Origins of the Malinois Protection Dog

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The Belgian Malinois breed is originally from Belgium and has traditionally been used primarily to herd cattle and sheep. Along with herding, this breed is particularly adept at things like obedience, agility, Schutzhund, tracking, and guard work.

September 29, 1981 was when the Belgian Shepherd Dog Club was originally formed. On November 15th of that same year, Dr. Adolphe Reul assembled a group of people from different Belgian counties.This meeting was setup to figure out whether there was a shephard dog type in existence in Belgium. The panel reviewed the list of breeds and discovered that there was indeed a representative breed from this type. Fifty protection dogs were then chosen from this breed, all 40 of them very alike from an anatomical perspective but differing in their coat texture, color, and length.

Each variety of these Belgian shepherds were named after the city that they originated from. The Malinois was named for the city of Malines, which is the French word for Mechelen. The Teruven came from the same city. The Groenendael was named for the village where Nicholas Rose bred the original black Belgian dogs. The Laekenois dog wasn’t named after its hometown but rather after the royal park of Laeken, where those trained protection dogs worked for a shepherd named Adrien Janssens.

In 1891 in Malines, an assemblage of breeders lived and promoted the Malinois breed of dog. By 1901, the first Belgian Shepherd had been registered with the group Societe Royale Saint-Hubert. A number of other similar breeds were likewise cataloged, further cementing the Malinois breed. The Belgian shepherds all owe their creation to Vos, which was kind of a rough-haired and fawn sort of dog that came from shepherds that were used to guard flax fields.

This Vos was then bred to a bitch called Lise de Laeken and then bred with his daughters. The resulting similarity in type formed the basis of the Belgian shepherd breeds.

Salmo is considered to be one of the founders of the Malinois variety and was born in 1882. This dog sired the well-known Malinois Tomy in the late 1890s. Tomy was especially known for his build as well as for his color.

This dog was a great worker as well as a big winner at dog shows. In fact, he was the first dog with the features that he had. Tomy was bred to Cora I and this mating produced the dog Tjop who’s considered to be a veritable pillar of the breed. Tjop and Dwet both formed the pillars of the Malinois breed. Although the two dogs were very different in attributes, they led to the formation of a breed nonetheless.

It was easy for early breeders to recognize the elegance and beauty of the Malinois breed without sacrificing its type or beauty for working ability. The Malinois was historically known to be a working dog and is still considered to be hardworking, versatile, and trainable.

The Malinois was typically used to breed other types of Belgian shepherd to get certain desirable qualities in the trained protection dogs that were bred. Over the years there has been a significant amount of crossbreeding between each type of Belgian.

On May 8, 1892 there was a Belgian specialty type of show. The show was held in Cureghem, Belgium. Out of 92 protection dogs exhibited, one-third was short-haired Malinois while the rest were long-haired. Later that same year, the first standard pertaining to the breed was written down, and it described the three varieties of coat length: short, rough, and long. This particular standard was worked and reworked over the years in order to reach that definitive classification and description of the four varieties, all of them divided by coat color, coat texture, and the length of the coat.

A second club was formed in 1898, this one formed in the city of Malines. This was more of an offshoot of an existing club that was over in Brussels. Heated conflicts and disputes held the breed back in those early years. As a result, experts weren’t able to agree on the desired or correct coat length. They couldn’t even agree on the colors of the breed.

Along with all of this, there was some conflict in regards to the utilitarian abilities of a dog when compared to its aesthetic attributes. Dr. Reul’s club eventually disappeared The existing clubs at the time largely worked by themselves. All of this changed, however, when the Berger Beigi Club and the Malines club united together to form a comprehensive, single club.

Then in the late 1890s there came to be dressage trials to add to the herding trials that were already being put on. This was done to test this breed’s ability to jump over fences as well as long obstacles and swimming. These were then combined with protection work as well.

The first of these trials was held in June 1903 and it was won by Cora I, who was the dam of Tjop. Ring trials then became common in the society. National trials have been held there annually ever since that initial trial all of those years ago.

In a historic sense, the Laekenois rough-coat breed is very closely related to Malinois as a breed. Both were first bred and found near Boom and Antwerp. Vos I, the original ancestor of the Malinois, was also responsible for breeding the Laekenois. Vos was then mated to Lieske and all of this breeding produced Dian, who was the dam of Tomy.

The same combo of dogs being bred also produced Tom de Vilvorde, which was a famous dog in his own right.

It’s easy to take for granted the beauty and majesty of the existing dog breeds in our time, but it bears reminding that these breeds didn’t by themselves come into existence, but rather were bred for their unique and salient qualities. While this post isn’t comprehensive when it comes to Malinois and other protection  dog breeds, it does provide an interesting look at the origins of the breed.

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