This complete guide to the Labrador Malinois mix will help you decide if you can give this hardworking hybrid the kind of home and lifestyle it needs. Will you be a match made in heaven, or destined to drive each other crazy?
- The Labrador Malinois mix at a glance
- Belgian Malinois Labrador mix appearance
- Labrador Malinois mix temperament
- Training and exercising your Labrador Malinois mix
- Labrador Malinois mix health and care
- Do Labrador Malinois mix make good family pets?
- Finding and raising a Labrador Malinois mix puppy
- Pros and cons of getting a Belgian Malinois mixed with Lab
A Labrador Malinois mix dog weighs 40 – 80lbs, and is likely to be capable of remarkable physical and mental endurance. They need a lot of physical and mental activity before they are ready to settle down at the end of the day. And that means they’re not suited to just anyone. Potential owners need to think carefully about whether this dog is a good fit for them.
Belgian Malinois and Lab mix at a glance
- Popularity: Not right for everyone.
- Purpose: Companionship, some competitive and working roles.
- Weight: Females 40 – 70lbs, males 60 – 80lbs.
- Temperament: Smart, tough, hardworking.
What to expect from a Labrador Malinois mix
Labs and Belgian Malinois are both dogs with impeccable working credentials, but in very different roles. Labradors are, of course, retrievers. In the past they helped duck hunters by collecting the birds which had been shot. The Belgian Malinois meanwhile started out as a shepherding breed. More recently, the same intelligence, stamina, and guarding instincts which made them good at shepherding have also made them popular with police and military dog trainers.
A Labrador Belgian Malinois mix is sometimes known as a Belgiador. This mix is not as popular or widely available as some of the Labrador crosses more suitable to being a family pet. (Such as the world-famous Labradoodle). This is partly because the different historical purpose of Labs vs Malinois mean they have very different temperaments. So it’s impossible to reliably predict which qualities a Lab-Malinois cross will inherit when they’re grown up. And it’s partly because a dog with this much physical energy and mental stamina will prove too much for a lot of people. Let’s dig a bit deeper!
Labrador Malinois mix appearance
Physically, it is easy to tell a Lab and a Malinois apart. But, they also have enough in common that a Malinois Lab mix is fairly unsurprising to look at (compared to, say, a Shih Tzu Lab mix!) Both breeds are medium to large. Labs usually weigh between 55 and 70lbs if they’re female, and 65 and 80lbs if they’re male. Belgian Malinois weigh 40 to 60lbs if they’re female, and 60 to 80lbs if they’re male. So a female Malinois Lab mix is likely to weigh 40 to 70lbs, and a male is likely to weigh 60 to 80lbs. Their exact size, build and proportions can vary from one individual to the next, depending on:
- The exact size of their parents.
- Whether their Labrador parent came from working or show lines.
- And whether they take after their Lab parent or their Malinois parent more.
Both breeds have short smooth coats, which protect them from the cold whilst working in winter. But the Malinois can be registered in four times as many colors as the Lab. Including dilute colors, brindle, and sable patterns. Malinois and black Lab mix puppies could surprise you with a range of coat colors, including sables. Dilute and brindle coats will only be expressed in first generation Malinois Lab mix puppies if the Labrador parent was also carrying the gene for one of these traits. That’s unusual, so these patterns generally only come out in 2nd generation crosses and beyond.
Labrador Malinois mix temperament
So there’s only limited possibility for variation in what Belgian Malinois Labrador mix puppies will look like. But the temperament they will grow up to have is a different matter! Malinois are a herding breed. They are often ‘one person dogs’, intensely loyal to a particular human. They have a strong guarding instinct, which is what makes them well suited to protecting a flock of sheep. Part of the guarding instinct is an innate wariness of new and unfamiliar people. Another part is unhesitating bravery in defending the thing they guard. They are also very clever, and they can pick up complex commands quickly.
Labradors meanwhile have a strong urge to fetch things and carry items around in their mouths – the retrieving instinct. They are also very clever, and capable of mastering complex tasks. But, they have little guarding instinct. They often bond happily with lots of people, including people they met for the first time 5 seconds ago.
Belgian Malinois Labrador mix puppies are likely to be easy to train, and pick up new commands quickly. They will crave having a job to do, alongside a human handler. It’s also very probable that they will get bored and frustrated easily, if you don’t provide work to do. This may manifest as unwanted behaviors including digging, chewing, scratching or barking. This mix will not be suited to spending most of the day alone at home.
Surprises in Malinois Lab mix personality
However, not all aspects of their personality are so predictable. Belgian Malinois tend to be disinterested in interacting with people beyond their immediate human family. When faced with persistent unwanted attention, they might bark or snap to send a clear signal to back off. This is very different to most Labradors, who tend to befriend just about anyone, and are tolerant of being petted by strangers.
How sociable and people-friendly a litter of Belgian Malinois Labrador mix puppies will grow up to be can vary a lot, even between siblings. And their behavior at 8 weeks old isn’t a reliable predictor of what their temperament will be like when they’re grown up. So, if being sociable and comfortable receiving attention from people beyond your immediate family is important to you, this mix is not a reliably good choice.
Training and exercising your Labrador Malinois mix
Next, back to something you can be sure of – your Labrador Belgian Malinois mix will need training and physical activity in spades. Training this mix isn’t just about teaching them good manners. Ongoing training is vital to meet their need for mental stimulation. Besides basic obedience training as a puppy, you can challenge their brains by taking part in
- Advanced obedience training
- Herding trials
- Gundog training
- Dock diving
- Pets at therapy training
- Canine freestyle
- Scent work
Finding the right activity for you may require a bit of trial and error. A Labrador Belgian Malinois mix who hasn’t inherited the Lab’s love of swimming might hate dock diving for example. So you’ll need to be flexible about what you’re interested in, and embrace the options your dog finds most rewarding. You’ll also find a list of resources to help with basic obedience training at the bottom of this article!
Complex training activities will go a long way to tiring your dog out every day, but they won’t remove the need for lots of exercise too. This mix is likely to need at least two hours of outdoor activity every day. Options include:
- Leash walking
- Playing fetch
Bear in mind that both of these dogs were originally bred to be capable of working outside all day. In the Labrador Belgian Malinois mix, some individuals might be more willing to lounge about than others. Particularly if their Labrador parent came from show lines. But in general, this mix is only suitable for people who have several free hours a day to spend on exercise and training.
Labrador Malinois mix health and care
The most common health problems affecting Labs are
- Ear infections
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Tooth and gum disease
Hip and elbow dysplasia have a strong hereditary component, so the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals recommends that only Labs who test clear of them are used for breeding. They also recommend that breeding dogs are tested for problems with their eyesight, and the genetic disorder Exercise Induced Collapse. Allergies are likely to be inherited in many cases, but genetic testing for them isn’t available yet, so you’ll need to rely on your breeder’s knowledge of their puppies’ ancestral health.
The health concerns most commonly affecting Belgian Malinois are:
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Arthritis in the shoulder joint
- The neurological condition Degenerative Myelopathy
- Thyroid disease
- Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (bloat)
Only Malinois dogs which have been tested clear of hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and problems with their eyesight should be used for breeding. Bloat is a medical emergency, where the stomach twists around and becomes a sealed chamber. You can familiarize yourself with the symptoms here, and only surgery can save affected dogs
Malinois and Labrador mix health
The best way to secure your Malinois and Labrador mix dog’s health and avoid a lifetime of heartache and expensive veterinary bills is to buy them from a reputable breeder who only uses health tested moms and dads for their litters. Some of their health risks will depend upon which parent they most take after. For example if they have a Lab’s floppy ears, you’ll need to be vigilant for signs of ear infection. And if they have a Malinois’ deep chest, you’ll need to take care to protect them from bloat.
According to surveys of dog owners, the average lifespan of Labradors and Belgian Malinois is 12 to 13 years, with some lucky dogs making it to their late teens. This compares well with other dogs the same size.
Do Labrador Malinois mixes make good family pets?
The Labrador has been America’s favorite dog breed for three decades. This is because they adapt readily to many kinds of settings, and they are friendly and patient with adults, children, new people, and unfamiliar dogs alike. On the other hand, Belgian Malinois are specialist working dogs. In police and military roles, they are unrivaled for ability, endurance and bravery. But, for most people looking for a companion dog, they need more engagement, training and exercise than the average pet owner can offer. They are also more likely to lose patience with children, and issue a warning bark or nip.
So, this mix may not be suitable for first time dog owners, people who work or have many other commitments, and households with children. They are best suited to very active owners who have lots of time to spend with them, and ideally previous experience of dogs with similar instincts (such as German Shepherds). Rescuing an older dog is one way in which you can take on this mix with a clear idea of what temperament they have inherited, and whether you’re a good match for each other.
Finding Belgian Malinois Labrador mix puppies
Mixed breed puppies have been growing in popularity since the 1990s. This means all kinds of crossbreed dogs can now be readily found via online search or word of mouth. But, unfortunately their desirability has also made them popular with puppy farms. Puppy farmers don’t health test their breeding dogs, or socialize their puppies. This means dogs from puppy farms have more long term health problems and problem behaviors than dogs from responsible breeders. Socialization from a young age is especially important for Belgian Malinois dogs and their crosses, because it tempers their natural instinct to be distrustful of new encounters. Without it, your Belgiador is more likely to be reactive and display fear-aggression when they’re older.
So, take your time to find a good breeder. This guide to recognizing and avoiding puppy farms will help.
Is A Labrador Malinois mix right for me?
To summarize, let’s take a look at the upsides and potential downsides of getting a Labrador Malinois mix.
- Unpredictable temperament.
- Needs a lot of training and exercise.
- May take a long time to find a puppy from a good breeder.
- Excellent candidate for experienced dog sport enthusiasts.
- Likely to be exceedingly loyal and brave – you wouldn’t have to be scared walking anywhere with this mix!
Alternative Labrador mixes
The Belgiador isn’t the only Labrador mix which adds a contrasting breed to the trusty Labrador Retriever. Take a look at these surprising mixes too:
- German Shepherd lab mix puppy
- Bassador Dog – A Complete Guide To The Basset Hound Lab Mix
- Mini Labradoodle – A Complete Guide To The Miniature Labradoodle Dog
- Corgi Lab Mix – The Corgidor!
- Greyhound Lab Mix – Your Complete Guide To The Greyador
- Newfoundland Lab Mix
- St Bernard Lab Mix
- Brittany Lab Mix
Your Labrador Malinois mix
Do you have a Labrador Malinois mix? We’d love to hear all about them in the comments below!
Don’t miss these training resources from the Labrador Site team too
- How To Potty Train A Puppy
- Teach Your Dog To Lay Down And Stay
- Walking Your Labrador on a Loose Leash
- Dog Recall – Get A Great Recall With Our Training Tips And Guides
- No More Jumping Up: How To Stop Your Labrador Leaping On People
- How To Stop Your Labrador Barking – Click For Quiet
- 4 Fun Games To Play With Your Labrador
Adams et al. Methods and mortality results of a health survey of purebred dogs in the UK. Journal of Small Animal Practice. 2010.
McGreevy et al. Labrador retrievers under primary veterinary care in the UK: demography, mortality and disorders. Canine Genetics & Epidemiology. 2018.
Moore et al. Causes of death or reasons for euthanasia in military working dogs: 927 cases (1993–1996). Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 2001.
Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.
Peterson et al. A Study of the Lifetime Occurrence of Neoplasia and Breed Differences in a Cohort of German Shepherd Dogs and Belgian Malinois Military Working Dogs that Died in 1992. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. 2008.
Robinson et al. Puppy Temperament Assessments Predict Breed and American Kennel Club Group but Not Adult Temperament. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. 2016.
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website