Belgian Malinois are dogs that are naturally very close to their handler. But you will need to leave them outside sometimes so its good to know the dynamics behind that. You need to be aware of how well they can handle hot and cold weather and what precautions that you will need to take to make sure that they’re safe.
Belgian Malinois are pretty hardy dogs which allows them to spend a good bit of time outside. They should probably be equally okay in both cold and hot weather as long as it’s not extreme. Emotionally though they need to be inside dogs. They are extremely close to their family and need lots of social interaction in order to keep them mentally healthy.
While leaving a dog like the Belgian Malinois outside might seem pretty easy and straightforward. In reality though its anything but. There are a lot of factors that you need to be aware of in order to keep them safe and healthy.
You need to be aware of whether its winter or summer and how extreme the temperature variation is in your geographic region. Belgians are fairly hardy dogs but still, they need protection from very hot or cold weather.
Things like a secure water source, shade, shelter must be considered priorities. The environment needs to be prepared for them with a tall 6-foot fence or maybe even taller. These are amazingly athletic dogs so do not underestimate their ability to jump over or dig under their enclosure. Check the fence frequently for weak points or any signs of digging.
They need to be fenced in as you never know how a Belgian Malinois might act towards a stranger without their owner around. Their often used as police dogs and so can have a fierce nature towards people they don’t trust especially when their family isn’t around to reassure them.
Its also good to know what the signs and treatment of hypothermia and heatstroke. Hopefully, with the proper precautions, your dog will never develop these serious medical problems but things do happen even with our best abilities to prevent them. Later on, in the article will go over what are the signs of these illnesses and how you can treat them if professional medical aid is not accessible.
But first, we should make ourselves familiar with what their coat is like and how it protects them from the hot and cold.
What Is a Belgian Malinois Coat Like?
The coat of a Belgian Malinois has been bred to deal well with the temperate damp climate of Belgium and the region surrounding. It is a double coat with the outer coat being short but with built-in water resistance. I mean if their showered with water they’ll still get wet but you might notice in light rain or a drizzle them staying dryer than you might normally expect.
Under this shorter rough outer coat, they have a very dense and softer undercoat. Mother natures dual layer coat design helps to do two things at once. Provide protection from the cold while also giving insulation to keep the dog cool in hotter temperatures. When we say hot though we need to keep in mind that we’re talking about Belgium hot, not Texas or Florida.
While they should be okay in temps around 70s degrees. Hotter than that could give them some serious problems. It also should be noted while their coat has a good bit of fur it’s not going to give the cold weather protection of a truly furry breed like a Samoyed or Great Pyrenees.
Can Belgian Malinois Live Outside in Warm Weather?
A Belgian Malinois will do much better in warm weather than some other breeds. You could say the Belgian Malinois is built for a mix of both cold and heat. Still, high temperatures like that might be experienced in summer will hit this dog negatively. Leaving your Belgian Malinois outside for long periods during the summer should probably be avoided if you live in hot southern parts of the world. There is of course a lot more leeway for those living in generally cold areas as their summer is much milder.
Regardless of where in the world you live there are some basic necessities that your Belgian Malinois needs to make it okay through warm weather.
- The shade is a necessity: A hot day without shade is a very different monster from a hot day with shade. Absent shelter from the sun your dog’s experience of heat is going to be many multiples worse. So before you let your dog spend time outside make sure that they have access to an awning or some sort of patio covering. Just anything really that can block those pounding sun rays for when your dog needs some respite.
- Common surfaces like concrete can get extremely hot: Anyone who has spent some time in a public pool on a hot summer day is no stranger to how scaldingly hot concrete can be. This goes for other surfaces like asphalt and sand. If these surfaces are all your Belgian Malinois has access to then they are not going to do well in warm weather. Give them a grassy area to lie down in and preferably one shaded. If for some reason that’s not possible then lay down some blankets or towels so their little paws won’t get scorched all the time.
- Hot weather demands water: Water is the lifeblood of a Belgian Malinois when left in warm summer weather. Without it then things can go really bad leaving them at the risk of heatstroke. While you might think giving them a full water bowl might be enough then think again. Because dogs are excitable and it doesn’t take a lot for them to tip that water bowl draining their hydration onto the ground. So you need to make sure that their water resource is secure. You could do this by giving them a very sturdy water bucket or ideally even a trough. Another way is to get some items that can’t easily be moved to help support their water bowl like towels, bricks, or pieces of wood. Maybe even bolt it into the ground if that’s possible just make sure it isn’t tippable.
How to Tell If Your Belgian Malinois Has Heatstroke
When it’s really hot then the dreaded heatstroke can strike. Lack of water can also be a contributing cause. This is why shade and water are so very important to your Belgian Malinois health. A Belgians normal body temp should be around 101 to 102 Fahrenheit degrees. But when they have heatstroke that body temperature rises several degrees of normal. It’s very dangerous and left untreated for too long can lead to permanent damage or even death.
Nothing should replace the effectiveness or advice of a medical profession but here are a few signs to be on the watch for that your dog might have heatstroke.
- Running a fever: Since the primary way that heatstroke acts upon the body is by raising body temperature then this can often be considered a sure-fire sign. Taking your Belgian Malinois temperature can be tough though so you may not always know their temperature. The best way to take their temperature is with an ear thermometer that has been specially made for dogs. If the temperature falls near 105 degrees then your dog is in serious trouble and you need to act fast.
- Abnormally high panting and drooling: If your Belgian Malinois is panting super hard like that just ran a marathon even though they’re laying down or they’re practically drowning in drool then these can be signs of heatstroke. They cool off through evaporating moisture from their mouths so this means that their body is working overtime trying to cool off. A good sign that somethings wrong with them like heatstroke.
- Disorientation like stumbling or even collapse: If your dog is acting almost like their tipsy even though you know for sure that they didn’t nip the gin then this is a bad sign. Collapse is even worse and if your dog does this then be very concerned and consider that the problem might be heatstroke.
- Pale gums: while it might seem gross the way you can check for this is by peeling back their upper lips gently and taking a look. Their gums should be a nice wet healthy pink. But if their very pale then this is another sign that they might be suffering from heatstroke.
If you think your dog has heatstroke then you should take them to a vet if you can. That’s not always possible in the limited timespan you have though. So here are a few tips of what you can do to help your dog if you can’t get them medical attention quickly enough:
The first step is to remove your Belgian Malinois from the heat. You need to take them someplace cool like a nice air-conditioned room. Without this everything will be very hard. Get some nice cool water and put it near their mouth don’t force them to drink just make it easily available. Get some ice cubes as well and put it near the water, once again don’t force just give them the option. Take some towels wetted in lukewarm water and place them along your dog’s body.
We want to cool them off gradually doing it too fast by doing something dumb like putting them in an ice bath will cause their blood vessels to constrict hurting their body ability to cool off. Stay with them and keep checking their condition. This is a good time to call a vet and get further advice.
Can Belgain Malinois Live Outside in Cold Weather?
Owing to the fact that their native homeland of Belgium has more cold weather than it does extremely hot weather makes Belgian Malinois a bit better off in the cold then they are in the heat. You still need to be careful and here I’m talking about mild cold not anything extreme like sub-freezing temperatures. Here are some basic precautions that you need to take when having your Belgian Malinois live outside in cold weather.
- Light snow is okay but nothing really deep: If the amount of snow on the ground is deep enough that your dog struggles to move through it then you have a problem. In such a situation you should not leave them unattended as it could be easy for them to get lost or have difficulty finding them. Not to mention it could be hard for them to keep warm and put them at risk of hypothermia.
- Bad weather conditions need to be avoided: If your expecting bad cold weather like a blizzard then bring your Belgian Malinois inside the house out of the cold. Very cold conditions like a blizzard will be incredibly dangerous for your dog so do not leave them outside.
- Be careful of de-icing substances like rock salt: A lot of the things that we humans put down on the ground to help ice to melt so that we don’t slip and break our necks are poisonous to dogs. They’re not only poisonous if ingested but they can also be harmful to the sensitive parts of the dog’s body like their noses and paws. Keep in mind that dogs like to put their noses into everything.
How to Tell If Your Belgian Malinois Is Suffering From Hypothermia?
Hypothermia is the cold-weather counterpart to heatstroke. If your dog’s normal body temperature of 101 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit falls a few degrees then your dog is suffering from hypothermia and they’re in mortal danger. It can be caused by prolonged exposure to very cold conditions or icy water. The very young and very old canines are the most susceptible so if your dogs a pup or an old-timer then just don’t risk it and have them live inside.
It can hurt young healthy dogs in their prime as well so you need to always be careful. Ideally if you think your dog has hypothermia you should seek professional medical attention if available but here are a few of the signs to be on the watch for:
- Pale skin
- bad shivering
- disorientation and unresponsiveness
Hypothermia is very dangerous so you need to act fast here are a few tips of things you can do to help your dog if they have it. Keep in mind though this is not a replacement for the actions and advice of a veterinarian.
When our Belgian Malinois is suffering from hypothermia we need to warm them up. The first thing is to remove them from the cold environment and take them someplace warm. Inside with a heater or a warm fire.
Take some warm blankets and cover them with them. Then take a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel or a heating pad if you have one. Place it near the dog’s stomach. Make sure their is some cloth between it and their fur otherwise they could suffer burns.
Stay with your dog constantly during this time and don’t leave them alone. Check their body temperature frequently if you can about every ten minutes or so. Keep doing this until they are up and walking around being their old jolly self for about 30 minutes.
Other Things to Consider When Leaving a Belgian Malinois Outside
- Have a yard enclosed by a fence that’s at least 6 feet tall: Belgian Malinois are incredibly athletic dogs just do a search on youtube and you can get a taste of some of the incredible feats their capable of. One of these is jumping really high. So you need to make sure that your fence is high enough and strong enough to keep them from wandering off. Check the fence often for structural weakness or signs of digging when leaving your Belgian Malinois outside.
- If your not going to breed them then neuter or spay: Raising a litter of Belgian Malinois puppies can be an amazing experience but not if you’re not prepared or want it. To cut down the chance of an accidental pregnancy which can happen even when your Belgian Malinois is outside surrounded by a fence. Then go ahead and spay or neuter them just to be on the safe side.
- Barking can make neighbors angry: Belgian Malinois are keen watchdogs which may make you feel safe. But one of the disadvantages of this is barking. If you have neighbors around close then barking could be a big problem when letting your Belgian Malinois live outside. Refer to this article on Belgian Malinois barking for some tips on handling excessive barking.
Just because your Belgian Malinois can physically handle living outside doesn’t mean its whats best for them emotionally. They are very loyal and trainable dogs that if they had it their way would be at their master’s side constantly. Its the way most dogs were designed to be by mother nature. While this is not always possible in this modern society of work and commuting.
Still, you should try to spend as much time as possible with your Belgian Malinois. They need a lot of training and work or else they can easily develop mental problems without the stimulation of being around you. So I would recommend that you have them mainly live inside and just let them out for play, exercise, potty, and just a lively game of fetch.