Belgian Malinois German Shepherd Mix: The Ultimate Working Dog

The Belgian Malinois German Shepherd mix is one of many newer crossbred or hybrid dog breeds that are in development today.

The concept of hybrid or crossbred dog breeding is not a new one. In fact, nearly all purebred dog breeds today are the product of these types of strategic breeding programs.

But whenever you combine the gene pool for two different purebred dogs together, there is no way to predict with certainty how each puppy in a litter will turn out.

This makes it important to learn about both parent dog breeds.

In this article, you’ll learn about the Belgian Malinois German Shepherd mix dog history, personality, coat, training, exercise needs, and health issues.

Hopefully this information will help you decide if the German Malinois might be the perfect dog for you.

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Belgian Malinois German Shepherd Mix

The Belgian Malinois German Shepherd mix has one purebred Belgian Malinois parent dog and one German Shepherd parent dog.

What sets this hybrid dog breed apart is that the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd are arguably the two top protection K-9s in the world.

Quick Facts

HeightWeightAppearanceCoatHealthFamily Friendly?TemperamentTraining & Exercise
24 inches tall on average (2 inches less on average for females)65 lbs on average (10-15 lbs less on average for females)Not overly large dogs but have an imposing presence. The mix will be considered a medium-large breed. Colors can include black, beige, brown, and other off-tan colorations.Both parent dog breeds shed heavily year-round and seasonally, so the same is expected from the mix. Regular brushing and occasional grooming will be needed.Lifespan: 14 years on average. Genetic diversity will improve the overall health of the mix, but they'll still be prone to certain hereditary conditions like hip & elbow dysplasia.With the proper training & socialization, this mix can be a great family dog that will get along just fine with kids.These high-energy dogs will form very close bonds with their owners. They're courageous, highly intelligent, intense, loyal, have high guarding/protection instincts, and a high chase/prey drive.Needs LOTS of exercise. This mix combines two of the ultimate working dogs that were bred specifically with working abilities in mind. Regular training & socialization from puppyhood will be vital with this powerful athletic mix.

Read on to learn what to expect if you decide to add a Belgian Malinois German Shepherd mix dog to your family, and how to choose a healthy puppy.

Meet a Belgian Malinois German Shepherd Mix

In this YouTube video, you get to meet a young K-9 trainee named Max. Max is a Belgian Malinois German Shepherd mix.

Even though Max is only five months old, he is clearly capable to learn, recall and execute basic training commands perfectly.

This video demonstrates how smart, people-centric, and athletic the German Malinois dog is.

The History of the Belgian Malinois German Shepherd Mix

The Belgian Malinois dog breed has historically been known for its confusing resemblance to the German Shepherd.

But this all changed in 2011 when Seal Team 6 raided Osama Bin Laden’s compound. Seal Team 6 had a very special Seal in their team – a K-9 Belgian Malinois named Cairo.

As 3 Million Dogs reports, Cairo actually caught Bin Laden, making international news headlines. Suddenly, everyone wanted a Belgian Malinois!

German Shepherds haven’t needed any special press to maintain their popularity. As the American Kennel Club (AKC) explains, the German Shepherd is the second most popular companion canine in America.

German Shepherds are also well known for their talents as protection, military, police, and security K-9s. Their diverse abilities make these dogs a top pick for families who like to have a watchdog in the home.

Herding & Guarding Dogs To Active Duty K-9s

Both the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd dog breeds are now known for their K-9 abilities. These breeds also share similar origin stories as working livestock herding and guarding dogs.

As the American Belgian Malinois Club (ABMC) explains, the Belgian Malinois actually belongs to a group of four different Belgian herding dogs.

These pups look very much alike, except when it comes to hair type and color.

After many years serving as a herding and livestock guarding dog, the Belgian Malinois became one of the first dog breeds to work with police officers in the New York City K-9 corps.

The German Shepherd breed came into existence in Germany under the guidance of a retired cavalry officer named Captain Max von Stephanitz.

Stephanitz didn’t foresee a future for his new breed in the military. Rather, he dreamed of creating the perfect working and herding dog.

Despite this, these dogs ended up serving in the German Army, and later in the American police and military forces.

It is, however, thanks to movies featuring German Shepherd stars like Strongheart and Rin-Tin-Tin that made the GSD a household name, and a family favorite.

Today, the Belgian Malinois is now the 43rd most popular purebred dog breed (out of 197 breeds registered through the American Kennel Club).

The German Shepherd maintains a firm grip on the number two spot on that same list.

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Personality and Temperament of a Belgian Malinois German Shepherd Mix

One interesting thing about the personality of the Belgian Malinois German Shepherd mix is that these crossbred puppies will inherit complementary temperaments from each parent dog’s genes.

This is not always the case when a new hybrid dog breed is being developed. However, the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd share similar breed developments and backgrounds.

These dogs have performed similar ‘jobs’ in the past. They’re also both well known for their bravery and athleticism in military, police, and personal protection situations.

But what does this mean for you if you’re considering a Belgian Malinois German Shepherd as a family pet? Let’s take a look at each parent dog breed’s personality and temperament.

Belgian Malinois

The American Kennel Club (AKC) describes the “Mal” as a confident, hardworking, and intelligent dog breed.

These dogs’ intelligence cannot be understated. Science Alert ranks the Belgian Malinois as 22nd out of 79 purebred dog breeds in terms of overall intelligence.

In practical terms, this means that the Malinois can learn a new command in between 5 and 15 tries. They’ll also be able to remember it 85 percent of the time.

The Mal doesn’t rank higher because these dogs are bred and trained to think independently. This has made them notoriously stubborn.

But this independence is a trait you want in a breed that is meant to guard and protect you during uncertain circumstances.

Some owners describe the Belgian Malinois like a “German Shepherd on steroids.” This gives you a great idea of how active, energetic, and intense a Belgian Malinois can be.

These dogs have a very high chase/prey drive, as is expected with a herding breed that is a top-notch protection dog.

German Shepherd

Science Alert ranks the German Shepherd dog as the 3rd most intelligent of all dog breeds (out of 79 purebred dog breeds).

Dogs that rank in the top 10 are said to be able to learn a new command in less than five tries, and recall it perfectly 95 percent of the time.

German Shepherds are very intense and intelligent working dogs with high energy levels, and a keen desire to stay active or ‘work a job’.

Like the Belgian Malinois, the German Shepherd has a high prey drive and chase instinct. This is due to their livestock herding and guarding dog background.

Both parent dogs of the Belgian Malinois German Shepherd mix are intensely people-focused.

These dogs live to be with their people, and won’t like being left alone or in the company of another dog too frequently.

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How Much Coat Care Does a Belgian Malinois German Shepherd Mix Need?

With the advent of modern hybrid or crossbred breeding programs, more and more dog owners want to own a dog with a hypoallergenic coat.

While this is understandable for people with pet allergies, unfortunately, there is no such dog.

All dogs can cause allergies. This is because the protein allergen is not in the hair but rather in the saliva, skin, and urine of the dog.

But when it comes to the Belgian Malinois German Shepherd mix, this is a non-issue since both parent dog breeds shed heavily year-round and seasonally.

Let’s take a closer look at each parent dog’s coat type and shedding pattern.

Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois has a short coat with two layers. The under layer near the skin is thick, soft, warm, and insulating. The outer layer is slightly longer, coarser, and naturally water repellant.

Belgian Malinois dogs don’t usually smell (unless they roll in something) and don’t need to be bathed too often. Bathing too frequently can destroy the protective natural oils on the outer layer of the coat.

Belgian Malinois coats are fairly self-maintaining and only need weekly brushing to stay looking neat and healthy.

The Belgian Malinois will shed year-round. When the seasons change, these dogs go through something called a “coat blow” which helps replenish the coat’s protective properties.

During this period, the coat will shed out in chunks for several weeks.

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd dog has a medium-length double layer coat. Like the Belgian Malinois, this double layer coat serves two purposes: protection and insulation.

Like the Mal, the German shepherd will go through a seasonal coat blow that helps the dog adjust to changing temperatures. This will help replenish the coat as well.

But other than regular brushing and the occasional bath, the GSD coat is fairly self-maintaining.

The adult Belgian Malinois German Shepherd mix will typically have a double layer shedding coat that requires only very basic care.

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Belgian Malinois German Shepherd Mix Adult Size

The Belgian Malinois German Shepherd mix dog is going to be a large dog breed. But just how large will your crossbred puppy grow up to be?

The Belgian Malinois typically weighs between 40 and 80 pounds and stands 22 to 26 inches tall (measured from the base of paw pads to tops of shoulders).

The German Shepherd typically weighs between 50 and 90 pounds and stands 22 to 26 inches tall.

Taking an average of these vital statistics, you can ‘guesstimate’ that your puppy will grow to weigh around 65 pounds and stand about 24 inches tall.

However, gender can influence these sizes. You can normally subtract 10 to 15 pounds and two inches from these estimates if your puppy is a female.

If you need a more exact number, the best way to plan for your crossbred puppy’s adult size is to learn the vital statistics of each parent dog.

Belgian Malinois German Shepherd Mix Exercise and Training

The most challenging aspect of owning a Belgian Malinois German Shepherd mix will be training your dog, and providing sufficient daily exercise and activity.

Based on the breed history of each parent dog, we know that both breeds are considered working dogs. As such, they have the typical high energy and activity levels of herding dog breeds.

Both dogs are highly intelligent, able to quickly learn new skills, and very keen to have some kind of job or activity to do.

Starting puppy socialization and training right away – ideally from your first day at home together will be important.

This is true for all dogs but is especially the case for the German Malinois when considering its unique mix of traits, and powerful size.

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Socialization & training classes

Enrolling your dog in proper training classes is definitely recommended. Socialization exercises with new people and dogs will help your puppy learn to differentiate between friendly strangers and actual threats.

As PetMD points out, you will need to wait until your Belgian Malinois German Shepherd puppy has finished growing before doing any strenuous training or exercise.

Your veterinarian will need to to do X-rays of the long leg bones. This is to confirm that the soft growth plates have closed and hardened, which indicates your dog has reached its full adult height.

If your dog exercise too vigorously before they are finished growing, this can cause lifelong injuries to the bones, tissues, and ligaments.

Once your Belgian Malinois German Shepherd mix has finished growing, it will be safe to let it run, plan, and exercise as much as they want.

This is a great time to enroll your dog in K-9 training or in canine athletics.

Belgian Malinois German Shepherd Health and Life Expectancy

One of the biggest drivers for modern crossbreeding programs is to improve the genetic diversity of many purebred dog breeds.

The Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd dog breed lines both have some serious genetic (heritable) health issues.

These have arisen because of hyper-focused breeding for appearance or show standards.

So you always want to make sure that any breeder you work with has done the required and recommended pre-breeding health tests on the parent dogs.

Here are the health issues your breeder should test for in German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois dogs, according to the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC):

  • Dysplasia (hip, elbow).
  • Temperament.
  • Eye issues.
  • Cardiac issues.
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis.
  • Degenerative myelopathy.

When choosing a new companion canine, it’s nice to know how long you and your new dog can plan on being together.

The Belgian Malinois has a surprisingly long life expectancy for a large dog breed. The Mal typically lives between 14 and 16 years.

The German Shepherd typically lives between 9 and 13 years.

Therefore, a German Malinois will probably live longer than a purebred German Shepherd. The Belgian Malinois German Shepherd’s average life will span 14 years.

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Will a Belgian Malinois German Shepherd Mix Be Good With Kids?

Belgian Malinois German Shepherd dogs have an instinctual desire to run and chase fast-moving objects. They also have strong prey drives and herding drives.

This herding instinct may cause your dog to nip at the heels of younger family members, which can be scary for little kids to experience.

The prey instinct may make your dog want to chase other family pets or even little kids.

In the same way, Belgian Malinois German Shepherd puppies may not be as tolerant of rough handling from children.

It’ll be important to teach your kids how to properly play with these dogs in order to avoid any injuries.

Proceed with caution, and plan to supervise your dog with your children if you want to get a Belgian Malinois German Shepherd.

Is the Belgian Malinois German Shepherd Mix Your Next Dog?

Choosing a new companion canine is a big decision.

The two of you will be together for many years to come so you want to be sure that you have the time, energy, budget, and resources to properly care for your new dog.

The Belgian Malinois German Shepherd mix is a perfect choice for an active individual or family who wants to make their dog the center of family life.

If you love to exercise outdoors and want a dog you can share your active lifestyle with, the Belgian Malinois German Shepherd might be your perfect next pet!

Related reading: Belgian Malinois vs. German Shepherd

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