For those thinking about a malinois...

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

  1. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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    I'm on the Belgian lists and I occasionally read them.

    I know all to well the difference between high drive and hyperactivity. Backup is a high drive hyperactive dog, Sloan is a high drive thinker. That said NEITHER make a good pet. Can Sloan settle ? sure, take away every toy, run her for 2 hours and she'll relax for a few hours at night. She's slept with us about half the night about 4 times.

    Backup however doesn't lay down by choice unless it's in between running. Given the choice he's always twitchy, ready to go, and intense. I absolutely love him. He is the most fun dog I have ever trained with, I am not alone in this analysis either, he's just fabulous in the eyes of everyone I train with even if he is to much for most people. He excels at herding as you mentioned. He has his HIC twice over and we're currently taking the summer off due to the heat but we'll start working towards his PT in the fall, my herding trainer said evaluated him to have a strong eye, a bit to much pressure for a collie but mild for the average malinois.

    He is from a strict schutzhund line but he I also hold out a very rational faith he will in fact break the malinois record in U-Fli when we get a clean box turn on him. He's been harder than most dogs to train in agility but that is largely due to my other agility dog being slow and an easy handler where as Backup is much to fast for me. Backup has been to one Dock Dog competition and jumped 18.5 ft, as he gets more comfortable with water he has the body to excel like the many malinois winning nat'l titles in all three element, Big Jump, Speed Retrieve and Extreme Vertical.

    Backup was born with a natural retrieve, he takes longer to learn behaviors but once he's in a position he freezes and has never needed a "stay" enforced, well that's untrue, once when Sloan was in heat Backup broke his long down during the BH routine. That said, one correction and he held his position the rest of the routine.

    Backup is a very, very friendly dog. He's extremely social and holds a dislikable low level of civil behavior. I have had people tell me they could bring his civil level out for me but I've opt'd against it. He's a multipurpose sport dog and his prey drive will be plenty to get him a sch3 on a club level. Both of his parents went to in nat'ls the year he was born so maybe at some point I'll allow some civil to be brought out and try my hand there... only time will tell.

    Now, the reason I gushed on and on about my dog who has his share of flaws but the positives out weigh them in thousands is because he is one of those "twitchy, never stop, bad pet" malinois and because of his always on the go behavior he excels in every single sport I have introduced him to already. This is why us crazy people would enjoy having a dog who is amazing at sports and maybe not a great pet. At home we've become so used to constant movement we barely notice it anymore. Sloan is more annoying because she throws the ball at you every 5 seconds, Backup is content to "herd" the couch with a toy in his mouth. When we watch TV the bullies are sleeping on our laps or beside us and the malinois are often outside or being ignored as they circled us incessantly.

    Their training isn't always that easy either. Sloan was bred to be a happy median between high sport and pet malinois and if you take away toys she's able to calm. She is however a very civil dog, she's not a social dog often and can be very dangerous in the wrong hands. She also is an extremely pushy dog, she would walk all over a milder handler. It could be a trade off, we love having two very different malinois, and both very different than our last malinois Bounce who had had any drive she had already squelched by a sit means sit trainer. Also very different than Evee (Sloan's aunt) whom we train with in flyball, Evee has a plenty of drive but she's mild and unsure of herself. They both share a lot with Q dog (Aeri's half brother) who is extremely high drive and confrontational although the difference is he has an amazing off switch at home in his kennel.

    Meh, it's all in what you want from a dog. My concern is my desire for a malinois would drive a lot of other owners batty as a pet and sometimes even as a sporting dog and I don't want people seeing the good sides of my dogs while we're playing fetch, training obed, etc and buying a malinois thinking that it's always like that. Like, my friend with Ellie (in gallery), bought because "they're so obedient and gorgeous".

    I love when people are in awe of my bullies, it's a wonderful feeling, but when asked I am always careful to let them know these dogs are very dog and small animal aggressive given the choice. They've fought one another and other dogs in the past and should never be trusted alone with a high value object. Also as young dogs these dogs require a ton of work in training and exercise. Arnold needed 8 miles of running every day to calm down, Shamoo is still relatively high energy for a 13 year old dog.

    I guess I feel it's about being real with your breed.

    Malinois are not the first breed to do this. I love this article about Jack russells Russell Rescue, Inc. Bad Dog Talk

    Badraps entire website is all about the pros and cons of the apbt http://www.badrap.org/rescue/owning.html

    Are you sure you want a border collie?
    A Border Collie Warning

    Don't buy a rott if...
    So you want to buy a Rottweiler

    I didn't have time to go look for more but I'm sure plenty of other intense dogs have write ups very similar. These breeds know all-to-well their dogs can sometimes make wonderfully easy pets but more often than not they're not easy dogs and there for should come with a caution label.

    I take it as a sign of love. I grew up with pit bulls and have known since as long as I can remember the horror that popularity brings a dog breed. I don't for anything want to see that happen with malinois.
     
  2. UniquityBelgians

    UniquityBelgians New Member

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    Here are some great links to some good well-rounded malinois..

    Showing versitality (including herding and service work):
    Dantero Malinois - Versatility
    While Staffinois may not feel the same way since recieving a dog from this breeder that she felt did not make a great pet, the breeder apparently does keep her dogs as pets and even has it in her philosophy that these dogs can live with you. All of the dogs she has are massively titled in protection sports. These are the same lines my friend's pet mal came from.
    A quote: "I believe in a versatile dog, with the character, stability, temperament and drive to "do it all". The well bred Malinois is a dog who is capable of doing any task their owner asks, with enthusiasm and natural talent. "
    "..the dogs live as family dogs, sleeping in the house at night, and hanging out inside or playing in the backyard during the day."

    Another breeder with multi titled mals that quotes: "conformation champions that are also titled in agility, herding, tracking and certified police K-9."
    Turick Belgian Malinois

    A breeder dedicated to herding:
    Belgian Malinois

    A great album of herding mals; The last one is from 100% french ring lines:
    Carousel Malinois Herding

    A breeder in Aus: "We breed to produce "the whole Malinois" an overall performer that can succeed in all areas of the dog world. OUR DOGS COMPETE IN VARIED ASPECTS OF THE DOG WORLD WITH GREAT SUCCESS.
    WE HAVE OBTAINED OVER 60 TITLES ON OUR DOGS IN A VARIETY OF FIELDS. PLUS THE DOGS THAT HAVE MULTI "100PTS" IN CONFORMATION SHOWING. OUR MALINOIS HAVE EARNED OVER 5000PTS AND MORE THAN 50 "IN GROUP" AWARDS."
    "Our dogs participate in conformation showing, obedience, agility and absolutely love Lure Coursing! Our girl "HOLLY" is the first Belgian of any variety in Australia to achieve FIELD CHAMPION status. (Verified by club historian) and we also have 3 GSD Field Champions. Our experience with training, showing dogs etc spans over 20 years. Some other dogs that we have bred are currently training in security and tracking for search and rescue. Many have gone to new homes and become wonderful family companions, which is our greatest delight!"
    CHAMSHEP BELGIANS AND AUST. SILKY TERRIERS!

    Picas of the ABMC 2004 herding trial:
    2004 ABMC Herding Trial

    These are just a few of the hundreds of links I could have shared. There are MANY herding titled malinois out there. One can say these just "aren't good malinois," but let's face it, it's a herding breed! A herding breed should be able to herd before it should be able to do something it was not ORIGINALLY intended to do. I even looked at sites selling personal protection dogs that stated a malinois is a versatile breed that should be able to do it all. I'm not sure when breeders/trainers closed their minds to an entire world of options and felt that the malinois was no good for anything but protection sport.

    To be honest, I'm a pretty lazy dog owner. In the summer time my female gets to go to the dog beach about every other day. I don't go to the dog park often anymore so the others pretty much stay home (other than class once a week for my male). I might take them into the bush every few weeks. My dogs exercise themselves (one thing I love about Belgians); By the time I get outside to play, they're snorting and panting, and sure they'll push themselves past physical ability to play fetch, but why bother. My dogs love nothing more than to be with me, no matter what they are doing or what I'm doing with them. Now "back in the day," before I had a family and owned a business it was very typical for me to bikejore my dogs for 4-8 hrs a day (PLUS take them swimming, plus do agility/rally training). My dogs were in better physical shape (albeit alot skinnier), but acted no calmer or happier than they do now. I actually, strangely enough, had my worst temperaments back when I spent the most time keeping my dogs physically active.
    My dogs are high drive, but drive is just a fuel. They don't need fuel in their home environment. It isn't drive that causes a dog to go apesh*t. Drive is just a generic term that is overused and misunderstood.
    I had a home interested in one of my upcoming litters about 1.5 years ago. They came to visit my dogs and they sat in the house with us. My pregnant female curled up on her lap and relaxed, while my young male poked and prodded at the child, trying to initiate play. She called me later that day and told me they'd decided on a different breed.
    Just this year the VP of my agility club was talking to me and mentioned that this woman was actually her neighbor. The woman told her about my dogs, and said that my dogs were just too low drive. They weren't naughty enough, there is no way they'd be the type of agility dog she wanted. The agility VP told me that she absolutely kicked herself when she was told just how good my dogs are; That they are always at the top of their class, have incredible drive and talent. When she watched me compete at a fun trial with my female (the one who was pregnant before), she regretted her decision not to get a puppy. My female calmly waits at the start line and then blasts into speed. She is faster than the border collies.
    I want dogs who can do it all or do nothing and still sit by my feet at the end of the day. As long as a dog can get the job done, have the ability to take pressure, and be a rational thinker, I don't care how much drive a dog has; If it's able to work reliably and I'm able to depend on it, if it can take/handle pressure and not slow down or react, that is what matters in a working dog. Not every working dog will be perfect by any means as no dog has a perfect temperament, but if it needs to be molded into something opposite of what it genetically is, and that takes a great deal of work, then something is wrong.

    One thing I noticed being mentioned about this article by some malinois people; It's like the argument that you can only own a BC if you have a herd of sheep and 140 acres of land. Time and time again this is disproven (in fact MOST BC owners don't have sheep or acerage, I'm sure the BC owners here can attest), but those who own the dogs that make the rule can't always see it any other way.
     
  3. UniquityBelgians

    UniquityBelgians New Member

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    AdrienneIsabel, that is pretty much how my friend would describe her pet mal. While she doesn't do alot with her, that describes her to a T. She's still happy to be at home and run around her backyard instead of out doing physical sports, but she's definatly twitchy. Too reactive and a bit scary honestly, not bred with the correct ratios in mind (rather bred to be a monsterous FR dog -- the breeder was an inexperienced ambitious one) but the dog is from 100% working lines and can still herd, do agility, etc etc. A herding instructor who did her HIC said she was the best herding mal she'd seen.
    Not a dog that should be bred, not a dog with the pressure abiltiy to handle protection sport, but versatile in other things. They can't all and don't all have to be FR dogs.
    When you get down to it, the important thing is that you love your dog despite his faults or even for them. A malinois with poor drive/pressure ability ratio or other temperament flaws will show up in nearly every litter. Its the breeder's acknowledgment and proper placement of the animal that keeps it safe and others safe, and keeps the dog (and owners) happy. Since these puppies occur naturally anyways by pure crapshoot genetics, I don't feel they should be bred for. I feel that a more rational calm mind is a much better representation of what the breed used to be and shoudl still be.
     
  4. Zoom

    Zoom Twin 2.0

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    This is definitely one breed, much as I love the herding breeds, where I am more than content to sit back with a bag of popcorn and watch from the sidelines. :)
     
  5. stardogs

    stardogs Behavior Nerd

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    I'd much rather have an article overstate the requirements for a dog than understate them...

    Aeri is, in my opinion, an "easy" mal. She is from SchH/IPO and competition obedience lines and her breeder specifically matched her with me because she's a good "starter" malinois who still has the drives to do SchH. She is 6mo, can be left alone in the house for up to an hour, naps in the evenings, and is generally quite mellow in the house. She is still *NOT* a dog that an average pet owner should have.

    Why? Because she gets very easily aroused and her natural inclination is to grab at me when this happens. If you yell at her or try to physically punish her it ramps her up further. Problematic behavior has been nicely redirected to toys and obedience/schh skills, but are all behaviors that would've had her labeled "aggressive" in a regular pet home. She's incredibly social - aggression is *not* part of this behavior - but Joe PetOwner would have no clue how to deal with it.

    Remember, too, that Joe PetOwner is not going to be the same as an "active pet" home - Joe PetOwner sees a dog breed that's "cool" and buys one from the first source available, doesn't train the dog past a sit and maaaybe walking on leash, expects Fluffy to accept all handling (much of it rough and inappropriate) from all people at all times, and often sees leaving the dog in the yard as appropriate exercise - none of those situations is conducive to a malinois, no matter how "correct" imo.

    Heck most dogs don't fit with Joe DogOwner and that's why we euth millions every year in shelters - 30% of dog intakes at the shelter I worked at were due to preventable/treatable behavior problems. In that shelter that was equal to 3000 dogs annually for just one county!
     
  6. monkeys23

    monkeys23 New Member

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    Very, very good post.

    These are many of the same reasons I would not want to see a dog like the two currently living with me in the hands of just anyone. They have a lot of the same high drive characteristics that make them unsuitable for just anyone. Hell right now there are no less than four (were more like eight, but some got adopted) similar mixes at the shelter down the road... Gee wonder how they ended up there...
    The spastic husky zoomies alone would be enough to annoy the crap out of most people... I think they are cute myself. I don't think I'd know what to do with a dog that wasn't insanely drivey. I blame the BC I grew up with. He makes most BC's I've met since look pretty **** tame in comparison.

    Working dogs are pretty awesome, but I really hope more prospective owners can be educated and really think about it before they dive in.
     
  7. elegy

    elegy overdogged

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    Maybe when you say "keep as pets", you mean something other than casual dog owner who does nothing with dogs but the occasional stroll around the neighborhood or tossed tennis ball. Because massively titled in protection sports doesn't equal "keeps as pets" in my mind. That indicates somebody who is doing a ton of work with their dogs and understands how to meet the physical and mental needs of a dog.

    When you say "keeps as pets" do you just mean vs keep in a kennel?

    My Sporter Collie is a pain in the neck to live with a lot of the time. He needs hard exercise and mental stimulation pretty much every day. If I don't meet his needs, he's obnoxious. If I do meet his needs he's merely pesty. Regardless, he's up at 5 am staring at me every morning. Hey mom? Mom? Are you getting up soon mom? Where's my ball mom? Did you know my ball is in the drawer of my night stand? Did you? Did you? LOL

    He was bred to be a very high dog and, well, his breeder succeeded :p

    He's a terrible pet dog but he's a wonderfully fun flyball dog and I think he'll be a passable agility dog when I get around to getting him into classes.
     
  8. stafinois

    stafinois Professional Nerd

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    Harry was high drive, hyperactive, and frantic. Trifecta! No wonder my husband is putting his foot down in regards to anything with Belgian in the name.
     
  9. release the hounds

    release the hounds Active Member

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    That person doesn't keep her animals like a normal pet person. She's involved, very. yes, they can live in your house and be a happy pet.....with work. and she does it, like everyone else I know living with these dogs. Your average person is screaming for someone to take the dog by 5 months of age, unless they really realize what it takes to raise them and then put in the work.

    I've worked hundreds of Mals on myself, i've seen what they're made of. many are great house dogs, family compaions, pets, and everything else as well as worked, in some venue they are worked and daily they get an outlet. I get others that were bought as pets, some sold as "pets" by some of the breeders mentioned on here and it was nothing short of a disaster, most times the dog gets placed somewhere else as the owners don't want to put in the work, sometimes they suck it up and realize there's more than throwing a ball a few times a week and putting food down.

    I can't say i know anybody that doesn't give their dogs like this an outlet, that still lives comfortably in the house and if they do? I really question how long it will remain a working breed capable of doing much of anything.
     
  10. stardogs

    stardogs Behavior Nerd

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    ^This. Thank you for saying what I was thinking more succinctly.
     
  11. Raegan

    Raegan Member

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    I think there's a difference between giving your dog an outlet, and spending 40 hours a week turning him into a SchIII dog. A dog can be "just a pet" and still have an outlet for drive and energy. MOST dogs need an outlet for their drive and energy. I find the idea of a breed that is based on the idea that every dog must be a high level bitesport dog to be quite dangerous.
     
  12. stardogs

    stardogs Behavior Nerd

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    But if that's what the breed is often bred for how is that any different than a breed bred for high level agility performance, or hunting trials, or herding?! Shouldn't we be breeding for high level performance in the sport/work the dog is being bred for?!

    eta: 40hr/wk is a bit of an exaggeration - I spend about 6-9 hours/week at club practices (30-60 mins of which is me working my 2 dogs) and 15-20 mins/day on training with my schutzhund dogs in a good week. They aren't SchH III but I'd like to get there eventually...
     
  13. release the hounds

    release the hounds Active Member

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    so tell me, what is your experience with bitesport dogs, titles, training, etc. how many dogs? what kind?

    40 hours? please it takes time, but it's a hobby for me, and I don't 40 hours a week to make sure I can live in the home with my dogs. It's raining again today, I have the day off, wanna know what my dogs have done all day? save for 5 minutes outside, they've been sleeping by my feet.
     
  14. Raegan

    Raegan Member

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    40 hours/week was a purposeful exaggeration. I saw people arguing that you have to give these dogs an outlet on one side, and the other side taking that to mean that the ONLY acceptable outlet was high level bitsport. Not keeping a pet active, not biking or hiking, not fun-level agility, not silly pet tricks for no other purpose than adorability. Compete in bitesport or go home.

    I don't mean dangerous as in dogs trained in bitesport are dangerous dogs that go around mauling people. I meant dangerous as in too much extreme in any breed for anything is dangerous. If you keep going down that road you end up with a dog that NO one can handle. It's the "every dog" part that I should have emphasized. I don't think it's healthy for people to be breeding any kind of dog so hot that they much be occupied with satisfying energy and drive outlets for the majority of the day. It's hard on people and it can't be fun for the dog to be constantly wanting to get out and DO something.

    I'm certainly FOR breeding high drive dogs, I just object to the thought (as presented in the "Look don't Touch" article) that if you don't plan on pursing high level bitesport, you aren't allowed to have a Malinois, even if you can provide other outlets for their drives.
     
  15. release the hounds

    release the hounds Active Member

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    ok, i'll forgive you :)
     
  16. Aleron

    Aleron New Member

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    Yes and no. There is a tendency with competitions to reward extremes. Conformation competition can tend to reward exaggerations of breed type, sometimes to the point where the dogs winning and being bred for are no longer ideal representations of the breed. Sport versions of work can tend to reward exaggerations in temperament and "style", sometimes to the point where the dogs winning and being bred are no longer ideal representations of the breed. Protection sports can be used to judge working temperament in some breeds. But not all outstanding sport dogs are outstanding working dogs and some outstanding working dogs don't make the outstanding sport dogs.

    There are quite a lot of Mal sport breeders who's dogs are strictly kennel dogs and kept solely for the purpose of sport. So to me "kept as pets" would mean the dogs are living in the house and being kept around for more than just sport purposes.

    I met a guy a couple years ago who bought a Mal from a sport breeder for the purposes of competing at a high level in protection sports. He had done pretty well with his GSDs but wanted a Mal this time around. While he was very happy with the dog, he was actually disappointed to find out that Belgians tend to live a long time. That meant he'd be stuck with an old dog for years who could no longer compete and would just be taking up space. He didn't get a Mal because he loved the breed, getting one was merely a step to achieving a goal.

    Belgians are kind of "complicated" dogs but I don't find mine to be all that hard to live with as house dogs. They are great at exercising themselves outside - with the exception of the 12 year old they almost never stop moving when they are outside. Inside they are usually pretty calm. They're always ready to do stuff though and they never quit when training. Of course, there are things about them that would likely drive some people crazy, just like there are things about other breeds that would drive me crazy ;)
     
  17. Romy

    Romy Taxiderpy

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    What I got from the original article wasn't that you can't get a malinois for herding. Just that you shouldn't expect competitive herding/hobby herding to be your dog's sole outlet. I mean, I don't have very much experience herding but from the classes I've observed there's a lot of hurry up and wait. And then the dogs only get 15 mins or so on the sheep before they are done, so the sheep can be rotated and not become dog sour and things can end on a high note for the dogs before they start getting tired or interested eating sheep poo rather than the sheep themselves. Granted those were mostly beginner lessons, but taking a malinois out once or twice a week for something like that wouldn't really cut it for exercise and stimulation.

    Those are awesome links though. Thanks for sharing, fascinating to read. :)
     
  18. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    Yep, mine do make terrible pets.

    Tyr is relatively easy as mals go. His drives are good, but not over the top. He's not bouncing off walls. He's got good inhibitions and self control. He's still a terrible pet, unless you truly enjoy the bruises and scratches from repeated nudging and can tolerate the incessant spinning and pacing that happens when he's not being given anything else to do. No off switch doesn't manifest as crazy destructive hanging from rafters behavior, it manifests as an irritating business.

    Nyx is a horrid pet. She is over the top in drives and energy and will get destructive if unsupervised.

    Yeah, based on my experience with the breed, I'd say that's not the norm.

    They should be fairly high drive and high energy.
    I have a hard time believing the lack of an off switch is really correct, but it's there and it's been there for so long it's hard to find a mali with an off switch.

    Very true, and because of that they've been selectively bred for traits that excel in bitework as opposed to traits that excel in herding.

    ^:hail:^
     
  19. monkeys23

    monkeys23 New Member

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    Yes I find with the energy and intensity Lily has, once or twice a week working sheep was nowhere near enough. If I could afford to go have sheep time every morning (our sheep are flighty and just run because she is very intense and drivey and my parent's BC is pretty worthless because my stepdad sucks as a handler... so thats an issue too) with the several really awesome trainers in my area, she would be a kick ass sheepdog. As it is I had to stop because I couldn't afford to do enough lessons to teach me what to do, so she gets zero sheep time now. With her drive its not worth ruining her and putting the sheep in danger with unstructured sheep time.

    Scout would be even better I think if we could get her downs more solid. I bet she'd be good with cows too. I just don't have the money to put into that training venue. She is a perfect example of someone getting too much dog for them with both her previous owners. My friend's mom got her because she liked Lily.... and gee look how that turned out! She's so much happier with proper exercise and actual training outlets for her brain and drives.
     
  20. Dogdragoness

    Dogdragoness Happy Spring!!!!

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    Gillett/Flower Mound TX
    IMHO a herding dog IS a working dog & a true herding/working dog should be happy serving their human partner with any task they are doing. My ACDs love just a computing me on the ranch (of corse I have ACDs not mals, but IMO they are no less easy this mal article parallels many I have read on the ACD). Of course mine loved "working" but if there were days I wasn't feeling well (I am a woman... There are SOME days that I don't want to get up & home three miles lol) in these cases mine were just as happy chasing a ball as really working bc their real joy was spending time with me :).

    Many mal owners I have talked to have said this & a few friends of mine who own ACDs have mals (as pets not breeding) also which is what turned me on to the breed in the dirt place.

    A working dog hat has no "off" or at least a "standby" switch is no good to anybody.
     

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