DOG Could Spur Demand for Belgian Malinois
Don’t do it.
Don’t go the movie DOG and allow yourself to be so enamored of the Belgian Malinois that stars in it that you rush out and impulsively buy one.
If you haven’t heard of this movie, which opens on today, here’s the plot summary from Movie Insider:
“DOG is a buddy comedy that follows the misadventures of two former Army Rangers paired against their will on the road trip of a lifetime. Army Ranger Briggs (Channing Tatum) and Lulu (a Belgian Malinois dog) buckle into a 1984 Ford Bronco and race down the Pacific Coast in hopes of making it to a fellow soldier’s funeral on time. Along the way, they’ll drive each other completely crazy, break a small handful of law/s, narrowly evade death, and learn to let down their guards in order to have a fighting chance of finding happiness.”
Not the most original plot in the world, but really, almost any movie with a cute dog (is there any other kind?) that leads its human(s) into wacky, funny, unexpected situations is virtually guaranteed to attract large audiences and make lots of money.
Whenever a purebred dog stars in a popular movie, people become so enamored with the breed they immediately want one for themselves.
Unfortunately, they often think that when they adopt one of these dogs it will instinctively exhibit the same cute, funny, and engaging behavior they see on screen.
What they don’t realize is that someone spent months, or even years patiently training the dog to learn that cute, funny and engaging behavior.
Dog Movies Create Demand for Breeds
Here’s what usually happens when a movie features a dog breed:
1. People want a dog like the one they saw in a movie
2. Demand for the breed skyrockets
3. Backyard breeders meet the demand by producing as many puppies as possible as quickly as possible
4. People snap up the puppies without understanding the breed’s behavior or the time commitment it will take train their dog properly
5. People unprepared to handle the breed dump the dogs in shelters
6. Shelters fill up with the breed
7. Dogs dumped at shelters are euthanized or end up with other people who aren’t equipped to handle the breed
A good example of this cycle is the increase in demand for Dalmatians created by the movie 101 Dalmatians.
When Disney re-released in 1985 and 1991, demand for the breed increased exoponentially.
During that timeframe, “the annual number of Dalmatian puppies registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) skyrocketed from only 8,170 animals to a staggering 42,816.”
But when the people who adopted these puppies realized how difficult it is to train Dalmatians and how much exercise they required, they dumped them in shelters in droves.
And a year after the movie’s live action release in 1995, a shelter in Boulder, CO experienced “a 301% increase in their Dalmatian population, and another in Tampa Bay, Florida, had an alarming surge of 762%.”
In addition, the shelters said that, due to improper care dogs’ temperament was “aggressive, stubborn, and high-strung with little hope for improving their behavior.” Shelters usually consider dogs with these traits unadoptable and often euthanize them.
Also, because backyard breeders just care about money and not maintaining the integrity of a breed, many of the dogs they mass produce have physical problems and/or exhibit atypical, dangerous behavior.
Belgian Malinois Too Much for Average Person to Handle
Belgian Malinois are driven, focused, loyal, intense and highly intelligent working dogs. Originally bred as herding dogs, these dogs are often used by the police and the military due to their intense focus and work ethic.
This breed takes its role as guardian/protector extremely seriously.
Consequently, these dogs require a significant amount of training and socialization “to ensure that they understand appropriate behaviors and don’t become overly wary of and a danger towards people they don’t know.”
Furthermore, their playfulness and strong prey drive “can make them an inadvertent risk to young children or small pets.”
The level of training these dogs require to harness their energy and protective instincts is far beyond the ability of the average dog owner. They also need a significant amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation.
That’s why anyone that adopts a Belgian Malinois must either have extensive experience training the breed or work closely with an experienced trainer.
A poorly trained Labrador Retriever may excitedly jump on a visitor or counter surf for food when your back is turned.
An untrained, unsocialized, and unfocused Belgian Malinois can be aggressive and destructive. They also have a tendancy to bite “if they are scared, bored, restless, or don’t have any job to do.”
And a bored Belgian Malinois without a job will make one for themselves. Like tearing your house apart or destroy your furniture.
This video shows what these high energy, intelligent dogs can do when properly trained. After you watch you’ll understand the difficulty an average dog owner will have when he/she tries to train one.
When they do bite, Belgian Malinois can cause extensive damage due to their strong jaws and a tendency to bite and hold.
It’s no coincidence that their nickname is Maligator.
Just Don’t Do It
A properly trained and socialized Belgian Malinois can make an excellent family pet; HOWEVER, you should not get one if:
- you’re looking for a laid back couch potato you can leave at home unattended for hours every day.
- you don’t have experience training this breed and don’t want to work for hours with an experienced trainer.
- you are unable/unwilling to spend many hours training, socializing, and providing it with mental stimulation.
If you do go see the movie, the three Belgian Malinois that play Lulu will impress and entertain you. But when you’re on the way home and the thought of buying one inevitably creeps into your mind,
DON’T DO IT.
This video shows some of the challenges of working with Belgian Malinois on the set of DOG.