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Belgian Tervuren vs Malinois: Differences Explained (With Pictures)

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 8, 2024 by Dogster Team

Belgian Tervuren vs Malinois - Featured Image

Belgian Tervuren vs Malinois: Differences Explained (With Pictures)

Belgian Tervuren and Malinois are two wonderful dog breeds that have a shared heritage but distinct personalities and characteristics. Hailing from Belgium, they both belong to the Belgian Shepherd family and are renowned for their intelligence, athleticism, and loyalty. With a similar stature and almost identical weight, it can be easy to confuse the two.

However, understanding their distinct attributes can help in making the right choice when adopting a new family member. Both breeds are excellent for an active and committed owner but choosing between them may come down to your lifestyle and expectations from your canine companion. Use our guide to assist you in making the right call.



Visual Differences

Belgian Tervuren vs Malinois - Visual Differences
Image By: Left – S.M, Shutterstock | Right – BIGANDT.COM, Shutterstock

At a Glance

Belgian Tervuren
  • Average height (adult): 22–26 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 44–66 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12–14 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes, with socialization
  • Trainability: Sensitive, eager to please, trainable
  • Average height (adult): 20–26 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 44–66 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10–14 years
  • Exercise: 90+ minutes a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes, with socialization
  • Trainability: Confident, intelligent, hard worker


Belgian Tervuren Overview

Belgian Shepherd (Tervuren) puppy
Image Credit: Elik Lam, Shutterstock

Personality / Character

Known for their elegant appearance and graceful agility, Belgian Tervuren dogs boast a strong personality that is both charming and sensitive. They are intelligent, active dogs with an affectionate nature and strong bonds with their human family.

Tervurens are confident and can be somewhat territorial, making them excellent watchdogs. However, this protective nature does not make them aggressive; instead, they are known to be kind and friendly when properly socialized.


Belgian Tervurens are active and agile dogs with a good dose of energy. They require at least an hour of exercise per day, which should include a mix of physical activities like walking, running, playing fetch, or participating in dog sports such as agility trials and herding events.

Keep in mind that exercise for these dogs is not just about keeping them physically fit but also mentally stimulated. They thrive when they have a job to do or a challenge to tackle. Without proper exercise, Belgian Tervurens can develop behavioral issues due to pent-up energy.

15Belgian Tervuren
Image Credit: SnottyBoggins, Pixabay


The intelligence and eagerness of Belgian Tervuren make them highly trainable. They respond well to positive reinforcement techniques and are quick to learn commands and tricks. Early socialization and obedience training are crucial for this breed, considering their active and protective nature.

Moreover, harsh training techniques do not work with this breed. Instead, they only serve to be counterproductive. Because Belgian Tervurens are sensitive animals, positive training methods are highly effective, whereas yelling and punishing do nothing but harm them.

Health & Care

Belgian Tervurens are generally healthy dogs with few breed-specific health concerns. However, some may develop hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, or epilepsy. Regular exercise, a high-quality diet, and routine vet checks can help keep them in good health.

As for grooming, their double coat requires regular brushing, particularly during shedding season. Moreover, if your dog is particularly active, you will need to brush them daily. But for those that are less active, once a week is usually sufficient.

Belgian Tervuren dogs
Image Credit: SnottyBoggins, Pixabay

Suitable For:

Belgian Tervurens are best suited for active families or individuals who can dedicate time to their exercise needs. They thrive in environments where they can be part of family activities.

They are also a good match for those interested in dog sports due to their agility and trainability. Also, if you have other pets or children, you’ll want to make sure you socialize your Tervuren at an early age. Doing so will ensure a harmonious living arrangement for everyone.

  • Highly trainable and intelligent
  • Strong bond with family
  • Good at various dog sports

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Malinois Overview

belgian malinois puppy running on grass
Image Credit: Anton Kudryashov, Pexels

Personality / Character

Malinois are energetic, intelligent, and dedicated dogs. Often used as police and military dogs, they are known for their hardworking nature and physical capabilities. They are highly protective of their family and can be reserved with strangers.

Despite their intense work drive, they can also be affectionate and playful at home. How your Mal behaves comes down to patient training and plenty of socialization.


Physical activity is crucial for a Malinois. They need more than just a walk around the block; they crave activities that challenge them both mentally and physically. Like their Tervuren counterparts, Mals excel in various dog sports, including obedience, agility, and herding events.

Try to aim for at least 90 minutes of exercise every day. It’s better to provide more, so this should serve as a baseline for the activity needed in this breed.

belgian malinois lying down with a dog toy
Image By: Julia Malsagova, Shutterstock


Training a Malinois is not for the faint-hearted. Their intelligence, combined with a stubborn streak, can pose challenges. However, their eagerness to work makes them respond well to training when given by an assertive and patient handler.

What’s more, early and consistent socialization is vital for a well-behaved Malinois. This is especially true if you have other pets or children in the house. The sooner socialization is started, the easier it will be for your Mal to get along with others.

Health & Care

Like the Tervuren, Malinois are generally healthy. Yet, they can also be prone to certain genetic conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia and certain eye problems. As with any breed, regular vet visits, a balanced diet, and ample exercise are all needed to help contribute to their overall health.

They have a short coat that requires minimal grooming, yet regular brushing helps to control shedding. You can get by with occasional brushing, as the waterproof nature of their coat makes maintenance a breeze.

woman grooming her belgian malinois dog
Image By: Sjogger, Shutterstock

Suitable For:

Malinois are ideal for individuals who lead an active lifestyle and are experienced in handling and training dogs. They thrive in a structured environment where they can work or participate in high-energy activities.

Due to their protective nature, they will serve you well as a watchdog. They’ll form a strong bond with family members, too, ensuring a protective companion for life.

  • Excellent watchdog capabilities
  • Hardworking and dedicated
  • Low maintenance grooming
  • Requires a lot of exercise
  • Can be stubborn during training
  • Reserved with strangers


Which Breed Is Right for You?

Choosing between a Belgian Tervuren and a Malinois can depend on various factors. Both breeds demand time, dedication, and an active lifestyle. If you are looking for a dog that is protective yet friendly and you enjoy training and physical activities, the Tervuren could be an excellent choice.

However, if you are drawn to a more assertive breed with high energy levels and a strong work drive, then the Malinois may suit you better. Both breeds can bring joy, companionship, and a unique sense of loyalty to your home. The key is to understand and meet their needs for a harmonious relationship.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: Top – Koen Adriaenssen, Shutterstock | Bottom – Jozef Fehér, Pexels

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