Belgian Malinois German Shepherd Hybrid Cross Mix Dog Breed Guide

The Belgian Malinois is also known as the Belgian Mal. A cross between a Mal and a German Shepherd results in a powerful and intelligent dog mix. They have an appearance of stoicism.

Bothe dog breeds are talented dogs, and a mix of the two is as gifted and brilliant. The one thing they do not have going for them is their aggressiveness. The German Shepherd has been on the spot for aggressive behavior.

This trait is passed down to the GSD-Mal mix. However, because the mix does not have the German Shepherd genes, the quality is mild. If they are trained correctly and looked after well, they can become friendly pups.

Parental History

The German Shepherd Malinois mix is a gorgeous dog. They have very desirable qualities and have a stunning appearance. Both of their parents are known to be strong dogs. They have smooth coats that are easy to maintain and pleasing to look at.

They are typically herding dogs and, as such, have developed keen senses. They always look alert and regularly examine their environments, looking out for any lurking danger. This quality makes them excellent guard dogs too.

Both breeds are popular with law enforcement agencies. With enough specialized training, they can be excellent additions to law enforcement. They have keen senses that spot danger from far, and they are aggressive and powerful enough to apprehend perpetrators.

The Malinois comes from Belgium. It is traditionally a herding dog and was bred for that specific purpose. To this day, the Belgian Malinois is considered the best herding dog in their home country.

The German Shepherd is famous worldwide. It has its origins in Germany but has now spread to various countries all over the world. Their seemingly endless supply of energy makes them perfect working dogs.

They are also adapted to a wide range of climatic conditions, allowing them to thrive in many places. Like the Belgian Malinois, they are popular with law enforcement agencies, including the army and navy.

Either one of these breeds is sufficient on its own. However, some people prefer a mixed breed because of the purported health advantage. In some cases crossbreeding eliminates certain health risks, but in other instances, the difference is insignificant.

Either way, the mix has both its advantages and disadvantages. What determines the health status of the crossbreeds is the health of their parents. Many diseases are passed down to offspring through the genes of the parents.


Both the German Shepherd and the Mal have the same height. They can grow to be as tall as twenty-two to twenty-six inches tall. However, unlike in other dogs, the female dogs grow two inches taller than the males.

The appearance of a Malinois is more square-like while the German Shepherd has a longer silhouette. These appearances are blended in a mix, and the dog takes a balanced stature. They are majestic nonetheless.

In the parent breeds, the dog’s appearance differs depending on the sex, and this is true for the mix as well. Their coats are almost similar in that they are dense and smooth and are sometimes water repellent.

Their double coat allows them to stand cold weather conditions and become adaptable in most places. The mix inherits this thick coat and its attributes from color, length of hair, and density.

Some mixes adopt the Malinois hair distribution around the neck. It makes them appear like they are wearing a collar or they have a mane. The trait is only specific to some Malinois, so it is not common in all the mixes.

Behavioral Characteristics

The Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd are both fierce dogs and are not always friendly. The training they undergo can bring down their aggressiveness, but it is not meant to eliminate it because they need guards.

The Shepherd-Mal mix takes these characteristics too. They are confident and brave dogs that can face dangerous situations and prevail. However, they may go out of control and become a danger to people and other animals.

German Shepherds are most likely to attack people, and so they need proper training and socialization. The same goes for the mix, so early training and socialization help to reduce the severity.


Basic training should always begin when they are very young. That way, they grow up being more comfortable around people, and their skills get better as they grow older. The main focus during the start of training is socialization.

If it is done correctly, they grow up to be obedient and excellent companions. Otherwise, there is a risk of bad behavior and dangerous reactions towards people. If you live with many pets and animals, introduce your dog to them and monitor them closely.

They can be hard-headed and disobedient, so consistent training is advised. Engaging them in activities and teaching them enables them to become more obedient and less stubborn. For most dogs, some reward boosts their performance and reinforces good behavior.

You may give them treats and toys from time to time when they do a good job. Verbal praise also counts as reinforcement, and they should get it during training and when performing exceptionally. 

Positive training yields better results by far compared to any other method. It allows the dog and you to develop a bond, making them more obedient and disciplined. Also, punishment and negative reinforcement does not work on this mix.


Both parent dog breeds may be tough, but they are susceptible to some genetic conditions. Some of these conditions develop in the mix but not always. Otherwise, the mix is generally healthy when it is looked after well.

The Health of the German Shepherd

This breed is predisposed to some of these conditions listed below. Some of them are minor, but others can be devastating to their overall health.

  • Cutaneous Vasculopathy.

This condition causes painful swelling in the soft part of the feet. It limits mobility in the dog and causes them to be down most times. It may also cause ulcers to develop in the tail and ears when it progresses. It may begin when they are puppies.

  • Degenerative Myelopathy.

This condition affects the spinal cord, which then weakens the dog’s hind limbs. The legs get weaker, and the movement becomes hard and painful. The limitation of motion could then lead to other problems.

  • Inherited Ventricular Tachycardia.

This is a heart condition that causes the dog’s heart to have irregular heart rhythms. The heart may beat faster, and sometimes it may be painful. It is a severe condition that could end in death if it is not checked.

  • Megaesophagus

This condition is inherited. The affected dog is unable to swallow correctly because the esophagus lacks smooth muscles. They may choke on larger chunks of food, so it is advisable to feed them smaller portions.

  • Polyneuropathy.

The disease affects the peripheral nerves and causes muscular atrophy, among other conditions. The dog’s skin becomes too sensitive, and it is too uncomfortable for them. They also cannot exercise properly, and that could lead to other problems.

Anyone looking to adopt dogs with a Shepherd heritage should be ready to handle some of these congenital diseases. Genetic testing may be able to reveal whether your dog is likely to develop any of these conditions.

The Health of the Belgian Malinois

Mals are less likely to develop congenital conditions. The few that they are predisposed to are easily managed. They include:

  • Epilepsy.

Although it is uncommon in dogs, they may occur randomly. Regular checkups will be able to identify it early on when they are manageable.

  • Hip Dysplasia.

The condition affects the joint of the dog at the hip. The joint may fully dislocate depending on the attention it is given. Obesity and rapid weight gain could accelerate the condition further.

  • Hypothyroidism.

The thyroid gland is unable to produce enough hormones and therefore affects the dog’s growth. It may also cause rapid weight loss that could affect the dog’s overall health.

  • Physiologic Leukopenia.

It causes low production of white blood cells reducing the body’s ability to fight off other diseases. The dog is left vulnerable and may fall severely ill even with the less aggressive diseases.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy.

It occurs in the late stages of development of the dog. The condition is a result of a gradual decline in the retina that affects the dog’s vision. It may cause partial blindness in the dog or full blindness in some severe cases.

Gene testing of the parents will show whether your Mal-Shepherd mix can develop any of these conditions. Healthy Malinois live up to fourteen to sixteen years while German Shepherds can live to ten years.

The real risks in the mix come from the Shepherd side of the dog. Get as much information as possible on the health of the parents.


The intake of nutrients required by the dog to grow is mostly through feeding. The correct portion and quality of food they eat results in the dog’s healthy growth. A healthy diet consists of protein for growth and tissue repair.

Their diet should also have enough fat to keep their coats healthy. However, this intake should be regulated by depending on their age to avoid obesity. A veterinarian can help to determine the amounts that should be taken at each stage of development.

Mal-Shepherds as Family Dogs

If you adopt the mix into your family as a puppy and train them correctly, they will grow up to be good around children. There is still the risk that they may view other children as threats and become aggressive towards them.

If you are in a family with small children, this mix should not be the first choice unless you are willing to give it regular refresher courses on their training. However, they are excellent guards for your home and children.


Adopting rescue dogs is always a noble act. Dogs that find themselves in rescue shelters are not typically bad. Some of them are from homes that could not take care of them due to various reasons.

Other times, the dogs are rescued from abusive handlers or illegally operated breeders and need a good home. Some shelters are breed-specific, which makes it easier to locate the breed you are looking for.

However, when thinking about rescuing a Mal-Shepherd mix, you must enquire whether they have undergone behavioral tests. Dogs that fail the evaluation can be dangerous and therefore require more attention, which you may not be able to give.

It is also essential to check the papers of the shelters you visit to ascertain whether they are legal. The government should shut down illegally run shelters because they are unregulated, and they may be breaking animal rights laws.

Getting a Puppy

Getting a puppy from a breeder allows you to train them and begin their socialization early. It is not easy to get a good breeder who operates legally and provides excellent living conditions for the dogs.

Behavioral tests cannot be done on puppies, but the breeder can provide you with information about their parents’ temperament. They can also give health certificates that will help you predict the health condition of the puppies.

It is best practice to get puppies from home breeders. They usually breed actively to maintain good genes and eliminate diseases. They also keep up with regular tests to catch diseases in their early stages and begin treatment.

Most of them have a lot of experience with dogs and can give you advice on how to care for them and the things to look out for as they develop. They also can do some basic training to ensure the dogs begin to learn early.

If you get a puppy from uncaring breeders, they may have behavioral problems. They may also not be healthy due to neglect and focus on profit over wellbeing. For this dog mix, improper care could be catastrophic to their development.

Raising and Care of a Mal-Shepherd Mix

With this mix, training should begin as early as they can start learning. There are guides and videos online that can help you with the training steps and tips. The alternative is to hire professional trainers who can guide you and train your dog.

Their training should begin slow and gradually progress in difficulty. They are intelligent and will learn commands fast. However, they can get stubborn and less cooperative, so you have to be firm with them.

As they grow, they will require space to exercise and run around. If you have a yard that is excellent for them, it is fenced to keep strangers out and protect other people from the dog.


The cross between a German Shepherd and a Belgian Malinois is a unique dog. It may be a bit aggressive, but that can be remedied with proper training and care. They are excellent guard dogs that can protect your children and property.

Their grooming requirements are minimal because of their short hair coats. They do not shed, so you will not need to clean after them. However, they should take regular baths to keep them clean and disease-free.

You should be careful when adopting them from a rescue shelter. Their health status may be unclear, and that could pose a danger to their lives. Also, there is no way of determining whether they had the correct training.

In this case, they should undergo behavioral testing to determine whether they are safe to have as pets. Otherwise, they are excellent work dogs. They are brilliant and can complete tasks well. They are also obedient when appropriately socialized.

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