Belgian Malinois German Shepherd Mix: Why Malinois X is the Ultimate Working Dog
Shannon Cutts
Author: Shannon Cutts
Shannon Cutts, an animal intuitive and communicator, deepens interspecies connections through her writing and advocacy work.
Published date: March 1, 2022
Updated date: January 22, 2024
This article was reviewed and fact checked If you have found any errors, please contact us!

Belgian Malinois German Shepherd Mix: Why Malinois X is the Ultimate Working Dog

One purebred Belgian Malinois and one German Shepherd are the parent breeds of the Belgian Malinois German Shepherd Mix. Both the parent breeds are one of the top protection K-9s worldwide.

The combination of the dog breed characteristics of the parent breeds makes a Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd mix an intelligent and energetic working dog and a reliable protector of its owner.

A Belgian Malinois German Shephard Mix, also known as a ” designer dog”, Malinois X, German Malinois, or Shepinois, is about 24 inches tall and 65 lbs. heavy. They are a medium-large breed in size and have black, beige, brown, and other off-tan colorations on their coat.

They have a 12 to 14-year lifespan and need plenty of exercise since they are produced from two highly energetic and active breeds.

This mix is a cross between a German Shepherd and a Belgian Malinois. So, adequate training and activity may be a challenging task for the owner of this mixed breed as both the parents are working breeds.

Quick Facts About Malinois X

Height24 inches tall on average (2 inches less on average for females)
Weight65 lbs. on average (10-15 lbs. less on average for females)
AppearanceNot overly large dogs but have an imposing presence. The mix will be considered a medium-large breed. Colors can include black, beige, brown, fawn, and other off-tan colorations.
CoatBoth 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.
HealthLifespan: 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.
Family Friendly?With proper training & early socialization, this mix can be a great family dog that will get along just fine with kids.
TemperamentThese high-energy dogs will form very close bonds with their owners. They’re great guard dogs because they are courageous, highly intelligent, intense, loyal, have high protection instincts, and a high chase/prey drive.
Training & ExerciseThis designer breed 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.

The History of the Belgian Malinois and 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 on their team – a K-9 Belgian Malinois named Cairo.

As the New York Post 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 breed of companion canine in America.

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

Herding & Guarding Dog Breeds 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 breed 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 coat color. Both breeds also have ears that are set high, but Belgian Malinois have bigger and pointier ears compared to their head size than German Shepherds.

After many years of serving as a herding and livestock guarding dog, the Belgian Malinois, one of the varieties of Belgian Shepherd, 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 as military and police dogs 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 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.

belgian malinois german shepherd mix

Personality, Temperament and Intelligence of the German Malinois

One interesting thing about the personality of the German Shepherd and the Belgian Malinois 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, intelligent, highly trainable dogs full of energy 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 active dogs live to be with their people, and won’t like being left alone or in the company of another dog too frequently.

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 underlayer 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 coat layer. 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.


How Big Will Your Malinois X Puppy Grow Up to Be?

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 the 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 German Malinois 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 German Malinois puppy is a female.

If you need a more exact number, the best way to plan for your crossbred German Malinois puppies’ adult size is to learn the vital statistics of each parent breed.

Exercise and Training For Belgian Malinois German Shepherd Mix

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 breeds, we know that both breeds are considered working dogs. As such, they have the typical high energy 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.

belgian malinois german shepherd mix

Socialization & training classes

Enrolling your dog in proper training classes is definitely recommended. Socialization exercises with new people and dogs will help your German Malinois puppies 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 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 exercises 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 easy to train and safe to let it run, plan, and exercise as much as it wants.

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

Belgian Malinois German Shepherd’s Health and Lifespan

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 breeds.

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

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • 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.

belgian malinois german shepherd mix

The Food and Diet Requirements of This Active Designer Breed

Feeding a Belgian Malinois German Shepherd Mix properly is key. These large, high-energy dogs need about 3 to 4 cups of good dog food each day to get the right nutrition they need.

It’s not a good idea to leave food out all day for these dogs. They might eat too much and get stomach problems or gain too much weight. Instead, feed them at meal times, two or three times a day. A small, healthy snack in the middle of the day is okay too.

As these dogs get older, they can sometimes have problems with their bones and spine. A lot of this has to do with the German Shepherd part of their genes.

It’s really important they get plenty of calcium in their food every day to help prevent these troubles. It’s a good idea to talk with a vet to make sure your dog is getting the right diet they need.

Will a Grown Shepinois or German Malinois Puppies 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 German Malinois puppies 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 German Malinois puppies in order to avoid any injuries.

Proceed with caution, and plan to supervise your dog with your children if you want to get this designer breed.

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 of learning, recalling and executing basic training commands perfectly.

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

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!

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