Protective, high energy and loves to be around people. These three key traits perfectly describe the Belgian Malinois.
However, there has been some debate on whether the Mal is a good match for families or is he just too much of a handful to perform the role.
My answer to that is that there’s potential for the Belgian Malinois to become a family dog, but getting there requires a lot of training.
The main problem that always pops up is the natural herding behavior of the Mal which makes him gravitate toward being in charge and guiding the kids down the right path.
However, his techniques, while okay to utilize for large herds of sheep, aren’t okay for little kids who are likely to get frightened by his actions.
On top of all that, their daily maintenance demands a lot from you as an owner, and you need to be prepared to match it, both physically and mentally.
Don’t let that discourage you, as the payoff for success is great as all that’s really needed is guiding him in the right direction.
So, let’s see what exactly it is that this dog has that would make you consider getting him over other family dog options.
What Makes The Belgian Malinois So Great?
There are plenty of things which make a Mal a fantastic choice of dog overall.
They’re always eager to work and will always look for something to do. If you can keep them busy with a task of any kind, you’ll have a happy pooch on your hand.
Mals have exceptionally high levels of energy and stamina, so you’ll rarely ever see one get tired, no matter how demanding the work.
They’re incredibly intelligent and are often easy to train with just a bit of discipline needed on your end.
If you can earn his respect, he’ll be loyal to a fault and will always be by your or your family’s side when you need him.
A fierce protector and an even better friend, if molded correctly.
While a minor detail, kids, in particular, will appreciate the variety of colors that the Mal’s fur can come in.
But Are Belgian Malinois Good With Kids Overall?
They most certainly are, under the right conditions.
Almost every dog has the potential to be a great family pet, but some need more work than others.
For the Belgian Malinois in particular, it’s all about the initial training and being able to meet their daily exercise needs.
Training helps you build a certain level of respect with him which is crucial if he’s to remain obedient while the fulfillment of his needs keeps him healthy and strengthens your bond.
If you can manage all of that, you’ll get one of the most qualified family dogs out there that doubles as a guard dog.
There’s Always A But…
That said, the breed isn’t without his downsides.
As I’ve already mentioned, they’re quite intense in terms of daily physical and mental requirements.
On top of that, people who can’t be firm and decisive during training will have a hard time getting him to listen.
His natural herding instincts are a problem too, as, if not properly curbed through training, your pooch may be a bit too controlling with your kids to the point where they may get scared.
That’s definitely a massive blemish on his placement as a family dog.
This doesn’t just affect slightly older kids, but newborns too as untrained Mals aren’t all that careful around them since they’re used to more durable protection targets like lambs or calves.
Why Even Get a Mal Then?
Well, while there are negatives, they aren’t really the dog’s fault in this case, or anyone else’s, they’re just the prerequisites that you need to wonder whether you can fulfill or not.
As with any new arrival to your family, waging whether it’s feasible to take on that extra level of responsibility is what matters most.
Think about it well before making your decision.
After all, dogs aren’t toys you can just buy, but living beings with their own needs which you, as a pet parent, need to meet if you want an obedient canine companion, no matter the breed.
And, despite having these faults, the Belgian Malinois brings so many positives to the table too, namely the playfulness, high energy and loyalty.
The first two will matter greatly to the kids once his training is out of the way as, once they grow older, they’ll be able to manage part of his daily needs.
While they may not be strong enough to take him out for walks, they can still play games with him which will be fun for everyone involved.
Plus, while he may be a very work-oriented pooch, the Mal is an incredibly affectionate one too, you just need to temper it through training a bit and teach him how to express it.
However, don’t feel like I’m pressuring you to go for a Belgian Malinois if all of this may seem too much for you.
If you feel like you can’t manage their training requirements, then getting a breed that’s friendlier, but a comparable protector might be the best option.
A Golden Retriever or a Bernese Mountain Dog may be more up your alley.
Is A Belgian Malinois The Right Choice For Your Family?
With all this said, you have to ask yourself, is the Belgian Malinois even a good option for your household?
If this is your first time owning a dog, you may find yourself overwhelmed with trying to figure out his needs on the fly and may end up taking a lot longer than you’d want to to facilitate all of that.
Owning a dog requires dedication and responsibility to meet his needs, and they’re high demand dogs.
Not only will they want to get a lot of physical exercise to expel their high amount of energy, they’ll also need to be given attention often.
They need someone patient and devoted to them who’ll be able to curb their instincts and high prey drive, and better acclimate them to a more family-oriented lifestyle.
They need someone who’ll discipline them to behave and not bite others out of the blue, especially not when walking outside.
A study conducted by the Department of Physiology in Turkey figured out that the training methods aren’t the only factor deciding effectiveness, but the competence of the trainer too. 
This means that you too will need to be at least somewhat experienced with handling dogs before taking a Mal on. It’s definitely not a beginner breed, that much is certain.
While Belgian Malinois are fierce protectors and high-energy puppers, they have their soft side too.
This protection is always oriented toward something dear to them, their new family.
Said family is also going to receive a mushy little furball under all that ferocity, one who will be equal parts friend and guardian to each and every member.
Though, all of this comes with the understanding that he’ll be properly trained prior.
Belgian Malinois dogs require a lot of initial investment, but said investment pays off big time if you can manage it.
So, if you find yourself able to meet his demands, I can assure you that you’re getting one of the best all-rounder dog breeds out there.
Until next time, pet parents.
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References: Y. Salgirli, E. Schalke, I. Boehm, H. Hackbarth (2012.), Comparison of learning effects and stress between 3 different training methods (electronic training collar, pinch collar and quitting signal) in Belgian Malinois Police Dogs,DOI