Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd vs Dutch Shepherd

Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd vs Dutch Shepherd [which is the best]

Dutch Shepherds, German Shepherds, and Belgian Malinois have some significant differences between them. All three are working dogs that are regularly used by the police, the military, and farmers. Each has its own unique colors and personality traits. They are all big, muscular dogs, but they wear different coats.

Read below to find out additional information about the differences between these dogs as well as their similarities.

Dutch Shepherds Facts
Dutch Shepherds Facts

Dutch Shepherds Facts

The appearance of the Dutch Shepherd is different from the German Shepherd. This dog originated in the Netherlands during the 1800s. 

This herding dog breed almost resembles a wolf, but you would love to cuddle with this sweet-tempered creature. 

Dutch Shepherd Appearance

Dutch Shepherd dogs only come in gold or silver brindle coat colors. The word brindle refers to a black or dark striped coat.

They have three coat types:

  • Short
  • Long
  • Rough

Dutch Shepherds have incredibly soft fur and sweet faces. They have dark eyes which appear similar to human eyes in shape.

They also have wedge-shaped heads and pointy ears. These dogs have athletic, muscular bodies, which typically weigh somewhere between 40 to 75 lbs.

Dutch Shepherd Temperament

Dutch shepherds are dedicated to their owners and will build a significant bond with their human companions.

Dutch Shepherd Temperament
Dutch Shepherd Temperament

Dutch Shepherds are known to be:

  • Affectionate
  • Eager to please
  • Gentle
  • Loving

They love to snuggle up with their family members. Dutch Shepherds are an excellent dog breed and are a good choice for new pet owners.

The Dutch Shepherd is a loyal and obedient dog. However, the owner must take the time to train them properly.

You may be surprised by their intelligence, athletic ability, and independence. It is essential to be diligent about their exercise and work time.

They were once used for herding sheep, so it is embedded in them to be attentive workers but be warned: they can become testy if they are not working.

They are capable of hard and serious work. They are also impeccable protection dogs.

Dutch Shepherds are utilized in:

  • Guide dogs
  • Police work
  • Search and rescue

Because they are the most subdued of all the Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds are often used for finding illegal drugs and sniffing out bombs rather than chasing down criminals.

Dutch Shepherd Health Issues

The Dutch Shepherd is generally healthier than their German Shepherd cousin. This breed can live up to seven years longer than the German Shepherd dog.

Their lifespan is somewhere between 11 to 14 years.  The good news is that these dogs tend to be a healthy breed and remain healthy during their entire lives.

Dutch Shepherd Health Issues
Dutch Shepherd Health Issues

Dutch Shepherds can develop hip dysplasia. The ball joint of the upper thigh bone does not support the hip socket, causing dislocation.

They can also be affected by a degenerative myopathy, which causes painful inflammation of the skeletal muscle tissue. Dutch Shepherds can also be prone to thyroid conditions.

Dutch Shepherd Grooming

Grooming a Dutch Shepherd depends on what type of Dutch Shepherd dog you have. The Dutch Shepherd can have one of three types of coats.

Short coats are more common, and they are easier to take care of than the long coat types. A long coat on a Dutch Shepherd is rare, and it will need to be brushed more often.

Short coats are fine to brush only once a week. Longer coats need three times a week. You should also pay attention to heavier shedding times, such as spring and fall. 

It is also important to brush your Dutch Shepherd’s teeth as much as you can. This practice will ensure your dog’s oral health.

You will need to trim your Shepherd’s nails if they are too long. You should also wash your Dutch Shepherd when it is hot and humid.

Cool Facts About Dutch Shepherds 

The Dutch Shepherd is one of the dog breeds in the Northern European Shepherd’s group from the Netherlands. These dogs were once threatened because they were nearly extinct.

This situation was because machinery developed during the 1940s and 1950s  took their place as herders. A breeding program was developed to help increase their numbers.

Dutch Shepherds are more expensive than the other Shepherds because they are so rare.

Dutch Shepherds compete in many canine sports, including:

  • Dog agility
  • Flyball
  • Dock jumping
  • Obedience
  • Weight pulling
  • Disc dog
  • Schutzhund

Belgian Malinois Traits

 The Belgian Malinois breed is one of the four types of Belgian Shepherds.

  • Belgian Sheepdog (Groenendael)
  • Belgian Laekenois
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Belgian Tervuren

These are highly trainable, energetic dogs that have strong personalities and a high prey drive. They can also make wonderful pets! 

Belgian Malinois Traits
Belgian Malinois Traits

The Malinois was recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1959.

They are the shepherd dog with the most variety of colors. These dogs are not as well known as their German or Dutch cousin. 

Belgian Malinois Appearance

Malinois have chiseled faces with smaller pointy ears. Many people mistake Malinois for a regular German Shepherd.

This mistake is a common misconception for those who are not Shepherd aficionados. This type of dog only has a short coat.

Belgian Malinois Colors

  • Cream
  • Cream and Sable 
  • Fawn
  • Fawn and Sable
  • Gray
  • Liver
  • Mahogany
  • Red
  • Red and Sable

The body of the Malinois is distinct when compared to the other Shepherd types. They are long, square-shaped, and muscular. They typically weigh somewhere between 40 to 80 lbs.

Belgian Malinois Temperament

The Belgian Malinois is highly intelligent. They like to be trained and appreciate mental stimulation. They follow commands quite well.

Belgian Malinois Temperament
Belgian Malinois Temperament

They can be aggressive and stubborn but are often affectionate with their owners.

Belgian Malinois work well as police dogs since they have such strong personalities and are easy to train.

They have the stamina to work all day, and they can be trained in scent work and bite work.

Belgian Malinois are brave enough to put themselves into dangerous situations in the name of the law and to protect and serve.

While the Malinois are hard working dogs, they can also be a handful.

If this type of dog is not appropriately trained and socialized when they are young, they can become aggressive and even dangerous.

For the most part, this is a dog that was not meant to be a family pet. Although, in the right hands, they could become a good companion for humans.

Belgian Malinois Health Issues

The Belgian Malinois breed typically lives somewhere between 12 to 15 years. They can have specific health issues.

Hip dysplasia is one of the commonplace diseases in the Belgian Malinois. This condition usually renders the dog lame, and it can make your dog extremely uncomfortable.

The dogs who suffer from hip dysplasia often have problems walking, going up the stairs, or finding a comfortable way to sit down.

This type of dog can also develop retinal atrophy, which causes the eyes not to respond to light. They can also get retinal dysplasia, which also affects the dog’s eyes. 

Belgian Malinois Health Issues
Belgian Malinois Health Issues

Belgian Malinois Grooming

Belgian Mals are double coated dogs that shed a moderate amount, except twice a year when molting increases. Your Mal sheds seasonally in the fall or spring.

Your Mal is reasonably easy to groom. You can get away with brushing them only once a week.

Mals need more grooming when it is shedding season. A bristle brush or a metal comb generally works best.

Your Belgian Malinois will need to be bathed to maintain the condition of their coat. They will also need nail trimming regularly.

Cool Facts about the Belgian Malinois

Did you know that the Belgian Malinois was actually named after the Belgian city of Malines? Their nickname is Mal. The Mals were developed in Malines, which is their place of origin.

During World War I, Mals served as messengers and helpers of the Red Cross. Today, the Belgian Malinois work with Navy Seals and participated in the Bin Laden raid.

Mals can also skydive. While we all know how German Shepherds have long worked as military dogs, the Malinois tend to weigh less than a German Shepherd.

This fact makes it easier for military personnel to do tandem jumps with their dogs strapped to them.

Guess what? The Belgian Malinois is declared as one of New York’s official state dogs. 

German Shepherd Characteristics

German Shepherds are a very popular dog breed. The brainchild of Captain Max von Stephanitz, they originally were bred in and came from Germany in the late 1800s. 

This dog has a rich background, very interesting characteristics and was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1908.

Did You Know? German Shepherds were once known as “Alsatian Wolf Dogs”.

They were first known as German Shepherd dogs then became known as “Alsatian Wolf Dogs” during World War I. In 1977 it changed back to German Shepherd.  

German Shepherd Appearance

Most people associate the German Shepherd with their trademark colors, black and tan. However, there are many other colors that the handsome German Shepherd can be seen wearing.

German Shepherd Colors

German Shepherd Colors
German Shepherd Colors

These colors are all standard for the dog breed. However, breeders tend not to want to breed colors such as liver, white and blue, favoring the classic black and tan.

They are typically a double-coated breed, which means they have two layers of fur.

  • Bi-Color
  • Black
  • Black and Cream
  • Black and Silver
  • Black and Tan
  • Blue
  • Liver
  • Red and Black
  • Sable
  • White

German Shepherds have heads that are accurately proportioned to their bodies, and their face is a little more rounded than the other Shepherds, and they have a strong jaw.

Around their eyes, they often look like they are wearing a black mask. This mask offsets the color of their coat.

They have strong, muscular bodies. Their nose is typically black, and the ears are broad and pointy. These dogs weigh somewhere between 70 and 100 lbs.

German Shepherd Temperament

German Shepherds are the second most popular family dog. They are:

  • Alert
  • Confident
  • Courageous
  • Intelligent
  • Loyal
  • Obedient

Their tendency to display bravery in the face of danger made them ideal for military work during World War I and World War II.

They are used as police dogs in many places around the world.

German Shepherd Skills

German Shepherd Skills
German Shepherd Skills
  • Finding illegal drugs
  • Perform cadaver searches
  • Sniffing out bombs
  • Physically apprehending a criminal on the run

They were also used as herding dogs at one point in time. They would herd, guard sheep, protect the gardens and crop fields.

When you introduce a German Shepherd into your home, be aware that they can be aggressive toward animals such as cats or smaller dogs.

They also love to run after and chase things as they have a high prey drive. If they become acclimated to other animals at an early age, they will most likely get along with other pets.

German Shepherds often have aggressive tendencies you should address early on. Their guardian directly influences the temperament of the dog.

It is important that if they are aggressive, that you do not encourage their negative behavior. 

They are highly trainable and, when taught, they respond to commands with obedience. With proper training, they can become loving and protective animals.

German Shepherd Health Issues

German Shepherds typically live somewhere between 7 to 12 years. They are predisposed to several health conditions. They could develop:

  • Dental issues such as periodontal disease and gum infections
  • Epilepsy
  • Cancer such as Melanoma and Lymphoma during their senior years
  • Degenerative disk disease
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid issues
German Shepherd Health Issues
German Shepherd Health Issues

German Shepherd Grooming

German Shepherds tend to shed a lot. Brushing at least once a week is the best treatment. You may want to go outside to brush your German Shepherd because of the amount of hair that will come out of the brush.

It is never recommended that you shave your German Shepherd’s hair because it is extremely difficult to get the hair to grow back.

It is typical to trim your German Shepherd’s nails at least monthly.

You can give your dog proper oral care by using disposable dental wipes and dog friendly toothpaste.

Never use human toothpaste on your dog!

Making sure to clean your German Shepherd’s ears will help to prevent ear infections.

Cool Facts about German Shepherds

German Shepherds received high praise after World War I. Soldiers who returned home raved about the dogs, which earned them a good reputation.

German Shepherd Wartime Activities

  • Warn soldiers of traps or obstacles
  • To deliver messages
  • As personal rescue dogs for the soldiers

Animal actors named Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart helped to popularize the breed. Strongheart was affectionately called “Wonder Dog.” Rin Tin Tin was sometimes referred to as “The dog who saved Hollywood.”

Strongheart and Rin Tin Tin were beloved by millions of fans. The popularity of this dynamic duo led to many people getting German Shepherds as pets.

The first guide dog to aid the blind was the German Shepherd dog. Founded in 1929, The Seeing Eye Foundation was formed to help the visually impaired by providing them with German Shepherd guide dogs.

Dutch Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd Facts

Review the table below, and you will see the differences and similarities of these dogs.

NameDutch ShepherdBelgian MalinoisGerman Shepherd
Where Are They FromNetherlandsBelgiumGermany
Life Expectancy Years11 to 1412 to 157 to 12
American Kennel Club DesignationMiscellaneous BreedHerding BreedHerding Breed
Will They BiteLow PotentialLow PotentialHigh Potential
Energy LevelsHigher than most dogsHighHigh
Service Dog CapabilitiesNoYesYes
Differences of the Dutch Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, and German Shepherd Table


The Dutch Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, and the German Shepherd are all fiercely loyal, hard-working dogs with their own unique set of characteristics.

They are utilized as police dogs. They are known for their bravery and immense valor. They are all similar in standard, but the main difference lies in their coat color and temperament.

If you are looking to have a Shepherd dog as a pet, you are in for years of love and devotion. If you already have a Shepherd dog, you already know they are unique and extraordinary!

Dutch Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd

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