The standard for the Belgian Malinois frequently uses the word "square" to describe this breed, as the dog's body is about as long as it is tall. The elegant Malinois is a muscular dog, but not heavy. He’s solid, but very agile, with a proud carriage. The topline is level with a slight slope at the withers. The chest is neither broad nor narrow, but is deep, reaching to the elbow. The front legs are very straight and parallel to each other, with round cat-feet. Dewclaws may be removed from the front legs and should be removed from the back legs. The long tail reaches at least to the hock. The shorthaired coat is fawn to red to mahogany with black tips, mask, and ears and a thick undercoat. Some white is allowed on the chest and feet. The hair around the neck is a bit longer and forms a collar. The small, dark brown, almond-shaped eyes have an alert and questioning expression. The alert erect ears should be equilateral triangles. They should be in good proportion to the dog's head. The muzzle tapers, but is not excessively pointy. The skull is flat and parallel to the plane of the muzzle. The nose is black and the lips should be tight. The teeth should meet in a scissors or level bite.
The Belgian Malinois (pronounced Mal-in-wah), named for the Belgian city of Malines, is one of the four varieties of Belgian Shepherd Dog. In most parts of the world, the four varieties (Groenendael: longhaired black; Malinois: shorthaired fawn with black mask and black overlay; Tervuren: longhaired, in shades of fawn through gray with black mask and black overlay; and Laekenois: rough-haired fawn) are considered to be a single breed. However, since 1959, the AKC has recognized the Groenendael (Belgian Sheepdog), Malinois, and Tervuren as separate breeds and doesn't recognize the Laekenois at all. The first Malinois was registered with the AKC in 1912. The Belgian Malinois gained full recognition as a separate AKC breed in 1965. Although it is still quite rare in America, the Malinois variety is very popular in Belgium. This versatile and highly intelligent dog excels at many activities, including tracking, agility, obedience, protection, Schutzhund, narcotics and bomb-detection work, search and rescue, herding, and pulling sleds or carts. Although the Belgian Malinois is not for everyone, this high-energy dog makes an excellent family companion if properly socialized and trained.