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German Shepherd VS Belgian Malinois For Schutzhund & Protection

German Shepherd Dogs and Belgian Malinois are two popular choices for Schutzhund training and protection work. Those breeds are very similar and can both make excellent companions. So it’s normal to hesitate and not know which one is best for you.

Which Breed Is Better For Schutzhund Between GSDs & Belgian Malinois?

In general, German Shepherds are the best dogs for IGP because Schutzhund was developed for this breed. On the other hand, Belgian Malinois are more compact, agile, and usually have a higher drive. Thus, it comes down to preferences because both breeds can be great for Schutzhund training and protection work.

German Shepherd VS Malinois Schutzhund

What Is The Difference Between A German Shepherd & A Belgian Malinois?

Although GSDs and Malinois are very similar, they still have a few differences you should know. From the appearance to the temperament, one breed might fit your lifestyle and needs better. Here are some quick facts on them to give you an overview of the difference.

German Shepherd Dog

German Sherpherd Down Command


  • Female: 22-24 inches
  • Male: 24-26 inches.


  • Female: 50-70 lbs
  • Male: 65-90 lbs


  • Type: Double.
  • Length: Medium.
  • Color: Black & Tan, Black & Silver, Black, or Sable.

Life Expectancy: 7-10 years.

Temperament: Confident, Courageous & Intelligent.

Personality: High-Energy, Trainable & Well-Balanced.

Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois


  • Female: 22-24 inches
  • Male: 24-26 inches.


  • Female: 40-60 lbs
  • Male: 60-80 lbs


  • Type: Smooth.
  • Length: Short.
  • Color: Black-Tipped Fawn, Tan, Mahogany, or Red With Black Mask On Face & Black Ears.

Life Expectancy: 14-16 years.

Temperament: Confident, Hardworking & Intelligent.

Personality: Hyper, Impulsive & Athletic.

German Shepherds are generally larger and have a long black and tan coat. On the other hand, Belgian Malinois are more compact and have shorter fawn hair with a black overlay, which is more accentuated in their face and around the ears.

The German Shepherd Dog and Belgian Malinois are both excellent working dog breeds. They are intelligent, love to have a job, and have a lot of energy. Their strength, confidence, and protective temperament make them well-suited for IGP and protection work.

Mals are usually more hyper, athletic, impulsive, and have a higher drive than GSDs. German Shepherds are active dogs too, but they are often more thoughtful and have lower energy levels. They also tend to be more biddable.

So, Which Breed Is Better For You?

Whether you should choose a German Shepherd or a Belgian Malinois will mainly depend on your personal needs and preferences. Both breeds can make good working and protection dogs. So you have to figure out which one fits most with your lifestyle and goals.

The best way to find what breed you should choose is to observe both and talk with their owners. You can visit local Schutzhund clubs to see GSDs and Belgian Malinois in action. Once you’re on the training field, it’s time to ask their handlers questions that will help you make your decision.

Now, let’s focus on the second part of the question. If you plan to train your dog for Schutzhund or protection, there are many traits you should be looking for. As I already say, German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois are both suitable for this type of work.

However, some handlers will prefer one for specific reasons. Although they are very similar and every dog is unique, you should still consider the breed for IGP and protection training. So here’s more information about GSDs and Malinois when it comes to working with them. 

German Shepherd For Schutzhund Training & Protection Work!

Originally bred for herding, we quickly train the German Shepherd to become a versatile protection and working dog. Intelligent, courageous, and athletic, it has the perfect profile for this type of job. Later on, Schutzhund was developed as a suitability test for this breed.

So it can give you an idea of how well-suited GSDs are for this dog sport and protection work in general. But it doesn’t mean it’s the right IGP partner and companion for you. Here are some things you should consider in German Shepherds for Schutzhund training.

German Shepherds Schutzhund Training


  • Intelligent & Trainable.
  • Athletic, Strong, Energetic & Versatile.
  • Stable & Confident Temperament.
  • Good Natural Tracking Skills.
  • Obedient & Strong Desire To Work.
  • Good Family Dog.


  • Prone To Many Health & Structural Problems.
  • GSDs Vary A Lot From One To Another.
  • Constant Shedding.

Best Dog Breed For:

  • All-Around Schutzhund Partner.
  • Protection Family Pet.

Belgian Malinois For Schutzhund Training & Protection Work!

Also bred for herding sheep, the Belgian Malinois is another versatile working dog. Intelligent, hardworking, and athletic, this breed is now part of the police and military forces. It means they have the drive, confidence, and physical traits to make excellent protection dogs.

Although Schutzhund wasn’t developed for this breed, the Belgian Malinois is still a popular choice for this dog sport. Some trainers prefer this breed to the German Shepherd. Here’s more information about Mals to see if it could be your case.

Malinois Schutzhund Obedience


  • Intelligent & Trainable.
  • Unlimited Energy, High Drive & Strong Desire To Work.
  • Very Compact & Athletic.
  • Excellent Stamina & Endurance.
  • High Bite Satisfaction.


  • Hyperactive & High-Strung.
  • Independent & Too Sensitive.
  • Not Always Good At Tracking.

Best Dog Breed For:

  • Experienced Schutzhund Trainers.
  • Active People.

German Shepherd Dog VS Belgian Malinois For Schutzhund & Protection!

Overall, German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois are very similar. They can both make good protection dogs for Schutzhund training. However, GSDs are generally more well-balanced for all three phases of the sport. On the other hand, Malinois are more compact, athletic, and have a higher drive.

If you’re looking for a family pet, a German Shepherd will often be a better option for this purpose. Belgian Malinois can be good companions too, but they are usually too energetic and hyperactive for most people.

So it will mainly come down to your personal needs, preferences, and lifestyle. The German Shepherd is generally more appropriate for beginners and versatile enough to fit most handlers. On the other hand, some trainers do enjoy working with Belgian Malinois more.

Not sure if a GSD or Mali is what you need? Learn more about other Schutzhund dog breeds!

Is The Breed Really Important For Schutzhund & Protection Work?

In general, whether you choose a German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois isn’t that big of a deal. Every dog is different and has unique traits regardless of its breed. So it’s better to focus on the dog itself to find the right Schutzhund partner and companion for you.

Choosing a dog from working lines is essential because show lines aren’t as well-suited for protection work and training. Besides that, you should also opt for a dog from a reputable breeder. Find one that you can trust and has experience with Schutzhund.

That way, he will help you find the right dog for your needs and goals. You could also join a Schutzhund club to ask members for some advice. Their experience and knowledge might help you draw your own conclusions.

If you want more information about this topic, I have another post that will help you choose a puppy for Schutzhund!

Things To Consider In A Dog For Schutzhund Training & Protection!

Apart from the breed, there are other elements you should look for in a good working dog. Your German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois must have a specific temperament and traits to develop obedience, tracking, and protection skills. Here are some of them.

  • Stable & Confident Temperament.
  • Excellent Physical Traits.
  • High Drive.
  • Intelligence & Trainability.
  • Good Pedigree.
  • Strong Desire To Work.

Whether you opt for a GSD or Mal, he won’t be a good IGP and protection dog if he’s not well-suited for this type of work. Thus, let`s focus on the companion you want instead of choosing a breed. 

Last Thoughts About GSDs VS Belgian Malinois For Schutzhund & Protection!

Finally, the German Shepherd and the Belgian Malinois are very similar. They are both intelligent, confident, active, and energetic. So whatever breed you choose, you should have a dog that can do protection work and win IGP titles.

Schutzhund Dog Training

The German Shepherd will generally make a good family pet and Schutzhund partner for less experienced handlers. On the other hand, more advanced and active trainers might prefer a more compact, athletic, and high-driven dog such as the Belgian Malinois.

Now it`s time to find which breed fits the most with your lifestyle, goals, and preferences. Either way, you can’t go wrong when choosing between a GSD or a Mal. The real deal is when it comes to finding the right dog and breeder for Schutzhund or protection work.

So, Are You More The German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois Type?