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Home > Dogs > Doberman vs Belgian Malinois: The Differences (With Pictures)

Doberman vs Belgian Malinois: The Differences (With Pictures)

Doberman vs Belgian Malinois

When considering a dog that will protect you, your family, and your home there are several options to choose from. Two of the most popular are the Doberman and Belgian Malinois. While these dogs may be at the top of the list when it comes to protection, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to these two breeds. Let’s take a look at both the feared, yet respected Doberman and the hard-working Belgian Malinois so you can decide which breed is best suited for you.


Visual Differences

Doberman vs Belgian Malinois - Visual Differences
Image Credit: Left – Daria Shvetcova, Shutterstock | Right – BIGANDT.COM, Shutterstock

At a Glance

Let’s take a look at these two beautiful breeds in a head-to-head comparison. This will help you to better understand the size, weight, health, and basic characteristics of each dog. As you can see, the Doberman is the larger of the breeds but when it comes to lifespan, the Malinois has a longer life expectancy. You will also notice that both dogs are family-friendly, intelligent, and easy to train. Both breeds are also protective. If you’re looking for a best friend that will also be the protector of your family and home, either breed could easily do the job.

  • Average height (adult): 25 – 28 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 75 – 90 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10 – 13 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Minimal
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Intelligent, loyal, family-oriented, protective, and fearless
Belgian Malinois
  • Average height (adult): 22– 26 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 60 – 80 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12 – 14 years
  • Exercise: 2 hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes, but requires proper training
  • Other pet-friendly: Occasionally with proper socialization
  • Trainability: Energetic, family-oriented, protective, and intelligent

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Doberman Overview

black and tan female doberman pinscher dog standing on the bench
Image Credit: Michsa, Shutterstock

Dobermans are known for being fearless and protective of their owners. This reputation makes sense considering the breed was originally created to be the protector of a tax collector. Back in the 19th century, collecting taxes was a dangerous job. To avoid running into issues, a tax collector by the name of Louis Dobermann decided that he would breed a dog that would make people fear it while the dog did its job and kept him safe. It is suspected that Dobermann used the Rottweiler, German Pinscher, and the Black and Tan Terrier to create this breed.

Besides the Doberman’s fearsome appearance, this working-class dog gained a reputation due to its dependability and loyalty. Over the years this breed made its way into police and military service and is even used often as service animals. The breed was first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1908.

Personality / Character

Described by the AKC as “royalty in the canine kingdom”, the Doberman is best known for its extreme loyalty to its owner and desire to protect its family and home. This breed is known for becoming overly attached to its owners. They are also energetic dogs that need physical and mental stimulation. You can’t expect a Doberman to simply sit around on the couch all day. This breed wants to explore and learn. Just because Dobermans are fearless and protective doesn’t mean they can’t be loving. This is especially true when they are properly trained and socialized at an early age. With proper work, a Doberman can be good with families and open to other pets being in the home.

doberman training
Image Credit: Piqsels


The Doberman is a highly intelligent dog breed. When training is started early, Dobermans can be taught to interact well with strangers, be around children, and be accepting of other pets. When training your Doberman, they are eager to please. Don’t be surprised if your Doberman picks up on things quickly and tries to impress you by showing off just a bit.

Health & Care

Dobermans are fairly healthy dogs that aren’t high maintenance. They aren’t heavy shedders, normally shedding their coats twice per year. To keep your Doberman looking its best, brush your pet once or twice a week and bathe them as needed. You’ll also need to stay on top of basic care like trimming your Doberman’s nails and brushing its teeth with a vet-approved toothbrush and dog-friendly toothpaste. Routine checkups are required for your Doberman as they are susceptible to a few issues that your veterinarian will need to keep their eyes open for.

drooling doberman in the park
Image Credit: Jaydn Serrano, Shutterstock

Suitable for

The Doberman is truly a versatile dog breed. While they look vicious, these dogs are relatively calm and relaxed. This makes them good for families and singles. Small children should be introduced to Dobermans early and taught how to properly interact with dogs, so that they aren’t hurting or scaring your pets. This breed does require a lot of attention and exercise, however. For elderly dog lovers who want a Doberman, it may be difficult due to their size and activity level.


Belgian Malinois Overview

male and female belgian malinois
Image Credit: OlgaOvcharenko, Shutterstock

The Belgian Malinois is a breed that began in Belgium before making its way around the world. Known as herding dogs, the Belgian Malinois was originally used to herd sheep. Their high levels of intelligence and great work ethic made them excel in this position. This breed first came to America in 1911. Before their numbers could truly grow, however, both World War I and World War II commenced. This drastically decreased this breed’s numbers as they were used as wartime animals.

In the 50s, this breed saw an increase in numbers. By 1959, they were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club and classed as a working breed of dog. Like the Doberman, Belgian Malinois are often used as police and military dogs due to their high levels of intelligence and protective natures.

Personality / Character

The Belgian Malinois is an alert, highly intelligent dog breed that is eager to please its owners. As a working-class dog, this breed wants a purpose. Malinois are responsive to their owners and form strong bonds. They are highly energetic and can spend hours exercising, interacting, or training as their owners see fit. You’ll also find that their attentive nature makes them ideal for the role of a guard dog. A Malinois is known as a protector of its family and fearless in the face of danger.

Image Credit: shymar27, Shutterstock


The Belgian Malinois is not a couch potato. They want to be active, working, or doing something fulfilling. When bringing one of these dogs into your home you must have the time to devote to your pet. Malinois prefer burning off their energy with their owners in tow. Long walks or runs are a necessity. You’ll also find that playing fetch and other games help these dogs burn off energy and stay out of trouble.


Belgian Malinois are intelligent dogs, but they can have a stubborn streak. This makes them less suitable for new dog owners that lack the experience to train them properly. When working with your Malinois, praising and treat rewards are great tools to use. You’ll also find that it is important to start early with training and socialization if you plan on exposing your pet to children and other animals.

Health & Care

The Belgian Malinois is considered a healthy breed with its biggest issues being related to its eyes. They do require more grooming than the Doberman due to their longer, wiry coats. Brushing your Malinois routinely is a great way to keep them looking great. You’ll also need to ensure they receive routine baths, good dental care, and checkups at the vet when needed.

male belgian malinois
Image Credit: Piqsels

Suitable for

The Belgian Malinois is an energetic breed that does best when working. Due to this high energy level, they don’t do great in small apartments. Instead, they need an area where they can run and burn off all that energy. These are good pets for families, but maybe not for families with small children. They are known to bang people around and could knock little ones off their feet. The high prey drive of this breed also makes it more difficult for them to be in homes where small animals live.


Which Breed Is Right for You?

When determining whether the Doberman or Belgian Malinois is the right addition to your home, it’s best to take a look at your circumstances. If you’re new to the dog world, the Doberman would be the superior choice. They are easy to train and take to their owners easily. If you want a dog that will protect your home and go on long runs with you every day, the Belgian Malinois may be your answer. Either breed you choose will make an excellent addition to your home. You should choose the breed that you feel would fit into your lifestyle the best.

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Featured Image Credit: Top – SasaStock, Shutterstock | Bottom – Jozef Fehér, Pexels

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