4 July 2023
We are often asked whether we recommend a client gets a German Shepherd or Malinois as a protection dog. As both breeds are excellent guardians and share many of the same characteristics, answering this question is not straightforward.
The German Shepherd and Malinois share a common heritage as pastoral protectors who were developed and worked in the borderlands separating France, Germany, Belgium, and Holland. At heart, both breeds are highly intelligent, energetic, and protective dogs who thrive when given a job. They are often found employed as police or military working dogs, and have excelled in these kinds of roles.
Differences between these breeds are largely aesthetic. The Malinois is slightly smaller, leaner, and has a shorter tan coat which only comes in a single layer, so sheds moderately. The German Shepherd is taller, heavier-framed, and its double-layered coat may be tan with a black saddle, solid black, or sable. A double-layered coat also means that it sheds heavily throughout the year, which may be a consideration for potential owners suffering fur allergies.
Temperamentally, both breeds are very similar. They do best in active homes where they can enjoy as much as exercise and playtime as offered, undertake high-level obedience training, and be exposed to working disciplines such as protection sports, tracking, or substance detection. Their intelligence means the working German Shepherd and Malinois demand more from their owners than an ordinary companion dog would. The Malinois is perhaps more energetic than some German Shepherds, but this is not a hard and fast rule.
Ultimately, the German Shepherd and Malinois are so similar that both will be appropriate for many of the same owners and households. Personal preference is likely to play a major role in this decision-making process, and both breeds make wonderful family protection dogs. For advice on which breed would best suit your home, please email [email protected].