While the Belgian Malinois and the Dutch shepherd bear a strong resemblance to each other, there are certain important differences in their appearance. The Belgian Malinois is closely related to fellow Belgian sheepdog breeds, with the Belgian Tervuren and official Belgian sheepdog sharing identical breed standards outside of the United States. The Dutch shepherd's distinctive coat coloring distinguishes it from the Belgian sheepdog breeds. Both breeds excel as working dogs and in canine competition.
Although every dog is an individual, purebred dogs are bred for specific types of temperament. The American Dutch Shepherd Association considers the breed a good family dog, noting its natural instinct to protect loved ones. Like other herding breeds, Dutch shepherds have a lot of energy and do well with lots of exercise or a having a job to perform. The Belgian Malinois can get along with family members, but might not welcome strangers. The Belgian Malinois excel as military and police dogs and thrive as working dogs.
At maturity, male Belgian Malinois stand between 24 and 26 inches high at the shoulder, with females slightly smaller at 22 to 24 inches tall. Male Dutch shepherds range between 22.5 and 24.5 inches tall. Female Dutch shepherds stand between 21.5 and 23.5 inches in height.
The Belgian Malinois' coat coloring is similar to that of the German shepherd, a breed it closely resembles. The basic upper body shade ranges from tan to a darker brown, with black tipping on the hairs. The lower body shade is a lighter brown than the upper body. The dog's ears and face are black. The Dutch shepherd is always some form of brindle, or a darker striped pattern on a lighter solid color. Most Dutch shepherds have a base coat of silver or gold, with brindling over the entire body.
In the Belgian Malinois breed standard, only a relatively short coat is acceptable. The Dutch shepherd comes in three coat variations: short, long and the wire-haired, or rough coat. The long-haired coat shouldn't contain waves or curls. The wire-haired coat should fit closely to the skin and appear harsh, dense and tousled.