every task. My Malinois not only has keep me from being hit by a car I didn’t see (I am also blind in one eye) he is a watch dog that my neighbors are so glad to have around. I live in a Condo that backs to an 18 acre park. The dog loves the park and guards the complex to the point that no one enters without everyone knowing someone is there. He is likewise quite willing to tollerate my 3 year old grandson who thinks he is a big toy, The dog plays with him for hours on end and when he gets tired he just walk away. Even if my grandson goes after him to play some more. The dog will simply just get up and move else where until he finds a spot where he will no longer have to entrain the child. On the same hand, I had a repairman show up one day and the dog refused to let him in the door. I called him down but he would not listen. I noted the repairman had a box cutter on his belt. I instructed him to remove it. Yet the dog would still not allow his entry. The only other time he has acted this way was when a Police Officer approached me from behind. The Malinois would not let him get closer than 20 feet. When I remembered it, I asked the repairman if he had a firearm. He did, the dog smelled the gun powder, just as he had with the police officer and was smart enough to know that was a potential danger to his master. It should also be noted that I have a license to carry a firearm and frequently do carry a conceled sidearm. The dog was smart enough to be able to tell the difference. His trainer, who is also a Deputy Sheriff tells me that in harmony with the smell of the gunpowder, the Beligum Malinois can sense danger much in the same way a thearpy dog can sense someone having a seizure. There is something about someone intent on or capable of doing harm. Such a a Police Officer who would be on guard when walking into a uncertain issue. I never ceased to be amazed but the capability of this breed. I feel strongly that the current utilization of the Beliguim Malinois for both a war dog and a service dog has hardly scratched the surface of what this amazing K9 can do.

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