The Belgian Malinois is a Belgian dog breed that has been developed for their versatility and intelligence. They have been used as military and police dogs, search and rescue dogs, guide dogs for the blind, as well as therapy dogs. These dogs require special attention to care for them well.
Although the breed is popular for their physical endurance and cognitive abilities, they do have some health issues. The breed is susceptible to general health problems like hip dysplasia, cataracts, and stomach disorders.
When you’re ready to bring one of these dogs into your home, it’s important to make sure you have a clear understanding of their health history, so that you can provide the best care possible.
This article will cover the most common health issues that you should know about to keep your Belgian Malinois healthy.
5 Belgian Malinois Health Issues
1. Hip dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is a health condition when your dog’s hip sockets are not in the right place to allow their physical movement. It can cause them lameness, pain, and arthritis. If you notice your Belgian Malinois limping or experiencing difficulty walking, it might be time to take them to the vet for examination and treatment options.
2. Progressive retinal atrophy
Progressive Retinal Atrophy or PRA in dogs is caused by the progressive degeneration of rod and cone photoreceptor cells. Oftentimes, both the rods and the cones are affected in this condition. It is a hereditary condition that can eventually lead to blindness in dogs.
There are two main types of PRA recognized in dogs: an early-onset or inherited form, which is also called retinal dysplasia, and a late-onset PRA. Early-onset PRA is diagnosed in puppies around 2-3 months of age and a late-onset form is detected in adult dogs, usually between the ages of 3-9 years.
While both the conditions are not painful, there is no effective treatment. Your veterinarian will help you modify your dog’s lifestyle by recommending supplements and vitamins to reduce stress on the lens and cope with the associated symptoms.
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland produces insufficient levels of thyroid hormones. This condition can be caused by several factors including autoimmune disease, infection, tumors (although rare), or radiation treatment.
Hypothyroidism can affect a dog’s body weight, energy levels, and behavior as well as their overall health. It is one of the most common endocrine diseases in dogs and causes a wide range of clinical signs including weight gain, lethargy, hair loss, and skin problems.
Thankfully, hypothyroidism isn’t life-threatening. However, dogs affected by this condition have to take medication for the rest of their life.
Cataracts are the clouding of the lens of the eye, which can make it difficult for the retina to receive light. The lens of the eye, which is made up of protein and water, is the transparent tissue that focuses light onto the retina. Like with humans, cataracts in dogs are formed when a protein cloud clumps together in their eye’s lens.
Mostly, the condition is an inherited trait but diabetes in dogs can also cause cataracts. It can lead to blindness if left untreated.
Hemangiosarcoma is a type of cancer in dogs that affects the blood vessels. It can affect the spleen, liver, or other organs. It is most common in large breed dogs like Belgian Malinois, Golden retrievers, German shepherds, and Labrador retrievers. Hemangiosarcoma usually affects older dogs.
Affected dogs may experience pain and swelling in the abdomen, weakness, lethargy, and pale gums. They may also have difficulty breathing or swallowing. If the tumor is large enough, it may press on the lungs or heart and cause these organs to fail.
If you are concerned that your pet has this cancer, make an appointment with the vet. If your dog is diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma, the vet will recommend surgery.
What Is the Lifespan of The Belgian Malinois?
Although there are many health issues, The Belgian Malinois is known for their longevity. This is a healthy breed that has a lifespan of 12-16 years. Many other factors contribute to the long life of these dogs, such as genetics, exercise, and nutrition.
Also, check out Are Belgian Malinois Aggressive?
Are Belgian Malinois Prone to Weight Gain?
The potential for weight gain in Belgian Malinois is relatively lower than in other dog breeds. But this doesn’t mean they would not be overweight. These energetic dogs have a high metabolism and need more food than other breeds of dogs. Belgian Malinois dogs can gain weight if their food intake isn’t monitored regularly and if they aren’t exercised frequently to burn off their fat. This can eventually lead to obesity in the breed.
Obesity in Belgian Malinois is associated with a host of other health problems including arthritis, breathing difficulties, digestive disorders, heart disease, and diabetes.
How To Prevent Health Problems in Belgian Malinois?
Before you buy your Belgian Malinois, make sure that you know what to look out for and how to prevent any health problems from occurring. The health issues can be prevented by following some simple steps that include getting them vaccinated and monitoring their diet.
Here are some ways you can prevent health problems in your Belgian Malinois and how to keep them healthy:
- Know the history of your pup before buying them from a breeder. Examine all the health standards- whether the parents have some underlying genetic conditions to make sure that they are from a healthy litter.
- Make sure the requirements for their physical and mental stimulation are met.
- Provide appropriate vaccinations when they’re young. This includes deworming for parasites, prevention from canine flu, rabies, hepatitis, Lyme disease among others.
- Conduct regular health screenings with routine vet visits to diagnose any underlying health conditions.
- If your pet is showing any strange behavior or seems ill, schedule a visit to the vet as soon as possible. Pet illnesses and deaths can happen quickly if not caught early.
- Monitor their food intake and watch what they eat. When they eat spoiled food, they might become susceptible to bacteria or parasites and might get sick.
- Avoid sharing community bowls in dog parks. Sharing water bowls puts them at risk of ingesting toxins or bacteria. So, keep your pet’s health in mind when they’re outside playing.
If you decide to adopt a Belgian Malinois as a pet, you must be aware of the health concerns that are specific to your dog. In some cases, it is not possible to prevent the appearance of certain diseases caused by genetic or hereditary factors. However, your pup’s health can be greatly impacted if we pay attention to their care. With a clear understanding of the health issues, you will be sure to have an amazing time raising one of these hard-working, loyal, and loving dogs into your family.
Thank you for reading the article.
Get to know more about the breed through our other articles that we have covered on Belgian Malinois.
Do you have a Belgian Malinois? How do you care for them? How often do you take them to the vet for regular health checkups? We would love to hear from you. Please share with our community by leaving a comment below!