In our article Cairo, A Navy SEAL Hero Dog, we feature Cairo, a Belgian Malinois. After World War II, this breed of shepherd dogs became one of the preferred breeds amongst the nearly 3,000 soldier dogs1 that make up today’s military forces.
Its origin dates back to the late nineteenth century, when a Belgian veterinarian, Professor Adolphe Reul, began to set breed standards for dogs used as shepherds in the area, classifying them according to their color and characteristics. This allowed the Belgian Shepherd breed to be presented and recognized by the Royal Society of St. Hubert in the 1900s. The population of the breed decreased during World War I, which resulted in the removal of reproduction restrictions based on color and in the recognition of new varieties.
During World War II, the Belgian Malinois, like other breeds, were introduced to military work, where they served mainly as border patrol, as messengers and within groups such as the Red Cross & Scout organizations.
Features & Characteristics
Today, the Belgian Malinois is one of the four recognized Belgian Shepherd types, together with the Laekenois, the Groendeal, and the Tervuren. The name Malinois, comes from Mechelen, a city of the region of Flanders in Belgium. Medium in size and of strong build, the breed distinguishes itself by short hair, a cinnamon hued coat, and black muzzles, cheeks and ears.
Honoring its shepherd dog origins, the Malinois combines its ancestral capability to guard cattle with abilities acquired through military work. This makes for an excellent dog for the custody and protection of people as well as for police dog work.
Puppies enjoy playing and, thanks to their traits and personality, they can be excellent pets for families with children. Careful though, without the proper stimulation or regular exercise, they can become interior decorators of truly bad taste. They require and respond perfectly to obedience training and are one of the best breeds currently used to work in security services and the military.
Their high level of energy combined with their ability to learn quickly and to overcome challenges allows them to excel in numerous sporting activities, such as French Ring and Mondioring. In addition to being recognized for their work as protection, detection and security dogs, they are considered the ideal partner for search and rescue missions.
Like any professional soldier, they are trained to work in teams with their trainer, operate in all types of terrain, and even skydive. Numerous European countries, the United States, Canada, Australia and Israel have Malinois dogs in their forces. Their sense of smell allows them to be excellent trackers, so they work in tracking, search and rescue tasks as well as in the detection of substances and explosives. Cairo, who is a member of the SEAL team, is an example of this breed of true war dogs.
And a trained protection dog in action in a close quarter battle. This video features Robert Zembrzuski in an amazing obedience demonstration to exemplify the beauty and efficiency of protection dogs.