Can a Belgian Malinois be black?

Black Malinois

All of us are seeing a lot of black Belgian Malinois on the internet. Yes, they look amazing, but is this allowed color by the breed standards? Let’s find that out.

FCI standard

FCI recognizes four varieties of the Belgian Shepherd Dog: the Groenendael, the Tervueren, the Malinois, and the Laekenois. The criterion for distinguishing these four varieties is the coat. The length of the coat, appearance, direction and color.

According to the official FCI standard of the breed, there can be no solid black Malinois. The solid black color is allowed (as the only color) only in the Groenendael variety.

The standard can be seen here, so what do they say about the Malinois color?

Mask: For Tervueren and Malinois the mask must be very pronounced and tend to encompass the top and bottom lip, the corners of the lips and the eyelids in one single black zone. A strict minimum of six points of skin pigmentation is called for: the two ears, the two upper eyelids and the two lips, upper and lower, which must be black.

Black overlay: In Tervueren and Malinois, the black overlay means that the hairs have a black tip which shades the base colour. This blackening is in any case “flamed” and must not be present in great patches nor in real stripes (brindled). In the Laekenois the black shading is more discreetly expressed.

The black overlay is only allowed as a shade to the base color, and the black color must not be present dominantly. In this quotation we can see an answer to the question I often get on Instagram pages – can a Malinois be brindled (having stripes like Dutch Shepherd). The answer is: it can’t.

Let’s see what they further say about the Malinois color:

Tervueren: Only fawn with black overlay or grey with black overlay, with black mask; however, the fawn with black overlay is still preferred. The fawn must be rich, neither light nor washed-out. Any dog whose coat colour is anything but fawn with black overlay or does not match the desired intensity of colour cannot be considered an elite specimen.

Malinois: Only fawn with black overlay and with black mask.

So, to conclude it, according to FCI official breed standard, the only allowed color for a Malinois is the fawn (yellowish) color with black overlay (black shade), with black mask (black face).

AKC – American Kennel Club standard

In the USA, Malinois are registered as a separate breed, not as one of the varieties of the Belgian Shepherd Dog, as the FCI classifies them. The AKC breed standard can be seen here. What do they say about the color?

Color: The basic coloring is a rich fawn to mahogany, with black tips on the hairs giving an overlay appearance. The mask and ears are black. The underparts of the body, tail and breeches are lighter fawn, but washed-out fawn color on the body is a fault. Color should be considered a finishing point, not to take precedence over structure or temperament. The tips of the toes may be white, and a small white spot on the breastbone/prosternum is permitted, not to extend to the neck. White markings, except as noted, are faulted.

So, the base color should be rich fawn to mahogany, but the black should only be seen as an overlay, not as a dominant color appearance. Mask and ears, on the other hand, should be black. The interesting part of this quotation is that the color should not take precedence over structure or temperament.

Something like conclusion

The FCI officially doesn’t allow solid black color in Malinois dogs, American Kennel Club too (and probably the majority of other organizations), but you can definitely see a lot of the black ones on the internet. They probably won’t have officially issued pedigrees of these organizations, but people will more often than not still call them Malinois.

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