Sometimes referred to as a Belgian shepherd, Belgian Malinois is a medium-sized dog that is often used for herding. However, it also is a common household pet that can be a lifelong companion to many adults. But what about the kids? Today, we will tell you some important facts about the Belgian Malinois, how to properly introduce this breed into your home, and if, in fact, this type of dog is good with kids.
How Big Do Belgian Malinois Get?
While there may be some slight variations between individual dogs, in general, male and female Belgian Malinois are often of similar height and build. In most cases, this breed can grow to about 22 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder. They are also typically between 40 to 80 pounds.
How Much Energy Do Belgian Malinois Have?
As far as their energy level, the Belgian Malinois breed is similar to a labrador retriever in the fact that it is a ball of energy. Because of this fact, you must properly maintain the dog and allow them to get plenty of activity so they don’t work out their frustrations in your home. Also, like labs, this breed was originally bred for working and herding purposes. They maintain that ambition even hundreds of years later.
In order to ensure that your Belgian Malinois doesn’t go wild in the house, you will need to ensure that you take it on regular walks at least once per day. In addition, you can run with the dog or bring them to the dog park and let them go wild.
This breed will also require a lot of mental stimulation. You can play fun brain games. To provide this stimulation, you can play hide and seek, give them interactive dog toys, or create a fun obstacle course.
Training Belgian Malinois as Puppies
If you hope to have the best chance of success with a Belgian Malinois then you need to start to train them as a puppy. Start by teaching them basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” “come,” and “heel.”
Whenever they successfully perform a command, reward them with positive reinforcement. In addition to clapping and telling them they did good, you can also reward them with treats and affection. If your dog does not learn their commands then consider searching out professional help. The last thing that you want is to treat them with aggression or physical punishment. In addition to being cruel, your dog could become fearful or aggressive, and you do not want that with your children around.
It is important to remember that every dog will be different, so it is important to be patient. Continue to stay consistent in your training, and your pup will equally learn.
How Much Maintenance Do Belgian Malinois Require, and What is the Cost?
As mentioned, this breed is very energetic, and it loves to be outside. With proper training, a Belgian malinois can be a great companion for your child, but to do so, proper maintenance is key.
Typical Maintenance Requirements
This breed is very excitable, so you will want to make it a point to bring them outside for walks, runs, and general fun in the backyard. This is a point that should not be missed. This breed is very energetic, so it absolutely needs a lot of activity. Look at your schedule and your current responsibilities. If you do not currently have the time to care for a dog, then this breed is not for you.
Due to their size, a proper diet is also important. In order to stay healthy, this breed requires a balanced diet that has plenty of nutrients and enough protein to help them live their best lives.
As far as grooming, most of the Belgian malinois breed will have a short and dense coat that generally requires very little grooming. Every day, consider bushing them to remove any loose hair. This act will also keep their hair shiny.
Like all dogs, you will want to keep up with your regular veterinary visits. While you are there, you can ensure that they are up-to-date on their regular vaccinations. Keep in mind that they will need the typical preventative care measures, like tick and flea treatments.
Some of the medium-risk health issues that your dog may experience include:
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
Each of these conditions could cost between $1,500 – $6,000 to treat, so bring your pet in regularly so you can catch these issues before they become a major issue.
Costs for Belgian Malinois
The initial cost for a Belgian Malinois is typically between $1,500 – $3,000 depending on the breeder and the bloodlines of the dog. Keep in mind that you will also need to pay for the initial costs of a dog bed, dish, toys, leashes, training materials, and food. Keep in mind that the costs can differ based on where you live, your lifestyle, and more.
Other costs include:
Veterinary Care – Depending on the health of the dog, you can typically pay a few hundred dollars per year. Look into a good pet insurance policy to reduce the cost.
Food – A big dog eats a lot of food. If you purchase high-quality dog food, then you can expect to pay $30 – $100 per month.
Training – If you are unable to train your dog, then you may need to bring them to obedience classes. They can cost a few hundred dollars, but it is typically a one-time cost.
How Old Should Your Child Be When You Get a Belgian Malinois?
Make no mistake. A Belgian malinois is a great family dog. However, once again, they are very energetic, and they can be a lot to handle if you aren’t properly prepared. With that in mind, this breed is only for families with older children.
As a general rule, a Belgian malinois is really only ideal for families with children ages 8-10 or older.
With that in mind, you know your child better than anyone. What is most important is that your child is mature enough to handle the responsibility of taking care of a large dog. Smaller children may be afraid of the dog or they could be knocked around when the dog is running to and fro. Keep in mind that the dog will not intend to hurt them, but it could happen. Plus, your children need to learn how to treat the pup with respect. If they pull on its ears or tail, then the dog could react violently out of fear.
It is important that your Belgian malinois gets the same level of consistent positive reinforcement from all members of the family. So, your kids should play a part in caring for the pet. With that said, if you have a younger child, then you might consider a smaller dog with a lower energy level.
Are Allergies an Issue with Belgian Malinois?
Belgian malinois can have a complicated relationship with allergies. Like most breeds, they can be allergic to dust, mold, pollen, flea bites, and food. Their allergies can manifest as itching, inflammation, and skin irritation. If you suspect that your dog has an allergic reaction, then bring it to the vet.
As far as people are concerned, many kids and adults can be allergic to the Belgian Malinois breed because of the dog’s urine, saliva, and skin cells. Human reactions to allergies can include itchy eyes, skin rashes, runny nose, and sneezing.
You can test if you or your child is allergic by visiting someone who already has this breed of dog and see if you have a negative reaction. If you find that you are allergic after you own the dog then contact an allergist for diagnosis and treatment.
General Tips and Precautionary Measures
Before you bring a Belgian Malinois home, you should talk to your kids and prepare them for the arrival. If your children will be responsible for the dog, then make their responsibilities known. Also, teach them about the importance of not poking, pulling, or trying to ride on the dog as it may respond defensively.
Also, since your dog will require so much time outside, it is a good idea to add a fence to your backyard. If you already have one, then make sure it is in good repair. Your Belgian Malinois will want to run and play a lot, so if you are not able to go outside every time, then you will need to provide a safe place for it to play.
When you get your dog home, you will also want to help it get used to the idea of living with a child. Bring the Belgian malinois to the child and allow it to sniff your kid so it can get used to their scent. Then, gradually let them play together. Be cautious if your child loves to hug animals. Teach your pup to accept hugs from you first and when they are ready, introduce your child.
During your preparations for the arrival of your Belgian malinois, you will want to get certain supplies, so you are ready to welcome your pet home. Among them are:
- Healthy food (recommended by your vet)
- Plenty of indoor and outdoor toys.
Also, consider the idea of giving your Belgian Malinois a microchip. Since this breed runs around so much, it is possible that it could escape and run out of your sight if you are not careful. If that happens, you can track it easily by following its location on a phone app.
Verdict: Are Belgian Malinois Good with Kids?
In conclusion, the answer to whether a Belgian malinois is good with kids is not a straightforward answer. No, this breed is not ideal if you have toddlers and young kids that are learning to walk or are unaware of the responsibilities of having a dog. However, if your child is 8 years old or older and you believe that they have the physical strength and mental maturity to handle a large dog, then a Belgian malinois may be the perfect lifelong companion. If you are ready for an energetic breed that loves to run and play, then a Belgian Malinois might be for you.
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