The Belgian malinois is a medium to large breed of dog that has long been used by police forces and militaries. Their intelligence, natural work ethic, and athletic build make them ideally suited for a wide variety of tasks. Their striking appearance makes them the ideal choice for many pet owners as well. They are known for their strong bond with their owner and the fact that they thrive on having a job to do. However, some people are concerned about their size and aggressiveness, which may cause them to avoid this breed. For these individuals, there are a number of other options for a companion animal, including the dilution color variants of the Belgian malinois.
The American Kennel Club recognizes fawn, mahogany, red sable, and fawn sable as standard Belgian Malinois colors. The United Kennel Club and the Federation Cynologique Internationale also recognize these same shades, as well as black, cream sable, brindle, and gray Belgian Malinois. Regardless of the coat shade, all Belgian Malinois must have black masks and ears.
Fawn sable Belgian Malinois are a great example of the variation that exists in the breed. They are a light fawn in the center with dark sable coloring around the face, eyes, and ears. The difference in sable color is created by genes that affect the pigments in the hair strands. This causes the sable color to appear darker at the base of the hair and lighter toward the tips.
Some fawn sable dogs will have tiny white markings on their shoulders, feet, and chest. These are permitted within AKC guidelines, but they are not allowed to cover the entire body of the dog.
A blue Belgian Malinois is a result of the same gene that creates dilution color. The color of the underlying coat will change, as well as the nose, paw pads, and eye rims. However, a blue Belgian Malinois must still have the black mask that is required by the breed standard.
Another common color variant is the liver-colored Belgian Malinois. This is caused by the same gene that creates dilution, but it has a more severe effect. It typically causes the skin to fade to a pale yellow or beige and can also impact the eye rims, nose, and ears. A liver-colored Belgian Malinois will not have a black mask, but the ears and eyes should still be black.
While there are a number of beautiful and exotic-looking dilution-colored Belgian Malinois, they are not considered standard by the AKC. Additionally, some of these dogs can suffer from a number of health issues that are more common in standard-colored dogs. For this reason, it is important to consider genetics and lineage when selecting a new puppy or adopting a dog of a rare color. This will help to ensure that your pet has the best possible chance of healthy development and a long life with you as their owner.