The Malinois is named after Malines, the French name for the Belgique town of Mechelen....
Back in the 1880s, the Belgian Malinois was classified as a Continental Shepherd Dog, along with the German Shepherd, the French Shepherd, and the Dutch Shepherd.
The Belgian Malinois is considered one variety of Belgian Sheepdog. The other types of Belgian Sheepdogs are the Belgian Tervuren, the Belgian Laekenois, and the Belgian Groenendael.
In 1891, an official Belgian Shepherd Dog Club began in Brussels. The club, named Club du Chien de Berge Belge, intended to study these four varieties of Belgian Sheepdog. Professor Adolphe Reul led the panel of judges due to his experience as a veterinary professor. The panel managed to identify the definitive traits of the Belgian Sheepdog and concluded that all four types were square in the body, with triangular ears that sat high upon the skull. The long, lupine muzzle was prominent in all of the sheepdogs, and the only difference was that of the coats.
Although these four varieties of Belgian Sheepdog are approximately the same size and stature, their coat varies greatly. The Groenendael is jet black with a long, almost silky coat. The Laekenois has the same beige-tan coloring as the Malinois, with dark markings around the muzzle, but the coat is wiry and coarse. And finally, the Belgian Teruvian looks like the Malinois had a fancy blowout! But the markings around the muzzle and standard tan coat are almost identical between the two breeds. Professor Reul wrote the breed standard for the Belgian Sheepdog in 1891, but the breed wasnt officially recognized until 1901.
As for the Malinois, the breed can be traced back to a farm in northern Belgium. A shepherd named Adrien Janssens bred two dogs, Vos and Lise, to create the perfect sheepdog for his flock. The result was the short-haired, fawn-colored Malinois that we recognize today. However, both the Bouvier des Flandres and Dutch Shepherd dogs are also believed to have descended from Vos and Lise.
Although the Malinois remained a popular pet for farmers in Europe, the breeds current status as a military and police favorite began during the first World War. In the Spring of 1913, French soldiers relied on Belgian Shepherds to deliver messages to other allied soldiers during the German invasion of Belgium. The dogs proved to be adept at remaining calm and focused during combat situations.They were also be trained to haul ambulance carts and machine gun carts across the battlefields.
Many American troops fell in love with the breed, who worked so tirelessly alongside them. One such story is that of Taki the sheepdog. Taki served as a messenger dog for four years throughout the first World War, navigating through poisonous gas and a sea of bullets to deliver messages between allies. After the war, her master was deployed elsewhere, and an American troop took the sheepdog back to his home in California. When the man could no longer look after Taki, a local newspaper reported on the dogs remarkable history. The National Guard volunteered to look after Taki, since she was happiest next to men in uniforms.
Jack Pugh, a soldier in the National Guard, volunteered to be her full-time carer, taking Taki back to a warm and loving home every night. But by day, Taki enjoyed roaming around the barracks. She lived out the rest of her days beloved by the military whom she had loyally served. Taki may have been the first Belgian Sheepdog that Americas military fell in love with, but she wasnt the last!
The legacy of the Belgian Malinois as a war dog and a police dog continues today. The Malinois can be trained to detect a range of odors, including drugs and flammable liquids, making them commonplace in police investigations. In fact, a Belgian Malinois named Cairo served alongside the Navy Seal unit that took down Osama Bin Laden. In France, a Belgian Malinois named Diesel died in the line of duty while assisting Parisian police in a shootout with the terrorist behind the 2015 Paris attacks. Diesel was given a funeral with full honors by the police.
The true heroism of this breed is likely to make them a beloved pet for centuries to come.