Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherds have recently exploded in popularity. The problem is that both of these breeds (especially the ones from specific working bloodlines) are not intended to solely be pets or companion animals. Mals and Dutches are working line dogs, they require serious, experienced dog owners who truly have the knowledge of the breed, and the extensive time for consistent, on going training and exercise. Novice and first time dog owners are as a whole are likely to be unfit and unable to provide the amount of mental and physical stimulation necessary to prevent the dog from developing serious behavioral issues. Acquiring any breed of dog because they are trendy, “badass,” or “manly” is ridiculous and the wrong reason to get any animal. Adding a dog to your life should be a decision made with careful consideration, and selected based upon an owner’s competence, experience, and amount of time available for dedication to training and exercise. Not based upon “cool factor.”
If any of you are unaware of what a Malinois or Dutch Shepherd is, I am sure you have seen one before and mistaken it for a German Shepherd. Mals and Dutches are commonly used as multipurpose military dogs, police dogs, and personal protection dogs. Their alertness in conjunction with their drive and energy level makes them excellent dogs for protection and apprehension. Dogs with such drive require structure, training and exercise to properly contain their drive and disperse their energy. As we all know as dog owners, all dogs especially working dogs, who are deprived of dedicated owners will suffer. When working dogs have careless, negligent owners their dogs become highly predisposed to destructive behaviors, aggression towards people and other dogs, and are all around unmanageable. This is in no way stating that Mals and Dutches are inherently dangerous or vicious, because anyone that owns a dog knows that bad dog ownership can cause any dog to become unruly and difficult to manage. Therefore it is simple to understand that the way a high energy dog become dangerous is through the negligence on the part of human beings.
Pit Bulls (the term being used loosely), like Rottweilers, and Dobermans (and many other working breeds) are stubborn, loyal, high energy, alert dogs with a high prey drive, which many people acquire for their “cool factor.” After decades and decades of idiots thinking its really cool to get a dog, never train it, never socialize it, never exercise it, and then be proud of the dog’s unbridled aggression – Pits became labeled as unstable and unmanageable dogs dumped off at shelters with issue after issue that their owners created. Suddenly these issues were branded to breed as if it was the dog’s fault that nobody cared about the commitment of owning a dog. I say that Mals and Dutches are the next Pit Bulls because the rate at which Mals and Dutches are growing in popularity, combined with their drive and human stupidity – they will be filling up the shelters quickly. This can happen a number of ways; people can recognize the growth of demand for the breed and somehow acquire a couple Mals and begin breeding them. Start using the dogs as cash cows, caring only for the profit and not the proper breeding, nor caring about who or where the puppies go. People see cute Mal and Dutch puppies online, think, “oh they’re so cute!” or “babe lets get one they look just like a German Shepherd!” The problem perpetuates from there as these homes and owners were not properly vetted, educated or prepared for this puppy. As time goes on, the owners realize the dog does not do well being crated 8-10 hours a day while they’re at work, and that 20-minute walk around the block doesn’t wear the dog out. The owners become frustrated as the dog tears everything up, barks constantly, pulls like crazy on walks and starts to nip at other dogs because he wasn’t manageable in public and is therefore unsocialized. That dog is destined for the shelter because it’s no longer a cute puppy from Instagram, it’s a 75 pound adult Malinois that cannot be controlled by the owner, he is dog aggressive, has a high prey drive and separation anxiety from being sequestered in a crate all day and night. I can only hope that the solution lies first with breeders being vigilant about where their dogs go, to who and for what purpose they will be used for. Secondly, it is of the utmost importance that owners understand that Mals and Dutches should not be gotten as companion animals. There are so many breeds of dog that are better suited strictly as pets that will of course still require training, care and exercise but not to the high standard which Mals and Dutches require.