A Malinois is not a breed of dog. The Malinois is a VARIETY of the breed BELGIAN SHEPHERD DOG. Within the UK and Europe, The Belgian Shepherd Dog comes in four varieties: Tervueren, Groenendael, Malinois and Laekenois. In the US however the varieties are classified as separate breeds.

All the varieties of the Belgian Shepherd Dog should have the exact same body, the only thing making them differ is the coat and/or the colour. The Tervueren is a longcoated dog that comes in either Red, Fawn or Grey, always with a black mask, with differing amounts of black overlay. The Groenendael is longcoated and always Black. The Malinois is shortcoated and comes in the same colours as the Tervueren. The Laekenois finally is curlycoated and comes as Reddish Fawn, sometimes without the black mask. All the four varieties may have a small amount of white on their chest and hindtoes. You do occasionally see blue Malinois (where the mask, ears etc are blue instead of black) and all black ones, or those with half a white leg or similar. This is not correct for the show ring but makes no difference at all if the dog is going to be worked only. Which colours that are acceptable vary from country to country. Some only accept Fawn or Red and not Grey, for instance. The UK lists all three as acceptable. Way back in the beginning, Grey (sometimes referred to as Sand) and also Black was included in the breed standard in its country of origin. These were later removed. A word of warning about blue: Blue in any breed of dog is a dilute colour (i.e. a "washed out" version of black) and it is never a good idea to mate two blue dogs together as the resulting puppies may suffer from various skin problems such as alopecia.

Thus the correct name for the Malinois in the UK is the full "BELGIAN SHEPHERD DOG (MALINOIS)". This is normally shortened to just Malinois, or the affectionate "Mali" or even just "Mal". You can also refer to the variety as the "BSD Malinois" or the "Belgian Shepherd Malinois". "Belgian Malinois"  is the American breed name, and is not technically correct in the UK. It is however often used, in particular among owners/breeders of working line Malinois. In its home country of Belgium, the Malinois is known as the "Belgische Herdershond Mechelaar".

The Belgian Shepherd Dogs were developed in various regions of Belgium, where they were used for both herding and guarding livestock. The shortcoated variety from Malines (Mechelen) became known as the Malinois. The four varieties were split and named and given breed standards in 1891.

According to the UK Kennel Club breed standard, the ideal height of a dog is 61-66 cms (24 to 26 ") and for a bitch 56-61 cms (22-24 "). Working line Malinois are often bigger and in particular heavier with stronger bones. Malinois bitches can weigh from 17 to 30 kg and even above, with the average for showline bitches being around 22-24 kgs. Dogs are larger and as such weigh in at 25 kgs and above, although both smaller and bigger dogs do exist. The Belgian Shepherd should be a square dog -imagine fitting the body, minus its head, into a square box. To read the Kennel Club breed standard for the Belgian Shepherd Dog, go to

The Malinois has proved very popular with the police and army. They tend to be faster and above all healthier than the German Shepherd. The variety has been split into two (as with so many other breeds) - show type and working type. The main differences between a show type and a working type Malinois is that the working type has been bred to have a much higher drive ("work ethic"!) than the show type, it tends to be bigger, heavier in bone, and with a broader head, larger ears and often a smoother/shorter coat. Some breeders, both in the UK and abroad, are aiming for a Malinois that both can work and be shown, i.e. having the look of a show dog (as per the breed standard) but with the working type's higher drive. Show line Malinois can still work, and indeed the UK's first MOD and police Malinois were from showlines. The working type has however been bred with particular attention paid to their drive, and as such they are more frequently used by professionals these days. A working type Malinois does NOT make a pet and is best suited with police, army, search and rescue etc, plus of course the serious dog sports competitor, such as IPO, working trials etc. The show type is ideal for agility, obedience, flyball, some do take part successfully in working trials, and they do of course make good pets -as long as they are still kept ACTIVE.

Fawn Malinois (show type)
Red Malinois (show type)
Grey Malinois (show type)
Red Malinois (working type) (Rescue dog Jazzy, Babs Sharpe.)
Fawn Malinois (50/50 working/show lines)
The 4 varieties of the Belgian Shepherd Dog. Left to right: Tervueren, Groenendael, Laekenois, Malinois. (Jan Ralph, Bonvivant)
Tervueren (Jan Ralph)
Groenendael (Jan Ralph)
Laekenois (Tracey Gray)