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The Belgian Malinois is a handsome dog that not all families are familiar with. The breeding, looks and purpose of this dog mean we end up comparing stats on Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd.
The German Shepherd certainly ranks and the most popular of the two, at #2 in the American Kennel Club ratings of popularity compared to #51 for the Malinois.
However, this could simply be because we are all so much more familiar with GSDs as pets. If we knew more about the Malinois, would it be more popular?
This guide on the differences between the Malinois and German Shepherd will look at some of the crucial topics that owners need to consider before choosing either breed.
First we will look at what the Belgian Malionis is in terms of breed characteristics. What separates it from the GSD and the German Malinois?
Then we will look at its potential as both a working dog and a family pet.
This means looking at its temperament, intelligence, healthcare and grooming needs. These factors, as well as the potential price tag of a Malinois puppy, will then be considered in a final verdict.
Table of Contents
The Malinois is a version of the Belgian Shepherd dog – making it part of the pastoral group – with certain physical characteristics.
These dogs can look quite similar in some ways, but they are very different breeds.
The Malinois can grow to around 2ft at the shoulder, although it may be shorter. They are about the same size, grow at the same rate and have similar life expectancies of 10-14 years.
This is a cross breed between the two where breeders attempted to get the best of both worlds. This means ultimately breeding a dog that is active, powerful and sharp like a Malinois, but also as calm, strong and loyal as a GSD. The best results mean a strong, athletic body that is a little more compact than a German Shepherd’s. The coat remains double layered and is perhaps a little shorter.
The Belgian Malinois is a sharp, fast dog. It has to be in order to deal with all those sheep in pastoral settings. This speed and agility means that they are as well suited to some military and police tasks and GSDs. There is a lot to consider when looking at the Malinois Vs German Shepherd as working dogs.
Both the Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd are celebrated as watchdogs. This is seen in both a professional and residential capacity. They are not the most vocal dogs, but they will bark at any signs of danger. The police and military are just as happy to train a willing, responsive Malinois as a GSD.
Having said this, this breed is actually seen as one of the all-round dogs that can put its paw to anything.
The Malinois is a preferred candidate for agility competition and competitive obedience events, as well as guarding, herding, narcotics detection, search and rescue and other general tracking and retrieving tasks. The Malinois also has better adaptability. This means that it can respond well and alter itself to its environment, making it much more versatile. They like to work and fit into any new role well.
It is not all about their breeding as working or pastoral dogs. This is a large part of their genetic make-up and still plays a big part in their breeding today.
However, there are plenty of families that are interested in the potential of these attractive dogs. Can they make great pets too?
One of the reasons that dog lover regard this pup so highly as a family dog is that its has a pretty good temperament when it comes to its family members and children. The concerns of aggression and the protective nature of the GSD lead some prospective owners to question the Belgian Malinois vs German shepherd temperament.
The Malinois is generally seen as a friendly and affectionate dog around people. Attitudes to strangers can vary depending on training, as an instinct of protection may kick in, but this can be avoided.
In addition to this, they are a bit more energetic and playful than GSDs, hence the need for all that space. This can make them seem like a handful, but good training will sort out any potential behavioral issues and ensure that playtime is always fun.
There are many reasons why these dogs – and GSDs – have been bred so extensively for high pressure jobs in the police, search and rescue, military operations and agricultures. One is their physical nature. Another important factor is their intelligence and performance in training.
It is difficult to debate Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd intelligence. Owners of both breeds will tell you that their pup is the smartest, sharpest dog you will ever see.
The biggest concern for healthcare in these dogs is dysplasia. Hip and elbow dysplasia are pretty common in GSDs due to their shape and breeding. Even otherwise healthy dogs are prone to the condition and it can have in impact on their quality of life in later years.
This is not the same for the Belgian Malinois. In fact, there are few health issues to be concerned with here. Canine Hip Dsyplasia can occur, but it is a minor risk. The same can be said for epilepsy and the chance of skin allergies.
Both of these tough, active breeds will require daily, strenuous exercise in order to keep them in shape.
The risk of obesity in the Malinois is low, so there is no need for an overly strict diet, but physical activity is essential. These dogs will need to be very active to maintain their fitness and this means good walks and plenty of games in the park to burn off that energy. This is why that personality can be a pro and a con. The active playful nature is great for families that want to run around a park and play fetch, but it can be tiring.
Belgian Malinois shedding is a concern for anyone that has had German Shepherds in the past.
The thick double coat and seasonal moult of the German Shepherd is one of the downsides of the breed. They pretty manageable most of the year but there are times when the fur will get everywhere. This is an important consideration for anyone trying to choose between the GSD and the Belgian Malinois.
As you can see, there are lots of good reasons to opt for a Belgian Malinois rather than the more common GSD. This isn’t meant to say that the GSD is unappealing, but there are important consideration about healthcare, grooming and temperament that need to be considered.
At the same time, these healthcare and grooming issues mean higher costs. This leads us to important factor of the Belgian Malinois cost. How much will it set you back to buy one of these pure bred pups?
Alternatively, there is the chance of adoption. There are countless dogs that are taken into care and put up for adoption that need a loving home.
GSDs and Belgian Malinois deserve a home where they can be a part of a loving family and it is highly rewarding to save a dog in need. You can’t be so sure of bloodlines this way, and these older dogs may have some bad habits. However, they are still great family dogs and their intelligence means that they can learn fast. You may even find yourself with one of those German Malinois cross breeds with a beautiful face and a temperament to match.
There are lots of similarities between the two in terms of their looks and build and any differences in muzzle shape, coat color and other physical factors come down to what owners find to be attractive.
There are pros to the German Shepherd in terms of its personality and its role as a guard dog. It is fiercely loyal and much gentler around other animals, while the Malinois is more playful and active. It is also a more well-known breed that families can relate to, which is surely why it is the second most popular.
On the other hand, there are lots of reason to opt for the Malinois. It is much more low maintenance, with the exception of all those walks and playtime, and shares the intelligence and good nature of the GSD. This low maintenance is seen in the lack of grooming, shedding and minimal health risks. In the end, it all comes down to personal preference when picking a side in the debate of Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd. Once you have decided, be sure to find a responsible breeder or consider adopting an older dog in need.
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