Belgian Shepherd Dog - Malinois
photo by: Caronna
FCI-Standard No 15/ 19.04.2002
TRANSLATION: Mrs. Jeans-Brown, revised by Dr. R.
DATE OF PUBLICATION OF ORIGINAL VALID STANDARD:
UTILISATION: Originally a sheep dog, today a working
dog (guarding, defence, tracking, etc.) and an all-purpose
service dog, as well as a family dog.
CLASSIFICATION F.C.I.: Group
1 Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs
(except Swiss Cattle dogs).
Section 1 Sheepdogs.
With working trial.
BRIEF HISTORICAL SUMMARY: In
Belgium, at the end of the 1800s, there were a great
many herding dogs, whose type was varied and whose
coats were extremely dissimilar. In order to rationalise
this state of affairs, some enthusiastic dog fanciers
formed a group and sought guidance from Prof. A.
Reul of the Cureghem Veterinary Medical School,
whom one must consider to have been the real pioneer
and founder of the breed.
The breed was officially born between 1891 and 1897.
On September 29th, 1891, the Belgian Shepherd Dog
Club (Club du Chien de Berger Belge) was founded
in Brussels and in the same year on November 15th
in Cureghem, Professor A. Reul organised a gathering
of 117 dogs, which allowed him to carry out a return
and choose the best specimens. In the following
years they began a real programme of selection,
carrying out some very close interbreeding involving
a few stud dogs.
By April 3rd, 1892, a first detailed breed standard
had already been drawn up by the Belgian Shepherd
Dog Club. One single breed was allowed, with three
coat varieties. However, as was said at the time,
the Belgian Shepherd only belonged to ordinary people
and therefore the breed still lacked status.
As a result, it wasn’t until 1901 that the
first Belgian Shepherds were registered with the
Royal Saint-Hubert Society Stud Book (L.O.S.H.).
During the following years, the prime movers among
the Belgian Shepherd enthusiasts set to work with
great determination to unify the type and correct
the faults. It can be said that by 1910 the type
and temperament of the Belgian Shepherd had been
During the history of the Belgian Shepherd, the
question of differing but acceptable varieties and
colours had led to many heated discussions. On the
other hand, anything involving morphology, temperament
and suitability for work has never caused any disagreement.
GENERAL APPEARANCE: The Belgian
Shepherd is a mediolineal dog, harmoniously proportioned,
combining elegance and power, of medium size, with
dry, strong muscle, fitting into a square, rustic,
used to the open air life and built to resist the
frequent atmospheric variations of the Belgian climate.
Through the harmony of its shape and its high head-carriage,
the Belgian Shepherd should give the impression
of that elegant strength which has become the heritage
of the selected representatives of a working breed.
The Belgian Shepherd is to be judged in its natural
stance, without physical contact with the handler.
IMPORTANT PROPORTIONS: The
Belgian Shepherd dog can be fitted into a square.
The chest is let down to the level of the elbows.
The length of the muzzle is equal to or slightly
longer than half the length of the head.
BEHAVIOUR / TEMPERAMENT: The
Belgian Shepherd is a watchful and active dog, bursting
with energy, and always ready to leap into action.
As well as its innate skill at guarding flocks,
it also possesses the highly prized qualities of
the best guard dog of property. Without any hesitation
it is the stubborn and keen protector of its owner.
It brings together all those qualities necessary
for a shepherd, guard, defence and service dog.
Its lively, alert temperament and its confident
nature, showing no fear or aggressiveness, should
be obvious in its body stance and the proud attentive
expression in its sparkling eyes.
When judging this breed, one should take into consideration
its calm and fearless temperament.
HEAD: Carried high, long without
exaggeration, rectilinear, well chiselled and dry.
Skull and muzzle are roughly equal in length, with
at the most a very slight bias in favour of the
muzzle which puts the finishing touch to the whole
CRANIAL REGION: Of medium width,
in proportion with the length of the head, with
a forehead flat rather than round, frontal groove
not very pronounced; in profile, parallel to imaginary
line extending muzzle line; occipital crest little
developed; brow ridges and zygomatic arches not
Muzzle: Medium length and well chiselled under the
eyes; narrowing gradually toward the nose, like
an elongated wedge; bridge of the nose straight
and parallel to the continuation of the topline
of the forehead; mouth well split, which means that
when the mouth is open the commissures of the lips
are pulled right back, the jaws being well apart.
Lips: Thin, tight and strongly pigmented.
Jaws/teeth: Strong, white teeth, regularly and strongly
set in well-developed jaws. Scissor bite; pincer
bite, which is preferred by sheep and livestock
herders, is tolerated. Complete dentition according
to the dental formula; the absence of two premolars
1 (2 P1) is tolerated and the molars 3 (M3) are
not taken into consideration.
Cheeks: dry and quite flat, although muscled.
Eyes: Medium size, neither protruding nor sunken,
slightly almond-shaped, obliquely set, brownish
colour, preferably dark; black rimmed eyelids; direct,
lively, intelligent and enquiring look.
Ears: Rather small, set high, distinctly triangular
appearance, well-rounded outer ear, pointed tips,
stiff, carried upright and vertical when dog is
NECK: Well standing out, slightly
elongated, rather upright, well-muscled, broadening
gradually towards the shoulders, without dewlap,
nape slightly arched.
BODY: Powerful without being
heavy; length from point of shoulder to point of
buttock approximately equal to height at withers.
Topline: upper line of back and loins is straight.
Back: firm, short and well-muscled.
Loins: Solid, short, sufficiently broad, well-muscled.
Croup: well-muscled ; only very slightly sloping
; sufficiently broad but not excessively so.
Chest: little broad, but well let down; upper part
of ribs arched; seen from the front forechest little
broad, but without being narrow.
Underline: Begins below the chest and rises gently
in a harmonious curve towards the belly, which is
neither drooping nor tucked up, but slightly raised
and moderately developed.
TAIL: Well set on, strong at
the base, of medium length, reaching at least to
hock, but preferably further; at rest carried down,
with tip curved backwards at level of hock; more
raised when moving, although without passing the
horizontal, the curve towards the tip becoming more
accentuated, without ever at any time forming a
hook or deviation.
General view: Bone solid but not heavy; muscle dry
and strong; front legs upright from all sides and
perfectly parallel when seen from the front.
Shoulder: Shoulder blade long and oblique, well
attached, forming a sufficient angle with the humerus,
ideally measuring 110-115 degrees.
Upper arm: Long and sufficiently oblique.
Elbow: Firm, neither turning out nor tied in.
Forearm: Long and straight.
Wrist (carpus): very firm and clean.
Front pastern (metacarpus): Strong and short, as
perpendicular to the ground as possible or only
very slightly sloping forward.
Feet: Round, cat feet; toes arched and well closed;
pads thick and springy; nails dark and strong.
General view: Powerful, but not heavy; in profile
hindlegs are upright and seen from behind perfectly
Upper thigh: Medium length, broad and strongly muscled.
Stifle: approximately on the plumb line from the
hip; normal stifle angulation.
Lower thigh: Medium length, broad and muscled.
Hock: Close to the ground, broad and muscled, moderate
Back pastern (metatarsus): Solid and short; dewclaws
Feet: may be light oval; toes arched and well closed;
pads thick and springy; nails dark and strong.
GAIT / MOVEMENT: Lively and
free movement at all gaits; the Belgian Shepherd
is a good galloper but its normal gaits are the
walk and especially the trot; limbs move parallel
to the median plane of the body. At high speed the
feet come nearer to the median plane; at the trot
the reach is
medium, the movement even and easy, with good rear
drive, and the topline remains tight while the front
legs are not lifted too high. Always on the move,
the Belgian Shepherd seems tireless; its gait is
fast, springy and lively. It is capable of suddenly
changing direction at full speed. Due to its exuberant
character and its desire to guard and protect, it
has a definite tendency to move in circles.
SKIN: Elastic but taut over
all the body; edges of lips and eyelids strongly
COATS AND VARIETIES: Since
the coat varies in length, direction, appearance
and colour among Belgian Shepherds, this particular
point has been adopted as the criterion for distinguishing
between the four varieties of the breed: the Groenendael,
the Tervueren, the Malinois and the Laekenois.
These four varieties are judged separately and can
each be awarded a C.A.C., a C.A.C.A.B. or a reserve
HAIR: In all the varieties
the hair must always be dense, close-fitting and
of good texture, with the woolly undercoat forming
an excellent protective covering.
A. LONG HAIR: The hair is short
on the head, the outer side of the ears and the
lower part of the legs, except on the rear side
of the forearm which is covered from elbow to wrist
by long hairs called fringes. The hair is long and
smooth on the rest of the body and longer and more
abundant around the neck and on the forechest, where
it forms a collarette or ruff and a jabot or apron.
The opening of the air is protected by thick tufts
of hair. From the base of the ear the hair is upright
and frames the head. The back of the thighs is covered
with very long abundant hair forming the culottes
or breeches. The tail is furnished with long, abundant
hair forming a plume.
The Groenendael and the Tervueren are the long-haired.
B. SHORT HAIR: The hair is
very short on the head, the outer sides of the ears
and the lower part of the legs. It is short over
the rest of the body and fuller at the tail and
around the neck where it forms a collarette or ruff
which begins at the base of the ear, stretching
as far as the throat. As well, the back of the thighs
is fringed with longer hair. The tail is ear of
corn shaped, but does not form a plume.
The Malinois is the short-haired.
C. ROUGH HAIR: What especially
characterises the rough hair variety is the roughness
and dryness of the hair, which, moreover, is rasping
and tousled. About 6 cm long over the whole body,
the hair is shorter on the top of the muzzle, the
forehead and the legs. The hair around the eyes
and those furnishing the muzzle should not be so
long as to disguise the shape of the head. However,
it is essential to have furnishings on the muzzle.
The tail should not form a plume.
The Laekenois is the rough-haired.
Mask: For Tervueren and Malinois the mask must be
very pronounced and tend to encompass the top and
bottom lip, the corners of the lips and the eyelids
in one single black zone. A strict minimum of six
points of skin pigmentation is called for: the two
ears, the two upper eyelids and the two lips, upper
and lower, which must be black.
Black overlay: In Tervueren and Malinois, the black
overlay means that the hairs have a black tip which
shades the base colour. This blackening is in any
case “flamed” and must not be present
in great patches nor in real stripes (brindled).
In the Laekenois the black shading is more discreetly
Groenendael: Only uniform black.
Tervueren: Only fawn with black
overlay or grey with black overlay, with black mask;
however, the fawn with black overlay is still preferred.
The fawn must be rich, neither light nor washed-out.
Any dog whose coat colour is anything but fawn with
black overlay or does not match the desired intensity
of colour cannot be considered an elite specimen.
Malinois: Only fawn with black
overlay and with black mask.
Laekenois: Only fawn with traces
of black overlay, mainly on the muzzle and the tail.
For all varieties: a small
amount of white is tolerated on forechest and toes.
SIZE, WEIGHT AND MEASUREMENTS:
Height at withers:
The ideal weight at withers is on average - 62 cm
- 58 cm for females.
Limits: 2 cm less, 4 cm more.
Males about 25-30 kg.
Females about 20-25 kg.
Measurements: Average normal
measures for an adult male Belgian Shepherd of 62
cm at the withers:
• Length of body (from point of shoulder to
point of buttock): 62 cm.
• Length of head: 25 cm.
• Length of muzzle: 12,5 – 13 cm.
FAULTS: Any departure from
the foregoing points should be considered a fault
and the seriousness with which the fault should
be regarded should be in exact proportion to its
• General appearance: Cloddy, lacking elegance;
too light or too slender; longer than high; fitting
into a rectangle.
• Head: heavy, too strong, lacking parallelism,
not sufficiently chiselled or dry; forehead too
rounded; stop too accentuated or too flat; muzzle
too short or pinched; Roman nose; brow ridges or
zygomatic arches too prominent.
• Nose, lips and eyelids: traces of depigmentation.
• Dentition: badly aligned incisors. Serious
fault: lack of one incisor (1 I), one premolar 2
(1 P2), one premolar 3 (1 P3) or three premolars
1 (3 P1).
• Eyes: light, round.
• Ears: large, long, too broad at the base,
set low, carried outward or inward.
• Neck: slender; short or deep set.
• Body: too long; thoracic cage too broad
• Withers: flat, low.
• Topline: back and/or loins long, weak, sagging
• Croup: too sloping, overbuilt.
• Underline: too much or too little let down;
too much belly.
• Tail: set too low; carried too high, forming
a hook, deviated.
• Limbs: bone too light or too heavy; bad
upright stance in profile (e.g. front pasterns too
sloping or weak wrists), from the front (feet turning
in or out, out at elbow, etc.), or from behind (hindlegs
too close, too wide apart or barrel shaped, hocks
close or open, etc.); too little or exaggeratedly
• Feet: spreading.
• Gait: moving close, too short a stride,
too little drive, poor back transmission, high stepping
• Coat: all four varieties: insufficient undercoat.
Groenendael and Tervueren: woolly, wavy, curly hair;
hair not long enough.
Malinois: hair half-long where it should be short;
smooth-haired; harsh hairs scattered in the short
coat; wavy coat.
Laekenois: hair too long, silky, wavy, crisp-haired
or short; filled with fine hairs scattered in tufts
in the rough hair; hairs too long around the eye
or the lower end of the head (the chin); bushy tail.
• Colour: for all four varieties: white marking
on chest forming tie; white on the feet going beyond
Groenendael: reddish tinges in the coat; grey breeches.
Tervuren and Malinois: brindle; tints not warm enough;
not enough or too much black overlay or set in patches
over the body; not enough mask.
Tervueren, Malinois and Laekenois: too light a fawn;
colour which is very diluted, named washed-out,
is considered a serious fault.
• Temperament: specimens lacking in self-confidence
or overly nervous.
• Temperament: aggressive or timid specimens.
• General appearance: lack of breed type.
• Dentition: overshot; undershot, even if
contact is not lost (reverse scissor bite); crossbite;
absence of one canine (1 C), one upper carnassial
(1 P4) or lower carnassial (1 M1), one molar (1
M1 -upper jaw- or 1 M2; M3 are not taken into account),
one premolar 3 (1 P3) plus one other tooth or a
total of three teeth (excluding the premolars 1)
• Nose, lips, eyelids: strong depigmentation.
• Ears: drooping or artificially kept erect.
• Tail: missing or shortened, at birth or
by docking; carried too high and ringed or curled.
• Coat: lack of undercoat.
• Colour: any colours which do not correspond
with those of the described varieties; too widespread
white markings on forechest, especially if they
reach as far as the neck; white on feet going more
than halfway up the front or the back pasterns and
forming socks; white markings anywhere other than
forechest and toes; lack of mask, including a muzzle
of lighter colour than the rest of the coat in Tervueren
• Size: outside the limits laid down.
N.B.: Male animals should have
two apparently normal testicles fully descended
into the scrotum.
CROSSBREEDING – MATINGS
Any matings between varieties are forbidden, except
in exceptional circumstances, when this ban can
be lifted by the appropriate and official breed
councils (Text 1974, drawn up in Paris).