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APPEARANCE The Australian Shepherd, aka Aussie, has a very striking appearance and frequently seen with a blue merle coat and comes in many other colors. Merle coats are common in the breed, with red and blue being the predominant colorings. They also come in and tri coloring, which would be a combination of black and white, and in rare cases, are solid colors. They have a thick double coat and feathering, especially along their chest and hunches. Their tails are generally cropped short as a safety measure for the working size of the breed. Malinois are also quite striking in their appearance but have much more intimidation factor thanks to their larger size. They have a short dense double coat that stands out from their body unlike the Aussie and typically come in solid colors or brindle. Most often they are darker in color or have a mask-like appearance with a darker face and ears. Their ears stand up and their tails are left natural showing off their already alert expression. TEMPERAMENT Both the Aussie and the Malinois are incredibly loyal and intelligent. They have a calm personality on a hair-trigger. They are very easy to excite with their high energy level. Owners of both breeds can attest to the fact that these dogs are almost velcroed to the person they are bonded most closely with. You won't find yourself moving from room to room, even for a moment, without your canine shadow. TRAINING & INTELLIGENCE  As I mentioned before, the Aussie is highly intelligent, so they are easily trained to very high levels and can excel at many types of competition work. The Aussie excels in agility obedience and trick competitions, and you'll see them very frequently for performing in rodeos across the US today. One thing to note about Aussies is they are not for new or inexperienced canine leaders. They are brilliant, and it's not uncommon for them to manipulate their people or get away with bad habits. Malinois are even more intelligent and trainable so they are only for the most experienced and confident of canine leaders. They excel at obedience, agility, tricks, along with protection and scent work. Because of their high energy and razor sharp mind, you'll spend longer exercising and training this breed each day than you would almost any other breed out there. ENERGY As I've mentioned a couple of times now, both breeds are extremely high-energy. The Aussie was meant to run back and forth around flocks of sheep to keep them corralled and steer them at the shepherd's direction. As you can imagine running all day requires a lot of energy to start with but also stamina. Both breeds need a job to do to work off their mental and physical energy. Ideally, they need is several hours of high-intensity play or activity each day, and even more when they're young. OVERALL HEALTH The Aussie is a pretty hearty breed with a lifespan in the neighborhood of 10 to 12 years. One issue to mention that goes for any animal with potential white coloring is they can be prone to sunburns. You'll notice this most if they have a pink nose or if their eyes are blue, and they have no pigmentation around their eyes instead of the typical black liner. Malinois are similarly a healthy breed and average about 10 years for their lifespan. They can be prone to a few large breed conditions like bloat and joint damage so feeding a raw diet can help prevent both of these issues. The most common issue with the breed is injury to their lower limbs from being incredibly active. SOCIAL NEEDS The Aussie is generally friendly and curious and outgoing, but they bond most closely with one person. It is still important to socialize them from a young and introduce them to children, small animals, and other dogs to be well rounded. The Malinois by contrast is more standoff-ish and reactive. Their protective and reactive nature can be well-disciplined but they require direct supervision when interacting with children, small animals, and especially strangers. CHILDREN & STRANGERS The Aussie does very well with children and loves to play. Their high-energy levels could mean they get overexcited when they are really rambunctious or have multiple friends over. The biggest thing you want to watch out for is Aussie's are herding dogs. They will most definitely herd children, resulting in the child tripping or even the Aussie nipping the child to herd them in a specific direction. Malinois do well with the children in their family, and even better when they are raised together. Some will naturally do better than others when it comes to sticky fingers or having friends over to play. This breed can certainly thrive in a family home, but clear rules and boundaries must be maintained with every member of the family like you would with any other guarding breed. 

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