Belgian Malinois Police Dog
Dabl At Home Dec 2020
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Dabl at Home

Belgian Malinois Vs. German Shepherd: Who’s The Better K9 Officer?

While the German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois are both incredible breeds, Belgian Malinois are earning a reputation as the better working dog, police dog, and guard dog!

Move aside, German Shepherds! There’s a new sheriff in town! For more than 100 years, German Shepherds have been the police dogs of choice because they are highly intelligent, easily trainable, stay calm under pressure, and love to work. Families often adopt German Shepherds because these dogs are loving and affectionate, but are also naturally loyal and protective. But now, it seems like the Belgian Malinois is swooping in to claim the top spot as the best guard dog and K9 officer. 

While you may have heard of German Shepherds before, the Belgian Malinois is a lesser-known breed. Before we dive into why the Belgian Malinois is earning a reputation as the best police dog, let’s take a step back to explore what makes these breeds special, starting with German Shepherds! 

Meet the German Shepherd.

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is one of the most well-known and beloved dog breeds out there. German Shepherds are herding dogs that are recognized by their big ears, long double coat, and beautiful coloring. German Shepherds can be all black or all white, sable, or have a mixture of colors in their fur, including black and tan, black and red, and black and cream. These dogs are medium to large, with females weighing between 50-70 pounds and males weighing between 65-90 pounds when fully grown. 

Personality wise, German Shepherds can best be described as confident, courageous, and smart. These dogs are highly intelligent, easy to train, and are eager to have a job or purpose to do. These traits are what have made German Shepherds highly successful working dogs. Even though the Belgian Malinois is taking the top spot, German Shepherds are still a common choice for the police force. These dogs are a particularly great choice for scent-work roles, including search and rescue, cadaver searching, narcotics detection, and explosives detection. 

That said, German Shepherds do make great family dogs and can get along well with children and other dogs when socialized and trained properly. The breed does have a natural aloofness that makes them a bit suspicious of strangers, but these dogs will be loyal, devoted, and caring companions once they get to know you. They are known for being very affectionate, and can be protective of the people they love, which makes them good guard dogs. 

Meet the Belgian Malinois.

Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois, or Belgian Shepherd, is another type of herding dog. Because this breed shares a lot of traits with German Shepherds, the two are often compared and contrasted. This world-class working breed is a medium to large-sized dog, but is a little smaller than German Shepherds. Females tend to weigh between 40-60 pounds, while males weigh between 60-80 pounds. While both breeds look fairly similar, the Belgian Malinois is usually recognized by the black coloring on his face and black ears that accentuate his bright, curious eyes. That said, this breed’s fur coloring can range from fawn to mahogany.

The Belgian Malinois is best described as intelligent, hardworking, confident, alert, and vigilant. These dogs are very easy to train and eager to please, and will form unbreakable bonds with their people. These versatile dogs are frequently trained for use as assistance dogs, detection dogs, guard dogs, guide dogs, police dogs, and search and rescue dogs. These dogs require a lot of activity and mental stimulation, so working gives them a purpose that makes them happy.

For an experienced dog owner, the Belgian Malinois can become a loyal and loving family pet. But this certainly isn’t the easiest breed to adopt for a first-time pet parent or someone with a busy lifestyle. This dog needs a LOT of exercise, preferably side by side with its owner. If this people-oriented dog doesn’t get enough exercise and attention and feels underemployed or neglected, it can become destructive or develop behavioral problems. That said, a properly trained and exercised Belgian Malinois makes a loving and devoted family pet! Like German Shepherds, these dogs are also aloof toward strangers, but are very affectionate toward their people. Once these dogs love you, they’ll make it their mission to protect you and your family. 

Why is the Belgian Malinois becoming the first choice for police? 

As you can likely tell, both the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd both possess traits that make them great guard dogs, working dogs, and police dogs. But in recent years, the Belgian Malinois has really become the dog of choice for many police forces. This is for a few reasons. 

First, the Belgian Malinois is generally a healthier breed. The way German Shepherds are built makes these dogs prone to joint and cartilage distress and predisposes them to certain illnesses, such as degenerative myelopathy, osteoarthritis, and hip dysplasia. These common medical conditions tend to require German Shepherds to retire from the police force earlier than desired. Thanks to its smaller size, the Belgian Malinois isn’t nearly as prone to these medical issues, meaning they can work for longer. In fact, the average lifespan for German Shepherds is 9-13 years, while Belgian Malinois tend to live to be 12-14. With all the time, money, and effort put into training K9 officers and police dogs, it only makes sense to pick the breed that’s overall healthier and has a longer lifespan. 

Additionally, the Belgian Malinois simply has the better physique for the job. German Shepherds are gorgeous and powerful dogs, but they are also big and bulky. The smaller and lighter body possessed by the Belgian Malinois is athletic, fast, agile, and strong. These are traits that are important for search and rescue missions because the Belgian Malinois can fit into more spaces. Next, their speed, unlimited energy, and high-strung personalities make these dogs effective at capturing and holding crime suspects. The Belgian Malinois can also learn to jump extremely high to avoid obstacles and to climb structures or buildings while in pursuit. 

While German Shepherds have served their police counterparts dutifully for many years and are highly intelligent, Belgian Malinois seem to learn at a faster pace, which makes them easier to train and prepare for life as a working dog. Belgian Malinois are eager to please, extremely curious, and have significantly higher levels of energy and endurance, meaning they can work and train for longer. Belgian Malinois dogs also respond to positive reinforcement training extremely well. Although the German Shepherd is courageous in the field, Belgian Malinois have proven themselves as fearless and aggressive in taking down criminals. That said, Belgian Malinois dogs are not normally aggressive toward their family or people they know. In fact, these dogs can ruthlessly take down a criminal and then be showering his partner in kisses minutes later! 

At the end of the day, it’s ultimately the small size and unlimited energy of the Belgian Malinois that makes these dogs the new top choice for police officers. That said, we don’t expect German Shepherds to leave the working world anytime soon either. They just might have to settle for second place. 

What is the key takeaway? 

We want to reiterate that both German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois are wonderful dog breeds! Although we have described traits common to these breeds, personalities will still vary a bit from dog to dog! Just like people, dogs have their own individual personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and quirks, regardless of breed. If you are hoping to adopt one of these beautiful dogs to be your companion and/or guard dog, we’re sure the right fit for your life and family is out there somewhere! 

Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with either breed! But if you want the best of both worlds, check out these mixed breed puppies that Brandon McMillan is breeding from Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds to assist disabled veterans.

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