Comparing Breeds: Dutch Shepherd vs. Belgian Malinois

Comparing Breeds: Dutch Shepherd vs. Belgian Malinois

When planning to choose a new canine companion, knowing the difference between breeds, especially their temperaments and personalities, is an important way to learn how you can best socialize them so they can fully manifest their great qualities.

In the case of the Dutch Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois, what great qualities these can be! The two dog breeds have heaps to offer, so it’s never a question of who’s best – just who’s best for your home and lifestyle.

The Breeds

When comparing the Dutch Shepherd with the Belgian Malinois, you’ll come to learn they’re more alike than different. Essentially, the Malinois is also shepherd dog of Belgian origins, meaning both breeds were once bred to do the same jobs.

They are both brave, smart, and energetic, but with one notable difference: unlike the Malinois, which is a human-made purebred dog breed, the Dutch Shepherd is a so-called “natural” dog breed. Natural dog breeds are ones that have evolved alongside people without the intervention of crossbreeding programs by humans.

To help understand what makes these similarities and differences between the two breeds, it helps to know their history:

Dutch Shepherd

As the name suggests, Dutch Shepherds originated in the Netherlands. They’re strong-willed, independent thinkers – they were mostly a jack-of-all-trades farm dog. Pulling off intricate tasks like herding cows and chickens, pulling produce carts to the market, and even babysitting, the Dutch Shepherd was always versatile and everywhere at once. It sensibly evolved into the reliable dog breed we know and love today, with the modern-day Dutch Shepherd being used as police, search, and rescue dogs, and even guide dogs for the blind!

Belgian Malinois

Similar to the Dutch Shepherd, Belgian Malinois dogs were also livestock herders used by farm shepherds. They come from Malines, Belgium, and were also bred to perform at high levels. Today, they are army, police, search, security, and rescue dogs – performing a crucial role in society.

The Differences

Here’s an overview of where characteristics of the Dutch Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois meet and what sets them apart:

Size & Appearance

Lots of people think the Dutch Shepherd and Belgian Malinois look a lot alike that it’s hard to tell them apart – we disagree. While they share a lot of their physical qualities in attributes to a somewhat shared lineage of a family of Shepherds, each breed enjoys unique appearance traits, especially when it comes to color.


Dutch Shepherds only come in brindles: sometimes gold, sometimes silver, boasting black and white markings. They can be either long, short, or rough-haired, with variants of coat textures accordingly. To a lot of people, their appearance is often likened to that of wolves.

The Belgian Malinois flaunts an elegant, double-coat that could vary in color - with black masks, ears, and tips on the hairs. They’ve got dark eyes and a bit of a different head than that of the Dutch Shepherd and are leggier and finer boned.

Both the Dutch Shepherd and Belgian Malinois can stand up to 20-26 inches tall, though their weight slightly varies at around 50-70 pounds and 55-75 pounds respectively.


A Dutch Shepherd is known to have a longevity of 11-14 years, while that of a Belgian Malinois ranges from 12-14.

They both have a puppyhood of around 2 years and fully mature at three.


Dutch Shepherds are Dutch Shedders – or so they call them for shedding both year-round and seasonally. With more hair around autumn and spring time, a vacuum cleaner and de-lint brush will come to be incredibly useful. Although some short-haired, that does not mean the amount shed will be less: just shorter. As a general rule, a Dutch Shepherd’s hair should be brushed at least twice a week or more depending on the season.

The Belgian Malinois does not usually require excessive grooming - regular brushing once or twice a week is usually enough coat care. They enjoy water-resistant coats and are also more uniform and consistent in terms of coat length, with shorter rather than longer hair, but they also shed seasonally twice a year.

Exercising Needs

As both breeds come from a history of tireless farm work, either of them would require you to have enough time and energy to rigorously exercise them.

Dutch Shepherds need a lot of exercise – around 100 to 120 minutes a day – as well as a couple of sessions of vigorous play. The Belgian Malinois, on the other hand, needs more than just a long walk. They have a very high energy level to match, so taking them hiking, running, or jogging are good ideas of how to keep them well worked out. If a Dutch Shepherd would need a 2 hour walk a day, the Malinois would need a 2-hour run.

Temperament & Social Qualities

Dutch Shepherds are very independent minded – a good quality when it comes to needing them for jobs that would require them to be on duty for hours at a time. Having said that, they still crave human company and probably would not tolerate a lack of human contact; but socialise them well when young so that independence doesn’t develop to be stubbornness with their human family. They boast a ton of attractive qualities that would make them perfect as either a family companion or a service animal:

  • Intelligence
  • Devotion
  • Reliability
  • Friendliness
  • Alertness
  • Protectiveness
  • Obedience
  • Affection
  • Versatility
  • Loyalty
  • Intuitiveness


The Belgian Malinois is aloof around people and animals they do not know, but affectionate towards their family. Like the Dutch Shepherd, they also can’t go without a human bond. Though not overly aggressive, this is a breed that would require firm leadership from you. They have a very confident demeanour, and one of their better-known qualities is their natural protectiveness, making them great guard dogs. The Malinois is sensitive, deeply devoted, intelligent, and trustworthy, and would make an incredibly caring new family member.

The Verdict

You now know what makes the Dutch Shepherd and Belgian Malinois so similar, and what comes in between. Although both share a lot of the same appealing qualities like intelligence, loyalty, and alertness that would make either of them a wonderful addition to any home or workplace, of the notable differences that would help you decide which breed is the best fit for you is their energy levels and exercising needs. Once you’ve had your mind set, though, you’ll be sure to bring home an incredible canine bonding experience whatever breed you end up picking.