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Both Malinois and German Shepherd Dogs (DSH) were originally bred as herding dogs and are nowadays used primarily as utility dogs, for example by the police, as guard dogs or tracking dogs. Both are also suitable as a family dog, provided that they are consistently brought up and used appropriately. You can find out the difference between the two breeds here.
German Shepherd and Malinois: difference in appearance
The Malinois and the German Shepherd are about the same size, but the Malinois has a slightly slimmer body. Unfortunately the back of the German Shepherd was bred over time, while the Belgian's back is straight. Reputable breeders make sure that the dogs are still healthy and there is no increased risk of back problems or hip dysplasia. However, it cannot be completely ruled out and, unfortunately, there are always dubious dog breeders who pursue an exaggerated ideal of beauty without regard and responsibility for their animals and overbreed the dogs.
German shepherds look a bit stockier and usually have a dark badge on their backs, while Belgian relatives usually only have a dark mask on their faces, but the rest of the fur is uniformly colored. In both dog breeds there is also a completely black variant, although this is very rare for the Belgians.
Belgian Shepherd Dog: Active family dog
Are there differences in the nature and behavior of the dog breeds?
The Malinois is considered to be more spirited and lively than the German Shepherd. He is more prone to hyperactivity and hypnotism, and also needs more work and workload to be satisfied and not to get "stupid thoughts". You can usually leave a DSH to your own devices - for example in a kennel - provided that it is well-brought up and is otherwise allowed to perform appropriate tasks.
A Mali - as the Belgian Shepherd is fondly called - usually feels more comfortable when he can always be with his family. Both dog breeds are intelligent, willing to learn and willing to work, although the Mali tends to be a little more clever and has an even quicker grasp. Due to their slimmer build and less tendency to hip and back problems, Malinois are also often more agile, faster and sportier than German Shepherds. This should be taken into account when choosing the right dog sport. The Belgians are also often more sensitive than the DSH and perceive aversive training methods, drill and hardness as a breach of trust. These methods of training are also questionable for the German Shepherd, but it is somewhat more robust.
German Shepherd: Versatile herding and family dog
Does a Malinois or German Shepherd suit you?
In general, Malinois and German Shepherd are breeds for experienced dog owners. They should be ready to work with the dogs, to assign them meaningful tasks, to play sports with them and to play intelligence games, as well as to challenge and promote their fine senses. Otherwise, the clever four-legged friends get bored quickly and behavioral problems can follow. If you can offer all this, the question arises whether the Mali or the DSH suits you better.
Unless you like to have your dog at your side at all times and want to keep him in the kennel from time to time, the German Shepherd is probably more suitable. If you want to teach your four-legged friend tricks and tricks as well as pushing him to achieve maximum physical performance, a Malinois is likely to do better.