Belgian Malinois vs. German Shepherd For Police Work

  • By: Justin
  • Date: February 2, 2023
  • Time to read: 9 min.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re comparing a Belgian Malinois Vs. German Shepherd for police work.

Both breeds are well-known for being excellent police dogs, but which is the best fit for the job?

In this post, I have done extensive research so that you can get an accurate side-by-side comparison of these two magnificent breeds. 

So, let’s dive deeper and investigate the differences and see which breed comes out on top!

Belgian Malinois vs. German Shepherd For Police Work

Understanding The Origin And History Of Both Breeds

Before I compare the Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd, let’s look at each breed’s history and traits so that you can understand their backstory and see what sets each species apart. 

German Shepherd History

The German Shepherd breed has an intriguing origin story! 

It all started in Germany in 1899 when Max von Stephanitz set out to create a breed specifically for herding sheep. 

Max von Stephanitz created the German Shepherd by combining several traditional herding dogs. And it took him 35 years to develop the breed. 

He encouraged the police force in Germany to use German Shepherds. And during World war I, thousands of these dogs became part of the German Army. 

This breed has proven to be versatile over time, serving in various roles such as:

  • assisting people with disabilities
  • assisting in search and rescue missions
  • serving as police dogs
  • and even being used in warfare.

Quick fact: German Shepherds also go by Alsatians. (1.)

Belgian Malinois History 

The Belgian Malinois is a dog breed well-known for its strength and athleticism.

Originating from Belgium in the late 1800s, this breed was developed as a robust herding dog and protector. It is one of four breeds of Belgian Shepherd, with the Malinois getting its name from the city of Malines, Belgium.

In the early 1900s, Belgian Malinois was introduced to the United States. Many Belgian Malinois were used as military dogs during World War I, contributing to the breed’s growing popularity.

The city of Ghent, Belgium, began training dogs specifically for police work in the late 1800s, increasing the breed’s popularity in such roles. The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the Belgian Malinois as a distinct breed in 1959, distinguishing it from the other Belgian Shepherd breeds. (2.)

The Key Takeaway: Belgian Malinois vs. German Shepherd For Law Enforcement 

Belgian Malinois are known to be the first choice in police duties. Because they are the ideal size, brilliant, and have the right amount of energy. 

These K9s are always ready to go, fearless, and eager to please. They are very athletic, tough, driven, superfast, muscular, and have a bite that they love to use. 

The Malinois is known for jumping from helicopters to abseiling and running up vertical walls. They have been said to perform better than German Shepherds in War Zones. 

Although, German Shepherds are still considered the second-best option for police and military work. 

Belgian Malinois takes the lead. Because of their canine superpowers, they can easily detect scents, making them ideal for police work in airports, train stations, and subway stations.

Comparing Belgian Malinois vs. German Shepherd For Police Work

Belgian Malinois German Shepherd 
Size 24-26 inches (male) and
22-24 inches (female)
24-26 inches (male) and 22-24 inches (female)
Facial FeaturesSmall skull with long erect ears and long wolf-like muzzleSmall head with long erect ears and long wolf-like muzzle
ColorsFawn, Mahogany, Red, Red Sable, Fawn SableBlack, Black & Cream, Black & Red, Black & Silver, Black Tan, Blue, Gray, Liver, Sable, White, Bi-Color
Weight (Largest Male)80 Pounds90 Pounds
Body FrameLight FrameBulkier
TrainabilityEager to please Rated 5/5 on trainability Independent 4/5 on trainability
EnergyHighMore relaxed
intelligenceA new study says they are #1 (3.3rd smartest dog
GroupHerding Herding
SpeedInsane speed Up to 35 mphSlower 30 MPH 
Shedding Heavy Heavy
Life Expectancy14- 16 years7- 10 years

Belgian Malinois vs. German Shepherd Loyalty Comparison

Loyalty is desirable in dogs; Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds have it. But, like any trait, it can vary from dog to dog. 

Let’s look at why each breed might have an edge in the loyalty department:

Belgian Malinois:

Hard Workers: Belgian Malinois are workhorses and love to have a job. They are super loyal when they have a purpose and a person to please.

Brainiacs: These dogs are smart cookies, and when you treat them right, they’ll be loyal till the cows come home.

German Shepherds:

Watchdogs are instinctive to protect their family, making them loyal guard dogs.

Love Machine: German Shepherds are known for their ability to bond with their people, so they’ll be loyal to the end.

It’s important to remember that loyalty can be influenced by training, socialization, and a dog’s personality. So, even though both breeds are naturally loyal, each dog is unique. (4.)

Belgian Malinois vs. German Shepherd Size

In short, the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd are almost the same size. The Malinois males measure 24 to 26 inches, and females measure 22 to 24 inches.

On the other hand, males German Shepherd’s height is 24 to 26 inches, and female is 22 to 24 inches. 


GSDs: Males weigh 65- 90 pounds, and females weigh around 50 -70 LBS.

Belgian Malinois: males can weigh 60- 80 LBS, and females weigh from 40 to 60 LBS.

You have learned that German Shepherds have higher bone density and are heftier than Malinois. Law enforcement and the military use Malinois more often because of its lightweight and agility. (5.)

Belgian Malinois vs. German Shepherd Temperament (Which Is More Aggressive)

Regarding temperament, GSDS are naturally obedient, courageous, alert, intelligent, loyal, watchful, curious, and confident. They are thinkers and observers who excel in problem-solving.

German Shepherds are known for working well in high-pressure situations.

Staying calm and keeping their headstrong is essential for law enforcement work.

On the other hand, when it comes to Malinois, they are hard-working, friendly, stubborn, watchful, protective, alert, intelligent, and confident. 

Compared to the German Shepherd, the Malinois tends to be more demanding and stubborn. The Malinois requires more attention when they are pups to help to eliminate stubbornness and bad habits they could have.

In addition, the Malinois tends to be less independent than the German Shepherd. 

When it comes to Aggression breeders, say that German Shepherds show less aggression compared to Malinois. 

Belgian Malinois vs. German Shepherd Bite Force

Belgian Malinois vs. German Shepherd For law enforcement

The German Shepherd has a bite force of 238 PSI, while the Belgian Malinois’s bite force is only 195 pounds per square inch.

The German Shepherd has an advantage of 43 more pounds of force than the Belgian Malinois.

A bit force of 238 Psi is more than enough to break someone’s bones, but a bit force of 195 Psi is still more than enough to cause serious injury to a human.

However, the German Shepherd wins in this category regarding bit force. 

Belgian Malinois vs. German Shepherd Traits And Work Drive (level of Energy and Agility)

The Belgian Malinois is a confident, protective breed that excels in police and military roles. This breed eagerly accepts training and strives to please its owner. The Belgian Malinois has an excellent work ethic, athletic ability, and intelligence.

However, compared to German Shepherds, many owners say the Malinois energy levels are constant and always on the go. For some people, this can be too much to handle. 

Which One Is Faster Belgian Malinois Or German Shepherd

The Belgian Malinois has insane speed compared to the German Shepherd. 

Plus, it has a high amount of endurance while still having incredible power.  

The Belgian Malinois can travel at a speed of up to 31.98 MPH, with some reporting a speed reaching up to 35 MPH. (1.) 

Conversely, the German Sheperd can travel up to a speed of 30 MPH (4.)

The German Shepherd usually is 10 pounds heavier, which makes them slower because of its bulky size. 

The German Shepherd is also famous for their sloping top line. The sloping line was initially bred to give them explosive power in its lunges, but nowadays, it often gives them server-hip issues.

Belgian Malinois vs. German Shepherd Health Problems (who has Better Health and Longevity)

Here are a few health problems that both of these k9 have.

German Shepherd Health Problems

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • pituitary dwarfism
  • exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
  • degenerative myelopathy
  • bloat and gastric torsion
  • Epilepsy

Belgian Malinois Health Problems

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Epilepsy 
  • Eye issues 
  • Sensitivity to anesthetic
  • Dermatitis
  • Bloat 

Training Comparison: German Shepherd vs. Belgian Malinois

When comparing the Malinois, on their trainability, the Malinois is known to be slightly easier to train than the German Shepherd.

Malinois are more eager to please the owners than Shepherd, who can be more independent. 

But one important thing to know is that Malinois is always ready to go. And is often prepared to jump into action before a trainer has completed the command. 

This can be seen as a good thing and a bad thing for the Belgian Malinois.

Final Thoughts on Belgian Malinois vs. German Shepherd for Law enforcement

Both are excellent for police work. But because the Belgian Malinois has a sleeker and lighter frame, they are much faster and more energetic than the German Shepherd. German Shepherds are known for being more muscular and heavier.

Because of this, the Belgian Malinois is used more often. The Malinois is also a better investment for the police force and military. 

Because they live longer, and the police force can get more years of service out of them than the German Shepherd. 

Also, the Belgian Malinois has fewer health issues than a Sheperd. I hope this guide was helpful. Please read below on Common questions of Belgian Malinois vs. German Shepherd for police work.

Do Police Use German Shepherds Or Belgian Malinois?

The Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd are appropriate for police work, but for different reasons. The Belgian Malinois is best suited for high-speed pursuits and dangerous situations requiring agility and speed.

At the same time, the German Shepherd is better suited to tasks that require strength and obedience, such as drug or bomb detection.

Some agencies may favor the Belgian Malinois because of its physical abilities and quick reaction times, while others may prefer the German Shepherd because of its strength and obedience.

However, due to characteristics such as keen scent and intelligence, Belgian Malinois have recently replaced German shepherds in many police departments.

Why Do Police Use Belgian Malinois Instead of German Shepherd?

The Belgian Malinois is excellent for law enforcement, military K-9 operations, and private security and protection.

Because of its well-balanced fusion of physical power, skill, and swiftness, the Belgian Malinois is highly regarded as an ideal breed for law enforcement. This advantageous trait enables the canine to pursue and apprehend fugitives quickly.

The breed is regarded as one of the top choices for police dog work, military K-9 service, and private sector protection and security work.

What Are the Differences Between a German Shepherd And A Belgian Malinois Regarding Being a Police Dog?

Several key differences between the two breeds can impact their aptitude for law enforcement work:

The German Shepherd:

All-Around Ability: German Shepherds are known for their versatility and can be trained to handle a wide range of police duties, including detection, tracking, and apprehension.

Protective Streak: German Shepherds possess a robust protective drive and make excellent police dogs thanks to their ability to guard and shield their handlers.

The Belgian Malinois:

Physical Prowess: Belgian Malinois are highly athletic and boast remarkable agility, making them an ideal choice for police work that requires rapid and graceful movements.

Unstoppable Work Ethic: Belgian Malinois has a relentless drive and a tireless work ethic, making them highly trainable for rigorous police duties such as high-speed pursuits and building searches.

Ultimately, both breeds have the potential to excel as police dogs, yet the specific requirements and needs of a particular police department can influence which breed is the best fit. Budget, training resources, and physical space must also be considered when deciding which breed to choose.

Justin- Writer & Chief Editor of


Justin is a protection dog enthusiast. He has years of experience teaching and training dogs. He enjoys sharing what he’s learned. Read More

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