Belgian Malinois vs Doberman – Which One To Choose?

Picking the right dog for you and your family is never easy. There are plenty of factors that come into play.

You’ll need to consider what do you need the dog for, the size of the household, and the family situation.

If you’re looking for a reliable guard dog, but also a beloved family member, Belgian Malinois and Doberman should be topping your list.

Both breeds are known as loyal, smart, and excellent home protectors. However, both of them have specific traits that you should pay attention to.

Remember, dogs are not just mere pets, but friends for years.

To provide a clearer picture, I’ll lay out the main characteristics and the key differences of Belgians Malinois vs Doberman.

AttributesBelgian MalinoisDoberman
Good For First Time OwnersNoYes
Good Guard DogYesYes
Apartment FriendlyPossible With Enough ExerciseYes
Good Family DogWith TrainingYes
SheddingModerate To HighLow To Moderate
Barking And HowlingModerate To HighModerate
Height22-26 inches (56-66 cm) 25-28 inches (64-71 cm)
Average Life Expectancy12-14 Years10-13 Years


Belgian Malinois – Dog Breed Information

Often confused with German Shepherd due to the similar appearance, Belgian Malinois is a smart and powerful working dog.

Belgaina Malinois Appearance

They’re a bit smaller and lighter than their German cousins, but they feature the same black-masked face and upright ears.

Males can grow up to 26 inches (66cm) and weigh a maximum of 80 pounds (36kg).

Fully grown females can reach 24 inches (60cm) and 60 pounds (27kg).

Their body is covered in coarse fur. They also have a double coat which keeps them warm during the cold months.

The undercoat is thick and dense, while the top coat is hard.

Belgian Malinois are known as constant shedders with two heavy shedding periods during the year.

So, be prepared for some serious grooming work.

Belgaian Malinois Temperament

As their name says, they were developed in Belgium, initially as livestock herders. This is why the breed is bursting with energy to this day.

It’s very important for potential owners, as Malinois require a lot of exercise and activity.

If you’re mostly a couch-bound owner, you should probably look at other breeds.

Also, this is why they’re not suitable for small apartments.

Belgian Malinois enjoys human company, but early socialization is necessary to get the best out of this breed.

By doing so, you will turn them into a dog who is friendly to children and other pets.

They’re neither particularly aggressive nor shy, but are very possessive of their owners and property.

This makes them excellent watch dogs.

Malinois are very intelligent and respond well to a variety of tasks. For this reason, they are very useful for law enforcement and military purposes.

Doberman – Dog Breed Information

Originating from Germany, the Doberman has been one of the most popular watch dogs for decades.

Doberman Appearance

Due to its powerful, yet elegant appearance, it’s considered one of the most beautiful dogs in the world.

Despite their lean build, they also belong among the strongest breeds. The Dobermans are easily recognizable by their long narrow heads and almond-shaped eyes.

In the past years, most of them had their ears cropped, but nowadays most owners prefer the natural look.

Males can reach up to 28 inches (71cm) and 90 pounds (41kg).

Females grow to 26 inches (66cm) and 77 pounds (35kg).

Doberman’s coat is short and smooth. They are pretty low maintenance when it comes to grooming.

Furthermore, this breed doesn’t shed a lot, usually twice a year. Plus, they’re very clean dogs and don’t make a strong odor.

Doberman Temperament

The Dobermans have a reputation as rather aggressive, but that is mainly due to their formidable appearance.

In reality, that’s often not the case. They usually feature a tame personality and enjoy human companionship.

However, as all intelligent dogs, the Dobermans tend to get bored without regular workouts and activity.

This can sometimes lead to aggressive behavior. The fact is that properly socialized, exercised, and engaged Dobermans make for great family dogs.

The only downside may be that they often get overly attached to only one person.

With their unwavering loyalty to owners and fearsomeness, the Dobermans make for outstanding watch dogs.

They’re very protective of the property and skeptical of strangers. Besides, they’re highly trainable, especially as puppies.

Dobermans respond well to training and enjoy being challenged and asked to perform various tasks.

However, bear in mind that these dogs have a certain stubbornness to them.

Belgian Malinois vs Doberman – The Differences

Belgian MalinoisDoberman

The most obvious difference between the two breeds is, of course, their appearance and build.

The Dobermans are slightly bigger which you should take into account considering available space.

Still, at the same time, their temperament makes them more suitable for apartment living. The difference in the coat type is of even more importance.

Thick undercoat and longer fur make them more suitable for outside activities no matter the season. They can even join your family for a day on the slopes.

The Dobermans require indoor living accommodation and a dog coat if you plan to walk them in freezing conditions.

On the other hand, their short coat makes maintenance much easier. The Malinois will require brushing and grooming at least twice a week.

In general, the Doberman is a better choice for novice owners, whereas the Malinois usually require some previous experience with dogs.

Also, while both breeds are child-friendly, the Dobermans do get along with children better.

If you’re living in a crowded neighborhood then the Doberman’s tendency to bark less is also important.

They’re a bit easier to live and deal with on a day-to-day basis. Also, they need a bit less training.

Historically, the Malinois have been much more known as workers than as pets. They are a better choice if your primary interest is home protection.

Another factor to consider is life expectancy. Of course, it depends on living conditions, diet, and exercise, but on average Malinois have a larger life span.

Their life expectancy is 12-14 years while the Dobermans live 10- 13 years on average.

Nevertheless, the Dobermans have fewer potential health issues and will likely require fewer trips to the vet.


When choosing a dog for your family, you won’t go wrong with either of these two breeds.

Deciding on Belgian Malinois vs Doberman is just a matter of your specific needs and requirements.

It ultimately comes down to your family, the number of children, available free time, and general lifestyle.

As you can see, they have a lot of common characteristics. Both were bred as working dogs and are smart, loyal, and easy to train.

However, you should focus on what differentiates them.

Take all of the above-mentioned factors into careful consideration and see which one is the right dog for you and your family.

Authored By

Madeline Wright

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