The Malinois is one of four variations within what is considered to be one breed: the Belgian shepherds. Each variation is named after the region where their specific standard was formed, and the Malinois was named after the Belgian city Malines. The other variations are Lakenois, Tervueren and Groenendael.
Malinois were originally bred for herding purposes. A serious group of breeders wanted to produce hard working dogs, and their efforts resulted in the Malinois. For a long time, the breed was the go-to-dog for Belgian shepherders and cattlemen.
The breed was first introduced in America in 1911. Unfortunately, WWI and WWII put a stop to the import of breeding material, and it wasn’t until the 1960s that the breed began growing again.
Today, the Malinois are still prized as herders, but most people probably know them as hardcore working dogs for police and military. They are among the most versatile dogs on the planet, their intelligence, energy, drive and willingness to work is hard to beat.
The Rottweiler is another hardworking breed originating in Germany. The breed can be dated all the way back to the Roman Empire. The Romans brought dogs on their journeys around the world, mainly to herd and guard the herds of cattle that followed the legions. The Roman used Asian mastiffs as breeding stock and produced the distant ancestors of today’s Rottweiler. The breed continued to evolve through breeding with native dogs found in their path.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Roman dogs found work in the cattle town of Rottweil – and that’s where they got the name Rottweiler. Unfortunately, for them as for many other breeds, with the rise of railroad cattle cars in the 1800th century, they were soon out of their traditional job. Luckily, due to their intelligence, powerful mind and eagerness to please, they soon found new work as police dogs, personal protectors, and in general, all-around blue-collar dogs able to perform numerous heavy-duty tasks.
Between these two breeds, the Malinois is the slightly smaller one. He stands about 26 inches tall at the most, weighing up to 60 pounds (males), where the Rottie beats him with his up to 27 inches and a weight of up to 135 pounds (males). The Malinois is a light-boned, slender breed whereas the Rottweiler tends to be bulkier with a more powerful appearance.
The Rottweiler has the strongest resemblance to the molossoid type, with his powerful body and heavy head. His lips are slightly softer and his ears are floppy.
The Malinois carries himself very proudly, which can be seen in how he holds his head and neck. Differently from the Rottie, the Malinois is often mistaken from a German Shepherd, but lacks the sloping back and gives a squarer impression rather than having that long back like the German Shepherd.
Both the Malinois and the Rottweiler has short, easy-to-groom coats. Both shed twice a year, but the Rottie does it to a much larger degree than the Malinois. The rest of the year, you’ll find dog hair everywhere, but on a level that’s manageable.
Colourwise, the Rottie is the most predictable. You’ll find him in black and either mahogany, rust or tan. A Rottie that’s in good shape will present his coat thick, lush and shiny. The Malinois comes in a wider variety of colours; everything from fawn, mahogany, red, black, brindle, cream, gray and liver – some of them in sable.
If you’re interested in either of these breeds, you’re up for a good training pal. The Malinois breed is famous for their intelligence, drive, eagerness to please and the ease with which they learn. It’s not for nothing they are excellent herding dogs, and even more amazing working with heavy duty police and military work. These guys are amazing to work with, but they do come with some challenges. Not in teaching them – they learn very quickly. On the contrary. You’ll find the challenge in keeping up with their learning capability and willingness to move forward in their training. This is one of the main reasons why you should have some serious knowledge of dogs before you decide to get a Malinois.
The Rottweiler is another breed that’s known for his intelligence, how easy he is to teach new things, his ability and eagerness to work. While the Rottie may not be the ultimate choice for a first-time owner, he’s probably easier to handle when it comes to training, than the Malinois.
Both these breeds were created for herding. This gives them a fairly high prey drive. Combined with their guarding capabilities, this gives two dogs that can be quite the handful to deal with. They need serious socialization and basic training from day one, and that’s crucial if you want your dog to function properly in society. They both form strong ties with their people and guarding/protection skills come natural for these guys. If you don’t know how to handle these things, please don’t get any of these dogs. They are absolutely glorious when in the hands of the right owner. With the wrong people, they will become disastrous.
The herding instincts can come in handy given the right situation. The very same instincts can be extremely tiresome if you live in the city and there’s nothing to herd other than children, bikes, cars, skateboards, you name it.
Especially the Malinois with his extreme urge to work and his deep need for physical exercise makes him an easy target for boredom. A bored Malinois is not something I’d wish for my worst enemy, so you need to know exactly what you’re getting into if you decide that this is the breed for you.
The Rottie can be both strong-willed and stubborn, and needs a strong, firm and consistent leader to inform him that the set of rules presented actually does apply, even for him. Please keep in mind that any roughhousing with your Rottie can encourage aggression, so best leave that be unless you intend to do some serious guarding and protection work with him.