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Are Belgian Malinois Smarter Than Other Dogs: Vet-Approved Facts & FAQs

Written by: Oliver Jones

Last Updated on April 8, 2024 by Dogster Team

three belgian malinois dogs standing

Are Belgian Malinois Smarter Than Other Dogs: Vet-Approved Facts & FAQs


Dr. Karyn Kanowski Photo


Dr. Karyn Kanowski

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Belgian Malinois are a popular breed of dogs known for their intelligence, agility, and loyalty. In this article, we will explore whether Belgian Malinois are indeed smarter than other dog breeds by discussing various aspects of their intelligence and comparing them to other breeds. Belgian Malinois are indeed considered one of the smartest dog breeds, but intelligence levels can vary between individual dogs.


Belgian Malinois Breed Overview

The Belgian Malinois is one of four Belgian herding breeds, originally developed in the late 1800s. They were primarily used as herding dogs, but later gained recognition for their versatility and intelligence in various working roles.

Belgian Malinois are medium to large-sized dogs with a strong, agile build. They have short, weather-resistant coats in shades of fawn to mahogany, with black masks and ears. Their alert expression and confident demeanor showcase their intelligence.

Belgian Malinois are known for their loyalty, confidence, and protective nature. They are highly energetic and require regular physical exercise and mental stimulation. Their intelligence and eagerness to please make them highly trainable and adaptable to various tasks.

belgian malinois dog in the lake
Image Credit: ubaru, Shutterstock

Intelligence in Belgian Malinois

Problem Solving Abilities

Belgian Malinois excel in problem-solving abilities, displaying keen observational skills and the ability to adapt to new situations quickly. This trait makes them suitable for advanced training and complex tasks.


Their high intelligence makes Belgian Malinois quick learners, able to grasp new commands and concepts with ease. Their eagerness to please and strong work ethic contribute to their trainability, making them ideal candidates for various working roles.

Versatility in Tasks

Belgian Malinois are versatile dogs, able to excel in many tasks and activities, from herding and guarding to search and rescue, detection work, and competitive sports.

belgian malinois walk with his owner
Image Credit: Y.Gq_photo, Shutterstock

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Factors Affecting Intelligence


Genetics play a significant role in determining a dog’s intelligence. While certain breeds like Belgian Malinois are predisposed to high intelligence levels, individual dogs within the breed may vary in their cognitive abilities.

Environmental Factors

A dog’s environment can influence their intelligence, as exposure to various stimuli, socialization, and training opportunities can enhance their cognitive abilities.

Training and Socialization

Proper training and socialization from a young age can significantly impact a dog’s intelligence. Consistent, positive reinforcement-based training helps develop problem-solving skills and adaptability.

belgian malinois with his owner
Image Credit: Gajus, Shutterstock

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Challenges Associated with High Intelligence

Mental Stimulation Needs

Highly intelligent dogs like Belgian Malinois require regular mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behaviors. Providing puzzle toys, interactive games, and training sessions can help keep their minds engaged.

Potential for Destructive Behavior

Without proper mental stimulation and physical exercise, intelligent breeds like Belgian Malinois may develop destructive behaviors, such as excessive chewing or digging, as a means of coping with boredom or frustration.

Training and Consistency

Intelligent breeds like Belgian Malinois require consistent training and clear boundaries to ensure they understand expectations and maintain good behavior.

belgian malinois obegience training
Image Credit: Svitlana Hulko., Shutterstock

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Working Roles of Belgian Malinois

Police and Military Work

Belgian Malinois are commonly used in police and military roles due to their intelligence, trainability, and physical capabilities. They excel in tasks such as tracking, apprehension, and explosive or narcotics detection.

Search and Rescue

Their keen senses, problem-solving abilities, and agility make Belgian Malinois excellent candidates for search and rescue work. They can quickly navigate challenging terrain and locate missing persons or disaster victims.

Detection Dogs

Belgian Malinois’ intelligence and strong sense of smell make them effective detection dogs, capable of identifying various substances, such as explosives, drugs, or even medical conditions like cancer. Being highly tenacious, once they are set a task, they won’t rest until it is complete.

Sports and Competitions

Belgian Malinois are highly competitive in dog sports, such as obedience, agility, and protection sports. Their intelligence, athleticism, and drive make them formidable competitors. They are seemingly fearless when it comes to heights, easily jumping over 6 feet, and scaling vertical surfaces of 16 feet or more!

belgian malinois jumping
Image Credit: GoDog Photo, Shutterstock.

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Comparison with Other Breeds

Border Collies

Border Collies are often considered the most intelligent dog breed, known for their exceptional herding abilities, problem-solving skills, and trainability. While Belgian Malinois are highly intelligent, Border Collies may have an edge in certain areas of intelligence, and also in jumping ability.

German Shepherds

German Shepherds, like Belgian Malinois, are known for their intelligence, versatility, and working abilities. Both breeds are commonly used in police and military roles, and their intelligence levels are often considered comparable. Having been bred as working dogs, the overall health of the Malinois is superior to that of German Shepherds, who suffer with a number of genetic problems.

Labrador Retrievers

Labrador Retrievers are highly intelligent dogs known for their gentle temperament and trainability. While they may not possess the same level of intensity or drive as Belgian Malinois, their intelligence is still notable and makes them excellent service and therapy dogs.


Poodles are another highly intelligent breed, known for their problem-solving abilities and adaptability. While Belgian Malinois may excel in working roles, Poodles are more versatile in their abilities and can adapt well to various tasks and environments.

Brown poodle dog on rock
Image Credit: Anna_Bondarenko, Shutterstock



Belgian Malinois are indeed considered one of the smartest dog breeds, excelling in problem-solving, trainability, and versatility in tasks. However, intelligence levels can vary between individual dogs, and factors such as genetics, environmental influences, and training play a significant role in determining a dog’s overall intelligence.

Their high energy, problem-solving abilities, and determination are what has made them a popular breed for military and police work, but this also means they are not the ideal dog for a first time owner.

Featured Image Credit: OlgaOvcharenko, Shutterstock

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