Belgian Malinois Versus the German Shepherd

Pet Type


December 17, 2020

For an untrained eye, identifying the differences between the Belgian Malinois or the German Shepherd is next to impossible. They look incredibly similar, and only when you look real close do you get to see the differences between the two. They are both generally employed in police work, and they are both found virtually all around the globe.

However, as you can understand by their names, the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd are both distinctively different breeds.

But, there’s no need for you to draw side-by-side comparisons, because there’s really no way to determine which breed is better than the other. They were both bred for different purposes, and each breed has its own service attributes.

The Belgian Malinois


The Belgian Malinois is perhaps the most common dog that you will see associated with police work all around the country. It is widely regarded by many as one of the most intelligent dog breeds in the world, and throughout parts of Germany and the Netherlands, a vast majority of the dogs working are from this breed.

More importantly, these dogs are also used widely across the globe. Many police units in the United States also train the Belgian Malinois, or buy them from other countries after they have received their appropriate training. The Belgian Malinois was brought to the United States in between the two World Wars.

However, you should know that the animal has been a staple in European farming. The Malinois was a prominent fixture in the First World War, and many soldiers who were able to tame one would often take them home along with them to the United States.

Why Did it Become So Popular?

To understand the reason for its popularity, you need to first focus on its traits. The Belgian Malinois is revered for its ability to keep watch over a person’s property and it also protects its family fiercely. This is one of the most loyal dog breeds in the world, and makes for a fantastic companion dog. After all, if it’s going to run headfirst into battle, you can expect it to die for you.

It was around that time that many police departments also began to realize that this dog would be great for police work. Its potential was identified, and the dog was trained for police work. Today, there are plenty of Malinois dogs that are used as seeing-eye dogs, and they are also used in police or military work.

The dog loves to work, and it doesn’t take them long to bond incredibly closely with their handlers. Despite the fact that such relationships are supposed to be completely professional, the dog doesn’t take long to become emotionally invested in its handler. The dog responds directly to its handler’s commands, and it really enjoys working for them.

Important Information

The dog was originally bred to be a herding dog, and the breed originated in Malines, Belgium. There are actually four other breeds of the dog. The dog is incredibly agile and active, and taking down a fleeing criminal is definitely not a worry for this animal. They won’t harm people needlessly, but will attack when their handler says so.

More importantly, their bite force is insane. In fact, once the dog is let loose on a fleeing criminal, they might want to think twice about running. The dog is so intelligent in its pursuit that it often corners the fleeing criminals and holds them down until the handler arrives, without inflicting any harm. But, it will attack if it is provoked.

The dog is also used quite commonly as a drug sniffer. They are used on borders and in schools to sniff out the presence of drugs. The dog itself is incredibly active and agile, and handlers are required to give them a considerable amount of training on a daily basis. Police or military dogs are not allowed to play with children, as it affects their training.

The German Shepherd


On the other hand, you have the German Shepherd – a classic herding dog as you can probably guess by its name. The German Shepherd was also deployed in the wars like its Belgian cousin, and it was in fact a small German puppy that was brought to the United States during World War 1 that became the first Shepherd in the country.

It was rescued from a virtually destroyed building in France, and Corporal Duncan, a soldier, decided to bring the puppy home and raise it. This is widely regarded as one of the top 10 most popular dog breeds around the world, and for good reason: it has all the traits that you could ask for from a loyal companion.

The German Shepherd is incredibly intelligent and quite alert of its surroundings. Its loyalty is never brought into question, as there are plenty of cases where the German Shepherd has saved its owner by putting its own life in harm’s way. The German Shepherd is also one of the most popular pets in the world.

Socializing the Dog Is Important

German Shepherds need to be socialized to family members from an early age. They are used in police and military units, but unlike the Belgian Malinois, they are also quite popular as pets. The Belgian Malinois does make for a good pet, though most people usually prefer the German Shepherd.

The dog needs to be socialized from an early age so that it knows its masters and the family. However, you need to understand that the German Shepherd comes from a long line of working dogs, and as a result, it needs to release all of this pent-up energy on a daily basis. Failure to do so will lead to serious problems and will also make the dog destructive.

The German Shepherd also sheds a considerable amount of fur, which is in stark contrast to the Belgian Malinois, which has a generally thinner coat. However, the dog makes for a fantastic pet, and it would be willing to do anything with its owner. It is also highly intelligent and will require lots of toys and exercise for mental stimulation regularly.

Comparing the Two

Despite the Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd debate, you should know that there is quite a bit of difference between the two, and they mainly serve different purposes. For starters, the Belgian Malinois requires a bit more work to control the animal. More importantly, the dog is also smaller in size than the German Shepherd, and as such, much more agile.

The Belgian Malinois wasn’t just used for herding sheep; it was also used for cattle. Therefore, it has a relatively slender frame, and requires more work and energy throughout the course of the day. If you ask any handler, they will tell you that the dog keeps their hands full around the clock with its requirements.

These are just some of the important things that you should know about the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd.