For those thinking about a malinois...

Discussion in 'The Dog Breeds' started by stardogs, May 16, 2011.

  1. stardogs

    stardogs Behavior Nerd

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    this article is a must read IMO.

    Note to the American Public: Belgian Malinois, Look Don’t Touch

    My favorite quote:

    "The Malinois Handler derives his joy from witnessing an animal engaged in the hunt, an animal at the peak of his health and power. We do not wish to see a subservient animal weakened by human domination. Ringsport and Malinois allow us to take part in the predators epic journey, not as spectators, not from behind a lens but as an equal partner."​

    ^Very true. ;)
     
  2. oakash

    oakash Kat/Oak AKA The Nice One

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    This makes me want one still. I keep on telling myself its stupid. But I know I will wait 15 or so years at least, and hopefully get a lot of hands on experience with the breed.

    They sound so perfect for me, not at this time in my life, but once I'm settled
     
  3. AgilityKrazii

    AgilityKrazii Addicted to Agility

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    I really would love to own this breed one day but I know its going to be way in the future, I know I'm not ready for one but I love reading as much as I can about them.
     
  4. CharlieDog

    CharlieDog Rude and Not Ginger

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    I'd love a Mal. They're so much lighter boned than GSDs these days, but the lack of off switch is off putting.
     
  5. Aleron

    Aleron New Member

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    Honestly, they aren't all like that and IMO they really shouldn't be. Some breeders are so focused on breeding Mals for sport dogs that they don't seem to care if they are good Mals or not. Some of them you can't hardly tell if they are purebred Mals (and some of them aren't LOL). It's sad that people say they have the breed for sport only and really can't stand them. Or breeders who can't imagine anyone keeping one of their dogs in the house. That sort of temperament is an exaggeration that has been selected for in more recent times for high level sport dogs, not necessarily proper temperament for a Malinios. There are breeders out there selecting for a versatile Mal that people can actually live with. Are they a dog for everyone? No but no breed is. Belgians of all sorts need lots of early socialization, ongoing training, interaction and plenty of physical and mental outlets. But there is no reason in the world a Mal with a correct temperament can't be good at "doing stuff" and also be a dog that you can live with.
     
  6. UniquityBelgians

    UniquityBelgians New Member

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    This is actually a pretty terrible article. On the Belgian list I'm on, it has taken alot of criticism. Sure there are idiots out there who breed malinois who bounce off the walls, have no off switch, and are nothing more than frothing-at-the-mouth biting machines. However this is NOT the norm.
    It says right there in the article "malinois do not make good pets." How can this be true? There are mal owners on this board; Do your dogs make terrible pets? Obviously not ir you wouldn't have one.
    This article was meant to deter the wrong kind of people from owning mals. However, all it's succeeded in doing is confirming to those 'wrong types' that this is the type of dog they want/need. Alot of the 'right types' are looking at this article thinking "Geez, too bad they don't make good pets," and now the thousands of malinois in shelters all over North America will suffer.
    A malinois was bred first and foremost to be a herding dog; They weren't created for protection sport. These dogs should be able to do a variety of things, but even as a protection sport dog SHOULD be able to, at the end of the day, be a therapy dog for sick kids in the hospital (without needing 2+ hours of training per day).
    In my own experience -- I don't get to meet alot of mals, but I must say I have NEVER met a high drive mal in my life. They've all been low key, low/medium energy dogs. I met one very fear aggressive mal. Other than that one, they've all been alot less challenging than my own groens. Easier to handle, less drive of all sorts. Easy dogs. This may not be the 'norm' but it goes to show that this article is just plain wrong. There are mals out there in shelters who were purchased by people who WANT a crazy omg high drive dog that will attack people, and they turned out to be low key happy friendly dogs who need a nice family (and just the opposite too -- people who wanted low key dogs who turned out to be too driven and energetic). Hopefully this article won't deter anyone from looking at these dogs -- they really DO make great pets for the right owners (like ANY breed!).
     
  7. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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    Actually yes. They do. I still own them because they are such an amazing joy and pleasure to work with.

    This article has caused a lot of controversy. I love it actually and believe that malinois should maintain a high drive, over the top manner. I love my malinois and their lack of chill out. As the get older they get a bit easier but the reality of it is they will never be like my pit bulls and my staffordshire or my rat terrier or my wheaten terrier. They are over the top excited, love to work and have stamina to go for hours. My apbt love to work, lack the stamina and lack the enthusiasm and act now think later that makes malinois such ideal working dogs.

    Its okay to not be a good pet. At least it is for me.

    I am sorry you have met such crumby malinois, that is depressing. There are malinois out there that work fine as pets but it is unfair to a breed to take the exceptions and expect a well bred puppy to act as such.

    The truth is that is like buying an APBT and saying, "Well some are great with other dogs and to say they are usually DA is damaging to the plight of shelter bullies everywhere." In the end anyone adopting or buying a bully with hopes of it being a lab in its affections of strange dogs is setting their dog up for failure. You can use this analogy for terriers as well, just because some terriers work wonderfully with small furry critters it is irresponsible to recommend a terrier to a rabbit breeder.

    I know a ovtcharka who is a bum and can be paraded through a pet fair like any leonberger, is it fair to say to someone interested in the breed that this is the norm?

    Francis is exceedingly well versed in sports, training and malinois. I applaud the article. It has it's issues but every piece of literature does, over all it paints a valid picture of the breed ime. My only issue with it is it may come across as a mild challenge to the machismo dog people looking to concur another toughie.
     
  8. stafinois

    stafinois Professional Nerd

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    To be honest, mine (RIP) was a terrible pet, and pretty much embodied the article. It really varies from line to line. But sadly, it's the working lines that are showing up in the hands of unethical breeders, and as a result, these are the dogs that are likely going to be sold to people that have no interest owning the breed.
     
  9. mrose_s

    mrose_s BusterLove

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    I still love the sound of them.

    The thing I love most about BC's is their drive, there have been so many moments with Quinn that have made me catch my breathe when watching her, its just this sudden intensity and extreme drive that puts BC's on a whole new level for me, and she's only 12 months old.

    Ofcourse atm the other part I love about Border's is their soft personality and I have no plan on a Malinois anytime soon (atleast 10 years away) while I gain more experience and decide whether or not I could handle a hard dog like that.
     
  10. release the hounds

    release the hounds Active Member

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    in the hands of an average owner, yes, they make terrible pets. They do bounce off walls, they don't have an off switch, because they never have an outlet, they're reactive and nervy generally as a breed anyway, put that into an average home and they're nothing but a liability and pain, not a pet.
     
  11. Linds

    Linds Twin 2

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    :hail:

    I actually stopped dead on that article, cocked my head and went "What?" when they said don't get a Malinois for herding. That's really sad to me that people are saying (and breeding) don't get a herding breed to herd. The fact that most Mals would rather bite a sheep than herd it just seems really rather wrong to me
     
  12. release the hounds

    release the hounds Active Member

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    biting is actually a very important part of herding. How a dog bites and it's state of mind while biting isn't exclusive to protection sports, it's because it is so important, and least with the type of herding GSD's did, that lent the breed to be so perfectly suited to make the switch between protection and herding. The traits necessary for both were the same.

    I don't know much about the history of the Malinois, but i'm assuming since the GSD was created out of using herding "typed" dogs of which the mal was one of those "typed" dogs, the kind of herding they did was similiar.
     
  13. stafinois

    stafinois Professional Nerd

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    The Malinois is a young breed. To be honest, it has been used in law enforcement from the very beginning. Sure, their roots are in herding dogs, but bloodlines have been bred for bitesports and street work for decades. Most of these dogs have never seen a sheep.
     
  14. UniquityBelgians

    UniquityBelgians New Member

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    Well all I can say is that every malinois I've met has been a great pet, and in my opinion not all were terrible representatives of the breed. In my opinion it is a bad representative of a breed that continues to be the type of dog to warrant BSL of malinois. If a dog is bouncing off the walls, reactive, overly impulsive, needs a great deal of bite inhibition, can't stop moving, and needs over 2 hrs of mental stimulation and 2 hours of phsyical stimulation; You're right, this does make a terrible pet. Who would want one? Every malinois in every shelter should be PTS if that's the case because there is simply no use for them in today's society. But while these types don't make good pets, in my opinion these also don't make good resprestatives of the breed. The malinois is a HERDING breed first and foremost; It may have started ring sport shortly after creation, but a herding breed it was (and is). A herding breed requires control, patience, a quiet knowledge. They can't be out of control barking biting mindless freaks. Whomever decided that the malinois can ONLY be a protection dog, and whomever decided that a good protection malinois needs to be naturally out of it's mind and needs 2 hrs daily training to control it, well that person has efficiently helped the malinois to it's demise as a typically seen shelter dog.
    There are plenty of breeders out there who succeed at competing in multiple venues with their malinois, from conformation to protection sport to herding to therapy, etc. As a versatile herding breed, a malinois should be able to do all of the above, naturally, with ease.

    There are so many excellent working breeders out there who are sick of the accusations of owning uncontrollable dogs that eat sheep, use children as chew toys, and collect human skulls. There are so many things that define a GOOD working dog. I know you all seen the dogs that must have a toy in their mouth all the time, the dogs that get so excited by a decoy that they forget to open their mouth to bite a decoy, the dog barking in frustration as it waits to start a run, the dogs that can't stop, the dogs that quit when things don't go their way, the dogs that are easily distracted.. etc etc. The drive is only a fuel for more critical parts of temperament, and if the pressure is stronger than the drive you have issues.
    Look at military dogs; The dog that is aware of it's surroundings and taking in everything that is happening. Instead of dwelling on the pressure created by the environment, the dogs are calm rational thinkers that take care of their unit. They are not running around after squirrels or wanting a tug. They are focused on the eyes and ears of their humans. Bombs exploding, objects getting thrown against them from active fire, gun fire going past their head doesn't make them crack and they stay fully focused to do what must be done to protect and do their function.
    Look at SAR dogs; Dogs that go beyond physical ability to do their job. They could care less about chasing rabbits or the tug at the end of a job well done. They throw themselves completely into their work. Not for a toy and not to satisfy their needs created by drive. They take it personally to serve.
    Herding; The dog uses the exact force needed to get the job done. A good herding dog can NOT be in overdrive. It can not be a mindless biting freak. Livestock is stubborn and can hurt the dog; That dog does not feel the need to return pain. The dog doesn't dwell on it's failure, contact by livestock, or take that opportunity to release pressure on livestock. When the stock breaks, the dog has the control to pull the reins in his own desire to charge and gear change to the appropriate amount of pressure to demonstrate his power towards the livestock to gain control.

    AND most importantly in today's society -- family. A small child is holding a dog's leash while a ball is thrown across the street. Is the dog intelligent enough to remember it's job and ignore the ball? OR does it go tearing across the street, child dragging behind, where they both get hit by a car? It isn't the question of drive. Said child is walking a lower driven dog and the dog is aggressive enough to charge a dog across the street... where is the pressure ability? A non-driven dog with weak pressure ability is being walked by a child and a car back fires... the dog spooks into a mindless reaction that doesn't account to the child at the end of the leash. Is that child pulled into the street as the dog escapes until it regains it's composure? It isn't the drive that is the problem but the pressure ability that the dog needs to balance whatever amount of drive, aggression, and anxiety it has. What enables a higher driven dog to fit into people's lives is the construction of what controls it's temperament. If a breeder is breeding for dogs that are screwed up in each of these areas because they want a crazy animal, how is this safe? How is this a "sound stable" temperament? Don't we all believe that we want protection trained dogs to not only BE stable, but to start out naturally, genetically, as stable dogs -- not needing 2 hrs daily training to mold a horrible temperament into something that is (unpredictably) a reliable protection dog.
    Now if we're talking SWAT dogs, no they don't make the best pets. It isn't the level of drive, but the ration of aggression, twitch, and pressure ability. These dogs are less rational with more sharpness. Alot of these dogs drop out to be drug dogs. The drug detection dog needs less aggression, but more pressure ability combined with higher need for intelligence. These dogs can't be crazy, they must be level headed enough to work in crowds of people without reactions.

    Can protection bred malinois from 100% protection lines be good pets??? It really is the question of the traits that control, harness, and redirect what people like to refer as "drive."

    When a dog can only do ONE thing, you have to question why your versatile herding breed can only successfully do that one thing. All of this energy put into making extreme dogs that can be the best in only one sport, which makes lines more targeted for certain ratios of traits. Should there not be balance? A Belgia nshould not be a grand champion in every sport, but capable of doing the fundamentals if requested. So what if a dog can be the best french ring dog in the world, but not able to control that ratio of traits enough to gear down and control a herd of sheep. How a dog works and the purpose in what it does MATTERS. Too many people becoem sport blidn and find excuses as to why their dog can only be successful in one venue (because "that is ALL a malinois can do" is one such excuse). Oen should not be after extreme dogs, but balance.

    Why are malinois only appearing in shelters in the last 15 years? Because it has become a popular trend to breed insane crazy dogs that are a mixture of twitch, anxiety, determination, aggression, and bad nerve to fill a growing marketing program created to sell personal protection dogs. This is the reason that GSDs remain the #1 swat/police animal, and malinois are slowly becoming less and less common in the venue; Because what is happening in the malinois community is destroying the dog's acceptance in many police departments because they are a liability for the departments to work. It is the fact that the breed is being bred into a creature that has no place in the real world... Not even in a police unit. How sad -- the very first breed used by the Belgian police unit. This issue growing in the malinois breed and shelters has nothing to do with dogs being able to do a sport, but lack of respect in what is being created and sold to the public under the illusion of buying something completely different. These dogs are not stable; They are not good representatives of the breed.

    No, to me it is not unfair to ask a fine working animal to be a beloved active pet. A Belgian (of any variety) should be versatile enough to do anything asked of it; If all it can be is a dog with overdrive, no pressure ability, reactivity, bite drive, ADHD tendencies, and physical/mental energy that cannot be harnessed, so muc hthat all it can have is hours of training per day to control it and keep it from being the danger it truly is -- to me, that is not a malinois. That is a monster that has just been created in the last two decades. A malinois, as it was once known, was a versatile dog who could do just about anything, and had the rationality and brains to do so in a stable manner, and I do believe it is sad when people feel that this is not right, or that this is not possible, or that the protection dogs who CAN be both a protection dog, herding dog, and family pet are just "not good malinois." As breeders we ask alot of our dogs, but it is harder to train and control dogs bred to the extreme, than it is to create dogs who have enough brains and rationality to do it all (while being easier to place and less likely to end up in shelters). If you ask me, most of the protection breeders out there are exploiting the breed, not doing the breed a favor, and it is THEY who have poor malinois; Not the breeders that try to create balance, while also producing puppies who are not only easier to place, but less likely to end up in shelters.
     
  15. release the hounds

    release the hounds Active Member

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    do you think a herding dog only works 2 hours a day? Why is it so wrong to expect a herding or working dog to not be happy just sitting in a house all day? I think a true herding dog with no outlet should go crazy. It's only a normal response.
     
  16. UniquityBelgians

    UniquityBelgians New Member

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    How many dogs of herding breeds do YOU know that go herding for several hours each day? Are they all unhappy?

    ETA -- I have herding breeds that go herding once or twice a year, and none of them appear to be moping about it, and I don't believe they are unhappy dogs either, and most CERTAINLY don't bounce off the walls from lack of herding.
     
  17. stafinois

    stafinois Professional Nerd

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    Sadly, I don't think that what things are and what things SHOULD be are one in the same.

    My dog was the poster child for reasons why you don't want a Malinois as a pet. I wish that he could have been a better family dog. My husband holds him against the entire breed and won't let me have another. He was an amazing working dog when he was being worked, and I kept him as a pet when we moved to the middle of nowhere and I had nobody to train with. House pet? Not so much. We managed, but only because I was totally devoted to him. I don't think that the casual dog owner is remotely ready for that.
     
  18. UniquityBelgians

    UniquityBelgians New Member

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    Yes it is true that some malinois don't make good pets; It is the same of ALL breeds. How many BCs, cattle dogs, pit bulls, etc don't make good pets, because so many are bred for the extreme? But it is not a general rule. I dislike the generalizations made in the article. That mals can never do this, are never like that. It simply isn't true of ALL mals, and it's certainly going to make the right types of people reconsider adopting a malinois.
    There are breeders in North America who do try for it all, just as there are of other Belgian varieties. We can't generalise that "malinois do not make good pets," "you can't get a malinois for herding," etc. There are MANY MANY MANY good pet malinois, and there are MANY MANY MANY good herding malinois. They don't ALL require two hours of training/mental stimulation on top of time spent on exercise. They aren't ALL meant for protection sport ONLY.
    One of my best friends has a pet malinois from 100% protection lines; It dabbles in agility but mostly is just a pet, and fine to do so. There is nothing wrong with a malinois that can have an offswitch or be a companion; That's how it always used to be, how it should continue to be, and those who breed and support breeders that breed wild vicious dogs incapable of normal affection towards a human due to it's inability to do anything but bite, bark, and react, are not helping to address the issues we've created.
    There ARE still malinois out there who can do it all -- and more malinois than not end up being pets than working dogs, which confuzzles me on the theory that they don't make good pets. If they can't be pets.. Why do so many people have them as pets? I don't see many people with alligators, bears, and lions in their backyard. There must be something endearing about a malinois. They can't all be bad; And those that are bad, simply can't be considered by all working people to be "good."
     
  19. Aleron

    Aleron New Member

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    Having been around a lot of working bred Border Collies, that doesn't seem to hold true. BCs do need mental and physical stimulation and without it, some do develop CCD. However, plenty of BCs live as pets or performance dogs with little to no issue. I have had several in my house and they have not been "crazy" in the house. They have been ready to go-go-go at the drop of a hat, much like my Belgians, my high drive GSD and our high drive corgi (yes one does exist!).

    Around here, the police dogs generally ride around in the back of the officer's car all day, go play some fetch at the park and go home with their handler. The most work they do on an average day might be to walk around a car to see if they indicate for drugs. Or being pulled out of the car to bark and scare someone into surrendering. They sometimes get to do some tracking. Actual pursuits where the dog chases down and bites the bad guy are not happening every day.

    Not sure if you are on Belg-L or not but the discussion there on this article has been pretty interesting.

    High drive and frantic behavior are not the same thing. High drive and hyperactivity are not the same thing. You can have the drive in a level headed dog, in fact that is desirable in most real life working scenarios. Obviously, there is a big market for sport bred Mals so I don't think you have to worry that everyone might start breeding for level headed Mals. However, there are level headed Mals out there who still have plenty of drive.

    My friend just got a Mal puppy with a very good herding background, from a breeder who actually uses her Mals for herding on her ranch. So much for Mals not being any good for herding ;)
     
  20. release the hounds

    release the hounds Active Member

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    I don't know any, didn't know I had to draw the conlusion that a dog that is bred to be a pastorl fence all day and pace back and forth containing and disciplining sheep when necessary has a higher need for an outlet than a dog that isn't bred to do that.

    and about your dogs, i bet they do much more than herding once or twice a year. I bet they have a regular outlet physically and mentally. It can come in many forms. I bet these requirements are met most days. I'd bet your dogs are very happy because of the outlets you give them. If not, I'd bet your dogs aren't near as high drive as you say, or you're lying.

    Sounds like my dogs too. I maybe shouldn't have said 2 hours becaus everyone is hung up on that number now, but it was the number given in a previous example so it's the one I used. My point was simply that a truly high drive dog needs and outlet. Most people have no business owning a high drive dog of any breed because they don't provide that outlet.

    I don't know many, many mal's that live as your average pet. All the Mal's I see are either actively worked by their owners and do make absolutely awesome companions, live in the house, most with multiple other Mal's as well and everyone is happy. and the other are what I consider "regular" pet homes that get one and realize they are in way over their head and most come looking for help, but really what they want is for someone to take the dog off their hands. I know lots of dog people, i don't know many that have mals that live the common pet life and are happy.

    Like I said, i don't know much of the Mal's history, to me, it's always been a "working" dog, and that work didn't involve herding.

    I agree with that 100%. Drive isn't just hyper and frantic. and even the more level headed Mal's don't make " just a pet" They need an outlet. Not the ones capable of working like they should be
     

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