Belgian Malinois vs. Belgian Laekenois: What’s The Difference?

The Belgian Malinois and Belgian Laekenois are powerful dog breeds with similar names and builds. However, there are some subtle differences between the two.

May 17, 2024By Sara Payne
belgian malinois vs belgian laekenois difference

Although the Belgian Malinois and Belgian Laekenois are medium-sized herding dogs, the main differences between the breeds are coat style and region of origin.

Read on to learn about the differences between these two breeds. Here, we’ll discuss these dogs’ temperaments, maintenance requirements, and training demands.

History of the Belgian Herding Dogs

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For years, Belgian shepherds had dogs as companions who watched after their flocks and served as loyal protectors. In the 1880s, people were interested in determining whether there was a breed of sheepdog native to Belgium. A team of veterinary professors went around the local towns and provinces in search of this dog.

The vets found that several provinces hosted similar medium-sized dogs with triangular ears and dark brown eyes. They also had mesocephalic skulls, meaning they had average-length snouts, like German Shepherds.

Yet, these dogs differed in coat color, length, and texture. From here, they tried to establish a breed standard and began breeding what has become today’s Belgian Sheep Dogs. Vos I and Lise were rough, short-haired sheep dogs that sired offspring now known as the Belgian Malinois, after the town Malines north of Brussels.

Two long-haired black sheepdogs, Picard d’Uccle and Petite, sired a litter of long-haired Sheepdogs known as the Belgian Sheepdog or Groenendael, for the town where they were sired. The rough-haired pups were named Laekenois for the town of Laeken.

Belgian Malinois Characteristics

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The Belgian Malinois is about 22 -26 inches tall and weighs around 40-80 pounds. They have either fawn or mahogany, short, waterproof coats with black masks. These dogs are bulky, with square, muscled features. These are very intelligent dogs that need lots of stimulation to thrive.

Since they have short coats, they don’t need a ton of grooming. They will need an occasional brushing with a medium-bristle brush to promote new growth and distribute oils across their coats. They shed twice a year and need more brushing during these times to remove the excess loose hair.

This breed has a high prey drive that may lead them to chase children, vehicles, and other animals. Early socialization and obedience training are vital with this breed to keep them occupied and out of danger.

Belgian Laekenois Characteristics

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The Belgian Laekenois is similar in height to the Belgian Malinois. This rarer of the four Belgium breeds weighs a moderate 55 to 65 pounds. Belgian Laekenois can be fawn, mahogany, red sable, fawn sable, and red with the same tell-tale black mask pattern. These dogs have a rough, curly coat that needs some extra care.

These dogs need to be brushed once or twice a week to prevent matting and remove debris. If not, their fur can tangle or mat, which is both unpleasing to look at and can cause skin irritation.

They have a double coat that should not be clipped. These dogs also have strong nails that grow fast. You should trim your dog’s nails regularly to prevent overgrowth, splitting, and cracking. Belgian Laekenois also get a buildup of wax and debris in their ears, so it is important to check the ears regularly to prevent infections.

This breed is affectionate and friendly, and they love to be around their owners and have an active lifestyle. These dogs train easily and enjoy pleasing their owners.

The Other Two Belgium Sheep Dogs

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The Belgian Malinois and the Belgian Laekenois are just two of the four dog breeds native to Belgium. The other two include:

The Belgium Tervuren

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The Belgium Tervuren has a long, straight coat that comes in either fawn and black or mahogany and black. These dogs have more variety of marking than the other Belgian breeds. Their coat furnishings are more prominent in males than females. Their double-layered coat needs brushing a few times a week with a pin or slicker brush. They shed at least once a year.

These muscular dogs are alert and intelligent, and like the other Belgian breeds, they love work. This eagerness makes them ideal for many breed-specific sports, including agility, obedience trials, and fetching.

The Belgian Sheepdog

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The fourth Belgian breed, the Belgian Sheepdog or Groenendael, is a versatile and intelligent herder. They have abundant black coats with bushy tails. They have coat furnishings such as a collarette around the neck and breeches in the hindquarters. They can have markings such as spots, white markings, and black masks.

These dogs, like the Tervuren’s, need regular brushings. They also shed once a year. Their coats are double-layered with a dense undercoat and hard outer layer.

The Belgium Sheepdog is watchful and bright. They love companionship but are reserved with strangers. They train easily and are among the most intelligent dog breeds.

Belgium Is Home to Unique Dog Breeds

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The Belgian Malinois and Belgian Laekenois are similar in many ways. They have similar builds, heights, and weights. Both of these medium dogs work hard and enjoy lots of exercise. However, they are different based on their coats and needs.

Belgian Malinois are short, smooth-coated dogs who have a high prey drive. Belgian Laekenois are rough-coated, wiry-haired dogs that need a little more grooming. This breed is eager to please and rarer than the other Belgian breeds.

There are two other related Belgian breeds: the Belgium Tervuren and the Belgian Sheepdog. These two dogs are similar in size and build to the other two, but they have differing coats and demeanors. All four of these breeds are excellent, intelligent dogs that make great additions to families with older children.

Sara Payne
By Sara Payne

Sara is a mother of two and a high school English teacher who rediscovered her love of writing during the pandemic. She has 5 rescue cats: Neville and Luna, who are white cats with black and grey spots, and Ginny, Blue, and Fairy, who are calicos. Besides taking care of humans and fur babies, Sara enjoys gardening, crafting, and spending time in nature.