Best Food for a Belgian Malinois
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The Belgian Shepherd is a large dog with an athletic frame and a muscular build. They are beautiful dogs, but they can also be imposing. With such a large dog, you might expect a large appetite. You would be correct. These dogs will eat more than the average dog and this is something we need to bear in mind when we consider adoption of a Belgian Malinois. Amount is not the only factor to consider when feeding a Belgian Malinois. We also need to ensure they have the right nutrition, something which can change according to the individual, regardless of breed.
At AnimalWised, we learn more about the best food for a Belgian Malinois. We consider what these dogs need to eat at different stages of their lives, whether a Belgian Malinois puppy, adult or senior dog
Characteristics of the Belgian Malinois
To know what food a Belgian Malinois should eat, we should know a little more about the characteristics of this noble breed. Doing so is essential to meet their nutritional needs and provide the best chance for optimal health. The Belgian Malinois stands out for their high energy levels, great intelligence, sensitivity and excellent predisposition toward work. When well trained, they can be used in livestock management, security and other work roles.
Despite a reputation for fierceness, the Belgian Malinois is a well-balanced dog. They are alert, devoted to their guardians and very obedient when properly educated. It is this education which is paramount. We need to ensure they are socialized from the time they are young. This will help them be secure and respect boundaries when interacting with other dogs, animals, people and environments. These apply to all types of Belgian Shepherd dogs.
Home environment is also very important. They need to live somewhere free of stress, but with sufficient opportunity for physical and cognitive stimulation. Without training, guidance and stimulation, they can develop behavioral problems, just like any dog.
In terms of overall health, the Belgian Malinois is considered a relatively health dog breed. As their cognitively ability was so highly valued, they were not exposed to the same genetic selection as breeds such as the Bernese Mountain Dog or German Shepherd which considered aesthetics to a greater extent. This means they have a lower genetic predisposition to a variety of degenerative diseases.
However, due to the Belgian Malinois's size, they have a relatively accelerated growth. The result is a predisposition to hip and elbow dysplasia in dogs. Regardless, they will require health prevention in the form of regular veterinary checkups, establishment of a vaccination schedule and a suitable deworming program.
Belgian Malinois puppy food and diet
It is important to highlight the importance of respecting the weaning period when adopting a puppy. This is the period during which the mother will naturally stop feeding them on milk and the puppy changes to solid food. The weaning period also coincides with the puppy's socialization period, the time during which they learn to navigate the world.
Allowing the puppy to be weaned by their mother is almost always the best case scenario. Not only will doing so provide the puppy with the correct nutrition, but it will help with their socialization. Taking the puppy away too early from the mother can cause them serious harm, especially if we do not know what we are doing.
There are some circumstances when a puppy may need to be removed from their mother. An example is if the mother has an infectious disease, putting the vulnerable puppies at risk of contagion. Another is if we rescue an abandoned puppy and we do not know where the mother is. In these cases, we will need to offer them puppy replacement milk. While you can use homemade newborn puppy formula temporarily, you will eventually need to buy puppy replacement milk from a vet or store as there are certain nutrients which are difficult to provide at home.
Between their 6th and 7th week of life, a puppy will naturally begin to share their mother's solid food, stimulated by innate curiosity. At this point, you will choose which is the best Belgian Malinois puppy food.
Some people will choose to feed their Belgian Malinois puppy a natural diet. The advantage is that we can control what they eat by providing the correct nutrition. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Dogs will need certain nutrients such as taurine which can be difficult to provide. We should also be careful with raw food diets for dogs, especially puppies. Providing raw food increases the risk of spreading pathogenic bacteria.
For most guardians, choosing a commercial feed will be best for their Belgian Malinois puppy. These are specially formulated to meet the needs of the dog, but we should choose the corresponding type. Commercial dog food companies will make a ‘puppy formula’ feed which is suitable from 2 months onwards. As the puppy grows, they will move onto other formulae, such as those for ‘junior’ and ‘adult’ dogs.
These commercial feeds will contain the appropriate proportions of the 5 essential nutrients. These are proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. However, not all brands are the same. Choose one which has a good reputation and is reviewed well online. If in doubt, ask your veterinarian for a recommendation.
As they are a large and muscular dog, it is important that Belgian Malinois puppy food has added calcium. This will help to build bones and other tissues as they develop. Some may even benefit from calcium supplements, but you will need to speak to your veterinarian before giving you dog any supplements.
Learn about the difference between the Belgian Shepherd and the German Shepherd in our related article.
How often should you feed a Belgian Malinois puppy?
While providing the right type of food for a Belgian Shepherd puppy is important, so too is how we feed them. An important consideration is respecting the appropriate quantities for their optimal physical and mental development. On your commercial feed packaging, there should be a guide to how much food your dog needs according to their age, size and weight. Again, consult your veterinarian if in doubt.
Generally speaking, the distribution of feedings and the appropriate amount of food for any Belgian Malinois puppy will be:
- 2-3 months: 150 to 200 gr. per day, distributed in 4 daily portions. Ideally, these portions should be offered in the form of porridge, softening the commercial feed with warm water before offering it to the puppy.
- 4-5 months: 250 to 300gr. per day, in 3 daily servings. At this time, the puppy will be able to chew the food well, there is no need to temper or soften it.
- 6-8 months: 300 or 400 gr. per day, divided into 2 or 3 daily servings.
- 8-12 months: 400 to 500 gr. per day, in 2 or 3 daily servings.
If you decide to opt for a homemade diet for dogs, you will need to speak to your vet. They will help to calculate both the type and amount of food your individual puppy will need.
Adult Belgian Malinois food and diet
From 12 months of age onwards, the Belgian Malinois will be considered an adult dog. This can differ slightly depending on the individual. At this point you will not only change their feed to one for adult dogs, you will need to ensure it is specifically for large adult dogs. Again, you will need to research what brand is best and look for reviews to use a quality control.
As with any dog that is active and has muscles, the Belgian Shepherd needs a diet rich with high-quality proteins and carbohydrates which are easily metabolized. The minimum protein quantity of an adult Belgian Malinois's diet should be 25%. Carbohydrates should be high quality, but they should only be present in moderate amounts. These two nutrients should be the base of their diet so they can build and retain muscle and regulate healthy metabolism.
Good fats, such as omega 3 and 6 fatty acids for dogs, will also be essential in moderate proportions. These strengthen their cardiovascular system and stimulate cognitive function. Fiber, vitamins and minerals should complement their diet, promoting digestion, as well as strengthening immune system, bones and joints.
We recommend that you also consult with your trusted veterinarian about the possibility of offering supplements and vitamins that help strengthen the joints of your Belgian Malinois. These will help to prevent the emergence of hip dysplasia and improve their performance as a sports dog.
Senior Belgian Malinois food and diet
When your Belgian Malinois reaches 7 years of age, they will officially be considered a senior dog. As when turning from a puppy to an adult dog, the animal will need to change their commercial feed. This time, we will want to change their feed to one formulated for seniors.
Elderly dogs require special attention to their diet to avoid obesity in dogs. This is because their energy levels reduce and they will gradually exercise less. This means the feed must be of a lower caloric intake, but must still have plenty of vitamins and minerals to maintain bones and joints.
Speak to your veterinarian about providing vitamins for your senior dog. These not only help with the musculoskeletal system, but also keep the brain healthy and avoid neurodegenerative diseases in older dogs.
Is the BARF diet recommended for the Belgian Malinois?
A greater number of dog guardians are choosing to provide a homemade diet for their Belgian Malinois. These include the BARF (biologically Appropriate Raw Food) diet which is based on the consumption of raw meat and muscle, lean raw meat and moderate portions of fruit, vegetables, eggs and offal. It is very important that bones should never be given cooked since this greatly increases the risk of a choking hazard.
This type of diet can offer numerous benefits to your dog's life. It can help improve their digestion, facilitate oral hygiene, strengthen their immune system and ensure all the important nutrients are provided in a quality feed. It is also very appetizing for the dog since it gives a better simulacrum of their wild diet. It is fresher, more flavorful and of a better texture than dry kibble or wet dog food for Belgian Malinois.
However, it is not the best idea for all dog guardians. Not only is it time consuming, but it is very expensive and requires a great deal of care. You will need to select, prepare and preserve the food very carefully. This way you can avoid bacterial infection from spoiled or inappropriate food. Too many guardians think a dog's immune system is invincible and can eat almost anything without harm.
Belgian Shepherd guardians must adapt the daily amount of food according to the age, weight and size of their dog. Follow the veterinarian's recommendations to once again avoid the possible appearance of nutritional deficiencies. Belgian Malinois dogs should only be adopted by experienced guardians who can meet the responsibility of their care. The same applies to giving any dog a BARF diet.
It is also important to highlight that the transition from a traditional diet (based on dry food) to the BARF diet must be carried out slowly and gradually. This is so you will not damage the Balgian Shepherd's digestive tract.
Key tips for feeding a Belgian Malinois
Now you know the specifics of how to feed a Belgian Malinois puppy, adult or senior dog, there are some general considerations you should make when caring for this beautiful breed. They include the following:
- If you choose to offer a dry diet based on optimal quality feed, remember to choose a product with a good concentration of animal protein. Many feeds contain a large percentage of vegetable protein, such as soy, rice or corn flour. Although these foods are not prohibited for dogs, excessive consumption poisons the dog's body, makes digestion difficult and promotes the formation of excess gas in the dog.
- If you choose to offer a BARF diet (raw food diet) to your dog, it is important to opt for fresh, organic foods. It is also essential to pay close attention to food preservation. This will help avoid the proliferation of bacteria and other pathogens in your furry friend's food. If you prepare meals for 2 or 3 days, remember to keep them in the refrigerator in airtight containers.
- Every dog should be fed in a calm environment, where they feel safe to enjoy their food. The impact of stress is highly negative on the digestive process and the immune system of our dogs. One very important factor is routine. Dogs need a regular schedule to feel secure, so feed them regularly at the same time every day.
- A dog must learn to respect their eating schedules, preferably when they are still a puppy. This is a fundamental part of their education that prevents unwanted behavior, such as the dog jumping on the table, barking or crying while we are eating. Avoid offering food while you eat or encouraging them to come up to the table. Doing so when they are a puppy will help them respect boundaries as an adult.
- Remember that physical activity and mental stimulation for your Belgian Shepherd are as important as their nutrition. If exposed to a sedentary lifestyle, your dog may present behavioral problems or symptoms associated with stress and boredom. In addition, daily exercises help maintain good weight management, prevent obesity and avoid general health complications.
- If your Belgian Malinois has acute diarrhea or does not eat at all, go to the vet. We should not let a dog pass more than 24-36 hours with acute gastrointestinal distress without determining the cause.
If you want to read similar articles to Best Food for a Belgian Malinois, we recommend you visit our Healthy diets category.