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Belgian Malinois vs Pitbull: The Main Differences (With Pictures)

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

If you’re in the market for a new furry friend, you may be considering a Belgian Malinois or a Pitbull. Both breeds are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and protective instincts, but there are some differences to consider before making your decision.

In this article, we’ll explore the characteristics of each breed to help you determine which one might be the right fit for you.

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Visual Differences

Belgian Malinois vs Pitbull side by side
Image Credit: Jumpstory

At a Glance

Belgian Malinois
  • Average height (adult): 20–26 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 44–66 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10–14 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Intelligent, loyal
  • Average height (adult): 14–21 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 30–60 pounds
  • Lifespan: 8–16 years
  • Exercise: 30–45 minutes a day
  • Grooming needs: Low maintenance
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Can vary
  • Trainability: Intelligent but can be stubborn

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Belgian Malinois Overview

Belgian Malinois are intelligent, active, and protective dogs that were originally bred for herding and guarding livestock. They’re highly trainable and excel in various activities such as obedience, agility, and protection sports

Moreover, Belgian Malinois are known for their loyalty and protective instincts, making them great family dogs. However, their protective nature can make them wary of strangers, which requires proper socialization and training.

belgian malinois dog in the park fields
Image Credit: Irantzu Arbaizagoitia, Shutterstock


Belgian Malinois are loyal, intelligent, and protective dogs that make great companions. They’re highly trainable and excel in various activities such as obedience, agility, and protection sports.


Belgian Malinois are highly trainable dogs that excel in various activities such as obedience, agility, and protection sports. They require early socialization and obedience training to help them become well-rounded dogs.

Health & Care

Belgian Malinois are generally healthy dogs, but like all breeds, they’re prone to certain health issues. They require regular exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior. They have short, shiny coats that requires moderate grooming.

Belgian Malinois in the forest
Image Credit: BIGANDT.COM, Shutterstock

Suitable For

Belgian Malinois are suitable for active families who are willing to provide them with plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, and training.

  • Intelligent
  • Loyal
  • Protective
  • Highly trainable
  • Can be wary of strangers
  • Require lots of exercise and training

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Pitbull Overview

Some Pitbulls may have been bred for violent activities, but with the right socialization and training, they can make terrific companions.

These strong and intelligent dogs crave both physical exercise as well as emotional connection—meaning you’ll get plenty of opportunities to build a bond while playing fetch in your yard or napping on the couch together. If given proper care, these loyal pups will surely become loving additions to any family.

white american pitbull terrier in autumn forest
Image Credit: stockfoto, Shutterstock


Pitbulls have unfairly acquired an undeserved bad reputation when, in fact, they are incredibly smart and athletic dogs that make dependable companions. With the appropriate socialization and training early on, these loyal pooches can be a great addition to your family.


Pitbulls are energetic dogs that require at least 2 hours of exercise a day, which can include long walks, runs, or playtime in a fenced yard. They excel in various activities, such as agility and obedience, which can help keep them mentally stimulated.


Pitbulls are intelligent dogs that respond well to positive reinforcement training. However, they can be stubborn, so consistency and patience are key. Proper socialization is also crucial to prevent any aggressive behavior.

pitbull wearing dog collar
Image Credit: Lunja, Shutterstock

Health & Care

Not only do Pitbulls boast a unique and shiny coat, but they are also typically quite healthy. As with any canine breed, however, they may experience certain health problems such as hip dysplasia or skin allergies. Moderate grooming is all that’s required to keep their fur looking glossy and sleek.

Suitable For

Pitbulls are suitable for active families who are willing to provide them with lots of exercise, training, and proper socialization. They can make great family pets with their affectionate and loyal nature. However, these powerful dogs are not suitable for first-time owners.

  • Athletic
  • Affectionate
  • Loyal
  • Negative reputation
  • Require lots of exercise and proper socialization

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Comparing the Two Breeds

While Belgian Malinois and Pitbulls share characteristics such as intelligence and devotion, there are some dissimilarities to think about. Normally, the Belgian Malinois is more protective of its owners, while Pitbulls tend to be warmer with people they haven’t met before.

Additionally, the former requires a lot less exercise than the latter. So, if you have limited time for walks, this may be an issue. It’s important to keep in mind that both breeds require proper socialization and training. As such, you will need to dedicate time for either dog in order to ensure they develop into well-rounded pets.

Common Misconceptions

Unfortunately, Belgian Malinois and Pitbulls have both been unfairly labeled as aggressive breeds. The truth is that each dog should be assessed on its own behavior instead of prejudging their breed.

Both are capable of being loving family pets; it simply depends on how they’re raised! Sadly, these dogs, and Pitbulls especially, are often the victims of abuse and neglect, which can lead to aggression. Moreover, some are trained to be mean and aggressive, which is why it’s important to do your research and make sure the pup you get has been treated humanely and bred properly.

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Which Breed Is Right for You?

Choosing the right breed ultimately depends on your lifestyle and personal preferences. If you’re looking for a protective and loyal dog that requires less exercise, a Belgian Malinois may be the right fit for you.

However, if you’re looking for an affectionate and athletic dog that requires lots of exercise and training, a Pitbull may be a better choice.

It’s important to do your research and consider all aspects of owning a dog before making a decision. Whichever breed you choose, make sure to provide them with proper socialization, training, and care to ensure they become well-rounded and happy family pets.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: (L) nordantin, Shutterstock | (R) J.A. Dunbar, Shutterstock

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