What is often missing in any list of Belgium's key assets and of things that Belgium does best? The Malinois Sheepdog!
While in the eyes of people from other countries, French fries, waffles, chocolate, beer and comics are automatically associated with Belgium, there can be no doubt that a less well-known icon made up of flesh and blood can also take pride of place in that list.
For a long time, police forces at home and abroad made use of the German Shepherd dog for tracking purposes, security patrols and drug-related assignments, but for a good ten years now, another similar breed of dog, the Malinois Sheepdog, has been steadily overtaking it as the number one police dog worldwide. The Malinois is also the breed that is mainly used by the Dog Support Service of the Belgian Federal Police and it is now even attracting the attention of police forces in Germany. Soon, it may also be used to detect corona infections, including at festivals. The American Special Forces already employ several thousand of them and are prepared to pay 100,000 euros per dog. By the way, wasn't it a Malinois that was declared the big hero of the US Navy Seals in 2011 because he helped capture Osama Bin Laden?
Strange that this breed of dog should be held in such high regard, wouldn't you think? Not at all! Quite a few German Shepherd dogs suffer from hip and back problems, while Malinois are much more intelligent, courageous and supple and do not suffer from the typical ailments that are the result of intensive breeding. Malinois Sheepdogs were first bred in the district around the city of Mechelen in 1891 and are still mainly found in Flanders and the Netherlands.
But at the end of the day, this is all about how people, products and animals have successfully come together to uphold Belgium's honour as a country!