The Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherd breeds are often mixed up or considered “the same” due to their very similar characteristics.
The history of both breeds shows that they were used to herd sheep and cattle, but are they the same?
Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherds are not the same breeds. While they are similar in stature and size and are both European, they are two distinctly different breeds.
Upon comparing the two, you’ll see more similarities as they’re both working dog breeds. The difference is Dutch Shepherds have thicker fur.
Most people mistake these two breeds for each other. While they’re not the same and not related, they both have many similarities and differences.
We’ll take you through all of them in this article, so stay tuned!
Dutch Shepherd vs. Belgian Malinois
Both the Dutch Shepherd and Belgian Malinois are working breed dogs, so there are not as many differences as there are similarities from their looks to their temperaments.
These breeds are both packed full of energy and need homes that have a lot of stimulation, with a large yard to run around.
They also do best if they have a job to do, such as helping herd cattle or even chickens.
History Of The Breeds
Knowing the history of both breeds will help you learn what they were bred to do and what their day-to-day routine should look like.
This alone will tell you whether one of these breeds is a good fit for you and your family.
But since we’re addressing the history, you should know that one significant difference between these two working dog breeds is that the Belgian Malinois is a breed that was human-made from crossbreeding programs.
The Dutch Shepherd is a breed that evolved into its own.
Belgian Malinois History
The Belgian Malinois breed is one that originates from Malines, a region of Belgium. There are three other breeds that are like this one, and those are:
All of these, in addition to the Malinois, are known as “Belgian Shepherd Dogs.” All their names are after a town or region within Belgium.
The Belgium Malinois was officially recognized in 1892 as a formal breed. Seven years late, the Dutch Shepherd would go through the same official breed recognition.
Dutch Shepherd History
Now, the Dutch Shepherd, unlike the Belgian Malinois, is a breed that evolved into its own in the Netherlands. In 1898 they were officially given their breed standard.
Many people have mentioned that the Dutch Shepherd looks like a wolf, which is why they’re so popular. But they’re also smart, and intelligent, and they’re great at helping with livestock.
Personality And Temperament
Another area where the Dutch Shepherd and Belgian Malinois have a lot of similarities is in their temperament and personality traits.
As mentioned, they both had similar working rods, such as herding. They’re so great guard dogs, and they have that instinct to protect and defend.
However, they do have some differences, which will help you know which breed would be best for your family.
Dutch Shepherd Personality And Temperament
The Dutch Shepherd is the perfect farm dog. It’s used for multi-tasking and assisting with odd jobs. They love being around humans and love being pets.
However, they’re extremely independent. So, in a family setting, this might make them stubborn.
This breed will take more training, and you will need to work harder at socializing them. Also, you will need to make sure that the family’s attention is on your dog in a positive way.
We highly recommend entering them into canine athletics since they’re so active.
Belgian Malinois Personality And Temperament
Now the Belgian Malinois is considerably more co-dependent than the Dutch Shepherd as it wants to be your companion. They love people and crave human attention.
However, they need to be trained and socialized as soon as possible because they have a high incline to be wary of people and animals they don’t know.
This breed has evolved, assisting with high workloads, so you will need to be prepared to have appropriate amounts of stimulation and ‘things’ for them to do.
Like the Dutch Shepherd, we recommend putting them in canine athletics such as K-9 protection training.
Shedding Grooming And Maintenance
An important but overlooked part of owning a dog is grooming and maintenance. But if you’re sensitive or allergic to pet dander, then this is something that you will want to read up on.
Both breeds shed a considerable amount as they are working dog breeds, and this is for them to keep their protective coat in optimal condition.
Let’s look at the difference between these two breeds regarding this topic.
Dutch Shepherd Shedding And Grooming
When a breed is naturally occurring, they typically have a variation in its coat, which is true about the Dutch Shepherd. They have three types of coats:
You will need to brush them regularly, especially the long and rough hair type. However, the long hair Shepherds will most likely need their fur professionally groomed on a regular basis.
But regardless of the length of the fur, they all have double-layered coats and shed year-round and seasonally.
Belgian Malinois Shedding And Grooming
When it comes to Belgian Malinois dogs, if they are purebred, then they will be short-haired. However, again, they have a double layer and will shed all year round and seasonally.
But the grooming is a bit easier as all you will need to do is bathe your dog and brush them at least every other day to catch the extra hairs.
Guarding And Protecting
The instinct of both breeds is to guard and protect their families. As a matter of fact, guarding and protecting are what their ancestors did daily.
So, if this is an issue or if you don’t like the guard-like behavior, then it would be best to go with a different breed altogether.
Dutch Shepherd Guarding Instincts
The Dutch Shepherd worked as a guard dog for different land, animals, people, and other structures as they evolved. The guarding and protective instincts are seemingly ingrained into their DNA.
But with a Dutch Shepherd, you do not have to worry as this dog will let everyone know when someone is at the door, in the home, or even when a cat crosses our backyard.
Belgian Malinois Guarding Instincts
When you see the police and military K-9 units, these are the Belgian Malinois as they are the top choice. They are powerful and make for fantastic guard dogs.
However, while they are great for police and military units, this comes with extensive training.
So, if you choose to have a Belgian Malinois for your family dog, it is going to take a lot of training to show them the appropriate way to interact with people all around.
Which Is Best As A Family Dog?
The main difference between these two breeds is how they interact with other pets in your family, as well as your kids. So, if you have other pets or babies in your family, you’ll want to pay close attention to these differences.
Will A Dutch Shepherd Get Along With Kids And Other Pets?
First and foremost, even though these dogs do great with kids, they should be supervised when around younger kids.
If the child does not know the right way to interact with the dog, then the dog may snap at them.
However, this breed can be trained to interact with children as well as other pets.
Also, the dog shouldn’t be left unattended around other pets just in case they decide to snap or play too rough. They are not an aggressive breed; this comes from them trying to protect themselves.
Will A Belgian Malinois Get Along With Kids And Other Pets?
When it comes to small or vulnerable pets such as smaller dogs, cats, bunnies, etc., the Belgian Malinois is not an ideal breed to have in the home.
The good news is that they can usually tolerate children, but this is only if they learn how to tolerate them; otherwise, you may have an unfortunate accident.
Again, this isn’t aggressiveness. This is purely protection and guarding instincts that are coming out.
How To Choose Between Belgian Malinois And Dutch Shepherd
When you’re choosing between the Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherd, you need to take a step back and weigh the pros and cons of each breed in accordance with what you are looking for in a family dog.
If you do not have a stimulating environment and lots of running space, neither breed is good for you.
You will have to sort through the differences between each breed. For instance, if you have small children and other pets in your home, perhaps a Dutch Shepherd would be preferable.
On the other hand, if you are feeling unsafe, you can get a Belgian Malinois if you’re looking for a strict guard dog.
Think about putting them through K-9 defense school as well. It all depends on your preferences.
Heather is an animal lover that has many of them herself. She currently has her Blue Nose Staffy named Bootsie, but she’s catered to many animals over the years including guinea pigs, alpacas, cockatiels, cockatoos, bunnies, chinchillas, hedgehogs, and more. She believes that knowledge should be the foundation of caring for any pet.