4 Different Types Of Belgian Malinois

WorldAnimalFoundation.org is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More

Belgian Malinois are versatile working dogs celebrated for their intelligence, agility, and devotion. Used in police, military, and rescue, they’re part of the four Belgian shepherd dog types, each with unique traits.

Knowing the variations within the Belgian Malinois breed is key for prospective owners. Each type has its own characteristics, so choosing one that aligns with your lifestyle and needs, whether as a pet or working partner, is crucial.

Key Points

  • Belgian Shepherds are medium to large, athletic dogs with a slender build, strong muscles, pronounced heads, long snouts, and alert ears.
  • They are highly intelligent, trainable, adventurous, loyal, and curious, making them ideal for both work and as family pets.
  • These breeds need regular exercise, grooming, and a balanced diet. They require mental stimulation.

History & Origin

The Belgian Malinois is a working dog from Belgium, known since the 1800s. The Belgian Malinois is one of four breeds of Belgian herding dogs.

Some countries consider it, along with the Tervuren, Laekenois, and Belgian Shepherd (Groenendael), as part of the Belgian Sheepdog breeds. According to the American Kennel Club, the U.S. has recognized the Malinois as a distinct breed since 1959.

It’s similar in build to three other Belgian Sheepdogs but has its own unique coat. The Belgian Shepherd, recognized for over a century, is often mistaken for the German Shepherd. Known for its strong bond and loyalty to humans, this breed was originally a herding dog but is now popular as a companion. Yet, it still serves in various working roles.

Characteristics of the Belgian Shepherd

Belgian Shepherd dog breeds are medium to large, athletic dogs with strong, well-proportioned muscles, yet they have a slender build. They have pronounced heads with long snouts, often a black mask, thin lips, and alert ears.

Their coats, which can be short or long, are usually thick and may vary in color, helping to distinguish between the four Belgian Shepherd breeds.

The Belgian Shepherds are highly intelligent and train well, making them ideal for work. They’re great family pets but need lots of activity, socialization, and training. They’re adventurous, loyal, and curious.

Types of Belgian Shepherd Dog

Continue reading to discover the special traits of the various Belgian Shepherd breeds.

1. Belgian Malinois

GROUP Herding
HEIGHT 22 to 26 inches
WEIGHT 50 to 80 pounds
COAT AND COLOR Short double coat in rich tan to mahogany
LIFE EXPECTANCY 14 to 16 years

The Malinois has a shorter coat and a well-defined mask and comes in tan to mahogany shades. They’re muscular, excelling in law enforcement and military roles, but may not be ideal for first-time or inactive owners.

The Belgian Malinois is known for its intelligence and strong work ethic, often used in search and rescue and as a service dog. They’re trainable, alert, loyal, and protective, making them excellent working dogs.

They need early socialization to prevent aggressive behavior. Suitable for active families, they are affectionate but reserved with strangers.

2. Belgian Tervuren

4 types of belgian shepherd
GROUP Herding
HEIGHT 22 to 26 inches
WEIGHT 45 to 75 pounds
COAT AND COLOR Thick, double coat in red, fawn, or gray and black
LIFE EXPECTANCY 10 to 14 years

The Tervuren, a Belgian Shepherd variety, is muscular with a regal head, thick coat, and long hair around the head and tail. They have a black mask and reddish-brown coat, needing regular brushing.

They’re active, require exercise, and can excel in various jobs if engaged. Tervurens are intelligent and versatile, with a more reserved nature compared to Malinois. They’re good at herding, service, and therapy work and also make great dog sport participants.

Like other herding breeds, Tervurens need plenty of exercise to use up their energy. They’re very affectionate and can be possessive of their human family.

3. Belgian Groenendael

types of belgian shepherds
GROUP Herding
HEIGHT 22 to 26 inches
WEIGHT 45 to 75 pounds
COAT AND COLOR Thick double-coat in black color
LIFE EXPECTANCY 12 to 14 years

The Belgian Sheepdog, or Groenendael, stands out among Belgian shepherd breeds with its long, solid black coat. This double-coated breed requires regular brushing. They have an elegant, muscular body, a fine face, and pointed ears.

Originating from Groenendael, Belgium, they served in WWI for the Belgian Army. Today, they’re versatile, trained for police work, search and rescue, and as service or therapy dogs. They excel in sports like obedience and agility.

Groenendaels are known for their elegance, steady nature, and adaptability, sharing a strong bond with owners like other Belgian Shepherds. Groenendaels, while similar to other Belgian Shepherd types, tend to be more reserved and protective. They make great family dogs, nevertheless.

4. Belgian Laekenois

belgian shepherd temperament
GROUP Herding
HEIGHT 22 to 26 inches
WEIGHT 55 to 65 pounds
COAT AND COLOR Medium-length double coat with wiry texture in red, fawn, or gray
LIFE EXPECTANCY 10 to 12 years

The Belgian Laekenois, known for its wiry coat, is intelligent and eager to please. Alert yet affectionate, they’re great for those seeking a loyal, watchful pet.

They’re child-friendly and one of the rarest Belgian Shepherds, often bonding closely with one person. These dogs need lots of mental and physical activity and excel in herding and guarding, making them ideal for families or as versatile working dogs.

This Belgian Shepherd variety is more likely to become obese, so it’s crucial to manage their diet, prevent overeating, and ensure plenty of exercise to maintain their fitness.

Exercise, Diet, and Grooming Needs

Belgian Shepherd is considered a healthy breed that is energetic and needs moderate care:


They require daily physical activity, ideally 30-60 minutes, and enjoy running, hiking, and fetching. Mental stimulation through puzzle toys and training is also crucial.


Their double coat sheds moderately, so brush them weekly. Regularly check for mats and tangles, trim nails, and brush teeth to prevent dental issues.


Provide high-quality dog food suitable for their age, weight, and activity level. Monitor their weight to avoid obesity.

Training Belgian Shepherds

Training Belgian Shepherds requires engaging their minds and consistent methods. Use challenging activities like obedience training, agility, and puzzle toys for mental stimulation and energy release.

Positive reinforcement with treats, praise, and play is effective, but be patient, as these smart dogs may test limits. Establish clear rules early on.

Socializing them with different environments, people, and animals is essential for their confidence and adaptability. Remember, building a strong, trusting bond is as important as teaching commands.


With its distinctive characteristics, Belgian Malinois is a versatile and intelligent breed, excelling in various roles, from law enforcement to family companionship. Understanding the specific needs of the Malinois, including regular exercise, mental stimulation, and proper training, is crucial for their well-being.

Whether as working dogs or loyal family members, Malinois thrive in environments where their physical and mental capabilities are recognized and nurtured.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *