One of the four types of Belgian sheepherding dogs, the Belgian Malinois is an alert, high-energy breed, popular as both a police and military working dog. Although sometimes mistaken for the German Shepherd Dog, the Malinois is more elegant in build and lighter-boned, but does not lack for strength, agility or herding ability. Active participants in conformation, obedience, schutzhund, herding, sledding, and tracking, the breed ranges in color from rich fawn to mahogany, with black tips on the hairs and a black mask and ears.
Intelligent and trainable, the Belgian Malinois possesses a strong desire to work and is happiest with regular activity and a job to do. A relatively easy keep due to their medium size and short coat, this confident breed loves their families, but may be somewhat reserved with strangers. They are protective of their owners without being overly aggressive.
The frequency of bathing depends on you and your dog’s lifestyle. This highly intelligent and athletic dog can be bathed as frequently as every week up to no longer than every 6 weeks. Routine baths and blowouts, as well as frequent brushing, lay the groundwork for maintaining healthy skin and coat.
This double coated breed has an extra dense undercoat and a thick topcoat which provides protection from water and extreme weather conditions. Because of this thick, dense coat, it is always beneficial to take a few extra minutes prior to the bath to loosen any dirt and debris from the skin and blow out any loose hair using a high velocity dryer. Then use an undercoat rake, stone, shedding blade, carding tool, or even a slicker brush to remove additional loose coat. Once the right products for your dog’s coat and skin have been selected, it is time for a bath. Since the Belgian Malinois is such an energetic and athletic dog, two baths are recommended. The pre-bath is for general cleaning to remove any dirt and grime, and to bring the coat back to a neutral state. Bringing the coat back to a neutral state allows the product you select to work more effectively. A rubber curry with cylinder type teeth is a great way to help the shampoo penetrate through the thick, dense coat. The final bath is designed to target the needs of the dog’s skin and coat. Immerse your fingers deep into the coat while massaging the shampoo into the coat making sure every part is thoroughly covered. When rinsing the coat, it is recommended to cool the water temperature down slightly to help remove all of the product.
Once the bath is complete, it is imperative to get the dog completely dry. Since the coat is thick and dense, make sure the hair is dry all the way to the skin removing all traces of any dampness and moisture. Try to get in the habit of drying the Belgian Malinois in the direction the coat should lay. After the dog is dry, run a slicker brush over the dog in the direction the coat should lay.
Finishing the Dog: Tools and Finish Grooming
The coat should be fresh, clean and full of body. No loose or shedding hair should be visible to the eye. If there is still excessive loose hair, use a high velocity dryer to remove. Use a curry brush over the entire body so the coat lays flat and straight. The freshly clean and hydrated coat should refract a brilliant shine and enhance the color of the coat.
General Health Care
Prep work is the foundation of all grooming. Prep work includes ear cleaning, nail trimming, trimming the pads, and proper dental hygiene. Mastering these skills sets the professional stylist apart from the rest. Prep work should be done before every bathing and grooming appointment. All dogs need to have their ears checked and cleaned on a regular basis. Some need to have the hair plucked from the ear canal. This allows the ear to have proper air circulation. It is not necessary to remove all of the hair in the ear, as some serves as a barrier to foreign debris. It is imperative that you are properly trained to pull ear hair before attempting this endeavor. Proper nail care is also very important. Long, unsightly nails are uncomfortable for the dog, as well as anyone they might jump on. Long nails also compromise the shape of the foot. Trimming the pads of the foot helps give the dog good traction on different surfaces and can minimize the amount of dirt the dog tracks into the house. It also affords the opportunity to treat and condition the paws from cracks and abrasions. Good dental hygiene is essential for a healthy pet as well.
In order to maintain healthy skin and coat as well as overall health, it is important to provide good nutrition to your dog through a well-balanced diet, vitamins, and healthy treats.
Do they require a lot of grooming?
The Belgian Malinois is a very athletic breed. A bath and blowout are necessary to keep the shedding at bay and to maintain healthy skin and coat. Make it a habit to spend some quality time brushing your dog to keep the coat separated and divided which, in turn, will allow the skin to breathe.
What is a common problem in the Belgian Malinois?
Skin allergies resulting in itching, scratching, and associated to minor skin infections is a common problem in the Belgian Malinois. Diet and nutrition can also be a major factor in skin allergies. Hip and elbow dysplasia are also common in this breed. Hip dysplasia, a genetic disease affecting the hip joint, can be a devastating disease, slow a dog down, and can and will have pain associated with its onset. A great resource for hip and elbow dysplasia is The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). All registered show dogs are required to be examined and rated with specific attention given to hip dysplasia. An OFA certification on file gives a clear sign the dog does not or will not have hip dysplasia, although it is not conclusive.
Does the Belgian Malinois shed or cause allergies?
They shed, but basic maintenance will significantly reduce the amount of hair in your home. For most of the year, weekly brushing will suffice. However, daily brushing is almost mandatory during major shedding cycles.
Are Belgian Malinois’ good with children?
The Belgian Malinois can be very accepting to children as long as he was raised with them from a young age. They are a herding breed and may tend to chase or nip at children. This type of behavior needs to be corrected immediately so it does not develop into a further problem. They are best suited to a family with older children who understand the importance of treating the dog with respect.
What if I have a show dog?
Whether you have a show dog or a companion dog, the same basic care is given regarding nutrition, socialization, and hygiene. The difference is the grooming maintenance and conditioning for the show ring. It is always helpful if your breeder is willing to help mentor you to lead you in the right direction upon entering the wonderful world of show dogs. A great place to start is with the national breed club like the American Belgian Malinois Club, www.malinoisclub.com.