The Belgian Malinois (MAL-in-wah), first bred around the city of Malines in the northwestern region of Belgium, are one of four closely related breeds of Belgian herding dogs. In some countries, the Malinois is classified together with the Tervuren, Laekenois, and Belgian Shepherd (aka Groenendael) as a single breed collectively known as the Belgian Sheepdog. In America, the Malinois has been registered as a separate breed since 1959. He bears a passing resemblance to the German Shepherd Dog but has a different head, and is leggier and finer boned, than his better-known German counterpart.
Mals have long been acknowledged as a peerless livestock herder in their native land. They were first bred by serious dog people who were primarily concerned with producing dogs of sterling working character and who spurned passing fads and fancies of pet owners. This emphasis on performance made the Mal the go-to dog for Belgian sheepherders and cattlemen.
It was in 1911 that Mals were first brought to America. They flourished here until the outbreak of World War II put an end to the importation of European breeding stock. The breed languished in the postwar years until the early 1960s, when the Mal’s admirers began the process of replenishing its American population.
Mals are still prized as herders of all kinds of stock, but their versatility and high work-drive have opened careers in many other occupations and activities. They are highly sought after as police and military K-9s. They have served with such distinction that the Fayetteville, North Carolina, memorial to military dogs features a life-size bronze of a Belgian Malinois.