Although most K-9 or search and rescue dogs seem to be German shepherds, often they’re actually a breed known as the Belgian Malinois (pronounced MAL-in-wah), or Mal. Are these two doggos twinsies? With their pointed ears, intense gaze, gorgeous double coats, and intense stamina, it might appear so at first glance.
Incredibly brave, these dogs are valued participants in military missions and law enforcement efforts, taking on many honorable duties to protect and serve. Beligan Malinois and German shepherds are also both generally easy to groom, staying snazzy with a weekly brushing overall but needing a little extra care during shedding season .
So if the heritage of a Belgian Malinois or German shepherd involves breeding for show or work and you’re an experienced pet parent fully focused on continued development, either canine might be an exceptional choice. However, if one of these alert and active pups has to find a way to fit into a busy family’s schedule, Bragdon says it’s imperative to have a careful consultation with a breeder and your veterinarian to ensure you can provide a happy, healthy lifestyle for this type of dog. Bragdon says generally, Mals aren’t bred as pet companions, and often have a high prey drive and work ethiccharacteristics that make them aptly suited to put their nose to the ground in search and rescue positions, bomb and narcotic detection, and as tracking K-9 officers .
“They’re happiest when physically and mentally engaged to assist in protection activities, which may be beyond the ability of the average dog owner to satisfy,” Bragdon says. Similar black muzzles, a color variance that ranges from fawn and tan to brown and mahogany, and an acute gaze that follows your every move! Notice how the Beligian Malinois ears stick straight up from the crown of his head, but the German shepherd‘s are more angled to the side?
Is a Belgian Malinois better than a German Shepherd?
In general, a German Shepherd makes a better family pet than a Malinois does. The Malis extremely high work drive, energy, and often highly strung personality means they are not usually the right pet for a standard family environment.
Are Malinois smarter than German shepherds?
Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd: Intelligence. Both of these herding dog breeds score high on intelligence. Not all German Shepherds are equal in terms of intelligence, just like not all Belgian Malinois dogs are equal in intelligence when compared to other dogs of the same breed.
Why do police use Belgian Malinois instead of German Shepherd?
For many areas of police work, the Belgian Malinois seems to be the better dog. He is fast, athletic, possesses unlimited energy, is extremely agile, and strong despite its smaller, lighter body. He is not prone to as many ailments and health problems as the German Shepherd dog.
Are Malinois and German Shepherds the same?
Both the Malinois and German Shepherd are members of the Herding Group and can trace their origins to livestock herding dogs. As their names imply, the Belgian Malinois was developed in Belgium and the German Shepherd in Germany. The Malinois was one of four varieties of Belgian Shepherd Dog in use in the late 1800s.
Comparing the German Shepherd vs. Belgian Malinois for your next family pet? The Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd Dog (GSD) may both be from the same Shepherd lineage. Some people even confuse the Malinois for being just a shorter-haired version of the German Shepherd. While these two breeds have some very similar traits, they are quite different in terms of their personalities and lifestyle requirements.
Height 22-26 Inches Weight 50-90 Pounds Temperament Confident, Courageous, Smart Energy Intense Health Average Lifespan 7-10 Years Puppy Prices $1,000 and Up Height 21-24 Inches Weight 40-70 Pounds Temperament Courageous, Intelligent, Independent Energy Extremely Intense Health Above Average Lifespan 12-14 Years Puppy Prices $1,500 and Up
The breed resulted in selective mating of traditional farm dogs that were involved with guarding and herding livestock. It was championed and refined by a club dedicated to the breed that was started by a German Cavalry Officer . Malinois have a shorter coat, slimmer head with a finer skull and they tend to be longer in the leg and narrower in the body.
The GSD, while still needing a high amount of exercise and enrichment, is likely to be able to settle more easily in a family environment. Both dog breeds will need a considerable amount of daily exercise.Generally speaking, the Mal has more energy than a German Shepherd. Expect to spend a minimum of 60 minutes per day exercising both breeds, with the Mal probably needing closer to 75.
They may begin to be destructive in the home and in extreme cases, their frustration can lead to hyperactive behavior that can even become aggressive if not handled appropriately. While technically both breeds can live in a smaller space, its not advised due to their energy levels and higher exercise requirements. The Malinois, on the other hand, is not really suited to apartment-style living unless the owner is extremely dedicated to making sure they get enough outdoor time and enrichment.
Dont forget that the Mal is an expert climber too and can easily scale fences that are six feet high. Not only do they pick up the behaviors they are being rewarded for very quickly, but it also ensures that a good bond of trust is formed between dog and owner. The Belgian Malinois particularly thrives on the constant challenge of new training exercises, and both breeds are often seen competing in dog sports and obedience.
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: Again both of these conditions tend to be degenerative, and while they can often be successfully managed with medication and alternative therapies or, in extreme cases, surgery, good breeders will also have their dogs screened for signs of these problems too. It is recognised though that, in some instances, there can be an increased chance of this occurring if it is in the genes and also for large breed dogs that have deep and narrow chests, like the GSD. Both breeds will function best when eating a dry kibble formulated for active breeds.Both dogs actually have similar nutritional requirements .
Expect to feed your Mal about 1.5 to 2.5 cups per day of dog food once they enter into adulthood, depending on their activity levels. German Shepherds can handle a dog food with a higher calorie count for larger active breeds, like these recommended here . Expect to feed your German Shepherd about the same amount as the Mal, which is about 1.5 to 2.5 cups of dry kibble each day.
German Shepherds will fetch a higher price in rarer colors, or if you want the pick of the litter. If you are passionate about dog training and lead a very active lifestyle then taking on the commitment of a Belgian Malinois or a German Shepherd could be a good choice for you.
German shepherds and Belgian Malinois have a lot in common: both bred for herding sheep and other livestock, used for military and police work, and are active, highly trainable dogs who do best with experienced dog owners. So what are the differences?
While theyre smaller and finer boned than German shepherds, with an elegant, no-frills sort of sleekness, theyre strong and muscular dogs that are nearly tireless. Both breeds are better suited for experienced dog owners since their high energy and intelligence make them more difficult to handle.
This makes for a great partnership in just about any endeavor, but especially in the high-risk situations of police or military work, where these dogs are invaluable to their handlers and their units. Given all this, its not surprising that these dogs dont do well when left for hours on end in the backyard, and a daily walk barely dents the surface for their exercise needs. They like to have a job, and activities like obedience, nose work, agility, tracking, and of course herding, are all great ways to engage them both mentally and physically.
These breeds also make excellent search and rescue dogs, and Malinois, in particular, are great biking or jogging partners. But they also caution, however, the activities and behaviors that are presented, and that look so easy for the dog, are the result of lengthy, intense and constant training. Similarly, with the right active companion, a Belgian Malinois is a smart, energetic dog who will bring loyalty and excitement to the household.
Everybodys familiar with the German Shepherd Dog. After all, theyve been Americas second most popular breed for years. But not everybody is quite as well acquainted with the Belgian Malinois. In fact, their similar coloring and heritage as herding breeds might lead some people to mistake the Belgian Malinois for the German Shepherd. However, there are a few key differences between these two breeds, as well as some fascinating similarities.
Also dating back to the late 1800s, the German Shepherd was developed by Captain Max von Stephanitz . The sport of Schutzhund was developed as a test to choose appropriate animals for breeding when it wasnt possible to evaluate the dogs by their traditional work.
Vigilant yet responsive, they balance all the qualities needed in a stock dog, protector, and sensible working partner. Besides being shown in conformation , German Shepherds compete in herding , obedience , agility , tracking , dock diving , disc dog , barn hunt , and more, she affirms.
Differences Between German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois
The American Kennel Club (AKC) has seven categories for dogs, based on the purpose they were originally bred to serve. Representing the AKC’s herding group, both Belgian Malinois and German shepherds are prized for their working abilities. They’reOther similarities to add to the Belgian Malinois vs. German shepherds list:Bonnie Bragdon, DVM, MS, is co-founder and president of the Independent Veterinary Practitioners Association. She says when considering a purebred dog for the family, the most important aspect is to understand the dog’s breeding—certainly true for all breeds, but especially paramount for those with inherent working abilities like Belgian Malinois and German shepherds. “They could have come from a line of dogs bred for conformation (show quality), for skill (working or field trials), or for companionship (pet quality),” she says.So if the heritage of a Belgian Malinois or German shepherd involves breeding for show or work and you’re an experienced pet parent fully focused on continued development, either canine might be an exceptional choice.However, if one of these alert and active pups has to find a way to fit into a busy family’s schedule, Bragdon says it’s imperative to have a careful consultation with a breeder and your veterinarian to ensure you can provide a happy, healthy lifestyle for this type of dog. “Dogs bred to work are often high energy and may become destructive or mentally unwell if not provided with adequate work to keep them occupied,” she adds.
The history of the breeds is quite similar. Both were introduced around the same time, and they were developed with a focus on their working abilities. Let’s take a look at the history behind each of the breeds.
German Shepherds, as the name suggests, originated from Germany. The breed resulted in selective mating of traditional farm dogs that were involved with guarding and herding livestock. The breed, as we know it today, was thought to have been introduced in the late 1800s. It was championed and refined by a club dedicated to the breed that wasThe breed grew in popularity through the 1900s, particularly after the appearance of a German Shepherd in the much-viewed tv program Rin-Tin-Tin.The breed continues to be popular today as a family pet and also as a breed of choice for working in the police, armed services, and as a support dog. They are often commonly compared to other breeds as a family dog, like when compared to the Husky.
Like the GSD, the Belgian Malinois (often referred to as a Mali or the Mal), has a similar recent history and they were also first introduced in the late 1800s. Their name comes from the Belgian city they were first thought to have been bred; Malines (also known as Mechelen).The Mali has also been used heavily as a
German Shepherds are much more well known and widely recognized. Malinois have a shorter coat, slimmer head with a finer skull and they tend to be longer in the leg and narrower in the body. They have a particularly athletic physique. They also tend to be broader across the body, chest and skull. Although both dogs are around about the same height, the GSD is much heavier and stockier built than the Mali. The breeds do have a similar appearance, and are both often confused with the Dutch Shepherd.The GSD has a short and long coated variety. The Mali only has a short coat, and it is a lot less dense than the short coat that a GSD has. Both do shed, but the German Shepherd Dog is known for shedding much more heavily than a Mali and will need much more grooming to lift out the dead hairs, and probably the house will need more frequent vacuum cleaning too. The Malinois isThe GSD comes in a much wider variety of colors; some mixed coloring and some solid colors, like black or white, although the White German Shepherd is not recognized as a show color by the American Kennel Club.
Both breeds are highly intelligent, very driven, eager to learn, courageous, and athletic. They are also both known for being exceptionally devoted to their owners and for their guarding capacity.Malinois areWhile both are high energy breeds that need a lot of exercise and stimulation, the Mali is one of the most energetic and athletic breeds out there and so will usually require a lot more activity than a GSD will. The GSD, while still needing a high amount of exercise and enrichment, is likely to be able to settle more easily in a family environment. Their personalities areMalis are known for often bonding extremely strongly with one particular person, while GSDs often have a very close, protective bond with their entire family. In general, a German Shepherd makes a better family pet than a Malinois does. The Malis extremely high work drive, energy, and often highly strung personality means they are not usually the right pet for a standard family environment. They need a very dedicated home that clearly understands the specific needs of the breed and can give them these.While German Shepherds are still a dog that may not be best for a first-time owner, they tends to be much less highly strung. they also have less intense exercise and enrichment requirements. Long haired GSD variants also pose a challenge when it comes to grooming.
Generally speaking, the Mal has more energy than a German Shepherd. Both breeds require plenty of exercise. But the Mali is one of the most energetic breeds alive. They have boundless energy and focus, and this needs to be channeled healthily. They are absolutelyIf the Mal is under-exercised, it will likely mean that their boredom could manifest itself in undesirable, problematic behaviors. They may begin to be destructive in the home and in extreme cases, their frustration can lead to hyperactive behavior that can even become aggressive if not handled appropriately.
Both dogs are large, active breeds and would benefit from the extra space of a home with a large yard. While technically both breeds can “live” in a smaller space, it’s not advised due to their energy levels and higher exercise requirements.German ShepherdsThe Malinois, on the other hand, is
Both breeds are exceptionally intelligent, and they are very trainable, thus why they are such popular service dogs. Because of their strength and intelligence, they can both sometimes prove to be a challenge for novice dog owners. This is particularly true of the, often highly strung, Mali.These are dogs that need the training to focus their herding and guarding traits in a healthy way. Without this sort of guidance and stimulation, then problem behaviors can surface.The Mali, in particular, is not a dog that is suited toBoth dogs respond extremely well to training using positive reinforcement methods. Not only do they pick up the behaviors they are being rewarded for very quickly, but it also ensures that a good bond of trust is formed between dog and owner.Using aversive training methodsIt is important to have consistent and frequent training from the start with both breeds. Without it, these intelligent and strong breeds can easily become bored, and problem behaviors can quickly escalate.The Belgian Malinois particularly thrives on the constant challenge of new training exercises, and both breeds are often seen competing in dog sports and obedience.
The Belgian Malinois generally has a longer lifespan than a German Shepherd. The GSD will oftenThe health issues that both these dogs face is also quite similar as they have similar body traits. The Shepherd’s gait leads to different health problems than the Malinois though. Let’s take a look at common health conditions that may impact each breed.
The Belgian Malinois is generally thought to be a more overall healthy breed. There are less of them being breed, and most of the breeders tend to be reputable and responsible, carrying out thorough health checks on parents. They do still have some heritable conditions though that it is worth being aware of, and these include:
Probably as a result of their popularity, German Shepherds are known for having more genetic conditions than the Mali. This makes it all the more important to make sure that you seek out a responsible breeder. You want to be sure you purchase a puppy from breeders that carry out relevant health screenings on potential parents. As well as also being prone to elbow and hip dysplasia, some of the other conditions they can be more susceptible to include:
Both dogs actually haveBoth breeds are similar with their nutritional needs and need to be on high protein food. German Shepherds can handle a dog food with a higher calorie count for larger active breeds, like these recommended here. Expect to feed your German Shepherd about the same amount as the Mal, which is about 1.5 to 2.5 cups of dry kibble each day.
If you’ve settled on one of these two breeds, we hate to tell you that both are notorious shedders. The Mal may “appear” to leave less fur behind. This is because their coats are usually a little shorter in length. German Shepherds do shed profusely,When it comes to grooming routines, you’ll want to bathe either breed at least once per month. Followed by 3x weekly brushings in order to keep fur out of your home. You’ll likely want to consider a daily brushing, and a bi-weekly undercoat rake during the winter and the summer when shedding is more common.
Both the Mal and the Shepherd are not cheap when purchased as puppies. We always recommend that you adopt before you shop. Both breeds can be found regularly at rescues, and the cost is often far less than what a breeder will charge. You’ll just likely have to work through some extra baggage with a rescue dog.If you’ve set your heart on a puppy, expect to pay a
In the late 19th century a German cavalry officer, Captain Max von Stephanitz, worked to combine the various herding dog breeds into a uniform breed, creating the foundation of the German shepherd as we know it today.The versatile, intelligent dog became a popular dog with fanciers the world over, coming to the United States in the early part of the 20th century. The breed’s popularity waned a bit during World War I, as it was associated with the enemy. This is when they began to be called Alsatians. This name is still commonly used in Great Britain.The Belgian Malinois was also originally bred to herd sheep. They are part of a group of dogs from Belgium known as the Belgian shepherds—the Belgian Tervuren, the Belgian sheepdog, and the Laekenois—whose types were refined in the late 1800s from herding dogs likely used for centuries.The Malinois is the only short-coated one of the four, and their excellent herding abilities were harnessed early on for police and military work.
Size and coloring
A Belgian Malinois looks sort of like a smaller, blonder German shepherd, and is sometimes even mistaken for a German shepherd. Malinois are shorthaired dogs, fawn in color, with a black overlay, and a black mask and ears. The females average about 40-60 pounds, and the males weigh about 60-80 pounds.While they’re smaller and finer boned than German shepherds, with an elegant, “no-frills” sort of sleekness, they’re strong and muscular dogs that are nearly tireless.German shepherds are approximately 10 percent larger than a Belgian Malinois, with females running between 50 and 70 pounds and males between 65 and 90 pounds. Along with their slightly larger size, their coats are slightly longer as well, with a little more fluff and undercoat than the Belgian Malinois—there’s even a long-coated German shepherd variety.They’re known for the classic coloring—black and tan or black and silver with a black saddle over the body—but solid black and sable dogs, usually with a dark face, are also common in the breed. Sable, or more correctly, agouti, is the banding of color on each and every individual hair, which leads to a variety of shades and colors which can vary greatly from sable dog to sable dog.The famous Rin Tin Tin, the first canine movie star, was a sable German shepherd.
Both German shepherds and Belgian Malinois are bred to work. As with most herding breeds, they’re smart, willing partners who enjoy working alongside their humans. Both breeds are better suited for experienced dog owners since their high energy and intelligence make them more difficult to handle.While they love their people, if they’re not given a job to do, or exercised regularly, they can get into trouble.This high work drive and versatility is what has made both breeds so highly prized by police and military K9 units. They seem to come hard-wired for adventure and, as herding breeds, are very alert and keenly aware of their surroundings.This makes for a great partnership in just about any endeavor, but especially in the high-risk situations of police or military work, where these dogs are invaluable to their handlers and their units.Given all this, it’s not surprising that these dogs don’t do well when left for hours on end in the backyard, and a daily walk barely dents the surface for their exercise needs. They like to have a job, and activities like obedience, nose work, agility, tracking, and of course herding, are all great ways to engage them both mentally and physically.The sport of Schutzhund—tracking, obedience, and protection competition—is something many German shepherd and Belgian Malinois owners enjoy.These breeds also make excellent search and rescue dogs, and Malinois, in particular, are great biking or jogging partners.
Of the two breeds, the Belgian Malinois is generally considered the busier and more challenging, but both breeds need regular tasks to do.Not content to snooze the day away, they’ll find things to do if they aren’t stimulated regularly. This might include redecorating your home by chewing a hole in the plasterboard, or digging trenches in your back yard. They have an extremely high prey drive and although this is good for a working K9, some Malinois are not “cat-safe.”While no slouch, the average German shepherd isn’t quite as active as the Belgian malinois. He won’t be content to just lie around all day but thrives on interaction with his human family.From protection work to guide dogs for the blind (the world’s first official guide dog for the blind was a German shepherd named Buddy), German shepherds excel at nearly anything we humans ask them to do. They’re also great family dogs and wonderful with children. They’re known for their courage, versatility, and fearlessness.
With recent TV and film appearances and social media fame, the Belgian Malinois breed is becoming more popular than ever, with AKC registrations now putting them as the 43rd most popular AKC breed, up from 76th most popular just a few years ago.The American Belgian Malinois Club “is delighted at the interest in our breed sparked by videos and television shows that show off the intelligence, physical capabilities, and beauty of these animals.”But they also caution, “however, the activities and behaviors that are presented, and that look so easy for the dog, are the result of lengthy, intense and constant training. Malinois are bred and born to perform almost any task; they’re not bred to be a couch potato.”The German shepherd breed has been so popular, for so long—currently #2 in AKC registrations, and in the top 5 most popular AKC breeds for decades—that it’s hard to imagine a world without them. As part of an active family, they make excellent family companions as long as one is willing and able to give them the time and training they need.In the right home, the German shepherd is a breed that has it all.Similarly, with the right active companion, a Belgian Malinois is a smart, energetic dog who will bring loyalty and excitement to the household.
A Shared Herding Heritage
Both the Malinois and German Shepherd are members of the Herding Group and can trace their origins to livestock herding dogs. As their names imply, the Belgian Malinois was developed in Belgium and the German Shepherd in Germany.The Malinois was one of four varieties of Belgian Shepherd Dog in use in the late 1800s. It was first recognized by Professor Adolphe Reul. He characterized the variety as a medium-sized square dog with dark brown eyes and triangular ears. Each of the four types of Belgian Shepherd Dog was named for the area around Brussels where it was developed, with the Malinois hailing from the Malines region.“As the agricultural lifestyle declined, the Belgian Shepherd Dog became favored in the development of police dog training,” according to Ann MacKay, who has owned Belgian Malinois for 32 years and bred them for 26,In fact, as early as 1908, the AKC Gazette mentioned that two Belgian Sheepdogs had been imported into the United States to work as police dogs in New York City. More were imported in 1911, including two specifically identified in the AKC studbook as Malinois. Finally, in 1959 the Belgian Malinois was granted full AKC recognition as a breed of its own, separate from the other Belgian Shepherd Dog varieties.Also dating back to the late 1800s, the German Shepherd was developed by Captain Max von Stephanitz. He wanted to create the perfect dog breed. Von Stephanitz was impressed by the variety of herding dogs he saw throughout Germany. Looking for his ideal medium-to-large-sized dog with an independent, persistent, and obedient personality, he found and purchased a dog at a show in 1899. That dog became the first registered German Shepherd Dog in von Stephanitz’s newly established German Shepherd Dog Club and the founder of the breed.“Although the primary and original purpose of the German Shepherd was herding sheep (in what we refer to as a tending fashion), the breed soon became popular with the police and as military dogs,” says Julie Degen, a German Shepherd enthusiast for over 30 years and breeder for 25. “The sport of Schutzhund was developed as a test to choose appropriate animals for breeding when it wasn’t possible to evaluate the dogs by their traditional work. In short order, German Shepherds became one of the best known and most popular breeds in the world.”
Different Physical Qualities
Both breeds are similar in height. Males stand 24-26 inches high at the withers and females 22-24 inches. But the majority of Malinois are lighter than most German Shepherds. The male Malinois weighs 60-80 pounds and the female weighs 40-60 pounds. In contrast, a male German Shepherd can weigh up to 90 pounds and a female up to 70 pounds.MacKay, former vice president and over 25-year member of the American Belgian Malinois Club, points out that the Malinois’ ears more closely resemble a triangle than the German Shepherd’s ears. Plus, the Malinois is a square breed. In other words, when viewing from the side, the topline, front legs, and back legs should closely approximate a square.On the other hand, the breed standard for the German Shepherd describes a dog that is “longer than tall, deep-bodied, and presents an outline of smooth curves rather than angles.”Degen, a member of the German Shepherd Dog Club of America for 26 years who served as both the herding chair and performance chair, is struck by the German Shepherd’s movement. She describes the breed as having a unique, extremely efficient, and effortless gait. This helps them cover the most amount of ground with the least effort.