Channing Tatum’s new movie “Dog” features the popular actor co-starring with a Belgian Malinois (pronounced MAL-in-wah) named Lulu, portrayed onscreen by three different dogs.
If the movie’s a hit, the Brownsburg Animal Clinic team won’t be at all surprised in the coming months to see an uptick in the number of Belgian Malinois among our new patients.
We know Mals can be great pets, but we also know they could potentially be “too much dog” for many of our clients. Whether or not these “Dog”-inspired adoptions will work out well for the dogs and families involved depends on how good a fit this intelligent, high-energy herding breed is with the clients’ households and lifestyles as well as on the temperaments of the individual owners and their dogs.
Before you go looking for a Lulu of your own—or a Lassie (Collie), a Toto (Cairn Terrier), a Marley (Labrador Retriever), a Beethoven (St. Bernard), a Rin Tin Tin (German Shepherd Dog) or any other breed that strikes your fancy—we strongly encourage you to do plenty of research on the breed you’re considering before bringing home a puppy!
Researching the Breeds
A Google search for “choosing a dog” produces approximately 179,000,000 results, with some pages far more authoritative and informative than others. We suggest the American Kennel Club website as a great place to begin learning about established dog breeds. There you’ll find reliable information about each of the 197 breeds currently recognized by the AKC.
For example, if you leave the theater after seeing “Dog” convinced your next dog must be a Belgian Malinois, your first stop on the internet should be the Belgian Malinois breed page on the AKC website. There you’ll find a summary of key breed characteristics that should alert you to the realities as well as the rewards of ownership of a typical Belgian Malinois.
Midway down the page, you’ll find a link to the American Belgian Malinois Club website. The first heading on the homepage says, “This is NOT Your Typical Pet Dog,” and after briefly summarizing the breed’s assets, the first paragraph in that section concludes, “But, the Malinois is NOT for everyone.”
In the page footer, you’ll find links to related pages of interest, including a firsthand account by a Belgian Malinois owner, “Is the Belgian Malinois a Good Fit for You?”
Suppose after reading these pages you realize, despite your enthusiasm for the three well-bred, professionally-trained dogs you enjoyed watching play Lulu for two hours on the big screen, in real life a Belgian Malinois in your home 24/7/365 for the next 14 to 16 years will almost certainly require more time and attention than you can realistically expect to offer.
As a next step, you might enjoy visiting the AKC’s online Dog Breed Selector. After answering a series of simple questions, the selector tool will recommend several breeds for your consideration. Chances are you can find a more suitable breed to consider for yourself and your family. Browse their breed pages to see if the recommended breeds might be a better match for you and your household.
Also on the AKC site, we encourage you to read “What Dog is Right for Me? How to Choose the Perfect Breed.” Then browse more breed pages. Watch dog shows online or on TV. Better yet, visit shows in person and talk to the breeders and exhibitors (after they’ve finished showing for the day).
A Look at the Bigger Picture
For even more practical advice on choosing a pet dog, offered from the veterinary perspective, see “Selecting a Pet Dog” on the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website. To get the most from this page, answer all the questions presented as thoroughly and honestly as you can.
Let Us Help
Finally, in addition to online research, we encourage you to talk to us before you finalize your decision to acquire a dog of an unfamiliar, potentially challenging breed.
We’ve devoted our careers to caring for pets and their owners, and we have observed relationships between a variety of clients with a variety of breeds. We’re happy to share what we know about what it’s like to own and care for all sorts of purebred dogs.
We see many clients who are happily devoted to their mixed-breed dogs and recommend you also consider adopting a mixed-breed dog from Misty Eyes Animal Center in Avon or some other reputable rescue organization.
As always, as your veterinarian, our primary mission is to support you in your relationship with whatever dog you choose. We wish you and all our clients the happiest of endings to all your pet adoption stories.