The Belgian Malinois has only recently become an in-demand dog outside of police and military circles.
The breed was formerly a little-known soldier dog. But that all changed in 2019 when President Trump tweeted out a photograph of a Malinois dog named Conan, according to Newsweek.
Now Malinois dogs are in hot demand from people who want a military-grade personal protection dog, according to TMZ.
But is a dog famed for heading up secret military missions going to be a good addition to a family with children? That is exactly what this article will address.
Are Belgian Malinois Good With Children?
The Belgian Malinois dog is a true working dog breed. These dogs were never bred with any intention of them living the pet dog life.
This doesn’t mean the breed is not good with children. But it does mean their high energy level and high-intensity prey drive may inadvertently cause harm if you do not provide the right type and quantity of training.
In the rest of this article, you will learn exactly what to know before adding a Malinois to a family with young children or other pets.
Hear From an Experienced Mom with Two Malinois
As this excellent YouTube video highlights, the Belgian Malinois dog breed requires a lot (a LOT) of work.
And that is work on top of the other work you already have cared for your human family members. But, as the dog owner explains, this does not mean that Malinois dogs are not good with kids.
It just means you are going to need to devote significant time and resources to making sure your Malinois are sufficiently well trained to become that great family dog you want them to be.
Understanding the Belgian Malinois Personality and Temperament
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the Belgian Malinois dog has been closely linked to police and military agencies since the early 20th century.
These dogs are often mistaken for German Shepherd dogs, to which they actually bear only a slight resemblance. But since the coat color is quite similar, and both dogs are popular protection and guarding dogs, they are frequently confused.
The Belgian Malinois is sometimes described as a “high octane” German Shepherd, which should give you a good idea of what owning and caring for this breed is really like for the average person.
In military and police settings, a Belgian Malinois is given one dedicated and highly trained K-9 handler whose job it is to look after their dog, train their dog, exercise their dog, and tend to all of their dog’s daily needs.
This is the level of intense bond with their people that the Belgian Malinois dog expects and deserves. But most dog owners simply do not have this kind of time to devote to their dog, which is where problems can crop up.
What the American Belgian Malinois Club Says About Mals and Kids
As the American Belgian Malinois Club (ABMC) explains, introducing any dog breed into a home with children requires special care.
But introducing a Belgian Malinois dog into a home where children are present requires extra special care. These dogs can be – the ABMC’s own words – jealous, possessive, territorial, and protective.
It will be the adult owner’s job to work with these traits and turn them towards the family’s advantage.
In the same way, the children will absolutely need to learn how to refrain from teasing the dog, playing too rough with the dog, startling the dog, or even playing too rough with each other or friends in the dog’s presence.
There is a great risk of someone coming to harm if any of the Belgian Malinois’s strong working dog traits were to be triggered in some way due to lack of proper training or socialization.
This is why the ABMC recommends against ever leaving a Belgian Malinois with young children in an unsupervised setting.
What About Mals and Other Family Pets?
The Belgian Malinois is formally classified by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as a herding dog breed.
Herding dog breeds retain a strong instinctive drive to herd anyone they regard as being under their protection, including you, your children, and other family dogs.
Belgian Malinois may nip at, nudge, lean on, bark at and use other communication cues to try to herd you, your kids, and any animals large enough to hold their own.
But where it comes to other family pets such as birds, small mammals or even cats, the instinct that is most likely to be activated in a Malinois is the prey drive and chase instinct.
There is a very strong risk that other family pets can be injured or killed by a Malinois that is just being who they were bred to be. For this reason, it is not advisable to add a Belgian Malinois to households with vulnerable pets.
How to Train a Belgian Malinois to Protect Children
As Vetstreet explains, the very best approach to training a Belgian Malinois to protect and guard children is to raise the puppy with children right from the start.
This is the best method to ensure the Malinois will accept the children and see them as “herd” members to be protected and guarded.
Here, it will be equally important to teach your young Belgian Malinois not to nip at or chase your children as it will be to teach your children not to tease or play too rough with your Mal puppy.
You want to be sure to train out all bad habits from every angle while your dog is still very young.
The hands-down best way to accomplish this is to work with a professional K-9 trainer who has the knowledge and hands-on experience to work with you, your family, and your Mal.
This is recommended even if you have a lot of experience training and handling other dog breeds.
Your whole family will need to participate equally in dog training, according to Ruidoso Malinois, the breeder that bred and trained Conan for the Navy SEALS mission.
What Your Belgian Malinois Needs From You
The Belgian Malinois has such as strong energy level and drive to work that they simply cannot be good companion canines in the absence of a job to do.
So you will need to teach your Mal that their job is to guard and protect you and your children. But your dog will need more than that to work off their intense energy each day.
Your dog needs at least two hours of intense daily exercise
Belgian Malinois are truly amazing canine athletes and can excel in all kinds of K-9 sports events, including Schutzhund, agility, rally, scent work, search and rescue, dock diving, hunting, herding, obedience, and more.
A fully-grown Malinois should have a veterinary X-ray to verify that the growth plates in the long leg bones have closed and hardened before being enrolled in canine athletics or any high-intensity sport or K-9 training.
But once your dog is fully grown, the sky is the limit as far as how much daily activity these dogs can handle.
Your dog needs an escape-proof yard and home
On that note, the Malinois is known to be an unparalleled escape artist, especially when confined alone or bored.
Scaling a six-foot fence? Not a problem for a breed that can readily learn to run straight up a vertical incline and skydive with the military!
Digging under your fence or learning to operate the so-called “dog-proof” safety latch? Not an issue at all for the dog that simply will not give up until they meet their mission objectives.
You will need to be sure your yard is utterly escape-proof and thoroughly tire your dog out every single day with runs, playtime, training sessions, sensory enrichment, and as much attention as they can handle (and that is a lot of attention).
Should You Get a Belgian Malinois to Protect Your Family?
Hopefully, this article gives you a clear and accurate picture of what daily life with a Belgian Malinois puppy or rescue dog will be like.
Even though you have so many other responsibilities to earn a living, care for your children and partner, tend to your home and yard, keep up with friends, and rest, your dog will need you every single day for hours each day.
You will need to provide and reinforce proper military-grade protection dog training skills to be sure your dog is an asset in your family and community and does not become a threat to others.
Rain or shine, sickness or health, cold or heat, your dog is going to need to get all of their daily needs met from you.
If this sounds like a fun and fulfilling commitment you are eager to take on, then a Belgian Malinois can be a wonderful guard dog for your family.