Belgian Malinois Vs Belgian Shepherd: What’s The Difference?

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
Updated on 23 September 2022
Fact Checked

Do you know the difference between a Belgian Malinois and a Belgian Shepherd?

They’re two dog breeds who have their history rooted in Belgium as their names suggest.

However, Belgian Malinois and Belgian Shepherds are two different dog breeds with different physical and temperamental traits.

If you’re thinking about getting a dog and you’re trying to decide between a Belgian Malinois and a Belgian Shepherd, you’re probably wondering what’s the difference between these two breeds.

In this article, we’re going to take a close look at the Belgian Malinois and the Belgian Shepherd to examine some of their differences and similarities.

With the introduction over, let’s start our Belgian Malinois vs Belgian Shepherd article.

What Is A Belgian Malinois?

Belgian Malinois (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Belgian Malinois (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The Belgian Malinois is a dog breed that is recognised by the American Kennel Club and the Kennel Club in the UK. The Belgian Malinois is a member of the AKC’s herding group. These smart dogs were the 36th most-popular breed in the United States in 2021.

What Is A Belgian Shepherd?

Belgian Shepherd (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Belgian Shepherd (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The Belgian Shepherd is also recognised by the American Kennel Club and the Kennel Club in the UK. Like the Belgian Malinois, the Belgian Shepherd is also a member of the AKC’S herding group. However, they’re not as popular as their Belgian cousin, ranking at no129 in the AKC’s breed popularity ranking.

It’s important to note that the Belgian Shepherd can also be called Groenendael, Belgian Sheepdog and Chien de Berger Belge.

Where Do Belgian Malinois Come From?

Belgian Malinois (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Belgian Malinois (Photo: Adobe Stock)

As their name suggests, the Belgian Malinois was first bred in the Belgian city of Malines. The AKC explain on their website that they’re one of four closely related Belgian herding dog breeds – the Tervuren, Laekenois, and Belgian Shepherd (aka Groenendael).

The Malinois was created to be a “peerless livestock herder” in Belgium as Belgian sheepherders and cattlemen looked for the perfect dog with an underlying desire to go to work. The breed arrived in the USA in 1911 but their numbers dwindled during World War II.

However, the Belgian Malinois bounced back in the late 1950s and 1960s – the AKC recognised the Mals a breed in 1959. In the 21st century, the Belgian Malinois is ranked in the top 40 most popular dog breeds in the USA.

Where Do Belgian Shepherd Come From?

The AKC’s website explains that Belgium traditionally relied heavily on livestock and dairy farming so shepherd dogs had a big role to play in a flourishing Belgian economy at the start of the 20th century.

Hence, there was a need to create an excellent herding dog led to the creation of the Belgian Shepherd (and the three other dog breeds mentioned in the section above). The Belgian Shepherd, or Groenendael, traditionally had a long black coat.

Their reputation as stellar herding dogs led to the Belgian Shepherd’s importation to big cities such as Paris and New York to work as police dogs rather than sheepdogs. The AKC highlight the Belgian Shepherd’s outstanding service in World War 1 and World War 2 as messengers, ambulance dogs and freighters of heavy gunnery.

The Belgian Shepherd was recognised as a breed in 1912 before the first Belgian Sheepdog Club was created in 1949.

Belgian Malinois Vs Belgian Shepherd: Size

Belgian Malinois will usually have a height range of 22 to 26 inches and can weigh from 40 to 80 pounds. Belgian Shepherds tend to be between 22 and 26 inches tall and can weigh from 45 to 75 pounds.

Belgian Malinois Vs Belgian Shepherd: Appearance

Belgian Shepherd (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Belgian Shepherd (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Belgian Malinois has a square-shaped head and erect, triangular ears with a brown eyes and a black nose. They’ve got powerful jaws with a level, scissor bite. They’ve got straight, athletic legs. They’ve got a brown coat with fawn and sable markings. Let’s take a look at the AKC’s breed standard:

The Belgian Malinois is a well-balanced square dog, elegant in appearance with an exceedingly proud carriage of head and neck. The dog is strong, agile, well-muscled, alert and full of life. He is hardy and built to withstand the rugged Belgian climate. He stands squarely on all fours. The whole conformation gives the impression of depth and solidity without bulkiness. His elegance and expression denote great strength of character, reflecting his heritage as a herding breed.

The Belgian Shepherd is a double-coated dog that can withstand the elements. They’ve got a large head and wide-set triangular ears with dark brown eyes and black nose. Their trademark coat color is black but they can also have shades of fawn and sable. Their black hair is medium-to-long in length and they’ve got a lot of long hair around their neck called a collarette. Here’s what the breed standard says:

The first impression of the Belgian Sheepdog is that of a well balanced, square dog, elegant in appearance, with an exceedingly proud carriage of the head and neck. He is a strong, agile, well muscled animal, alert and full of life. His whole conformation gives the impression of depth and solidity without bulkiness. The male dog is usually somewhat more impressive and grand than his female counterpart.

Belgian Malinois Vs Belgian Shepherd: Temperament

Belgian Shepherd (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Belgian Shepherd (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The Belgian Malinois has a reputation for being a world-class worker of outstanding intelligence. They’ll develop a deep and meaningful connection with their owner. Belgian Malinois are extremely intelligent and they like to have a sense of purpose. They’ll need lots and lots of mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behaviours.

Let’s examine what the breed standard has to say on Malinois temperament.

He is alert, intelligent, inquisitive and confident, showing neither fear nor aggression. He is energetic, ready for action, yet highly responsive to his owner’s direction. His lively character should be evident in his proud carriage and sparkling attentive eyes. The Belgian Malinois is an exceptional watchdog. Vigilant yet responsive, he balances all the qualities needed in a stock dog, protector and sensible working partner. He is firmly loyal to those he loves but may be indifferent with strangers.

The Belgian Shepherd is typically described as a highly-trainable dog. They’re highly intelligent with a need to please their owners. Like the Mal, Belgian Shepherds want to develop a deep bond with their human companions. This versatile dog breed are committed to a task and give their best in trying to achieve it. They’re a loyal dog that are loving with their owners.

We can learn more about the Belgian Shepherd temperament in the breed standard.

The Belgian Sheepdog should reflect the qualities of intelligence, courage, alertness and devotion to master. To his inherent aptitude as a guardian of flocks should be added protectiveness of the person and property of his master. He should be watchful, attentive, and always in motion when not under command. In his relationship with humans, he should be observant and vigilant with strangers, but not apprehensive. He should not show fear or shyness. He should not show viciousness by unwarranted or unprovoked attack. With those he knows well, he is most affectionate and friendly, zealous of their attention, and very possessive.

Belgian Malinois Vs Belgian Shepherd: Exercise

Belgian Malinois (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Belgian Malinois (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Belgian Malinois will require significant daily exercise to prevent destructive or unwanted behaviours. The breed is often used as police dogs, military dogs or service animals. They like to have a task. Belgian Malinois will usually need at least 60 minutes of exercise a day. They can excel at agility and sports, or just as a jogging partner on your daily run. Belgian Shepherds have similar exercise needs and it’s a good idea to give the breed at least an hour of exercise on a daily basis. They can thrive in show events thanks to their obedience and intelligence. Belgian Malinois and Belgian Shepherds will benefit from tasks that require these intelligent dogs to put their high IQ to good use.

Belgian Malinois Vs Belgian Shepherd: Hypoallergenic

Belgian Malinois (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Belgian Malinois (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Neither the Belgian Malinois nor the Belgian Shepherd are hypoallergenic. For dog lovers who want to find a hypoallergenic breed, you’ll have to continue your search as Belgian Malinois and Belgian Shepherds don’t fit that criteria.

Belgian Malinois Vs Belgian Shepherd: Shedding

The Belgian Malinois have a short coat that is waterproof so it can get wet but will quickly dry. The Mal breed will shed twice a year when they’ll blow out their coat but their short hair allows owners to give a quick brush to remove dead hair. Their coat is relatively low maintenance so Malinois owners shouldn’t find it too difficult to take care of.

The Belgian Shepherd has a double coat that is comprised of a dense undercoat and harder outer coat to allow the breed to withstand the different weather elements. They’ll require a weekly brush to remove dead hair or debris caught in their hair. According to the AKC, they’ll shed at least once a year. During shedding season, Belgian Shepherds will need a daily brushing to remove dead and loose hair.

Belgian Malinois Vs Belgian Shepherd: Price

Belgian Shepherd (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Belgian Shepherd (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Belgian Malinois will usually cost around $800 to $1800 (£700 to £1600). Belgian Shepherds have a price around $700 to $1500 (£600 to £1500).

Belgian Malinois Vs Belgian Shepherd: Life Expectancy

Belgian Malinois have a life expectancy ranging from 14 to 16 years, while the Belgian Shepherd have a shorter lifespan from 12 to 14 years.

The Difference Between Belgian Malinois And Belgian Shepherd

Belgian Malinois catching a frisbee (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Belgian Malinois catching a frisbee (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Belgian Malinois and Belgian Shepherd are quite closely related but the two breeds still have some differences. For example, the Belgian Malinois have a shorter coat that is much easier to maintain but the Belgian Shepherd have a long double coat that requires significantly more care. The Belgian Malinois breed have a slightly longer life expectancy that the Belgian Shepherd.

The Similarities Between Belgian Malinois And Belgian Shepherd

Unsurprisingly seeing as they’re closely connected Belgian herding breeds, Belgian Malinois and Belgian Shepherds have quite a bit in common. They’re both hard-working dog breeds that are highly intelligent and eager to please. Whether you get a Belgian Malinois or Belgian Shepherd, you’ll have a world-class worker on your hand, a loyal companion and a loving dog.

Belgian Malinois Vs Belgian Shepherd – In Conclusion

Belgian Malinois (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Belgian Malinois (Photo: Adobe Stock)

We’ve reached the end of our Belgian Malinois vs Belgian Shepherd feature.

They’re two dog breeds that hail from Belgium who play big roles in society as police dogs, army dogs, service dog, sheepdogs and adored pets.

Belgian Malinois and Belgian Shepherd appear to have quite a lot of characteristics in common in terms of their temperament but they clearly differ when we take a look at their physical traits.

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