Does The Black Belgian Malinois Exist, Or Are You Confusing Two Dog Breeds?

The Belgian Malinois is widely considered an elite dog breed, one standing heads—and tails—above the rest in terms of physical prowess, work ethic, and high intelligence. Few dogs can compare to the Belgian Malinois’ drive and determination, and few breeds have proven as effective in performing police and military work. Perhaps needless to say, the Belgian Malinois isn’t your average family pet and needs experienced, dedicated owners/handlers to help them productively use their high energy levels. 

Black Belgian Malinois

According to the American Kennel Club, the Belgian Malinois comes in two official coat colors: fawn and mahogany. According to other international kennel clubs, any variation of fawn, red, or silver with black tips is acceptable and meets breed standards. But, can Belgian Malinois be black? 

International kennel clubs agree that for a Belgian Malinois black fur is considered a fault. A black mask and black ears are standard, but fully retaining dark fur on the body past puppyhood doesn’t meet breed standards for the Malinois. Nevertheless, yes, Belgian Malinois can be black. While it’s relatively uncommon for a Malinois to be solid black, it’s slightly more common to find black sable Belgian Malinois that are mostly black with a lighter undercoat. 

Here, we will clear up some common confusion about the semi-rare Black Belgian Malinois, learn what it takes to own one of these dogs, and explore the needs and unique temperament of one of the world’s most infamous breeds. 

Meet 5 Black Belgian Malinois Dogs from Instagram

Ready to meet a handful of beautiful black Malinois? These dogs aren’t one’s you’ll see everyday, so get a good look—it might help you spot one in the “wild!”

1. Jones

Jones is a stunning all-black Belgian Malinois from Iowa who loves training with his mom, and will do almost anything for his chew toy!

2. Luna

Have you ever seen a dog with such impressive ears? Luna is a black Malinois whose humans can confirm she’s a certified good girl, and her ears look like they might help her fly. 

3. Mila

Mila is living a life of luxury with her humans in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico where she gets to spend days at the beach playing and evenings watching perfect sunsets over crystal clear water. 

4. Steel

Black Belgian Malinois
Source: @Witmer_22

Malinois are naturally athletes, and Steel is a great example of this—just look at that dive, he looks like he’s taking off! Owned by a firefighter and EMT, Steel is the perfect fearless dog for a fearless human. 

5. Carbon

Carbon is a black Malinois demonstrating bitesports, a protection and working dog training modality that teaches dogs to pursue, catch, and hold targets. Malinois are exceptional at bitesports, a quality that helps to make them such prolific police and military k9s. 

All-Black Black Belgian Malinois Basic Info

Originally bred to be an elite all-purpose working dog who, according to the American Kennel Club, “spurned passing fads and fancies of pet owners.” First standardized by Belgian farmers aiming to isolate all the best qualities of the local shepherd varieties, Belgian Malinois are named for their home city of Mechelen, Belgium. In French, Mechelen is pronounced “malines.”

Not solely shepherd or herding dogs, Belgian Malinois also protected their homes and properties, pulled carts, and served as livestock guardians, though they still lived in the home. Malinois didn’t need a human to give them instructions—their instincts gave them all the information they needed to successfully drive and protect their flocks. 

During WWI and WWII, these tenacious, strong, and highly intelligent dogs helped to pull equipment for soldiers, acted as military companions, and eventually were trained for specialized work in the field. Eventually, the Malinois’ incredible drive to work and deep attachment to their handlers helped them to become one of the most coveted dog breeds for military, police, and special forces worldwide. 

But, can Belgian Malinois also be family companions? What does it take to own an “extreme” dog breed, and could a Mal fit your lifestyle? 

Black Belgian Malinois Temperament

Black Belgian Malinois
Image Credit: msgrafixx, Shutterstock

The Belgian Malinois is fearless, highly intelligent, and loyal. Confident and eager to please, Malinois are highly trainable, and will do nearly anything to obey their handlers. Though they are incredible working dogs, training a Belgian Malinois isn’t for the faint of heart. Often stubborn and intense, Belgian Malinois can create a lot of havoc without a consistent routine, and their high need for mental stimulation makes them prone to boredom. Malinois simply can’t be kept happy with occasional physical activities—they need regular, high-intensity exercise and mental stimulation. 

“[My Malinois] is very obedient and has the advantage of two very hands-on parents, one with extensive handling experience, and weekly K9 training sessions,” says a comment from a Reddit user with Malinois experience. “[But if] a day goes by without even the bare minimum activity and she will chew us out of house and home.”

High-energy is an understatement for most Malinois, and Malinois puppies can become so out of control, snappy, and bite-y that they are sometimes nicknamed “maligators.” Even experienced dog owners can find the Belgian Malinois to be challenging to train, and these dogs often do best when their owners have advanced obedience, working dog, or K9 experience. 

The bottom line is that Belgian Malinois aren’t the right dog breed for most people. Moderately affectionate and prone to bonding with just one or two family members, Belgian Malinois can be good with kids and other pets, but aren’t naturally child-friendly. 

Black Belgian Malinois Size

Belgian Malinois stand 22–26 inches tall at the shoulder, and weigh between 40–80 pounds

Black Belgian Malinois Health

Belgian Malinois are relatively healthy dogs, and coat color isn’t known to be a marker of health in this breed. A few health issues to be aware of if you own a Malinois include:

  • Joint issues (e.g. elbow and hip dysplasia)
  • Eye and vision problems (e.g. progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts)
  • Ear infections
  • Dental disease
  • Bloat

Where To Find a Black Belgian Malinois Puppy

Black Belgian Malinois puppy

If you are certain a Belgian Malinois is the right dog breed for you, and you have done a lot more research than simply reading this blog, I suggest you start your journey with a rescue Malinois. Raising a puppy is an enormous task and investment, and it can be an overwhelming way to get to know a breed. Adopting an adult Malinois helps to give a dog in need a home, and can help to introduce you to owning a Malinois without the overwhelming ups and downs of raising a puppy. 

You can find adoptable Belgian Malinois through rescue organizations like the American Belgian Malinois Rescue, Woof Project Rescue, and even in local shelters and humane societies. 

If you are prepared to raise a Malinois puppy, I recommend joining Belgian Malinois groups and forums online, attending events, and getting to know Malinois owners to get first-hand recommendations for reputable breeders. It’s not guaranteed you’ll find a black Belgian Malinois for sale since this coat color isn’t breed standard and puppies often change coat color as they get older. If you adopt an adult you’ll know their permanent coat color, and you’ll have a better chance of finding a black Malinois if you’re open to mixed-breed dogs. 

Black Belgian Malinois vs. Black Belgian Shepherd (Groenendael)

Four distinct varieties of Belgian sheepdogs exist: the Groenendael, the Malinois, the Tervuren, and the Laekenois. 

The Groenendael—also called the Belgian Shepherd—is sometimes confused for a Belgian Malinois, and vice versa, though the Groenendael has longer fur than the Malinois. The Groenendael comes in a dozen standard colors, but they most commonly have black coats. While it isn’t standard for Malinois to be all-black, they are still sometimes mistaken for Groenendael, and Groenendael are mistaken for black Belgian Malinois. 

Technically, mistaking one for the other isn’t wrong. Some countries group all four breeds of Belgian sheepdog into one, and classify them all under the same name. Other countries, like the US, classify each variety as a distinct breed. 

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of a black Groenendael and a black Belgian Malinois so you can learn to spot the difference. 

Black Belgian Malinois FAQ

There’s plenty left to learn about the black Malinois—here are some of the most common questions about the breed and quick answers to help you become a Malinois expert. 

Are Black Belgian Malinois rare?

Sort of. Belgian Malinois breeders don’t purposefully try to produce black puppies, but it can happen. According to AKC standards, black isn’t an accepted Malinois color, so breeders do their best to avoid producing these pups, making them rarer. 

What is the average Black Belgian Malinois price? 

The price for a Belgian Malinois puppy (black or otherwise) from a reputable breeder is typically between $2,000–$8,000. If you see Belgian Malinois puppies being sold for less than this, you can reasonably assume the puppies are not ethically bred. 

What’s the difference between a Belgian Malinois and a German Shepherd? 

Belgian Malinois look a little like the better known German Shepherd, and indeed, they are similar in some ways. Both breeds are shepherd dogs, originally bred to herd livestock and eventually adopted by police and military as working dogs. However, German Shepherds are slightly larger, have longer fur (which means they need regular grooming), and are from a different country of origin

Let’s look at a quick comparison of these two breeds with the Malinois on the left and the GSD on the right.

Sources: @Mila.The.Mali and @SweetLunaGSD

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