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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok I've been debating this post for awhile, but after gaining more experience with german shepherds, a few belgian malinois, and more dobermans, I am interested on people's opinions about how these dogs differ.

I am speaking more towards the working variety of shepherds and mals, because I know there is a vast difference between the average pet german shepherd and the working shepherd. I have seen the difference in classes and friends who own pet BYB german shepherds (labs in fuzzy long black/brown hair). I know there are also huge differences between the mals and the shepherds, however, I am placing them together because they have similar genetics as far as being 'herding' dogs are concerned.

My trainer gave me a good short story involving the shepherds vs the dobermans mindset, which I thought was both entertaining and rather suiting to the two breeds, but I am not even going to attempt to put my notions into words. The differences I have picked up on, I can not yet decide how to word it, but I am wondering what their differences are like as far as working, training, learning, and of course just living with them for those who have had experience with the breed but did not work.

I would personally never own a German Shepherd, but many years from now I would possibly own one Mal, simply for their strong drives along with their health and longevity. However, this is a huge maybe, I honestly do not think I could ever look at a nice Dobe pup, and then a nice Mal pup, and stick with the Mal.

So yeah, if anyone has experience with both Dobermans and either of the other two breeds, please share for interests sake! Lol and don't feel shy to post pictures ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Haha I love that video sam&macksmom!! That is my favorite to send to friends and family after they watch a shutzhund video and say "ooh! I want one of those dogs!"
 

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Hubby and I raised a police malinois last year. I am also very familiar with working shepherds. My trainer has a working line shepherd that she trains in schutzhund, agility, and competition obedience and I see her almost daily so I'm pretty familiar with that dog as well. Gunner is my second doberman. Personally, as a companion I would choose a doberman hands down. If I wanted a strictly competition dog to show, I would go with another well bred malinios. The main difference I see with the mal we raised and with Gunner is that the mal was very serious. He was not at all affectionate and rarely loosened up or relaxed. Gunner is a goof and is usually very relaxed and easy going. They are opposites in that regard. The mal was much more responsive to commands. I could give him a certain look, and he would respond. He was nearly human in his intelligence and wanted to work. Although he was very easy to train, he did not seek to please as much as a doberman IMO. He did it because it was his job, not because he was trying to please me. Again, he lacked an affectionate side which was sometimes hard. He did his job well but sometimes acted like he didn't care if we were around or not. Gunner is a velcro dog and I LOVE that about dobermans. He obeys because he wants to please me and is extremely affectionate. There are tons more differences but that is just my experiences.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The wish to please you thing you speak of sounds like the thing my trainer told me. She gave me the scenario of throwing a ball to a doberman and a shepherd. When you throw it the shepherd, the shepherd thinks "Oh yes, ball. I'm going to get the ball, I'm gonna get that ball.... Oh I got the ball, success, now I must bring the ball back". Whereas when you throw the ball to the doberman the dobe says "Omg yes I love playing ball! I'm gonna get the ball! I'm gonna get it! Oh wait, a butterfly.... Does mom want a butterfly? Oh no she wants the ball, ok mom I'm getting the ball! I got the ball! Here's the ball, I'll share with you if you want, or did you want the butterfly?"

The doberman impression cracked me up haha they sure do love their mommies(Or daddies) and they seem to be much goofier and maybe more ADD.
 

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Here are some pics of Vader, our little maligator :) Gosh he was a cool dog. He is now doing bomb training with our local military and is a favorite. When we got him we had planned for hubby to use him on patrol, but then his department phased out all of their malinois and went only to drug dogs (mostly labs). His talent was too great to waste so we let him go to a working home. He was bred to work and would not have been happy as a pet.

When we first got him...around 16 weeks.


Growing up!


Babies are yummy :p


Introducing some tracking work at our local park..


He grew to be a BIG boy...much larger than the tiny things you sometimes see. He was solid and fast!
 

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The wish to please you thing you speak of sounds like the thing my trainer told me. She gave me the scenario of throwing a ball to a doberman and a shepherd. When you throw it the shepherd, the shepherd thinks "Oh yes, ball. I'm going to get the ball, I'm gonna get that ball.... Oh I got the ball, success, now I must bring the ball back". Whereas when you throw the ball to the doberman the dobe says "Omg yes I love playing ball! I'm gonna get the ball! I'm gonna get it! Oh wait, a butterfly.... Does mom want a butterfly? Oh no she wants the ball, ok mom I'm getting the ball! I got the ball! Here's the ball, I'll share with you if you want, or did you want the butterfly?"

The doberman impression cracked me up haha they sure do love their mommies(Or daddies) and they seem to be much goofier and maybe more ADD.
Yes, that's EXACTLY it! Gunner is very smart and easy to train, but he is NOTHING like the malinois. That dog seriously would read my mind before I even had decided what command to give..it was spooky sometimes how closely he watched me. But again, he was doing it because he was born to work. He worked 24/7....there was an off switch but you had to know how to find it. With Gunner, it's more the opposite. You have to find the ON switch LOL and get his lazy butt off the couch :roflmao: They are both amazing breeds...personally a doberman is my choice though. I love that they are clowns who can also be serious and work when needed.
 

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Sorry, I have no experience with Mals, but I just wanted to LOL @ this...

Sorry, this may be a little off topic but it made me think of this video! LOL (click on watch on youtube)
That was so good...reminds me of a conversation I had with SO. Before we got Rowan I asked him, "Are you SURE you want a doberman? You do realize they are a high energy, high drive breed, right?". (I grew up with them, his family had PUGS). He said he was sure. A few months ago I asked him again, "Remember when I asked you if you realized these dogs were high energy? Did you REALLY get it?" He paused...."Nope."

You just can't explain it to people...but seeing this video sure does sum it up. :)
 

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At my age, I'm pretty sure that dog would kill me! hahahah

That was so good...reminds me of a conversation I had with SO. Before we got Rowan I asked him, "Are you SURE you want a doberman? You do realize they are a high energy, high drive breed, right?". (I grew up with them, his family had PUGS). He said he was sure. A few months ago I asked him again, "Remember when I asked you if you realized these dogs were high energy? Did you REALLY get it?" He paused...."Nope."

You just can't explain it to people...but seeing this video sure does sum it up. :)
 

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At my age, I'm pretty sure that dog would kill me! hahahah
At any age that dog would kill me! He sure is cute though ;)

It amazes me that some people think a dog is a dog and the only differences are things like size, color and type of hair!
 

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We have a working line GSD in my search and rescue group. The differences between him and Callie are pretty apparent when you get them together.

Hes very vocal and task oriented, where Callie is stone silent (I've heard her bark all of twice!). Superficial difference, but difference none the less.

He also seems less affectionate than the dobes I've known. If you get all animated and excited and play with him (tug is his reward for a successful find) he wont wag his tail, or show you any indication that he's actually enjoying himself. Its kinda weird, but he keeps bringing the toy back and wants to tug.

Callie, on the other hand, goes absolutely BONKERS when she gets released to her play reward after a find. Shes jumping, her nubbin is going a million miles an hour, play bowing, prancing- 110% a HAPPY girl :)
 
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The wish to please you thing you speak of sounds like the thing my trainer told me. She gave me the scenario of throwing a ball to a doberman and a shepherd. When you throw it the shepherd, the shepherd thinks "Oh yes, ball. I'm going to get the ball, I'm gonna get that ball.... Oh I got the ball, success, now I must bring the ball back". Whereas when you throw the ball to the doberman the dobe says "Omg yes I love playing ball! I'm gonna get the ball! I'm gonna get it! Oh wait, a butterfly.... Does mom want a butterfly? Oh no she wants the ball, ok mom I'm getting the ball! I got the ball! Here's the ball, I'll share with you if you want, or did you want the butterfly?" . . .
Funny, we had this same conversation last night with someone who has owned both Dobermans and shepherds. She used different analogies, but the substance was the same.

The butterfly thing is perfect. To your trainer's story, I would add only that the Doberman would say, "If it's really the ball you want, I can figure out a better (faster? more entertaining? more efficient?) way of getting it for you."
 

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I bet that ZeldaRules will have some thoughts to add to this thread, I know that she is involved with both GSDs and dobermans.

We had to make the extremely difficult decision to put our GSD down recently. We had been wrestling with her extreme reactivity and aggression since the day she came home at eight weeks. Knowing much less about the GSD world then, we took the recommendation of an agility contact on a breeder. We didn't do nearly enough digging for red flags. They probably weren't the very worst breeder, there was at least health testing, but knowing what I know now, I would consider them a BYB. We went through the wringer with every kind of reasonable intervention with her, management, really, you name it. We worked with trainers, behaviorists, her veterinarian, a second veterinarian, mentors within the GSD world. In the end, she was not safe. I won't get into all of the depressing details of her spiral, as this would be a very, very long post, but I would just caution people to be aware that a backyard bred GSD is not always a lab in shepherd's clothing - I've encountered any number that do fit that description, but just as many that are unstable, unpredictable, unsound, heart-breaking, and riddled with problems. Not that this is not the buyer's fault ultimately, but after what we've gone through with Piper, it worries me when something sounds almost like an endorsement for BYB GSDs, although I have no doubt that that was not the OP's intent, so please don't take that as an attack of any kind, Asmit. :)

All that aside, Piper and the other GSDs I've known have a lot in common with dobermans at face value, but there are a lot of differences. Piper was very intense and focused in her training, Java is also intense and focused but in more of a crack-head way. That's not a bad thing - I prefer it myself, my fiance is the GSD fanatic, much as I love living with one. Java is just much more energetic in training, he leaps around and gets excited when he's trying to figure out a new command. Piper would look at us with this stoic, bored, completely disinterested look while learning something new, and we'd be frustrated for a week or two until suddenly she'd give us what we'd asked for flawlessly, and that was that. She'd known it all along, but she wasn't doing it until it suited her. Once we crossed that bridge, she was a force to be reckoned with in training. I've never seen such a gorgeous heel and perfect focus.

In play, Java is again much sillier. We called Piper the fun police. She would herd dogs away from each other when they played, take toys away when they were being frolicked with, nip the heels of dogs with zoomies. Java is the opposite. He's also lazier and easier, but when he's feeling playful, he has no problem letting his hair down (such as it is) and having fun. Piper was so serious.

Of course, it's also worth mentioning that there seems to be a greater divide in lines between the breeds. A Czech, DDR, and American GSD might as well be different breeds in some ways. I haven't noticed anything so drastic in dobermans, but I may just not be noticing the right things, I wouldn't call my opinion educated there just yet. If it exists, though, I'd say it's more subtle than it is in GSDs. A lot of doberman quirks seem to span the breed, from the lowliest BYB doberman to the most well-bred, and across the lines.

I could probably go on about this all day. Here are a few pictures of Piper.


10 - Copy by bl_meyers, on Flickr


11 (3) by bl_meyers, on Flickr


13 (6) by bl_meyers, on Flickr


24 (2) by bl_meyers, on Flickr


101 pt 2 by bl_meyers, on Flickr


securedownload (1) by bl_meyers, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
So Sorry to hear about the loss you had to take :( It sounds like you probably did what was best for the dog though.Yes I in no way meant that the BYB GSDs are all friendly, but more along the lines of, they are far from working dogs, and far from what the shepherd was originally made for.

I too have seen a few different lines of GSDs and also thought they were almost completely different breeds. It confuses me to try and think about all of the differences in lines and types of GSDs, so I'll leave that as it is for now :) But the degree of differences in the GSDs is insane. As you said, there are quirks similar to almost all Dobes, that I don't think hold true for the shepherds. Even my BYB oversized lazy sleepyhead doberman still holds true to the doberman personality and has the same little doberquirks the rest of DT have.
 

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Hubby and I raised a police malinois last year. I am also very familiar with working shepherds. My trainer has a working line shepherd that she trains in schutzhund, agility, and competition obedience and I see her almost daily so I'm pretty familiar with that dog as well. Gunner is my second doberman. Personally, as a companion I would choose a doberman hands down. If I wanted a strictly competition dog to show, I would go with another well bred malinios. The main difference I see with the mal we raised and with Gunner is that the mal was very serious. He was not at all affectionate and rarely loosened up or relaxed. Gunner is a goof and is usually very relaxed and easy going. They are opposites in that regard. The mal was much more responsive to commands. I could give him a certain look, and he would respond. He was nearly human in his intelligence and wanted to work. Although he was very easy to train, he did not seek to please as much as a doberman IMO. He did it because it was his job, not because he was trying to please me. Again, he lacked an affectionate side which was sometimes hard. He did his job well but sometimes acted like he didn't care if we were around or not. Gunner is a velcro dog and I LOVE that about dobermans. He obeys because he wants to please me and is extremely affectionate. There are tons more differences but that is just my experiences.
What Olivia has said here is completely right.

My friend has 2 Malinois whom she both works and shows. Her aim is to breed the 2 (she has a male and female). Both are from incredible lines and both are doing fantastically in both the working sphere as well as showing.
Bala the male is a workaholic, he works, works, works, his idea of fun is playing with a ball, however, the ball is his drive, he will sit and stare for hours at it, without moving his attention so fixed you could shoot a pistol next to him and he doesnt bat an eyelid. When he is doing bite work it is not a game, it is serious, he goes in fast, hard and with 100% commitment.
Etna the female is food driven but boy is she committed to her work, admittedly she is a little more laid back than Bala in her approach, but the moment you put on the bite arm she is all business and you had best be on your toes as she comes in equally as hard as her male counterpart.
Both are French Ring trained and both are now doing their EPO/Shutzhund. Both have racked up Champion titles in Showing and both are generating a great deal of interest in future litters.

My friend has worked with me with Toby for over 12 months now trying to iron out his issues with regards his reactivity. She has commented on how intelligent Toby is, but he is no where near as driven as her Mali's. Toby does things to please me, her dogs do it because it is part of what they are.
One thing that surprised me about her dogs was the fact that I can work them admittedly not as good as she does but still I can get them to do their stuff both in the working ring and show ring pretty easily, (once I knew what drove them). Toby, however, is my velcro dog and that is that. He is forever looking to me no matter where I am hiding even if I am not there he is looking for me to check if it is okay, whereas her dogs just work, work, work as long as you know what drives them, ball, or titbit.

Another friend recently asked me if I would be having a Mali pup from my friend when they have some, my immediate response was. 'Not on your life, they are too much like hard work, give me a Dobe every time, they are so much nicer, more friendly, more family orientated than a Mali no matter which way you look at it.'
By the way, my friend added to my above statement that whilst we are friends, she wouldnt let me have a pup simply because for anyone to have a Mali they have got to be 100% serious in what they do, working, showing etc, etc, I just want a pet, who is obedient and that just isnt enough for a Mali, they have to be doing something and that something is working.

Just wanted to add, I would not have a GSD if you paid me a million euros, I have never met one that I felt completely comfortable with, I think it is their eyes, they just stare right through you. Maybe I have met only bad ones, (even though the latest bunch I have met are Champion Show dogs and Working Titled boys and girls) fact is their incessant yapping, their sudden outbursts, their thousand yard stare just creeps me out.
 

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I'm glad I found this thread as we have raised 2 GSD and 3 Dobermans.

I will begin by saying we always research & purchase German dogs. Very well bred (usually quite expensive) We want to know what we are getting for health, temperment, ability, and need to see their ancestors.

My experience on GSD vs Doberman:

Our male Shep was Shutz level II trained as he was slated to be a police dog. He stopped eating when seperated from my husband. Obviously did not go on to be a police dog, but was our PERFECT family dog for 11 years. I can't remember him ever doing one thing wrong. He did not want to disapoint us. IMO that is a German Shepherd. Highly intelligent, extremly protective, great with kids. Simply perfect.

We currently have a 5yr old female Shep.
No training.
Again very well bred and she came perfect, right out of the box. Claire doesn't do anything wrong either. Very tolerant of her Dober siblings. The new pup pulls on her tail. Claire comes running when you call her. She did that as a 4 month old.

Now, Baby Garth, my male black Dobe was probably the most "trying" puppy on the planet. Very smart, high drive for play & work, and he drove me to tears on many occations. Equally as smart as my male Shep, but Garth had to test me every step of the way. He ate furniture, shoes, clothing, the seat out of my brand new truck, the list goes on. The boys were raised together and received the same discipline and exercise. (Axl, was a few years older.)

Our current Red Female Dobe is also a handful. Loving and sweet as a Dobe should be. Saucy and demanding. Way too smart!!!! Its all about her. Don't crowd her space.
Mine food bowl. Mine mommy. Mine couch.

Claire lies quietly on the floor and rolls her eyes.

I wouldn't want to live without either. From my experience, both are exceptional dogs. Very bright, brave, beautiful and loving. My GSDs always want to please. My Dobermans always want to make me work.

(will try to load pics later)
 

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If your thinking between a Mal and a doberman. My gut is saying for you to stick with a doberman. What do you want in a dog, a companion or to work it? Why would you never consider a Shepard?

I recently adopted Zoey, a Mali/GSD mix and she is a FIRECRACKER! Luckily i am a very active and healthy guy, so I give her the exercise she needs, although she would like exercise all day long. They NEED to be worked and to be worn out, or you will go crazy!!!! I love all three breeds, I really cant tell you my favorite so there is no bias opinions here. If you can handle the high energy that this breed has, is a strong leader, and is experienced, then i say go for it. Hopefully in a few years, I will pickup a dobey pup and will have my dreams come true. Untill then, its just me and this lovely lady.




PS toby, i wouldn't say that dobeys are more people friendly and family oriented then Malis. For the most part, yes. Although mine is ridiculously affectionate and LOVESSSSSS people. Must be the GSD in her though.
 

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What Olivia has said here is completely right.

My friend has 2 Malinois whom she both works and shows. Her aim is to breed the 2 (she has a male and female). Both are from incredible lines and both are doing fantastically in both the working sphere as well as showing.
Bala the male is a workaholic, he works, works, works, his idea of fun is playing with a ball, however, the ball is his drive, he will sit and stare for hours at it, without moving his attention so fixed you could shoot a pistol next to him and he doesnt bat an eyelid. When he is doing bite work it is not a game, it is serious, he goes in fast, hard and with 100% commitment.
Etna the female is food driven but boy is she committed to her work, admittedly she is a little more laid back than Bala in her approach, but the moment you put on the bite arm she is all business and you had best be on your toes as she comes in equally as hard as her male counterpart.
Both are French Ring trained and both are now doing their EPO/Shutzhund. Both have racked up Champion titles in Showing and both are generating a great deal of interest in future litters.

My friend has worked with me with Toby for over 12 months now trying to iron out his issues with regards his reactivity. She has commented on how intelligent Toby is, but he is no where near as driven as her Mali's. Toby does things to please me, her dogs do it because it is part of what they are.
One thing that surprised me about her dogs was the fact that I can work them admittedly not as good as she does but still I can get them to do their stuff both in the working ring and show ring pretty easily, (once I knew what drove them). Toby, however, is my velcro dog and that is that. He is forever looking to me no matter where I am hiding even if I am not there he is looking for me to check if it is okay, whereas her dogs just work, work, work as long as you know what drives them, ball, or titbit.

Another friend recently asked me if I would be having a Mali pup from my friend when they have some, my immediate response was. 'Not on your life, they are too much like hard work, give me a Dobe every time, they are so much nicer, more friendly, more family orientated than a Mali no matter which way you look at it.'
By the way, my friend added to my above statement that whilst we are friends, she wouldnt let me have a pup simply because for anyone to have a Mali they have got to be 100% serious in what they do, working, showing etc, etc, I just want a pet, who is obedient and that just isnt enough for a Mali, they have to be doing something and that something is working.

Just wanted to add, I would not have a GSD if you paid me a million euros, I have never met one that I felt completely comfortable with, I think it is their eyes, they just stare right through you. Maybe I have met only bad ones, (even though the latest bunch I have met are Champion Show dogs and Working Titled boys and girls) fact is their incessant yapping, their sudden outbursts, their thousand yard stare just creeps me out.
THIS! This is why we let Vader go to a working home when we learned that my husband wouldn't be using him on patrol. Although we really loved him and he was an incredible dog, he was bred to work and he would have been miserable without a job to do. Although I would have been willing to take up a sport or something with him, we had him evaluated by several k9 handlers and they all concluded that his natural ability and talent was extremely high. We couldn't let him remain a pet when he could be out helping people and doing what he was bred for. Malinois are INCREDIBLE dogs but I would never even consider one again unless A. The kids were grown and out of the house and B. I had tons of time and money to devote to training and keeping the dog stimulated with a "job". My trainer's imported GSD is very simliar to the malinois and has an endless working drive too. My trainer competes and trains with her constantly and she still has to look for new ways to stimulate her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
If your thinking between a Mal and a doberman. My gut is saying for you to stick with a doberman. What do you want in a dog, a companion or to work it? Why would you never consider a Shepard?
First, I would never debate between getting a Doberman or a mal. I will always have a Dobe in my life, but at some point I might also have a mal. With my future dobermans, I will buy from working breeders with intent to work, but if something happened and the dog chose say agility over schutzhund or being a couch potato (which I know wouldn't happen with most working breeders), I would not mind for the dog to be just an active companion. For a Doberman, I would have a "pet" first, and a "working dog" second. If I were ever to get a Mal, he would 100% be a working dog and participate in dog sport. I would consider him "working dog" first. However, I highlyyyyy doubt I will ever get a Malinois, just if I did, it be a working dog all the way.

And I'm sorry, but I just am not fond of German Shepherds, I can admire nice ones from a distance, but I do not like them for more reasons than I wish to explain on the forum! Mainly because I do not want to start an argument and everyone of course has their own opinions. I was/am honestly just interested in seeing if the traits I have picked up on with the GSDs around me are pretty common in the breed, or just the ones I have encountered.
 
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