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Ivan Balabanov | No I'm Not a German Shepherd!

Malinois FAQ

Click on the light bulbs to get answers on frequently asked questions about the Belgian Malinois and watch more videos

Is Malinois really that hyper of a dog?

The immediate reply would be “Yes”, but … this does not mean that all Malinois are the same! Different breeders are breeding dogs with certain characteristics and “high energy” is one of them. I have to mention that there is a very important difference between high energy dog and hyper active dog that does not know how to rest. IMO you can find just as many hyperactive Labradors for example as you would Malinois. Energy level should be looked much more on individual basis that label a whole breed of dogs as hyper active lunatics. I can assure you that 98% of all Ot Vitosha Malinois sleep for many hours at a time (not in a crate), can travel for hours in the cabin on a plane, or just lay out on the sun and chill. In my opinion hyper activity is overall not a desired trait. In our Ot Vitosha breeding program we believe that the best dogs are not the ones that pace around the yard or the coffee table 24/7. We like to breed dogs that have “On” and “Off” switch. Dogs that would love to work, but No, You do not have to run 5 miles every day to burn your dogs energy! Pretty much, all of our Malinois love to be the couch potato next to you. At younger age of course they will be more active and as they get older you may have to look around to call them to go out on a walk. Having said all this I will have to say that no dog is happy to just sit around and eat cookies and go around the block on a daily walk. If you do not have the desire to spend quality interactive time with a dog You really don’t need to own one. What is quality and interactive time then? It can be almost anything, from playing fetch, to learning tricks, going on car rides, hiking, playing with other dogs, enrolling in dog sports and yes watching movies on the couch is a favorite too.

Is training a Malinois so different than training a different breed of dog?

This is yet another big misconception that goes around the internet forums and dog training websites! The quick answer once again is “NO”! The Belgian Malinois is one of the oldest European breeds of dog that was used for herding, police and army, protection dog sports ( just to name a few). In fact the Malinois (one of the varieties of the Belgian Shepherd (Chien de Berger Belge) was as a breed club founded earlier than the German Shepherd Club in Germany! Why am I giving you this background? To show you that Malinois has not only survived but thrived and dominated the Dog Training arena since its beginning in the late 1880’s . As you know the methods of dog training continue to evolve, from quite harsh and purely avoidance style of training in the early 1900’s to purely positive training in the 90’s and everything in between – the Malinois has proven its resiliency to “read” its master and find the way to learn. A well bred Malinois is highly intelligent, has excellent toy/play/prey drive, excellent food drive, loves to interact with his people, is one of the most agile dogs ever bred. All this makes the training of a Malinois a very enjoyable experience for both trainer and dog. Some trainers and breeders may try to convince you that “only” experienced person should own one, but guess what this is not true! It always amazes me to hear such statements, I have come to the conclusion that such statements are not really directed to the Malinois breed. These trainers and breeders want to make a statement to You that they are more capable than You, it elevates the trainer or breeder status in the eyes of the person who dared to ask them about their Malinois- in short it makes the trainer SPECIAL while convincing you that “Malinois is not for everyone”! To close this I have to agree that a well bred Malinois is for sure Special, but in a good way, they are very adaptable, and yes you can make mistakes in training, contrary to what You hear and read on internet forums – Malinois WILL forgive your training mistakes and move on faster that most other breeds in training : ) Malinois is the most versatile dog breed on earth at present times!

When should I start training my Malinois?

If you just got a puppy, you should not wait. Start teaching manners, house rules and very importantly teach your puppy how to play Fetch and other games. You may want to check out my video lessons here www.TrainPerView.com Going to a dog training school is NOT always the best thing to do. The reason I say thins is because Dog Trainers and Dog Training schools grow as mushrooms, almost everyone who has a dog likes to start a dog training business. Please be aware, don’t trust fancy websites, it is very easy to look for credentials, experience and knowledge. Ask for proofs! Dog Trainers love to say catchy phrases “ positive reinforcement” “ no prong collars” etc. If you own or are about to own an Ot Vitosha puppy, I am here to help you raise it correctly. I can also recommend trainer with experience pretty much anywhere in the world.

I hear the Malinois have a problem being left alone, is this true?

The Malinois loves to be around his people, they can become “needy” if they trick you into it. It is not difficult at all to teach an young puppy that the world does not go around them 24/7. Teach the puppy to have its own quiet time around the house. Don’t get so overly excited when you go away and when you come back home. There are dogs that just can’t seem to want to lay down , they pace in circles in the yard or the coffee table, but this is not necessarily a strictly Malinois trait. Some dog trainers unfortunately believe that keeping the “working dog” during the day isolated will help them with building their motivation for training so they actually create this separation anxiety in way on purpose and then try to tell You that the Malinois does not like ot be left alone …

Can I trust a Malinois around my children?

Just as many of the FAQ s this one also does not apply strictly to the Malinois. A well bred dog will not have problems interacting and trusting kids. In general dogs that have grown up around kids have the social skills and know how to “read” kids, they understand when kids are playing , crying, crawling etc. and can read the intentions behind the children’s actions better than a dog that lacks the exposure to kids. There are certain things that you need to consider while the puppy is young, early socialization and exposure is a must for the education of any dog. As a human you must realize that dogs need to get that exposure in order to fit in our society better. Dogs that lack confidence tend to avoid kids. Dogs that have behavior issues such as food or toy possession/ aggression will have problems with children in these instances as well. Most dog bites that involved children are really with the intention to only discipline and create boundaries and rules between the kid and themselves. They can be 100% avoided if the parents take this responsibility of their dog and take charge to establish rules and supervise dogs and kids. I always give this analogy to my clients: Imagine what could happen if the kids in kindergarten are left unsupervised, soon or later there will be a conflict that they will not know how to resolve and one (or more of them) will be crying. If a dog want to really hurt a child they could and this type of bite will be with completely different intention and damage will be much more serious than just the puncture wound they did on the soft skin. Kids and dogs can develop a very special bond, but they REALLY need your supervision at all times!

What type of personality and temperament the Malinois has?

Malinois can vary greatly in temperament and conformation! The most common flows in temperament of Malinois are Lack of Confidence which in some cases will develop into fear aggression. Environmentally unsound – which means they can get scared by a plastic bag, that flies away on the sidewalk. Dominance – leading to possessive behaviors, and territorial aggression. There are breeders that breed very aggressive and unpredictable at times dogs (usually breeders with very little experience and knowledge), but this is not a Malinois subject only, if you do not want such dog, stay away from them. But the well bred Malinois fits and find great solutions on how to fit in society. Some are quite outgoing and some don’t feel the need to run to everyone they meet to greet. The personality or temperament have strong genetic influence but how the dog is raised is crucial to what it will grow up as. A well bred and raised Malinois is NOT fearful, NOT aggressive for no reason, IS the IMO the ultimate dog : )

How much the Malinois sheds?

All dogs shed. Malinois is no different. It has double or “undercoat” it sheds twice an year. Depending on the climate you live in the amount of shedding will vary. If you live in a place with real winter the shedding will be more than if you live in tropical climate. Malinois does not shed as much as the German Shepherd. Weekly grooming can keep the shedding to a minimum for sure.

Are the Malinois dived in “show” and “ working” lines, the way the German Shepherds are ?

Yes it is, there are breeders that breed for either extreme, and there are breeders that try to breed a well rounded dog. Our Ot Vitosha breeding program has the primary objective to breed healthy and sound dogs that are able to do what You would like to do. As you may have already seen in our pictures and videos some of our dogs have stunning looks but this is secondary to temperament and health for us.

Can you help me decide if Malinois is a good match for me?

Yes, send us an email and tell us about yourself and your lifestyle, if you have or had a previous dog , any videos can be of help as well. We will get back to you

If I want Ot Vitosha Malinois, do I get to choose the puppy?

No, I breed Malinois since 1989, I know my lines of dogs better than anyone else. If you want an Ot Vitosha puppy you will have to tell me what are your intentions, what are your plans for the puppy. Do you want to do sport, or just as a pet or Protection, etc. Next you need to tell me if you would prefer a male or a female, or you might be open to either. Size, color and whatever else you may think is important. If we have further questions we will be in contact further. You will have to also prioritize. For example if a very dark color is more important than the working abilities etc. It will be my job to match you with the puppy of your choice.

What is the average life span of a Malinois?

The average life span of some of our dog lived to be as old as 17 years old, but for the most part depending if you as an owner feel that you have to make the decision, most of our dogs live to about 14 -15 yrs old.

Tell me more about the origin of The Malinois?

The Belgian Shepherd Club (Club du Chien de Berger Belge ) was created BEFORE the German Shepherd Club (Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde ) Official breed creation occurred around 1891, when the Club du Chien de Berger Belge (Belgian Shepherd Dog Club) was formed in Brussels. Founder of the breed is considered Prof. A. Reul. The first breed standard was written in 1892, but official recognition did not happen until 1901, when the Royal Saint-Hubert Society Stud Book began registering Belgian Shepherd Dogs. By 1910, fanciers managed to eliminate the most glaring faults and standardize type and temperament. There has been continued debate about acceptable colors and coat types. Structure, temperament and working ability have never been debated in regards to the standard. In Belgium (the country of origin) all four types are considered to be varieties of a single breed, differentiated by hair color and texture. In some non-FCI countries and other regions, they are considered separate breeds. For instance, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes only the Groenendael under the name “Belgian Sheepdog” but also recognizes the Tervuren and the Malinois as individual breeds (Belgian Tervuren and Belgian Malinois respectively). The Laekenois can be registered as part of the AKC Foundation Stock Service and should eventually be recognized fully by the AKC. At present times the Malinois is by far superior in temperament and working abilities! Having said this we still may see ( but very rarely!) a nice dog from the other 3 varieties. At times from a Tervueren litters there might be a Malinois puppy and from Malinois litters there are occasionally long haired Malinois, which in some countries are registered as Tervuerens even though they come out of Malinois …
ALL Malinois FAQ written and Copyright of Ivan Balabanov & Ot Vitosha Malinois!