Belgians are intelligent, hard working, and alert. In addition to its watchful nature, these traits made Belgians useful on the farm as herding and guard dogs and now allow them to be service dogs in law enforcement, search and rescue, and disability assistance. However, because of their athleticism, pet Belgians need physical and mental stimulation from their families, which can be provided through dog sports such as agility, herding, tracking, flyball, sledding, and obedience as sport. Belgians are also sensitive, which increases the importance of a reward-based approach to training. The Belgian's reserved nature with those they don't know also implies some degree of low level fear or concern about strangers, but socialization may minimize the development of fear-based defensive aggression.
The Belgian Shepherd Dog Malinois was developed in Malines, Belgium in the Middle Ages as a herding and working dog. Its direct ancestors were thought to be local shepherd dogs. The breed is sometimes classified as a variety of the Belgian Shepherd rather than as a separate breed unto itself. In the United States, the breed is recognized under the name Belgian Malinois. Imported Belgian Malinois usually originate from Belgium, France or Switzerland. Adolphe Reul, a Professor in the Belgian School of Veterinary Sciences, was instrumental in the establishment of the official breed standard. The Malinois was imported into the United States during two specific time periods. The first time was in 1911 and the second was between the years 1963 and 1965. During the second period, the population of the Malinois grew significantly. The breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1959 under the name Belgian Malinois.