Malinois Dilemma – Becoming the “New” Pit Bull 

This weekend I took my Staffy to a “temperament test” because we’re eager to get started in dog agility competitions, and we need a “License” to do so.

Our group included Runa, our joyful Staffordshire Bull Terrier with her constantly wagging tail, and five other dogs trained in protection work. These were Malinois (also known as Belgian Shepherds) and German Shepherds, all trained to respond to some pretty serious commands.

Interestingly, even though these larger dogs are taught to bite on command, it was our little Runa who had to sport a muzzle while we were out and about in the city, all because of Spanish law.

NOTE: This page may contain affiliate links, which means Staffy Dog may receive a small commission for anything purchase via these links, at no cost to you. This keeps our tails wagging.

This quirky situation got me thinking about the American Pit Bull Terrier and its reputation.

Despite facing restrictions or outright bans in many places, pit bulls aren’t naturally aggressive towards people.

Historically, they’ve been valued for their human tolerance and gentleness, even under duress, making genuine human-directed aggression rare among them.

The distinction between dog aggression and human aggression is significant, with the latter not typical for pit bulls. 

In the U.S., dog bite statistics must be contextualized with breed popularity.

Pit bulls are among the most popular, thus naturally increasing their incident rate.

Factors such as lack of breed-specific education, improper care, and abuse significantly affect a dog’s behavior.

Additionally, the frequent misidentification of dogs as pit bulls exacerbates the breed’s misunderstood statistics. 

Rise of the Belgian Malinois 

However, the Belgian Malinois, bred for herding, protection, and yes, biting, surprisingly doesn’t feature on banned dog lists.  

Through conversations with dog trainers who both work with and adore Malinois, a consensus emerges: these dogs aren’t suited for the average owner.

One trainer noted the stark contrast in handling a Malinois versus a pit bull, highlighting the endless energy reserves of the former that make them challenging to ‘gas out’.

Their incredible work ethic makes them ideal for roles in police, security, and military operations, where they can, quite literally, work to exhaustion. 

Capability and Challenge 

Shannon Viljasoo, of McCann Professional Dog Trainers, notes the Malinois’ bite strength is formidable, around 195 PSI, and they relish the act of biting.

This intensity makes them more than a full-time commitment, requiring substantial training, exercise, and socialization.

Elissa Weimer of Paw and Order Dog Training echoes this sentiment, advising against adopting a Malinois if you cannot dedicate ample time and resources to their upbringing. 

Unseen Consequences of Popularity 

As the Malinois gains popularity, driven by a 50% increase in online interest over the last year, the rise in rehoming cases is alarming.

This surge is attributed to inexperienced breeders and owners not fully understanding the breed’s requirements, mirrors the pitfalls that have beleaguered Pit Bulls. 

Jacob Morgan, a dog trainer interviewed by Wales Online, expresses concern that without responsible breeding and ownership, the Malinois could face a similar fate to pit bulls, victimized not by their nature, but by human negligence.

Both breeds are highly trainable and capable in the right hands, but can also be exploited by those with ill intentions. 

As discussions about breed bans continue, it’s crucial to remember the importance of responsible ownership and breeding practices, ensuring that no breed suffers due to human failings. 

Responsible Ownership 

The key to preventing a rise in bite incidents and ensuring the Malinois does not follow in the footsteps of the Pit Bull lies in responsible ownership and education.

Prospective owners must be fully aware of the demands of the breed — the need for consistent training, ample exercise, and positive engagement.

It’s crucial that the appeal of the Malinois does not overshadow the commitment required to raise them responsibly.

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Edda Reynolds

Edda's journey into pet ownership began with a rescue dog that was deeply fearful of humans. To better support her first dog, Edda immersed herself in Canine Behavior Psychology. When her cherished companion passed away at 16, she chose to adopt a Pit Bull mix from a shelter. This new dog, Toffee, was not only affectionate towards people but also showed a keen aptitude for dog agility. Toffee introduced Edda to the strength and gentleness of Pit Bull-type breeds, sparking a deep love for them. This led Edda to welcome Runa, a Blue Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy, into her family, providing Toffee with an ideal companion for play and companionship.

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Indestructible dog toy
KONG - Jumbler Ball - Interactive Fetch Dog Toy with Tennis Ball (Assorted Colours) - For Medium/Large Dogs
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See your dog at night
Light Up Dog Collar for Small Medium Large Dogs, Rechargeable Flashing LED Dog Collar Light Adjustable Waterproof Lighted Dog Collar for Night Safety, Green-M
Light Up Dog Collar
Healthy toy for big chewers
Nylabone Extreme Tough Dog Chew Toy Monster Beef Thigh, Cleans Teeth, Beef Flavour, XXL, for Dogs Over 23 kg,package may vary
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