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Are Belgian Malinois Aggressive? 11 Important Facts

Are Belgian Malinois Aggressive? 11 Important Facts

Belgian Malinois are one of the most common dogs that look like German Shepherds. In fact, they often get confused with a young GSD, even though there are many differences between the two.

Belgian Malinois dogs are a fairly old breed. They have existed since the 1800s and, as their name suggests, they come from the city of Malines, in Belgium.

Easily recognized by their red coat and black mask, these pups were bred for their hard-working character, and they are likely the most popular of all four Belgian shepherd dogs, herding dog breeds that come from Belgium.

Next to Mals, this includes the Belgian Sheepdog (also known as the Groenendael), the Tervuren, and the Laekenois.

The Belgian Malinois is known as the best working dog you can get. They make amazing watchdogs and guard dogs, while they are also a well-known service dog breed. In fact, they are commonly used as police dogs, personal protection dogs, and military dogs.

Some dog owners have wondered about whether Malinois can make good family dogs, or if their reputation for having bad behavior is justified. What is the truth? Are Belgian Malinois aggressive dogs?

To help you understand the Belgian Malinois temperament and possible behavioral problems, we have answered 11 most commonly asked questions that might interest a first-time dog owner.

If you’d like to know whether Belgian Malinois are aggressive and dangerous, you’re in the right place.

Let’s get started!

1. Are Belgian Malinois Aggressive?

malinois side profile

Before we start talking about Belgian Malinois, it’s important to note that all dogs can be aggressive. A dog’s bad behavior is usually the result of bad ownership.

If you don’t provide your dog with adequate socialization and obedience training from an early age, and you don’t meet his daily exercise requirements, he’s bound to develop some form of behavioral problem.

With that being said, some dogs are known to have a worse temperament than others.
Mals have a bad reputation that makes some people wonder whether Belgian Malinois are aggressive in general or if this is the result of bad ownership.

Overall, if you don’t fulfill the above-mentioned requirements, yes, Belgian Malinois can be aggressive. However, aggressive behavior isn’t in their breed standard.

As long as you buy them from a reputable breeder that makes sure the dog doesn’t have aggressive tendencies in his genetics, you can rest assured that a Mal won’t be any more aggressive compared to any other breed of dog.

2. Why Are Belgian Malinois Aggressive?

belgian malinois puppy barking

With everything we’ve said, it’s important to disclaim that Belgian Malinois do have some behavioral traits that can make them more prone to aggressive behavior if you don’t take proper care of them.

If you want to know why Belgian Malinois are aggressive, the answers lie in these circumstances:


A dog will, to a certain extent, inherit his temperament from his parents. As such, if aggressive behavior is a genetic trait that his parents have, he’s more likely to act upon it.
There are not many things you can do to prevent this other than spaying or neutering dogs with behavioral problems. This is why it’s

essential to only buy from Belgian Malinois breeders that have appropriate breeding programs and that refuse to mate dogs with aggressive tendencies.

Fortunately, proper dog training and socialization can help these dogs learn how to behave, although they might never be suitable for other dogs or to be left unwatched at a dog park or during walks.

Inadequate Training

All dogs must undergo proper obedience training. This is especially the case with intelligent dogs with high energy levels, such as Belgian Malinois.

If you don’t give your pooch proper training, he will start acting poorly, sometimes even aggressively, just because he knows he can.

Poor Socialization

Proper socialization is essential when it comes to raising a Belgian Malinois puppy. These dogs have a strong prey drive, and it is a part of their natural instincts to be protective and hunt down smaller animals.

Without good socialization, a Belgian Malinois might become a hazard to not just smaller animals or other dogs, but your family members as well.

Another problem with Mals is that they are confident dogs that are not afraid to attack if they feel threatened. If they are not used to new situations or people, they might resort to snapping and biting.

Not Enough Exercise

Belgian Malinois are extremely active and intelligent dogs. They require lots of interactive playtime and both physical and mental stimulation. If you don’t manage to deplete their high energy levels, they might end up looking for things to do on their own.

It is a part of a dog’s nature to look for things to bite and chew on, especially when he is bored. This is why it’s essential that you make sure he is stimulated enough before bedtime. Anything less than that and your dog will start behaving badly.

Your Energy Is Bad

Dogs can sense human emotions much stronger than we can. In a way, they can pick up our energy and act upon it.

As such, if you are angry, anxious, stressed, or tense, your dog will feel this and get filled with negative energy. As a result, they’ll start behaving according to your emotions.

3. Are Belgian Malinois Friendly?

belgian malinois on a bench

While not overly aggressive, Belgian Malinois are also not known for being the friendliest dogs out there. They are mostly reserved, especially when it comes to strangers.

Some dog breeds, such as Golden Retrievers and Labradors, will run to say ‘Hi’ to every new person they meet. Don’t expect this type of behavior from a Belgian Malinois.

However, this is something that is entirely up to the individual dog. There are many Mals out there that are assertive and friendly, and this is perfectly in line with the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) breed standard.

As long as the dog doesn’t act aggressively or fearfully towards other people or animals, everything is fine.

4. Are Belgian Malinois Good With Other Dogs?

two belgian malinois dogs in nature

Photo from: @paw_mate

Unfortunately, due to their high prey drive and territorial temperament, Belgian Malinois can be aggressive towards other dogs. This is why it’s essential to make sure your puppy is properly socialized from day one.

If you want to make sure your Mal is behaving in a decent manner, here’s what you can do:

Start Training And Socialization As Early As Possible

In order to make sure your dog has a good temperament, you need to start with obedience training and socialization the moment your new

family pet gets into your home.
Start with basic commands such as Sit, Stay, Come, and so on. Introduce them to as many new situations as possible. This includes other pets, children, new sounds, and visitors.

Find A Good Dog Trainer

Belgian Malinois are not good dogs for beginners. They require experienced owners who know how to deal with strong dogs such as Mals.

As such, it might be a good idea to get a reputable trainer that will make sure you are doing everything right. They will give you good tips and tricks to make sure your dog is behaving in the best possible manner.

Fix Your Dog

If your Mal isn’t spayed or neutered, this might also cause him to be aggressive toward other dogs. Same-sex aggression is common in Malinois, and neutering/spaying your pup will allow them to tolerate other dogs better.

Fixing a dog will reduce hormonal aggression, which is a common reason behind aggression toward other dogs. This might also lower their energy levels a bit, which will help with dog training.

Give Them Lots Of Love

Despite their reserved nature, Belgian Malinois love their humans greatly, and require lots of love and affection. You need to give them a fair share of daily interaction to boost their confidence and happiness.

Make sure you play with your dog, and even spend some time cuddling. Find things you can do together, such as hiking or playing fetch. This will make your pup feel loved, and it will result in him behaving better and friendlier.

Be Gentle

Despite their tough appearance, Belgian Malinois are kind and sensitive dogs that don’t respond well to harsh treatment. If you yell, scream, or hit them, they’ll shut down and refuse to cooperate. This will cause them to behave in an aggressive manner as time goes on.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be firm with your dog. He needs to learn to be obedient. However, you need to use redirection and positive reinforcements instead of punishment.

5. Do Belgian Malinois Attack Their Owners?

belgian malinois walking next to a man

This is another common misconception with not just Belgian Malinois, but all other allegedly dangerous dogs, such as Pitbulls and Dobermans.

The truth is that Belgian Malinois are not dangerous to their owners unless the owner is severely abusing them. Even if that is the case, chances are greater that a Malinois will lash at a stranger or a family member rather than at a person who is a primary caretaker.

Belgian Malinois are extremely loyal toward all people they consider their pack members. In fact, they’re usually aggressive only if they think something or someone is endangering their owners.

6. Are Belgian Malinois Aggressive Towards Strangers?

belgian malinois barking at a dog

Even a properly socialized Belgian Malinois will be careful around strangers. These are distrustful dogs that don’t do well with new people, and they take some time getting used to humans and animals they don’t know.

The reason behind this is that Mals were used as guard dogs for centuries. They were taught to be protective and wary of strangers so they could do their job flawlessly.

Even so, they won’t be aggressive unless they have a lack of socialization and training. Quite the opposite – a well-trained Malinois would never bite another person. There have been several situations where a Belgian Malinois has held a burglar down until the police came, but not once bit them.

Unfortunately, if you don’t train your Malinois properly, they can be aggressive towards strangers and even harm them. This is another reason why first-time dog owners should always ask a professional trainer for help.

7. Are Belgian Malinois Easy To Train?

man training his belgian malinois at the park

A Belgian Malinois is a herding dog, and this type of dog is usually effortless to train. Herding dogs are intelligent and obedient, and they love to listen to their owners.

This is in their genes as they had to learn to obey shepherds whose sheep and cattle they kept safe. They had to be properly trained in order to do their job properly. This is why shepherds originally only bred dogs with good, trainable character.

With Malinois, however, there is a small catch. These are independent dogs that can act quite stubborn at times. This can make them not want to learn new things, especially if you don’t know how to behave around them.

Not just that, but these dogs have high energy levels. They need lots of physical activity, and if they are filled with energy, they won’t be willing to focus on learning new tricks.

You need to find a good way to keep them entertained, but also to stay strict and consistent. These are smart dogs, and if they see that you’ll let them have their way after a while, they’ll be prone to not listening to you.

It’s also a good idea to incorporate training during playtime as this will be a nice way to blend obedience training with fun. Not to mention that your dog might be able to get rid of excess energy at the same time.

You should also make sure to train your Malinois in a quiet place, with as few distractions as possible. Their high prey drive will distract them at any noise or weird smell, and they’ll lose focus.

Last, but not least, it’s essential to start training as soon as possible. Sure, Belgian Malinois puppies are cute, but if you don’t act fast, you’ll soon end up with a large and strong dog that doesn’t know how to behave. This can become a true hassle.

8. Are Belgian Malinois More Aggressive Than German Shepherds?

belgian malinois and GSD

Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds are two dogs that can often get confusing when distinguishing the two. However, their similarities end with their appearance. They have very different temperaments, even though both were originally bred to be working dogs.

German Shepherds are soft-natured and friendly. They are a true example of a man’s best friend. They are affectionate and gentle, and they love their humans so much that they can be prone to separation anxiety.

On the other hand, Belgian Malinois are much more independent. Some people who are not close to them might even call them cold and unfriendly as they prefer to mind their own business.

While this makes them a great choice for people who spend lots of time outside of their homes, dog owners who are looking for an affectionate dog might find them to be too distant.

But, what about aggression? Are Belgian Malinois aggressive compared to German Shepherds?

Once again, we’d like to point out that no dog is aggressive if properly trained. However, due to their unfriendly nature, Belgian Malinois are more likely to express aggressive tendencies compared to GSDs.

They are less fond of strangers, and they don’t do well with other dogs. On the other hand, German Shepherds do great with other pets, but they, too, can be very protective of their owners if new people are around.

Still, both dog breeds are very protective and can be territorial. Even social GSDs can have an aggressive streak if you don’t teach them boundaries.

Despite this, German Shepherds are much easier to maintain and train, and they are decent beginner dogs for people who are consistent and firm enough to train their dog strictly and thoroughly.

On the other hand, Malinois are not good beginner dogs precisely for their difficult temperaments and unfriendly character.

As such, German Shepherds make better family pets than Belgian Malinois, although we wouldn’t call either an aggressive breed.

9. Are Belgian Malinois Stronger Than German Shepherds?

belgian malinois and german shepherd

This is a tricky question as there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration.

German Shepherds are slightly larger dogs, but this is only because they are more muscular, while Malinois are slimmer and leaner. Even this difference isn’t great as Malinois usually weigh up to 80 lbs, while standard GSDs can reach a weight of around 90 lbs.

Another important thing is the bite force. The bite force is measured in pounds per square inch (psi), and most humans have a bite force of 120 to 140 psi.

Belgian Malinois have an average bite force of 195 psi, while German Shepherds can bite with a force of 238 psi. This would mean that GSDs can cause more harm with their bite compared to Mals.

However, Belgian Malinois are faster and more agile, while German Shepherds are slower and even appear a bit clumsier. This gives Malinois a slight advantage as they can outrun GSDs and bite them before they can react.

As such, we would conclude that even though German Shepherds are slightly stronger due to their bite and weight, a Belgian Malinois would be a decent opponent, and the two would be quite equal if a fight happens.

As for which one makes a better guard dog, this is entirely up to what you expect from your protector. Malinois do fulfill this duty a bit more thoroughly, but German Shepherds serve as your best friend in the meanwhile.

10. Where Are Belgian Malinois Banned?

belgian malinois in nature

Unfortunately, due to their bad reputation, Malinois are considered a dangerous breed, and some restrictions exist when it comes to keeping them. Still, they are not banned anywhere except in the Bermudas.

If you want to be a Belgian Malinois owner, you need to be aware that this isn’t a dog that could run around a dog park unsupervised. Also, in all of the states, you’ll have to make him carry a dog basket, and you should have him on a leash all the time.

If a Malinois bites someone, whether that is a person or another dog, the consequences might be more severe than if a bite were to occur from a ‘less dangerous’ breed.

Even though they aren’t banned in the U.S., it’s a good idea to check your local legislation before you get one of these magnificent dogs. This will keep you from getting into trouble later on.

11. Should You Get a Belgian Malinois?

belgian malinois in grass

If you are wondering whether Belgian Malinois are aggressive or if Belgian Malinois are dangerous, chances are you’re considering becoming a Malinois owner. How can you know if this is the right dog for you?

Belgian Malinois make amazing guard dogs. If you’re looking for a pup that will make you feel safe all the time, this might be the best dog breed for you.

They are also a great choice if you’re looking for a dog that can go on long walks and hikes with you, or even go swimming! These are active dogs that will love to actively spend time with you.

Just make sure to take good care of their hips as they are prone to dysplasia. Other than looking for the best dog food and making sure they get enough exercise and are not obese, you should get them a good orthopedic dog bed. You can find many great options on sites such as Amazon.

You can check how much food your Mal needs by looking at a Belgian Malinois feeding chart.

However, they don’t make great family pets, especially for families with little kids. They will never be affectionate towards your guests, and they won’t be patient enough to play for a long time with your children.

They are also not good dogs for beginners as they require consistent training and lots of socialization.

On the other hand, if you are an experienced owner who knows how to deal with large breeds, we say go for it!

If you do pick a Belgian Malinois as your new family companion, here is a list of great names you can give it!

Belgian Malinois are no more dangerous or aggressive than any other dog breed that was created to keep our homes and farms safe. They are a reflection of their owners, and if you know how to take good care of your dog, you’ll have no problem dealing with a Malinois.