Proper Exercise for a Belgian Malinois! (2024)

Belgian Malinois running through the mist with a large stick.

The Belgian Malinois is a serious working dog and your perfect companion if you have an important job for them to do. Exercise and training are essential elements for life with a Belgian Malinois.

What is the best exercise for a Belgian Malinois? The best exercise for a Belgian Malinois will offer them a job to do, ideally something that constantly challenges them and is always pushing for more. They need exercise that is high octane and active. A mindless game of fetch is not going to cut it.

If you have your heart set on a Belgian Malinois, you need to seriously evaluate your lifestyle to decide whether you can handle this breed.

Keep reading to learn all about the exercise needs of a Belgian Malinois.

They Need a Job to Do

The Belgian Malinois may be the best worker in the dog world. These powerful dogs are willing and able to learn almost any job and will do anything for their human once they form a bond.

These dogs are deeply devoted to their person and need to feel like they are serving in some way. 

If you don’t give your Belgian Malinois job to do, they will absolutely find their own.

Owners who do not give their Malinois sufficient direction find that their dogs guard them unnecessarily, fetch them things they don’t need, or herd household pets. 

These dogs excel in practically all types of work including herding, obedience, protection, bite work, tracking, and agility.

Any type of job that a dog typically does, a Belgian Malinois will be able to do.

In order to understand what kind of job you’ll need to provide to keep your Malinois happy, it’s helpful to look at the jobs that they commonly do.

Police Dogs

The Belgian Malinois is rapidly becoming the preferred choice of police departments.

They are often favored over the German Shepherd because they tend to have higher energy levels and are more agile than the heavier German Shepherds. 

The bravery of these dogs means that they will not hesitate to attack an assailant who is much bigger than they are.

Their athleticism means that they can pack a lot more impact than may be expected for their slightly smaller size.

Belgian Malinois are excellent police attack dogs and also excel in tracking.

Military Dogs

Belgian Malinois excel as military dogs for the same reason that they make excellent police dogs.

While sensitive, these dogs are often more robust and bold than German Shepherds, which means that they can handle the terrifying and loud surroundings of war more easily.

Belgian Malinois are able to track out explosives, tackle opponents, and act as general sentries for their platoons.

They bond deeply with their handlers and are more than willing to work with minimum rewards once they are trained.

Herding Dogs

The original purpose for Belgian Malinois was to work as a herding dog.

They are tenacious enough to fight off anything that may attack their flocks and brave enough to take on large livestock like bulls.

The never-ending energy of a Malinois makes them a good choice for shepherds who need to herd livestock over long distances, and they are a favorite for driving livestock across open terrain.

Tracking Dogs

Malinois have an excellent sense of smell and are dedicated trackers. They are creative and intelligent, able to use creativity to track a smell when they have lost it.

For instance, it’s not unusual to see a Malinois climb a tree after a smell or continue checking along the side of a riverbank for a lost scent. 

While they don’t have the long droopy ears and wrinkles of hound dogs to help channel smell into their nose, Malinois smell well enough to get the job done.

They are also agile enough to follow a scent into areas where bloodhounds may not be able to travel.


The willingness of a Belgian Malinois to enter into a fight, whether or not they are likely to win, makes them excellent protection dogs, as well as being a good fit for military and police work.

The eager minds of these dogs means that they can go all day without ever going out of work mode, which makes them an excellent choice for a dog who needs to be on guard at all times.

It is essential that a Malinois who is trained for personal protection is extremely keyed in to and responsive to their handler so that they don’t attempt to protect when it is not appropriate.

Working Dogs

When you consider all of the jobs that a Belgian Malinois is well-suited for, it becomes clear that you need more than a jog or a game of fetch in the backyard to occupy these dogs.

It isn’t just about keeping their bodies active. It’s a matter of giving their intelligent and driven minds something essential to do.

Lots of High-Octane Physical Exercise

Along with a job to do, the Belgian Malinois requires a lot of physical exercise.

If your idea of a perfect Saturday is spending time on the couch in front of the TV, this is probably not the dog for you.

Here are some activities that you can do with your dog to keep them active, healthy, and happy.


The Belgian Malinois thrives on high-octane physical exercise. They are well suited for training as Schutzhund dogs.

This extremely challenging and well-rounded training protocol requires dogs to be proficient in obedience, tracking, and protection work.

If you are looking for a challenging and satisfying training protocol for your Belgian Malinois, this is an excellent choice.


Belgian Malinois may be the best canine athletes around, so it should come as no surprise that they excel in agility.

You are unlikely to find that your Malinois is nervous about going through a collapsing tunnel or loses their nerve at the top of the A-frame. 

In fact, Belgian Malinois can be trained to walk a tightrope if you want them to. These are dogs who can climb trees.

Therefore, you are unlikely to find anything on the agility course that presents too much of a challenge for them.

Furthermore, because Malinois are so intensely focused on their handlers, they are able to show the self-control to master every aspect of an agility course.

Frisbee and Fetch

Simply playing a game of Frisbee or fetch with your Malinois in the backyard is not going to cut it.

If your Frisbee or fetch routine involves flying leaps, jumping through hoops, or climbing a tree after the ball, this will be more your Malinois’ speed.

These dogs excel at any combination of fetch, Frisbee, and agility, so have fun making up tricks for them.

Be careful though, as a Malinois is unlikely to know their own limitations and will do anything you ask them to do. 

Related Questions

Are Belgian Malinois good family dogs?

Provided they receive plenty of exercise and have a job to do for the day, Belgian Malinois are more than happy to lie back and relax with your family in the evening.

These are patient dogs with a steady temperament who often do very well with children. They’re usually tolerant of other household pets, although some individuals have a high prey drive which may cause them to do poorly with small dogs or cats.

Why are Belgian Malinois so energetic?

Belgian Malinois may have more energy than any other breed of dog.

Most herding breeds are known for being high energy, but as Belgian Malinois have been bred for other types of work like police and military work, they have developed an even bolder personality with energy levels to match.

In order for Malinois to excel in the jobs that they are bred for, they need the energy to go all day long.

When you watch a Malinois on the field doing military or police work, you’ll understand why their energy level is so essential.

Are Belgian Malinois one-person dogs?

Belgian Malinois are generally friendly with everyone in their family and a well-socialized Malinois is happy to meet new people and comfortable in crowds.

That said, these are dogs that tend to be very focused on their handler, so they may be more likely to obey, follow, and pay attention to the person who trains and handles them the most.