Dutch Shepherd Vs. Belgian Malinois: What’s The Difference?

Dutch Shepherd Vs. Belgian Malinois: What’s The Difference?

While discussing Dutch Shepherd vs. Belgian Malinois, you should keep in mind that both breeds were crossed with the German Shepherd in the past. That is the reason why they are more alike than different.

In fact, the difference between a Dutch Shepherd and a Belgian Malinois is not noticeable at first sight. The coat color is not the same, but you need to be a professional to notice a slight difference in size and proportion.

The Differences Between A Dutch Shepherd And A Belgian Malinois:

1. History

Dutch Shepherd

As its name suggests, Dutch Shepherds (Hollandse Herder) originated in the Netherlands, where shepherds and farmers used these ‘Jack-of-all-trades’ dogs on their farms. They kept herd dairy cows and chickens safe or pulled carts full of products to the market. In most families, this dog was also a trustworthy babysitter.

According to the American Dutch Shepherd Association data, the first breed member appeared in 1898. Since 1914, brindle variation was established as a standard and thus defined as a separate breed from Belgian and German Shepherd.

Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois running

At the very beginning, Belgian Malinois appeared in Malines next to Brussels, Belgium. It is a member of the Belgian Sheepdog breed that includes:

They are considered as different varieties of the same breed in all countries except in the US.

Shepherds and cattlemen used these ‘peerless livestock herders’ on their farms. In 1891, Malinois was established as a standard breed. Even though the first dog came to the US in 1911, the American Kennel Club didn’t recognize it as a breed before 1959.

2. Personality And Temperament

Temperament traits and personality are areas where Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherd are highly similar.

Dutch Shepherd

Even though this dog is an independent creature, it needs a human company. If you socialize your puppy well, this treat won’t transform into stubbornness.

This intelligent, devoted, and reliable breed is average friendly towards kids and usually tolerates cats and other dogs. However, you can always count on its alertness and protective instinct. Thanks to its obedient and affectionate personality, it is an excellent choice for first owners.

Belgian Malinois

It is an affectionate partner toward its family, but a bit wary of strangers. Once adequately socialized, this dog becomes a trustworthy family member that will care for older people and your kids’ welfare.

However, don’t expect it to behave friendly to cats and other dogs. If you are a first owner, you should avoid this breed because they need firm leadership.

3. Guarding And Protection Instincts

Both Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherd are guardians, well-known for their protective instincts.

Dutch Shepherd

Be prepared that your highly alert furry friend will always let you know when someone approaches the house. I like its instinct to treat the family members and pets in the same household as a herd that should be protected at all costs.

However, be careful if you have a toddler because this dog needs to learn to be gentle with this loud little creature.

Belgian Malinois

The strong instinct to protect and defend makes this powerful breed and excellent kid-friendly guardian. Keep in mind that you need to train it to interact appropriately with all family members, other pets, and close friends.

4. Size And Appearance

Many people wonder if Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherds are the same since their dimensions and appearance are quite similar.

Dutch Shepherd

Dutch Shepherd appearance
Dutch Shepherds
Height22 to 25 inches (56 – 63.5 cm)21.5 to 24 inches (55 – 61 cm)
Weight60 to 70 pounds (27 – 32 kg)51 to 61 pounds (23 – 27.6 kg)

Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois appearance
Belgian Malinois
Height24 to 26 inches (61 – 66 cm)22 to 24 inches (56 – 61 cm)
Weight60 to 75 pounds (27 – 34 kg)55 to 70 pounds (25 – 32 kg)

The short double coat of Belgian Malinois can be black, brindle, cream, gray, red, fawn, mahogany, or liver. On the other hand, only gold and silver brindle variation of Dutch Shepherds is an acceptable standard. They have three coat types, including long, short, and rough.

5. Care

When it comes to shedding, Belgian Malinois vs. Dutch Shepherd competition is real dead heat. Let’s see.

Dutch Shepherd

This breed usually sheds its versatile double coat twice a year, in spring and autumn. The amount of hair you need to deal with will mostly depend on the coat variety. Brush your dog at least once a week, and it will be enough to get rid of excessive shedding.

Belgian Malinois

A waterproof Malinois double coat will moderately shed throughout the year. However, you should expect more hairs around at the time of season changing. Brush your pet a few times a week to remove damaged and dead hair and even more often during the shedding season.

6. Training And Exercise Needs

Is a Belgian Malinois the same as a Dutch Shepherd when it comes to training and exercise needs? YES! If you don’t have time and will to follow their high energy level, these breeds are not the best choice for you.

Dutch Shepherd

Dutch Shepherd running

Be prepared that your dog recognizes the difference between play, work, and chill time. You should opt for this breed only if you can actively play, exercise, and walk with your pet for min two hours a day.

Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois playing

This breed requires both mental and physical joint activities with its owner. Keep in mind that daily playtime and easy walks won’t be sufficient for your active dog since it needs at least two hours of exercise and running a day.

7. Possible Health Problems

Both Dutch Shepherd and Belgian Malinois are healthy breeds with only a few potential genetic health issues.

Dutch Shepherd

It may suffer from:

  • Anesthetic sensitivity
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Eye issues

The life expectancy of this breed is approximately 12 to 15 years.

Belgian Malinois

Possible issues include:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Epilepsy
  • Eye issues

A typical breed life expectancy is 13 to 16 years.

Keep in mind that neither one nor the other breed is hypoallergenic, according to the AKC list.


If you are unsure whether Dutch Shepherd or Belgian Malinois is the right dog for you, you should visit reliable breeders or local rescues and shelters to check both breeds. That way, you can get to know the specific dogs better, and your heart will quickly make the right decision.