Belgian Malinois Colors Explained


Complete Belgian Malinois Colors, Patterns and Pictures

Last Updated on March 19, 2024 by Denise Leo. Post first published on January 5, 2024.

Many people are unaware that the Belgian Malinois is not just one color or pattern. According to the American Kennel Club, there are five different colors and patterns, each with unique characteristics.

The most common colors of the purebred Belgian Malinois include Fawn, red, fawn sable, red sable, and mahogany. These Belgian Malinois colors can be found in multiple patterns, making for even more possibilities. There are also seven non-standard color variants of the Belgian Shepherd Malinois.

Read on to find out more about what your pet’s coat may look like!

The Belgian Malinois is a striking dog with an active and athletic personality. Most people are attracted to Belgian Malinois for its intelligence and versatility. They have a striking appearance because of how neat they look, with short, straight fur that comes in different patterns and colors.

Belgian Malinois are a unique breed of dog, with just about any color you can imagine and many different patterns. Belgian Malinois are known for their bright, distinctive coats that come in various colors. Whether you’re looking to get one as a pet or want more information on what they look like and which color is the rarest, this article has all the details!

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), Belgian Malinois can be found in twelve standard coat colors, five of which are standard colors and seven are non-standard. The famous standard colors are Red, Fawn sable, Fawn, Red sable, and Mahogany. All of these standard colors include a signature black masking.

Belgian Malinois Colors Explained
Belgian Malinois Colors Explained

Different Varieties of Belgian Malinois

A purebred Belgian Malinois is one of the most unique dog breeds. Due to complex genetics, they come in various colors and patterns, making each pattern distinct among these mighty dogs. You can have your Belgian Malinois puppy with black or brown spots on near-white, cream fur; this is just the beginning, as they also offer limitless coat color options.

The Malinois is often mistaken for the German Shepherd, but it’s not nearly as big. It ranks thirty-nine on the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) most popular breeds list, while the GSD ranks at number three.

They are becoming the new guard dogs of choice. With their excellent guarding skills, they have replaced German Shepherds as a favorite for police and military forces worldwide.

The Belgian shepherd dog breeds are of four types: the Belgian Tervuren, the Belgian Malinois, the Belgian Laekenois, and the Belgian Sheepdog. If you look at the structure of these Belgian Shepherd dogs, they are almost the same, but what makes them different is the coat and the colors.

Belgian Malinois Colors Explained
Belgian Malinois Colors Explained

Belgian Malinois Colors

There are some standard Belgian Malinois colors and patterns, and all of these colors are discussed under the banners of the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)American Kennel Club (AKC), and United Kennel Club (UKC).

Kennel Club

Belgian Malinois Coat Colors 

 (FCI) Federation Cynologique Internationale

Fawn with black overlay

(UKC) United Kennel Club 

Fawn and sable (all colors through beige to gray)

(CKC) Canadian Kennel Club 

Any shade of fawn to mahogany, brindle, black, black with tan, blue fawn, grey fawn, and white

(AKC) American Kennel Club 

Fawn, fawn sable, mahogany, red, red sable, black, brindle, cream, cream sable, gray, gray sable, and liver

The Belgian Malinois breed coat is double-layered, with a dense undercoat for insulation and an outer layer of waterproof fur. The thickest part covers the back legs, tail, and neck area – all those spots are most at risk of getting wet or dirty.

They undergo what’s known as “blowing” their coat in the spring and fall – meaning they shed heavily during this time of year.

While it is no easy feat to find the perfect dog, there are many breeds in which you can still feel confident. For instance, take a Belgian Malinois when compared with other German Shepherds and even some lesser-known breeds among these sheepdogs that share similar characteristics like size or color.

The Belgian Malinois breed is a dog with many different color and pattern combinations. It can be found in twelve colors, which range from black to red, cream to fawn, etc. However, the five most common are all variations of brown: mahogany (darkest), chocolate-brown, light brown & tan; sable or silver, and pale yellowish-white.

All twelve breed standard colors are listed in order of rarity, and the first five are standard colors. Whereas some people have their favorite color and others don’t care as much, there is something about these rare hues that fascinate anyone who sees them for the first time!

Cream Sable Belgian Malinoi
Cream Sable Belgian MalinoiS or Gray Belgian Malinois

Mahogany Belgian Malinois

The mahogany Belgian Malinois can be a light brownish-red to deep rich mahogany. The diversity of colors in the breed is what makes them so exciting and appealing, but some common hues stand out among its color palette, like dark reds and lighter shades of brown or gold with hints of black fur mixed into it all.

The gene that determines how light or dark a Malinois coat can be is the one for pheomelanin, which produces red pigment. There are two varieties of this color pigmentation, each affecting different parts of the body’s hair.

The second type of eumelanin (black) affects things like ear leathers because those bits aren’t always exposed to sunlight.

Mahogany Belgian Malinois
Mahogany Belgian Malinois

Fawn Sable Belgian Malinois

Fawn Sable Belgian Malinois is just an entirely different breed color from fawn-coated Belgian Malinois. They have a darker fawn shade instead of a lighter coat color like their counterparts.

The Malinois breed of a dog contains hair strands that start out at its roots, being light fawn color before getting dark towards its tips. This makes them very popular among people.

Fawn Belgian Malinois

These Malinios typically boast yellowish tan-colored fluffy hair that can range anywhere on a spectrum from lighter shades such as cream or beige down to darker tones like chocolate brown coffee beans, depending on genetics. With such striking coat colors that vary widely, you’ll never know anybody can fall in love when looking at this breed.

This Belgian Malinois is one breed you can find fairly easily if you want it. Typically, they have this shade from birth, which is more common than other breeds because these dogs are so popular among pet owners.

The Belgian Malinois’s black masks, which surround the nose, mouth, ears, and eye rims, are even more distinct in their fawn color. This is due to their beautiful contrast of fawn against black.

Fawn Belgian Malinois
Fawn Belgian Malinois

Red Sable Belgian Malinois

It is not surprising that this type of Malinois sports such an intense hue of color. But what you may not know now about this breed’s coat is the reason for all those rich tones: its naturally high level of pheomelanin pigment. However, they have the same tip coat color as other dogs of this breed. If their hair grows longer and thicker, they will appear darker.

Red Sable Belgian Malinois
Red Sable Belgian Malinois

Red Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois puppy has a beautiful coat that is lighter than mahogany. The dogs are classified as having either red or mahogany coats, with the former appearing more often in this dog breed.

Other Belgian Malinois have a black mask that stands out against the red fur of this breed. This is true, especially when displayed on their nose, ears, and around the rims of their eyes and mouth.

The red coat draws the people’s eyes to their black masking. This is partly due to an MC1R allele called Extension, which causes gene mutations that cause skin tones and hair coloration to darken more than usual.

Belgian Malinois Puppies
Fawn Belgian Malinois Puppies

Black Belgian Malinois

They look like majestic animals. Black Belgian Malinois are more loved because of their coat and appearance, although they do not have the standard color according to AKC guidelines.

The black Malinois has a sleek, pure black body with a signature dark mask across its face to easily identify it from other dog breeds.

Black Belgian Malinois
Black Belgian Malinois

Cream Belgian Malinois

There are many shades of cream, from the palest yellow to a rich buttery color. It’s no surprise that this is one of the most popular colors. While other breeds may have some variation on cream for their fur coat, Belgian Malinois will never be found sporting such an understated hue.

The Belgian Malinois has a distinctive coloration that sets it apart from other breeds, namely its lack of eumelanin in favor of cream fur with dark markings around ears, eyes, mouth, and nose. This natural coloring and imposing stature make this breed particularly eye-catching when out on walks or at dog shows.

Cream Belgian Malinois
Cream Belgian Malinois

Brindle Belgian Malinois

Brindles comprise only 4% (or less!)of all dogs worldwide. There may not be many around, but that doesn’t stop them from being loved by people everywhere. A Brindle coat color is the famous one among breeders and Malinois lovers. This excellent blend of coloring will make your dog look like they’re wearing camouflage.

The coat of a brindle dog is known by streaks that are darker and more obvious than the base color and irregular in shape. Many people love these dogs for their rarity and because they’re too darn cute. Some might be darker than others, but they all have an adorable and peculiar appearance to them as well.

Brindle Belgian Malinois
Brindle Belgian Malinois

Cream Sable Belgian Malinois

So, do you know how to identify Sable Malinois dogs? If not, don’t worry because you only have to know that the hair on a dog’s body becomes lighter as it travels from the base to the tip.

Belgian Malinois dogs have a distinctive coat that starts as an attractive creamy color at the center of their body before darkening into a sleek, ebony edge surrounding it on all sides.

Gray Sable Belgian Malinois

Just like cream sable and red sable, the gray sable Belgian Malinois has a base coat of light color that becomes darker and grayer on the tips.

This fact makes it harder to identify from the gray non-sable variety. But, with their eye-catching coat and impressive disposition, they are certainly not hard on the eyes.

Gray or Blue Belgian Malinois

Gray is a rare hue of the Belgian Malinois black pigment. It makes them more precious because not many dogs have this coloration, making them easy to spot in a crowd.

The Belgian Malinois is a breed of dog that is also known as Blue Dogs. The appearance of the gray Belgian Malinois can sometimes lead people to believe them blue in coloration, especially during puppyhood.

Liver Belgian Malinois

The liver of Belgian Malinois is due to the attenuation of the black pigment, eumelanin. B locus usually takes over and replaces this with a brownish tint that can vary in shades depending on what other genes are present.

Liver Malinois can have a variety of shades, from yellow to red or cream. The shade depends on the concentration and amount of (red) pigment pheomelanin they carry in their body hair. All of the dogs with liver-coat have amber eyes and liver noses.

Rare Belgian Malinois

Have you seen the many coat colors Malinois comes in? Did you know which one is a rare Belgian Malinois? The Belgian Malinois’s rarest color up till now is brindle. This dark-colored Belgian is lesser known than others because of its rarity and irregular patterning, making it stand out from other breeds.

It is exceptional since brindle color is not an integral trait. For example, a Malinois dog is born with a brindle coat, and other working breeds, such as Dutch Shepherds, where this trait is more prevalent and seen in their natural state.

It is easy to see how the Belgian Malinois can become brindled. It happens to be a direct result of their distant ancestry.

The Malinois is a mixture of brindle dog breeds, such as Belgian Malinois and others like the German Shepherd. If the distant ancestors of the Malinois were mixed-breed, they might exhibit brindle coats.

Belgian Malinois Colors Explained
Fawn Sable Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois Coat Genetics

The Belgian Malinois is renowned for its striking appearance, but many people do not know how this color scheme came about. The reasons behind the different colors of a Belgian Malinois can be complicated, with so much to go into detail about. I will try, though!

The main reason these dogs have their unique appearance from other breeds, like German Shepherds, is genetics. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the two colors; Belgian Malinois are known for their variety.

One gene in particular called the agouti locus, causes genes responsible for fur coloring during the development stage to change depending on which variant you inherit, meaning there are three possible combinations: light-coated dominant (L), dark-coated recessive (a), or mixed one intermediate between both extremes (b).

The process of how a dog’s fur colors are made is very complex, but it all starts with their bodies producing two different types of pigment: Eumelanin and Pheomanine. These chemicals change based on their dilution or concentration, resulting in black, brown, and red shades.

The potential of the main color for Belgian Malinois can be magnified through alleles and dilution genes.

When you buy a dog with a specific color in mind, breeding it for that reason is not always recommended. If the only goal of mating two dogs together is to produce offspring with certain colors, then there are better ways to do so than selecting poorly-mated pairs and risking their health or sacrificing other qualities like vitality.

Breeding dogs can be more complicated than picking out whichever pup has your favorite fur shade. Sometimes breeders mate one dog from each side (female x male) specifically because they want them both to have different traits, such as eye shape or height, which would otherwise result from accidental matings during normal reproduction cycles.

However, this is not advised because it can lead to a breeder’s limited choices, and specific breeding goals could be lost.

Belgian Malinois Colors Explained
Belgian Malinois Colors Explained

Is there any Change in Color pattern When Puppies of Belgian Malinois Grow up?

Belgian Malinois puppies are easy to identify because their color never changes. Belgian Malinois dogs never change colors over time like other pups, and the shade of a puppy is forced by its genes, which means it will always stay that way.

Belgian Malinois are born with various colors, such as black, fawn, and red; they can’t magically turn into another color. The color of the dog’s coat may become lighter or darker as they mature, but their individual markings and patterns will stay largely unchanged.

The changes that occur in dogs’ coats when maturing are not limited to shade variation; this natural process can also lead to darkening if well-lit conditions have been scarce during periods of growth.

Belgian Malinois can develop a shinier and thicker coat in their fully grown stage, but this will not change their beautiful hair color, which ranges from light brown to black, depending on the individual’s breeding lines.

Belgian Malinois Colors Explained
Fawn Sable Belgian Malinois

Summing up

The Belgian Malinois is one of 4 breeds of Belgian shepherd dogs. He’s also a great dog for police and military work. People commonly mistake him for a German Shepherd, but he‘s lighter-boned and has a more elegant build. He still has agility, strength, and good herding ability. He was developed first in Malines and is related to the Belgian Shepherd Tervuren and Belgian Sheepdog. He’s the most popular sheepdog in Belgium.

The Belgian Malinois is a hardworking, intelligent Belgian Shepherd dog breed with an outgoing personality. They are loyal to their owners and can be trained for protection work or as police. There are 12 Belgian Malinois  5 standard colors (Fawn sable, Fawn, Red, Mahogany, and red sable) and seven non-standard colors.

He’s easy to train and is highly intelligent. He likes regular activities and is easy to care for because of his short or medium coat. He loves his family and is naturally protective but will be wary of strangers. He actively performs in obedience, conformation, sledding, and tracking events. His color varies from mahogany to fawn; he has black tips on his ears and hair and a black mask. He’s 22-26 inches tall.

However, remember that no matter what color Belgian Malinois has, he deserves much care and love from you.

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References and Further Reading:

[1] American Kennel Club, Belgian Malinois Information.

Complete Belgian Malinois Colors, Patterns and Pictures
Complete Belgian Malinois Colors, Patterns and Pictures


  • Denise Leo

    My name is Denise Leo, and I hail from Australia. My journey with dogs, especially with the delightful Pomeranian breed, has been a lifelong passion extending over 50 years. I have had the honor of breeding and exhibiting close to 100 Pomeranian Champions, dedicating many years to the intricate art of dog training across various disciplines. Beyond the show ring, my experience stretches to the pastoral fields as both a Dairy Farmer and Beef Cattle Breeder, where working with dogs of all breeds has been an integral part of my daily life. This diverse exposure has deepened my understanding and appreciation for these incredible animals. I firmly believe that dogs are the most extraordinary beings in our universe, capable of offering us unconditional love that surpasses even their own self-interest. The countless wonderful dogs that have shared my life over the years have not only brought immense joy and companionship but have also profoundly enriched my existence in ways I could never have imagined. About us page

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