Alaskan Malamute vs Belgian Malinois: Full Breed Showdown

If you’re looking for a full breakdown of the Alaskan Malamute vs Belgian Malinois, you’re in the right place.

These are two formidable dog breeds that are large in size and require a whole lot of exercise. Malamutes are notoriously stubborn and don’t take to training quickly because of this, whereas the Belgian Malinois is one of the most trainable breeds in the world that requires a role or job to fulfill.

The infographic below highlights some key similarities and differences between these breeds, but stay tuned for the complete comparison.

An inforgraphic detailing the similarities and differences between the Alaskan Malamute vs Belgian Malinois

Difference In Appearance

Before we get into the specifics, let’s get the most obvious difference out of the way.

The Belgian Malinois and Alaskan Malamute have very different appearances.

The Belgian Malinois is often confused for the German Shepherd, the main difference being how their snout is more prolonged, giving them the nickname ‘Malligator.’

Belgian Malinois have black masks with pointed ears, brown eyes, and slender bodies. Their coat is usually fawn, but many other colors are possible, from gray to cream to red.

A Belgian Malinois up close

Alaskan Malamutes have a classic Spitz-type appearance with point ears, curly tails, and a thick fluffy coat. Their eyes are always brown, and they have quite round faces with a gentle expression.

An Alaskan Malamute sat on some grass

Malamutes are often described as looking like big fluffy wolves, and they also have a lot of possible coat colors, from gray and white to red to all white.

Other Key Differences Between The Alaskan Malamute vs Belgian Malinois

Now that the most apparent difference is out of the way, let’s look at the other key differences between these two breeds.


One of the biggest differences between the Alaskan Malamute and Belgian Malamute is how easy Belgian Malinois are to train.

Belgian Malinois are eager to please, and their entire life revolves around learning how to do a specific job and perform it constantly. They are exceptionally keen to please their owners, which makes them ideal in working roles and as service dogs.

Alaskan Malamutes are the opposite; they have the typical stubborn personality trait seen across many Spitz-type dog breeds and are not eager to please their owners.

Working Roles & Origin

Malamutes were initially used to pull heavy sled loads for miles at a time and are still used for this role today (although much less than before). They came across the Bering Strait from Siberian thousands of years ago to Alaska, where they became popular working dogs.

Today, it’s very common to see Mals kept as pets, as they don’t need to work to be happy and satisfied as long as their exercise needs are met.

Belgian Malinois are almost always found in working roles, such as security, police work, search and rescue, or more. They were initially used as herders in the Malines area of Belgium, but their natural intelligence didn’t take long to shine through and lead them to other roles.

The only examples that you will see kept as pets are those who are judged unable to work or who have retired, and even then, they will often be kept by owners who give them a role or constant training to keep them happy.

Coat Length, Shedding & Grooming Requirements

Alaskan Malamutes have medium to long coats, whereas Belgian Malinois have short, dense coats.

This means that Alaskan Malamutes shed much more often and require a daily groom for coat maintenance as well as more intense grooming sessions a few times per week.

Some Malamutes can have incredibly long and thick coats, and these are known as wooly Malamutes.

Wooly Malamute Toews - Sent in by one of our readers.
Wooly Malamute Toews – Sent in by one of our readers.

Belgian Malinois’ only need a quick groom a few times per week with a bristle brush to remove loose hairs and prevent matting, but that’s it.

Protective Instinct

The last key difference to mention between these two dog breeds is their protective or guarding instinct.

Despite their large size and wolf-like appearance, Alaskan Malamutes are not good guard dogs at all. They have little to no guarding instinct and are likelier to befriend a complete stranger than be suspicious of them.

Belgian Malinois are the opposite; they have a powerful guarding instinct and are used as security dogs for this very reason across the globe. This guarding instinct comes from their background as herding dogs who were used to protect livestock.


Although these two dogs have totally different origins and appearances, they have quite a few similarities.

Exercise Requirements

Both breeds need at least 2 hours per day of exercise, with Mals enjoying long walks or runs and the Malinois more suited for exercising through work or playing games.

Mals also love to pull by nature, so you can expect them to pull quite strongly on a leash while exercising.


Regarding lifespan, both breeds have pretty long lifespans for their size.

Each breed has an average lifespan of 10 to 14 years on average, which is quite high given their height and weight.


As per the AKC breed standards for both breeds, the Alaskan Malamute and Belgian Malinois are quite similar in size:

It’s worth mentioning that Mals tend to put on more weight and become much larger (easily exceeding 100 lbs) than the breed standard, so you will often find that Mals are larger than Belgian Malinois.

There are also so-called ‘Giant Malamutes,’ which is where they are bred for size (something we disagree with), but this gives a better idea about how large they can easily get.

Coat Blowing

The Belgian Malinois might shed less overall, but they still have a double coat, which means they blow their coat twice a year, just like the Malamute.

This is a process where double-coated breeds shed most of their undercoat to prepare for the warmer weather, and during this time, you’ll notice much more intense shedding, which requires daily grooming.

Which Breed Is Best For You?

Alaskan Malamutes and Belgian Malinois are both challenging breeds, but Mals are definitely more suited for family life as they don’t require constant training and mental stimulation. They do still need a lot of exercise, though, as mentioned previously, but they’re quite a good fit for active people and families and not anywhere near the level of the Malinois.

Belgian Malinois need a job to perform and are known as one of the most challenging breeds to own out of all dogs. They thrive as service dogs, and this is where you will find the vast majority of them.

Want to read some other Alaskan Malamute breed comparisons? Check out some of our recent articles below:

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About The Author

Caitlin is the owner and lead writer for The Malamute Mom. She has over 10 years of experience with Alaskan Malamutes and Huskies. She is currently working on getting her PhD in materials science but continues to write for The Malamute Mom in her spare time.

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