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How Aggressive Are Belgian Malinois? Breed Facts & FAQ


Jun 27, 2023
aggressive belgian malinois dog

If you’ve heard of the Belgian Malinois, you might know they’re tireless workers that are strong, intelligent, and highly trainable. Another fact about the Belgian Malinois you’ve likely heard is that they form an intense and unbreakable bond with their human companions, so much so that many Belgian Malinois can’t bear to be away from their owners. However, there is one trait about this impressive breed that isn’t completely true: Belgian Malinois are aggressive and dangerous.

Yes, aggression is a trait that they can display, just like any other dog. However, a well-socialized Belgian Malinois will have nothing but love for its owner and family members. If you’re considering adopting a Belgian Malinois and wish to know more about their personality and propensity for aggression, keep reading.


Are Belgian Malinois Naturally Aggressive?

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), aggression is not one of the standards for the Belgian Malinois breed. Any dog can be aggressive, but most are that way due to bad owners who don’t socialize or train them. Another reason some Belgian Malinois are aggressive is due to incorrect breeding practices and breeders who don’t weed out aggressive dogs.

Proper and pronounced socialization is the key to a well-behaved and non-aggressive dog, no matter the breed, and the Belgian Malinois is no different. Allowing your Belgian Malinois pup to be handled, petted, and touched by as many people as possible is critical to raising a non-aggressive adult. Again, this breed isn’t naturally aggressive but can become more aggressive if raised poorly.

belgian sheepdog malinois barking
Image Credit: cynoclub, Shutterstock

Why Is the Belgian Malinois Known to Be a More Aggressive Dog?

Dog breeders will quickly agree that some of the traits found in the Belgian Malinois might lead someone to conclude they’re an aggressive breed. Let’s take a look at these traits more closely.

Belgian Malinois Need Intense and Ongoing Training

The Belgian Malinois is an active, intelligent animal that demands a high level of training that’s consistent and ongoing throughout puppyhood. For many dogs, aggression is a natural tendency that must be nipped in the bud at an early age, which proper training accomplishes. Without it, their natural aggressive tendencies can become more pronounced.

Belgian Malinois Are Extremely Confident Animals

Confidence in a dog is usually a good trait, but it can also make a dog harder to handle, especially if they aren’t trained to use and control their confidence. This can lead to an adult Belgian Malinois that snaps or bites at any sign of aggression or if they feel threatened.

Belgian Malinois
Image Credit: 825545, Pixabay

Improper or No Socialization can Create an Aggressive Belgian Malinois

As mentioned, you must socialize your Belgian Malinois while it’s still a puppy. The lack of socialization can lead to aggressive tendencies if you don’t. That includes being pushy or combative with you and other members of your family. The reason why is that Belgian Malinois have a high herding and prey drive thanks to thousands of years of training as herding dogs.

Belgian Malinois Can Sense Anger and Hostility

The Belgian Malinois is highly attuned to the energy of their owners and can detect when they’re angry, upset, tense, and many other emotions. If you’re always angry and aggressive with your dog or with people, a Belgian Malinois will pick up on and reflect that aggression.

It pays to be a calm, caring, and compassionate person if you adopt a Belgian Malinois because they will mimic those positive emotions and behaviors.

Belgian Malinois Are Not Overly Affectionate

Another reason Belgian Malinois have a reputation for being aggressive dogs is that, compared to many breeds, they’re much less affectionate and friendly, especially with people outside their immediate family. They won’t, for example, run up to every stranger that approaches looking for a pat on the head like a Labrador Retriever. Instead, a Belgian Malinois will hang back and check out the situation first.

female belgian malinois
Image Credit: Piqsels

Your Belgian Malinois Hasn’t Been Spayed or Neutered

A Belgian Malinois may be overly aggressive because it hasn’t been spayed or neutered. Spaying and neutering any dog has been shown to lower its aggression significantly. This is especially true for same-sex aggression between Belgian Malinois dogs, which drops noticeably after they’ve been “fixed.”

Belgian Malinois Were Bred for Thousands of Years to Be Distrustful of Strangers

It’s important to understand that, for thousands of years, the Belgian Malinois were bred to be guard dogs. As guard dogs, they were taught to distrust almost anyone that wasn’t part of their immediate family or their primary caregiver. That training sits at the very core of this breed and is an innate part of their genetic makeup. It can also seem like aggression when it’s simply an innate distrust of anyone new.

Your Malinois Isn’t Getting Enough Physical and Mental Exercise

We’ve mentioned that the Belgian Malinois is one of the more intelligent breeds. As such, they demand a high level of mental and physical stimulation every day. If they don’t get it, aggressive tendencies can be the result.

belgian malinois food bowl eating patient
Image Credit: BoJack, Shutterstock

Do Belgian Malinois Tend to Attack Their Owners?

There’s one misconception about the Belgian Malinois breed that’s 100% false, and it’s that they tend to attack their owners. It’s incredibly rare for a Belgian Malinois to attack its owner unless that person abuses them severely and constantly.

The Belgian Malinois love their primary caregivers and wouldn’t consider hurting or attacking them even for a second under almost any circumstances. Most of the time, they’re only aggressive if something is very wrong. Even if there is, it’s highly unlikely a Belgian Malinois would attack its owner.


Final Thoughts

Like several breeds, the Belgian Malinois has gotten a bad but undeserved reputation for being an aggressive dog. That’s mostly because of the breed’s other traits, including confidence, intelligence, and a high prey drive, that makes the Belgian Malinois appear more aggressive than they actually are.

The most important lesson to take away from this information is that, when raised in a loving, caring home and socialized from the start, most Belgian Malinois pups will turn into well-behaved and non-aggressive adult dogs. Still, as a highly energetic breed with an intense prey and herding drive, anyone who adopts a Belgian Malinois will have their training and socializing work cut out for them.

Featured Image Credit: Aneta Jungerova, Shutterstock

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