If you are considering choosing a Belgian Malinois for your next companion canine, you may be wondering if a female or male Malinois is a better pick for you.
The whole topic of how gender may or may not influence performance among protection dogs is controversial.
Some people believe that gender can have a very predictable and strong influence on a dog’s temperament and talents. Other people think that gender is not nearly as important as genetics or handling.
In this article, learn whether or not there is a reliable gender difference between female vs male Belgian Malinois working dogs.
Learn About Gender in Protection Dogs from a Master K-9 Trainer
As you will learn in this short, helpful YouTube video, gender is typically not the most helpful criteria of how well a dog may perform in a protection or working dog role.
As the master trainer points out, genetics and hormones can have a big influence on whether a male dog behaves in a way that is traditionally associated as “masculine.” The same holds true for female protection dogs – some may behave more like male dogs!
Experienced working dog and protection dog trainers and handlers know to look beyond gender to genetics and temperament to determine the right job for each individual Belgian Malinois dog.
Gender Stereotypes in the Belgian Malinois Dog Breed
Sometimes it can seem like the whole world is embroiled in the complexities of gender typing and gender stereotypes.
As the whole concept of gender, gender roles, and gender identities become more fluid for people, this is also changing the way canine handlers view and talk about the abilities of male and female working dogs.
When Evaluating a Female Vs Male Belgian Malinois, the Handler Matters
While some dog breeders may try to sell people a dog based on gender characteristics alone, this owner forum on Pedigree Database clearly shows the flaws in this approach.
When you see a dog working with an experienced trainer or K-9 handler, that trainer/handler can showcase the dog in their very best light. You might see very different behavior if the dog was being handled by an inexperienced trainer.
This is true regardless of whether that dog happens to be male or female. In other words, the handler’s approach may have a greater impact on how a dog behaves than that dog’s own gender!
Visible Differences Between Female Vs Male Belgian Malinois Dog
Gender differences and their influence on a Belgian Malinois dog’s personality and temperament may or may not be a reliable indicator of performance.
But there are some physical characteristics that may be important to factor in when deciding between a female vs male Belgian Malinois.
The most significant is the simple physical size.
Female vs male Belgian Malinois size, weight, and height differences
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), a fully grown adult female Belgian Malinois typically weighs between 40 and 60 pounds and will stand 22 to 24 inches tall (paw pads to shoulders).
Now contrast that with the male Belgian Malinois dog, who typically weighs between 60 and 80 pounds and stands 24 to 26 inches tall.
The males generally (although not always) can be a full 20 pounds heavier and two inches taller than adult females. For slight, small handlers, a female Belgian Malinois may simply be easier to work with.
Female vs male Belgian Malinois neuter/spay differences
As Chien Policier European Belgian Malinois breeder points out, there are some potential known health risks to the timing of your dog’s spay or neuter procedure.
And there are some known health risks if you decide to leave your male or female Belgian malinois intact.
However, there are some personality and temperament risks to factor in too. One of the biggest ones is how achieving sexual maturity can change your dog’s behavior.
As Command Control Protection Dogs points out, there can be benefits to leaving a protection dog intact, including enhanced judgment abilities.
Unfortunately, there is no single unified consensus on these challenging topics. So this is something you will want to discuss with your dog’s breeder and your K-9 trainer so you can make the best decision for your dog.
There can also be drawbacks that you may not be able to predict in advance. If an intact male Belgian Malinois “on the job” gets distracted by a female dog in heat, their judgment and focus may be impaired.
Similarly, if an intact female Belgian Malinois comes into heat while “on the job,” this may disrupt her concentration and judgment due to hormonal fluctuations or physical discomfort.
The timing of the spay/neuter can also differ by gender. For female Belgian Malinois, it is preferable to allow your dog to go through at least one full successful heat cycle before you consider scheduling the spay procedure.
In the same way, many breeders and veterinarians are now recommending waiting until a dog is at least two years old before scheduling a spay or neuter surgery to guard against cancer or developmental abnormalities.
As Vetstreet points out, there is another benefit to delaying either surgery, which is that the vet can then also perform a preventative surgery to guard against the fatal condition gastric volvulus or bloat.
A fixed protection dog of either gender may behave differently than an intact Belgian Malinois.
Training a Female Vs Male Belgian Malinois
Live Science reports that the structure of a female dog’s brain is actually noticeably different from the structure of a male dog’s brain – regardless of the dog’s breed.
The question then becomes, what (if anything) do these structural brain differences indicate?
In the study, the researchers discovered that female dogs tended to be better at noticing subtle differences in the size of an object (in this case, a regular ball).
But they were hesitant to draw any conclusions from this about overall canine intelligence. They did feel like it might be indicative of the differing roles of male or female canines in a wild setting.
When a similar question was posed to a Reddit forum of Belgian Malinois dog owners, the owners stated that it is a very subjective topic overall.
Some of the Belgian Malinois owners stated their personal subjective opinions about gender differences but made it clear it was their personal opinion and not a breed-wide generalization.
Here, it could also be that the way the owner feels about a dog’s gender or owning a female vs male Belgian Malinois could influence how they interact with their dog and thus how the dog behaves during training.
As Scott’s K9 training company points out, gender stereotypes that favor male dogs can be hard to break through.
But other than the issue of an adult Belgian Malinois’s size and weight that could mean a female or male dog is better for some tasks, there is no difference in the drive, focus, or strength when it comes to a dog’s ability for learning protection tasks.
The Belgian Shepherd Genetic Influence for a Female Vs Male Belgian Malinois
Genetics often play the strongest role in determining every aspect of a Belgian Malinois puppy’s growth and development.
Just like it is vital to test breeding pairs to be sure a puppy won’t inherit life-limiting health concerns like hip dysplasia, so too is it important to meet your puppy’s parents so you get the best idea of what your puppy will be like as an adult.
Some female Belgian Malinois may be quite tall and heavy and some male Belgian Malinois may be smaller and lighter.
As the American Kennel Club (AKC) points out, this is especially the case with the whole family of Belgian herding and working dogs, the Tervuren, Groenendael, and the Laekenois, which can and do interbreed and share traits.
How your dog is bred, whelped, fed, socialized, and trained can all impact what personality and temperament traits get enhanced and reinforced, which in turn can impact how your Belgian Malinois performs as a protection dog.
Making Up Your Own Mind About a Female Vs Male Belgian Malinois
If you are having a hard time deciding between a female vs male Belgian Malinois for your personal protection dog, you may want to consider your own size and strength to make the choice easier.
If you are tall and strong, you may find you prefer a larger, taller, stronger dog to work with. If you are small and slight, a smaller, shorter dog might be the best fit.
Similarly, when you go to pick out your Belgian Malinois puppy, just pay attention to how each puppy interacts with you. You may just surprise yourself by feeling the closest bond with a puppy whose gender doesn’t match what you were expecting to choose!
Overall, how you raise, train, socialize, and interact with your Belgian Malinois puppy will have the greatest influence on your dog’s abilities as a protection dog.