Canine Breed Menu

Mechelse Scheper

Mechelse Scheper

Mechelse Scheper
Breed Organization
American Belgian Malinois Club
Native Country
Other Names
Belgian Malinois, Malinois, Belgian Shepherd Malinois, Chien de Berger Belge Malinois, Mechelaar Mechelse Herder, Belgian Shepherd Dog, Pastor Belga Malinois
Life Expectancy
Approximately 12-14 Years
Litter Size
Average 6-10 Puppies
Breed Group
AKC Herding
Breed Appearance
The Belgian Malinois (pronounced MAL-in-wah) is one of the varieties of the Mechelse Scheper. In the United States, they are registered by the American Kennel Club as a separate breed. The Malinois is the short-coated variety of the Mechelse Scheper. They are fawn colored with a black mask. In the United States they have been shown as a separate breed since 1959. Dogs are 24 to 26 inches at the shoulder and weigh 60 to 80 pounds. Bitches are 22 to 24 inches and weigh 40 to 60 pounds. This is a "high energy" dog that does best when it has a definite purpose in life. It is generally not a dog for the novice dog owner, for, while it is extremely trainable, it does not do well with poor or insufficient training.

Breed Description
Head: Carried high, long without exaggeration, rectilinear, well chiselled and dry. Skull and muzzle are roughly equal in length, with at the most a very slight bias in favour of the muzzle which puts the finishing touch to the whole head.
Cranial Region: Of medium width, in proportion with the length of the head, with a forehead flat rather than round, frontal groove not very pronounced; in profile, parallel to imaginary line extending muzzle line; occipital crest little developed; brow ridges and zygomatic arches not prominent.
Stop: Moderate.
Nose: Black.
Muzzle: Medium length and well chiselled under the eyes; narrowing gradually toward the nose, like an elongated wedge; bridge of the nose straight and parallel to the continuation of the topline of the forehead; mouth well split, which means that when the mouth is open the commissures of the lips are pulled right back, the jaws being well apart.
Lips: Thin, tight and strongly pigmented.
Jaws/teeth: Strong, white teeth, regularly and strongly set in well-developed jaws.
Cheeks: dry and quite flat, although muscled.
Eyes: Medium size, neither protruding nor sunken, slightly almond-shaped, obliquely set, brownish colour, preferably dark; black rimmed eyelids; direct, lively, intelligent and enquiring look.
Ears: Rather small, set high, distinctly triangular appearance, well-rounded outer ear, pointed tips, stiff, carried upright and vertical when dog is alert.
Neck: Well standing out, slightly elongated, rather upright, well-muscled, broadening gradually towards the shoulders, without dewlap, nape slightly arched.
Body: Powerful without being heavy; length from point of shoulder to point of buttock approximately equal to height at withers.
Topline: Upper line of back and loins is straight.
Withers: Pronounced.
Back: Firm, short and well-muscled.
Loins: Solid, short, sufficiently broad, well-muscled.
Croup: Well-muscled ; only very slightly sloping ; sufficiently broad but not excessively so.
Chest: Little broad, but well let down; upper part of ribs arched; seen from the front forechest little broad, but without being narrow.
Underline: Begins below the chest and rises gently in a harmonious curve towards the belly, which is neither drooping nor tucked up, but slightly raised and moderately developed.
Tail: Well set on, strong at the base, of medium length, reaching at least to hock, but preferably further; at rest carried down, with tip curved backwards at level of hock; more raised when moving, although without passing the horizontal, the curve towards the tip becoming more accentuated, without ever at any time forming a hook or deviation.
Forequarters: Bone solid but not heavy; muscle dry and strong; front legs upright from all sides and perfectly parallel when seen from the front.
Shoulder: Shoulder blade long and oblique, well attached, forming a sufficient angle with the humerus, ideally measuring 110-115 degrees.
Upper Arm: Long and sufficiently oblique.
Elbow: Firm, neither turning out nor tied in.
Forearm: Long and straight.
Wrist (carpus): Very firm and clean.
Front Pastern (metacarpus): Strong and short, as perpendicular to the ground as possible or only very slightly sloping forward.
Feet: Round, cat feet; toes arched and well closed; pads thick and springy; nails dark and strong.
Hindquarters: Powerful, but not heavy; in profile hindlegs are upright and seen from behind perfectly parallel.
Upper thigh: Medium length, broad and strongly muscled.
Stifle: Approximately on the plumb line from the hip; normal stifle angulation.
Lower Thigh: Medium length, broad and muscled.
Hock: Close to the ground, broad and muscled, moderate angulation.
Back pastern (metatarsus): Solid and short; dewclaws not desirable.
Feet: May be light oval; toes arched and well closed; pads thick and springy; nails dark and strong.
Gait/Movement: Lively and free movement at all gaits; the Belgian Shepherd is a good galloper but its normal gaits are the walk and especially the trot; limbs move parallel to the median plane of the body. At high speed the feet come nearer to the median plane; at the trot the reach is medium, the movement even and easy, with good rear drive, and the topline remains tight while the front legs are not lifted too high. Always on the move, the Belgian Shepherd seems tireless; its gait is fast, springy and lively. It is capable of suddenly changing direction at full speed. Due to its exuberant character and its desire to guard and protect, it has a definite tendency to move in circles.
Skin: Elastic but taut over all the body; edges of lips and eyelids strongly pigmented.
Coat: The hair is very short on the head, the outer sides of the ears and the lower part of the legs. It is short over the rest of the body and fuller at the tail and around the neck where it forms a collarette or ruff which begins at the base of the ear, stretching as far as the throat. As well, the back of the thighs is fringed with longer hair. The tail is ear of corn shaped, but does not form a plume.
Color: Fawn with black overlay and with black mask.
Height at withers: The ideal weight at withers is on average - 62 cm for males - 58 cm for females.
Weight: Males about 25-30 kg. Females about 20-25 kg.

Mechelse Schepers were established as a breed during the latter part of the 19th Century. The Belgian Malinois is in fact a variety of the Mechelse Scheper. Other varieties are the Groenendael, long-haired and black; the Tervuren, long-haired and redbrown or gray with black mask, ears and overlay; and the Laekenois, wirehaired and redbrown or gray, is recognized as a Tervuren if born into a Tervuren litter. Since 1901 The Club Societe Royale de St. Hubert has recognized and registered the Malinois, Groenendael, Tervuren and Laekenois. The wirehaired is not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in the United States. Malinois, Groenendael, Tervuren and Laekenois are considered different varieties but one breed by The Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) and United Kennel Club (UKC). In 1911 the first two Malinois were imported into the United States: Belgian Blackie AKC #148516 and Belgian Mouche AKC #148517. From 1911 to 1958 Belgians were registered with the AKC as Belgian Sheepdogs. In 1958 the AKC declared the Belgians to be three distinct breeds. From 1959 to 1965 Belgian Malinois were placed in the Miscellaneous Class. Both the Groenendael (registered as the Belgian Sheepdog) and the Tervuren were placed in the Working Group as separate breeds. In 1965 the Belgian Malinois was reinstated in the Working Group. In 1983 all three Belgians were placed in the newly formed Herding Group as separate breeds.

Nervous, sensitive, and impulsive, this breed is extremely lively in his response to stimuli. Watchful, attentive, with a strong personality, he is remarkably devoted to his owner and occasionally aggressive toward strangers. He is very energetic, active, and dynamic and needs a lot of exercise. The Belgian Malinois will not accept a leash. These very sensitive dogs cannot tolerate harsh treatment. Training must be firm, but gentle, and undertaken with the greatest patience.

This hardy, healthy breed has no major health concerns. Some minor concerns that have been seen are skin allergies, eye problems, excessive shyness, excessive aggressiveness and occasionally hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia.

This breed needs peaceful surroundings and regular exercise to blossom. Long-haired varieties require weekly brushing.

In Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and other European countries, as well as in the United States, Canada and Australia, the Malinois is bred primarily as a working dog for personal protection, detection, police work, search and rescue, and sport work (Belgian Ring, Schutzhund, French Ring, Mondio Ring). The United States Secret Service and Royal Australian Air Force use the breed along with other working lines such as Dutch Shepherd, and also GSD. In the United States Armed Forces, Malinois (along with German Shepherds) are preferred breeds for use as working dogs.

The dog is also used extensively by Unit Oketz of the Israel Defense Forces. Oketz favors the slighter build of the Malinois over that of the German Shepherd and Rottweiler which were employed formerly. Malinois are the perfect size to be picked up by their handlers, while still being able to attack their enemies, and their shorter coats and fair and neutral colors make them less prone to heatstroke.

United States Navy SEALs used a Belgian Malinois war dog named Cairo in Operation Neptune Spear, in which Osama bin Laden was killed.

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