The United States’ White House is the symbol of the American Presidency. It has been home to the President of the United States since 1800 when it was first occupied by the then President, John Adams.
It was originally inspired by one of America’s foremost founding fathers and the first President, George Washington.
Forget about the Hollywood flicks ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ and ‘White House Down’, the United States White House is by far one of the most secure buildings on the planet.
Considering it houses the most powerful man in the world, it deserves to be one of the most secure.
The House is closely guarded by the highly esteemed United States secret service. These are men and women whose job is to protect the life of the commander-in-chief and his entire family at any cost.
Well, not just men and women, but dogs too! Since 1975, the US Secret service have employed the skills of specially trained dogs to beef up the security around the President and indeed the White House.
The initial set of service dogs were German Shepherds. They gave way to the dog breed currently exclusively employed to take up the high calling of the US Secret service – The Belgian Malinois.
The Belgian Malinois
The Belgian Malinois is a cousin to the German Shepherd. In fact they are often mistaken to be German Shepherds.
Belgian Malinois, however, are not as big as their shepherd cousins. They usually have a characteristic short mahogany coat with black markings. And they have black erect ears and a black muzzle.
The Malinois is a medium-to-large square proportioned dog, belonging to the sheepdog family.
Male Malinois measure about 24-26 inches in length and with an average weight of 25-30 kilograms. Females are roughly 22-24 inches long with an average weight of 20-25 kilograms.
The Belgian Malinois is one of the most loyal and hardworking dog breeds you can find. Typically bred for service rather than form, the Belgian Malinois is a dog always full of activity.
Their demand for activity is so high, that they are not suitable as pet dogs. If at all they will be domestically owned, they require a capable and experienced owner.
The Malinois is the quintessential security dog. It is ferocious at chasing down people with laser sharp focus.
A Malinois, when let loose, will take off like a speeding bullet at over 30 miles per hour, unflinching and squarely focused on its target.
This is not an animal you want charging down at you. You cannot outrun it! The Malinois is twice as fast as a regular Olympic runner.
Despite its ferocity the Malinois is very trainable. It is a no-nonsense beast of security dog when it wants to be, yet, can be so caring as to push a baby stroller down the streets. These are highly intelligent dogs.
Their agility is next to none, as they are capable of scaling fences, climbing trees and jumping into car windows at top speed.
They are excellent search and rescue dogs, capable of precision tracking, and are easily trained to do so.
They have a super sense of smell used for detecting narcotics and tracking. This makes them one of the most elite security dogs in the world.
It’s no wonder they are frequently used with the US Navy SEALS. The Malinois is equipped with a 270° field of vision which makes it suitable for military use.
Everything about this dog ticks the boxes for the caliber of dogs required to guard the US White House. It is the ultimate security dog.
The fact that they now roam the lawns of the White House confirms that fact. Their service in the White House has been quite eventful as well.
Check out this video to see them in action:
The Belgian Malinois In The White House
The Belgian Malinois is trained to act within seconds of an intruder alarm being tipped off at the White House.
According to the Washington Post, “they act as a missile, launching in the air to knock the subject down, and then biting an arm or leg if need to subdue the person until the handler arrives”.
One of their best attributes in military use is to chase down anyone. They are not only super-fast and super strong but they are super focused.
The lock on to their target like a laser guided missile and they never back down until their target is subdued.
In 2014, two Belgian Malinois, named Hurricane and Jordan were involved in taking down a White House intruder.
Dominic Adesanya allegedly jumped through the north fence of the White House. And he certainly did not anticipate what happened next.
In a matter of seconds these two dogs raced down at him and attacked while Dominic tried to fight back at these ferocious beasts.
A security video showed him kicking out at them but it was futile. These dogs were trained for even more dangerous scenarios.
They grabbed at him until he was brought down before being taken into custody.
Months before that incidence, another intruder had managed to sneak into the white house and almost got in until he was put down by secret service personnel.
It’s safe to say that if Hurricane and Jordan were around at the time, the intruder would’ve met their waterloo more quickly.
Apart from their superior physical attributes, they are loved for their high intelligence.
It’s what makes them adept as military dogs. In 2011, a Belgian Malinois (Cairo) was part of Operation Neptune Spear sent out to capture and also kill Osama Bin Laden in a compound somewhere in Pakistan.
Cairo was part of the anti-bomb squad that secured the perimeter of the compound by sniffing around for any bombs.
The Malinois was well kitted in a manner befitting of his job description. It wore a Kevlar vest and a special dog harness for rappelling and parachuting.
Add that to a drainage system for waterborne assaults and night goggles. Not only did Cairo have all the necessary gadgets, but he was capable of performing under any situation requiring these gadgets.
This brings us to the rigorous training that service Belgian Malinois dogs are put through before wearing the secret service badge.
Training for the Belgian Malinois begins just days after they (the Belgian Malinois) are born. The young puppy is taken from their mothers very early to form a primary bond with their handlers. Their handlers will become the family they know and trust.
At just three days old, the Belgian Malinois is subjected to “biosensor stressing”.
This involves using Q-tips to stimulate the pup’s toes and exposing the puppy to a variety of people and a range of sounds.
These sounds include gunfire, thunder, sirens and motorcycles.
Few weeks later, they are taught to swim. This swimming training is only the second of a 200-step training program for every would-be Secret Service Belgian Malinois.
According to former Navy SEALS turned US Special Forces dog trainer, Mike Ritland, this training series costs an average of $50,000 per dog. In the long run, Mike affirms that it is worth it.
He also clarifies that only about 1% of Malinois dogs make the cut to become secret service dogs. The bar is set quite high.
In Mike Ritland’s words, “they must be unflappable in all circumstances…and be able to perform their activities willingly and with a single-minded purposefulness that few, if any, humans possess”.
It’s no wonder why the Belgian Malinois’ we see in service with the secret service are at the top of their game. They are the elite of the elite in terms of security dogs.
One of the key attributes of the Malinois is their unflinching loyalty. This is required from them as service dogs.
These dogs are so loyal and brave that it has cost some of them their lives while in service.
In January 2013, one Malinois died in secret service during a security sweep. It fell to its death from the roof of a six-story parking deck near a New Orleans hotel where the then Vice President, Joe Biden was staying.
In a more somber event, in December 2013, a Belgian Malinois in the service of the the US led International Assistance Security Forces, suddenly went missing in Afghanistan.
Months later, in February of 2014, a video emerged, and was revealed by the Pentagon, of the dog in custody of heavily armed Taliban fighters. It’s not known what exactly happened to it afterwards.
The Belgian Malinois has proven itself to be the prime service dog. It’s combination of brute strength, agility, laser focus, intelligence and loyalty have earned it respect among trainers and earned it a place in the United States’ secret service.
For almost fifty years this elite dog breed has served the most powerful man on earth, keeping his house safe from intruders and other dangers to security.
The Belgian Malinois has continued to excel in this office, garnering respect as an elite security dog.
While it won’t be suitable to purchase one as a house pet, just for the sake of it, Americans can rest assured that the White House is guarded by one of the most intelligent and physically capable dogs on the planet – The Belgian Malinois.