Dog Breeds: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

23 Aug

By popular (and by popular we mean ours because really, we’re the popular ones here. Don’t get uppity) request we’ve brought back our Dog Breed pros and cons. These are just a general look at breeds we’re familiar with and some things you may not be aware of.  We’ll share the good, the bad and the downright nasty. We’re entirely aware that breed traits are by no means universal. Every dog is an individual, however breeds being breeds there are some traits we feel you should be aware of in choosing your next canine companion.  If you don’t like sweeping generalizations, then you should probably back away slowly from our blog.   For our first installment of what we hope will be a regular feature, we’ll cover the Sheltie, Malinois, and Border Collie a.k.a. The Herder Cabal.

Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie)

Looking for an incredibly intelligent, loyal, and eager to please dog?  The Sheltie definitely fits that bill.   They make both excellent family pets as well as performance dogs and will certainly turn heads when you walk down the street.  However, if you rage whenever you hear a dog bark, you might want to reconsider bringing home a Sheltie.

Other breeds typically owned : More Shelties… Occasionally you may get a branch out into Border Collies or Aussies but Shelties are the potato chip herder. Usually you won’t find just one.

BusyBee’s mutant (read: way larger than standard) childhood Sheltie, Dusty.


-Shelties are incredibly intelligent and easily trainable and as such excel in obedience, agility, and other dog sports.

-They are one of the easiest breeds in terms of personality. They don’t just want to please you, they need to please you with a burning passions that at times borders on the scary. They’re often the starter performance breed and generally an excellent choice for that purpose.

-It will often seem like they’ve trained themselves mostly due to a deep personal dignity that most Shelties value. They take what you say seriously and to heart.

-They really are pretty. While most of us are familiar with either the merles or the sables, bi-colors also occur with some regularity in performance litters. Their fluffy coats, sweet faces and striking color patterns make them a perennial favorite.

-Personality plus. Shelties do it all with flair. They know what they want, and it’s their goal to get you to help them achieve it.

-They want to do things with you. If you want an interactive companion, these guys are up for anything except maybe swimming.


-The joys of a double coat.  These are dogs that require regular grooming and will literally blow enough coat to create a whole new dog.

-People will forever refer to your Sheltie as a “mini-Lassie”.  Learn to deal with it.

-Prone to anxiety (Separation and general).

-They bark. A lot. This is not a breed who is at all retiring. They don’t just like the sound of their own voice, they love it.

-Shelties are sensitive, probably more so than a lot of other herding breeds. They will get their feelings hurt easily and generally aren’t incredibly tolerant to mistreatment… basically subjecting them to an untrained toddler is unfair and probably won’t end well.


-Barkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbark… Did we mention they bark?

-They will try to herd everything if left to their own devices. Herding involves teeth. Hope you weren’t attached to your pants.


Belgian Malinois

Do you have a need for speed and a worrying lack of concern for your personal safety? A Malinois may be for you, or actually, it probably won’t be. It’s not you, it’s them. Really, these are a terrible ‘pet’ breed in general and we cringe when we see them owned by the rank novice dog person. This breed does best when owned by an experienced (and we mean real experience not ‘I took a class at <Bloated pet chain>’ experienced), active, consistent owner who loves to train and work their dogs as a primary hobby. They are not a breed for the casual enthusiast.

Other Breeds Typically Owned: Other Belgians, both Corgis and Australian Cattle Dogs in the herding breeds. You will occasionally see a terrier (Border or Jack Russel usually) because you might as well round out the madhouse.

I may have eaten the bolts in the shed… maybe.


-If you need a dog with endless energy and drive you don’t need to look much further than a Mal. There’s a reason they’re the top choice for many working dog venues including but not limited to: law enforcement, customs, detection, military and the bite sports. They are incredibly easy to motivate.

 -They really can be a stunning looking dog. While in the US they are considered separate from the other Belgian varieties their shared genetic heritage causes some gorgeous coat variation within single bloodlines.

-They are endlessly devoted and loyal to their people or person. They desperately want to be with their families and would be completely content to share a skin with you.  They want to be right in your pocket and will make  it happen if they can.

-They are extremely smart and learn incredibly quickly.

-They are very protective. Naturally somewhat suspicious of strangers, the Belgian varieties on the whole can be viewed with some caution by strangers.


-Their neediness can transition to severe separation anxiety.

-If not instilled early their busy-ness in the house can become problematic. While it’s a myth Malinois don’t have an “off-switch” it does need to be taught and enforced regularly.

-Their protective instincts can become a problem very quickly. You may accidentally turn your new best friend into your only friend.

-They’re mouthy. They love to play but are rather prone to forgetting that their humans can’t tolerate teeth on their skin like another Malinois can. Those jaws are incredibly strong and as a rule they love to alligator snap and prance. If you had to watch your pants with shelties, watch your femur with Malinois.

-While smart, Malinois are not a ‘thinker’ as it were. Their first instinct is always going to be “do” rather than ‘pause and reflect’. They can be difficult to train in that respect as well as putting their own safety at risk. Obedience and extensive training is not optional on this breed.


-They are high energy. Really, we’re not kidding. Their energy is boundless, exhausting and it needs an outlet. If you don’t give them one, they will make one and we can almost promise you, you won’t like it.

-They’re the sport/macho dog du jour right now. Unfortunately their versatility and outright power has gathered some notice from people who really can’t handle and shouldn’t have the breed. Many many misguided novices wander into the breed completely unprepared for what they’re up against when transitioning from one of the more easy-going breeds, thinking that their new high-powered canine will help them win.

-Pathological shyness occurs in some lines with regularity.

-We don’t know when, we don’t know where, we don’t know how but somehow they will hurt you or themselves accidentally. They are not a graceful breed.

Strange Breed Quirks:

– There’s something referred to as the Malinois Head Stand. It’s usually against your body as the dog shoves their head into you to the point of nearly falling over on themselves.

-Teeth snapping during play alarms some people but it’s just how they play. Alligator snapping and prancing is totally normal and typical.


Border Collie

The kind of people that do well with Border Collies are incredibly active and if not smarter… at least as smart as the dog. A Border Collie is not a dog for someone that wants to hang inside and go on occasional hike. They are a full time commitment that will amuse themselves if not supervised.

Other Breeds Typically Owned: Other Border collies, Papillons, occasionally an ancient Sheltie or a jerky terrier (Typically Jack Russell or Jack Russell mix).

You wil bend to my will, giant naked sheep.

The Good

-Nothing’s smarter than a border collie, according to that obnoxious little list that comes out every year. No one can argue that Border Collies don’t have weird savant style intelligence.

– A well bred Border Collie is a striking dog, whether merle, red, blonde or black and white… they are certainly appealing dogs.

-Athletic. Do I even need to go on? There is a reason you see so many Border Collies in performance sports, They’re fast and they’re accurate.


-That’s a lot of energy. A Border Collie is a dog that keeps going and going and going. We know this is something a lot of Border Collies treasure in the breed but we find it hard to believe that they never wish for an off switch.

-Obsessive. A Border Collie is a dog bred for generations to keep things in order. Things being sheep. Most Border Collie owners don’t have a couple hundred sheep to keep their dogs occupied so the dog’s obsessions often turn compulsive. They herd flashes of light, they herd cats, they herd leaves blowing across the lawn.


-Holy crap, can you say breed politics?!? There isn’t a breeder in the US that you can buy a dog from that won’t have the other half of the Border Collie community snickering and gossiping behind closed doors. Barbie collies, working line, sport bred… it’s enough to have your head spinning.

-Border Collies can be… snappish. It’s less an aggression issue and more a control or fear issue, especially in the badly bred ones. That tendency combined with speed and intelligence often leads to a dog that can bite before anyone knows what is going on.

Thoughts?  Share below!


94 Responses to “Dog Breeds: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”

  1. scareduck August 23, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

    Ebil Chucky above is an English Shepherd. Which, as the people who own them will cheerfully tell you, are like Border Collies with an off switch.

    • Diana August 24, 2013 at 12:12 am #

      A good border collie DOES have an off switch. I’ve had 6 and they all had off switches and were so easy to live with that you hardly new they were around. But say ‘hey let’s go do something’ and they are there 120% and will go until they drop. Play ends, and they’re back on the couch peacefully keeping out of trouble. I have Belgians as well and those don’t have an off switch!

      • Myra August 24, 2013 at 12:54 am #

        Yeah they have an off switch….exhaustion!!!!! Mine walks me about 4 miles a day and then has to play, run and do tricks when we get home. He is one of the mouthy ones. I have to be on him all the time or he will nip anything that moves.
        He is my second border collie and I would not trade him for anything!!!

      • Emma August 24, 2013 at 2:45 am #

        I’d like to just re-enforce the Off Switch thing.
        A well bred, well looked after BC most certainly does have the switch.
        Either that or someone forgot to tell my BCs. One in particular who SLEEPS on the floor until he’s dragged into the agility ring….and then proceeds to place quite well due to his awesome speed.

      • Dawn Y August 24, 2013 at 4:20 am #

        Well said Diana!!!! Exactly like my pack and I have 4 right now, along with a Border Collie mix and a Cattle dog!!! 6 high energy dogs, all with off switches, with the ability to go full speed ahead like a freight train when I ask them to.

      • MA August 26, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

        My BC mix (maybe, she might be full Border Collie or close to it) girl has an off switch until she hears the word “go” in any sentence. If she starts getting demanding for GO! before I’m ready in the evening all I have to do is look at her and say “no” and she will curl up on the couch and wait. She is a wonderful, affectionate dog and I wouldn’t trade her for anything. I never imagined starting agility until we brought home that little black and white pup that grew up to be made for it (the homeowner’s association would frown on sheep). The internet information about BCs had me scared to death when we first adopted her, I was afraid she would be an unstoppable crazy creature chewing the dry wall out of our house, fortunately she has loved all her training and is a great companion.

      • kris May 6, 2014 at 2:51 am #

        yea my border collie sheltie mix is the sweetest thing in the world always ready to go but totally chill at home almost non existent best dog i ever had and everyone loves her

      • loveabull October 4, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

        Yes I once adopted a BC without any research. She was the most striking dog in the shelter. I lived in a fairly small apartment with no yard. Long work hours and kids too unmotivated to walk her.

        On the good side she whipped me into the best physical shape of my life. A half hour walk was easily condensed to ten minutes with my feet never touching the ground. BC’s can pee and poop in motion, no need to stop and sniff.

        She also nipped heels regularly attempting to herd the kids, shredded books, toys, and any other interesting object in reach. She was obsessed with electrical cords and nibbling through them. Even hidden under a carpet and nailed n’ taped to the floor. Master escape artist from collar or anywhere else, a four inch square hole in a fence and she could seemingly get through.

        We rehomed her to a working farm. Lesson learned-Never adopt a pet brighter than you are…

    • H. Houlahan August 24, 2013 at 2:00 am #

      I *thought* that preview thumbnail was our own Hannibal Chuckster! It appears they have Winston Smithed away their error and inserted an actual borderline collie.

      English shepherds. They are everywhere and you don’t even know it.

    • L.C. August 24, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

      I agreed, border collies do have an off switch. I have had and still have border collies. They have been for us, the most caring and loving dogs. The two girls we have now are so calm! People are always surprised. Yes, they love to run but they do not obsessively herd! My one likes to run after my bicycle for a few seconds then just gives up, and follows at a safe distance. They are so smart though that sometimes they won’t follow your command simply because they know what you want them to do but they don’t want to. Ex: my other girl hates to come in at night. We live in the country and they are rarely tied up so when it’s time to come in, she hides and won’t come when we call. Food is rarely an incentive for them. They often skip meals when they don’t feel hungry so using treats to motivate does not work. However, when my husband starts the ATV, she comes out of her hidding spot because she thinks they are going for a ride. They love to climb up on our laps like lap dogs. My older girl will sit next to my father and aunt (who are not well) as a watch dog. Also, when my daughter was young, border #1 would never nibble on her shoes but would do it to adults. However, if an adult was barefoot or in sandals, she would never nibble. She instinctively knew when my daughter was old enough for her to start playing with her feet. We are an active family but not overly so. Somehow, our dogs have adapted well to us. We live on acreage so maybe it’s because they have room to be themselves and make their own decisions. Who knows but we are a border collie family. I know my dogs may not be typical of the breed from all the things I’ve read but I have had four dogs and they have been very similar in temperament and they all came from different places. Maybe it is just the luck of the draw (or the litter!)

    • RowanVT August 28, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

      I used to have an English shepherd/cattle dog mix.

      Don’t ever get one of those. Complete nightmare. 😛 He was like a border collie on steroids (bulkier) with less neuroticism, but the independent nature of both breeds seem to combine exponentially in that dog. He liked me best. But he only kinda-sorta-maybe liked me. Super intelligent dog that would verbally sass me. Fun companion and great to walk with, but also protective and tried to eat an old lady who was hiding behind some bushes because she was afraid of dogs. *sigh* General jerkface to dogs at the dog park so I stopped taking him there, but a doll with my foster puppies and kittens. In fact I could not keep him away from the babies. He HAD to help.

      Kumo with the 8 oz foster puppy.

    • Paul September 1, 2013 at 1:55 am #

      I survived a Border Collie…gorgeous, highly intelligent with a crackhead attention span. I’m sure it had something to do with me not being up to the challenge. Ferdie did whip me into the best shape of my life. We could do an hour walk…top speed…fifteen minutes easy. She ran in her sleep, I swear…Master escape artist too. We now have pitbulls, it’s like night and day. We eventually found Ferdie found a great home on a working farm

  2. The Lady August 23, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    Great! Coonhounds next! 😉

  3. Kate August 23, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

    Snarky…my Border Collies are snarky. Well, not the boy. He’s sweet. He is a little dismissive of others who are not me though. BCs do have an off-switch. You have to look really hard to find it, but it’s there. Seems to be a special pass code to turn it on, but I have to say mine are really easy to live with! For me anyway… LOL!!

    LOVE this blog!

  4. Liz August 23, 2013 at 11:58 pm #

    You nailed them all. Though I think you under-expressed the true endless-neurosis of BCs.

    And OMG the Shelties…. barkbarkbarkbarkbarkbark… I could NOT do it. Ever. Evereverever.

    I think you should do Wheatons next.

  5. No Spam August 24, 2013 at 12:00 am #

    The veterinary ugly… 2 of the 3 breeds above are on this mutant MDR1 gene list (; a good follow-up list: ). That said, I’ll take one of each please!

  6. Jodi August 24, 2013 at 12:04 am #

    What about the german shepherds or beagles or labs??

  7. workbox August 24, 2013 at 12:23 am #

    We are a multi sheltie household….we also have papillons and collies. I LOVE my shelties for all the reasons you said…but you left out the fact that they are often just plain weird… they have obsessions and opinions, see ghosts, and are half feral. Of all the breeds I’ve lived with I’d say they are the most difficult for those reasons….but that is also part of their appeal…they present a unique psychic challenge…!!

    • Lauren August 24, 2013 at 5:33 am #

      My shelties were so much easier than my current papillons! I like to say the shelties were nice, sensible dogs and the paps…. well, they’re paps.

  8. steff jay August 24, 2013 at 12:24 am #

    I do agility so am around all 3 breeds and thought your list was pretty dead on. Friends with them thought the same. I was really wishing you’d done my breed, australian shepherd and I’d point people there and say, if you don’t believe what you see in my house, here’s confirmation 😉

    • TheDogSnobs August 24, 2013 at 12:34 am #

      We’re doing a few breeds at a time. So far we’ve done ACDs, Poodles, Pit bulls and with this installment we’re slowly covering more.

      We’re really trying to stick with breeds we’re extremely familiar with so we’re not just another Wikipedia article. 🙂 Lucky for you, we know Aussies well and the breed should be coming along eventually.

      • Virginia Wimmer August 24, 2013 at 12:37 am #

        I just voted for Clumber Spaniel…if you need info please don’t hesitate to ask…. 🙂

      • Flynn's mama August 24, 2013 at 2:20 am #

        Oh, please say you have experience with collies! Not that I think there’s much to mock on the bad or the ugly end of things . . .

      • Elen June 30, 2015 at 3:03 pm #

        What about Belgian Groenendael/Sheepdogs? They’re not quite the same as a Mal — far less klutzy, far less likely to clack or do the Maligator thing (yes, I’ve fostered Mals, I know that trick well). In some respects Groenies are a lot like Shelties, very smart, very biddable, super-sensitive, huge semiannual coat blows, noisy (barkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbarkbark), and live to please.

        I have a Groenie, my first Belgian after growing up with collies and Shelties. I wouldn’t trade her for the world, love her to pieces, and am sticking with this breed. Smartest dog I’ve ever had. Turned herself into my therapy dog/nurse after a car wreck and spine surgery, would not let me out of her sight, and very gentle. This dog knew when I’d exhausted myself before I did, and would ever so gently herd me to the recliner and nudge me into it. Awesome girl.

  9. Paul August 24, 2013 at 12:35 am #

    My Mal Tico is a retired Dual Purpose L.E. K-9. What a dog. His training is an absolute amazement to me. His off switch stays off until I turn it back on. He is completely at ease around anybody or anything until I ask him not to be. He was trained in Dutch, he responds well in English but will ignore the English commands occasionally. When I reinforce the English command with Dutch, he will respond with double speed. It reminds me of a Mother when she uses a child’s full name to address a problem. Even though Tico is 12 now, he can still go from couch potato to Mach 7 in the blink of an eye. He dearly loves his cat and Australian Cattle Dog sister. I wouldn’t trade him for anything. He’s my right hand man. The only problem (and it’s not really a problem) I’ve encountered with him is when he and I fly. TSA seems to not appreciate him too much when we go through security. That’s TSA’s problem, not his. That and when we go to baggage claim, Tico thinks he has to sniff every bag on the turnstile.

    • Paul August 24, 2013 at 12:41 am #

      Oh, I almost forgot…He is the only dog I’ve ever been around that can turn 1 gallon of water into 5 gallons of pee.

      • Kat November 6, 2013 at 3:05 am #

        Can Tico talk to our Dutch Shepherd K9?! I swear, this dog will not drink. Ever. Drives us mad >.<

        As a Border Collie and Dutch Shepherd mom… I am frantically nodding to every sentence of this blog post!!

  10. Virginia Wimmer August 24, 2013 at 12:36 am #

    My vote would be for a Clumber Spaniel, as many people do not know a lot about them…..another potato chip dog can’t have just one (well some can, but you always want more)

  11. Michelle August 24, 2013 at 12:53 am #

    Whilst ours is not actually a Malinois, she certainly looks like a miniature one (rescued street dog) and all these traits are spot on! Her neediness and separation anxiety are related to our other dog, some kind of poodle/Maltese cross, as is her loyalty.

    Luckily for us, she does have an off switch after she has exhausted several Huskies, Dobbies, poodles and sundry other dogs in a game of run and herd at the local park. It is certainly entertaining to watch!

    Loving this blog!

  12. Shelties Anonymous August 24, 2013 at 12:54 am #

    You must have been a Sheltie in a former life…you nailed every trait. Especially the potato chip part…we’ve had six and currently have four, soon to be five. After two, what’s one more? Shelties do better in multiples, and once you’re a sheltieholic you can’t stop. Barkbarkbark and all.

    • Linda August 24, 2013 at 4:21 am #

      Shelties come in flocks

  13. Kitdragon2000 August 24, 2013 at 12:58 am #

    Geesh… you guys go after the shelties first!! im hurt! Lol…. though oh so true…. fine ill give it to you… yes potato chip herd for sure!! LOL BARK!

  14. Connie Kaplan August 24, 2013 at 1:05 am #

    I loved this…wondered where I could find the post on poodles…

  15. kr bell August 24, 2013 at 1:33 am #

    This is so spot on. I have 16 Border Collies. ALL go on a 4 mile trot every day. It’s great for the barky ones. They do have an off switch, even with out the runs. But they are sooooo quirky. Ritualistic. Mine are conformation (Barbie), a little more low key than performance or herding (coyotes). A few of them are so low key, they are more like really old Labs that smoked reefer. About the politics- while I agree it exists, we try, really try, to be respectful of, and celebrate, the accomplishments of all in the breed. Several of us breed “across the lines” to achieve the perfect, well rounded dog. Maybe.

  16. Debbie Silcox-enders August 24, 2013 at 1:38 am #

    Love every subject I have read. Great information and so funny too
    Boston terriers next but please be kind.

  17. Deb Norman August 24, 2013 at 1:47 am #

    As someone with three Border collies, a sheltie, a Border/Jack and a Border/whippet and who had Belgians for many years, I have to say you nailed all three of these with uncanny accuracy. I really enjoy your observations.

    • TheDogSnobs August 24, 2013 at 1:51 am #

      We’re guessing you do flyball. 😛

      • Melissa June 14, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

        Haha! Yes she does!

  18. Amy August 24, 2013 at 2:45 am #

    My Border Collie was a shelter dog and this is very helpful, he hits most of these points! He has an ‘off button’ thankfully. Very aloof with strangers and I find him harder to read than Golden Retrievers (I’m more familiar with them) ex. if he growls at strangers. Love his energy level, and willingness to please. I also like that he is somewhat protective. What a great running dog =)

    • Amy August 24, 2013 at 2:47 am #

      PS does ‘coyote border collie’ mean the herding type that looks somewhat coyote-ish? That’s what Ranger is =)

  19. TwelveLegs August 24, 2013 at 7:30 am #

    You forgot to mention naming conventions for Border Collies, it is a minefield. Nouns and adjectives are used mainly. Rarely would a BC have a name like Fred, it would be more likely to be named Fast!!, yes, that name would actually include the exclamation marks.

  20. Shanna August 24, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    First, if this shows up more than once, my bad. I promise to do better next time.

    A couple of novice questions about Belgians..first, I know that there are different varieties of Belgian. Are there any differences between them in terms of temperament, or are the differences mostly related to color/coat length? I’m specifically interested in Mal vs the Belgian Sheepdog.

    Secondly, my breeds of choice right now are high-drive GSDS and Weimaraners, and incidentally I can’t wait to read the Weim breed profile. 😀 Having successfully owned and trained both of these breeds, would I still be in for a huge shock if I ever take the plunge and get myself a Belgian?

    Thanks for taking the time to answer my newbie questions. Loved the post, as always!

    • Working Dog Doc August 25, 2013 at 4:45 am #

      A proper Malinois needs a job….or three. My current competition dog does or did Schutzhund, PSA, and ringsport (in training for both French and Mondio ring), competed at the world championships at dock diving, and is good at herding our chickens when we have them (and ducks too), but is useless on sheep and cattle (too much drive, wants to destroy them). The definition of high drive differs, but I suggest finding someone with one or several and house sitting for them to see what they are like. Or foster for American Belgian Malinois Rescue. “Somebody in my Schutzhund club or agility group has one” is not enough experience, TBQH.

      Basically if you not a *serious* hobbyist (meaning you are looking for your next podium dog), steer clear. Belgian sheepdogs are likely to very active, but without much of the toughness or hardness of a good Malinois since they are bred more from showlines. *sigh* If you want to do agility, rally, flyfall, etc, get a Groen. If you want to do Schutzhund or another bitesport, get a Malinois.

      • Shanna August 25, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

        Thanks for the clarification. I think fostering for rescue is something I’ll do if I get to where I can consider another dog. My drivy GSD needs a job too, and she has one. I just finished training her to work as my guide dog, and we do competitive obedience also. Would love to try a bite sport with her, but there are weird legal issues with service dogs who do bitework, and also I simply don’t have the time to dedicate to training at the moment.

      • Kristen Nelson June 17, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

        My Belgian Sheepdogs are from showlines and are VERY high drive. The both run AKC JWW In the 5+ yps range. Not all showlines dogs are deadheads the way some people seem to think. *sigh*

      • Elen June 30, 2015 at 3:23 pm #

        Not entirely true about the Groens. I know them pretty well, as I’ve belonged to one of the regional breed clubs and show. They can be just as intense as a Mal. They do, however, have off switches. My girl’s maternal grandsire was a SAR/cadaver recovery dog. In his prime, he could match a Mal for intensity. Laz definitely had the attitude for bitework. He could also flop out and chill with his owner’s grandkids. God, I loved that dog, he was the reason why I got the puppy bitch I did. The lines matter, and there are some serious working lines among the Groens, especially in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. The Swedes have used Groens for MWDs, for example. But you will also see serious working ability among American-bred Groens. They aren’t as hard-wired as the Mals in terms of needing a job 24/7, but they do need one — or even two! They are very smart, and aren’t just “podium posers”.

    • TheDogSnobs August 25, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

      Working Dog Doc (Who I’m 99% sure I recognize from the WDF) is very right. Temperament on all of them will be key. Honestly of the three varieties the nastiest I’ve met have been Groens. A strangely high number of them are on Prozac or have serious anxiety issues as well. It’s the weirdest thing. My dog is show bred (It was an odd situation. I wouldn’t have gone show-bred if I was picking a puppy) and is so social it’s considered strange by other conformation people. His littermate was so pathologically shy, the co-breeder wouldn’t take her and the pet-home they lined up returned her after 4 months, so you really really have to choose carefully even within a litter. If you are a truly serious performance or sport person who has done it before*, (And I mean you train every day hours a day) and are prepared to be that committed, a Malinois could work for you. There are some excellent breeders around to ask questions to as well. Dantero and Loups de Soleil are great and likely to answer your questions.

      I would say to spend as much time with well-bred well-socialized dogs of each type before committing to foster etc. They’re a quirky group and nothing really prepares you for them.

      *The number of labrador dock diving people getting Malinois now is disturbing and weird. They’re getting a dog to win, not to live with but it’s usually beyond their capabilities. It would be funny if it weren’t sad.

      • Working Dog Doc August 25, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

        Oh yeah, I was at the central regionals competing with my dog in speed retrieve and I had at least 2 or 3 lab people tell me they want a Mal to do dock diving with. When there are plenty of seriously nice labs and mixes out there. Plus dock diving season runs for less than 6 months. What is tue dog supposed to do the rest of the time? Ugh…

        PS…yes, that is me. 🙂

      • TheDogSnobs August 25, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

        Warehouse them? Who knows. There was a Lab competing last year with their Malinois bitch spectating dockside. It was interesting to watch them try to manage her when they had clearly never dealt with suck a wild beastie. It was… ineffective to say the least. I hope it worked out but I really wish people would get the dog they can live with, not just the one they can win with.

        I figured it was. Your dog was a big reason why I’d contact Kadi when I’m looking for a Mal puppy many moons from now. 🙂

      • Shanna August 25, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

        Lab people getting Mals? Talk about a shock. 😀 I appreciate knowing Growens are prone to a lot of serious anxiety. That would not be for me. I like confident, intense types. They don’t have to be overly social, actually I prefer aloof dogs, but no aggression or significant fear issues. I think I’d need to get my hands on a Mal, and by that I mean meet and handle someone elses’s a little bit, before I would take one on. I will not get a dog unless I’m sure we’re a good fit for one another.

  21. Julie August 24, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

    Love your analysis! I’m so glad I talked my husband out of the Malinois. We got the Standard Schnauzer instead- oops. We love our Schnauzer. I think we were tired of researching all the possibility when we saw a neighbor walking his un-groomed Mini Schnauzer. A few web searches, and deciding we still wanted a bigger dog than the mini, we had a breeder located with pups ready when we planned on being ready. Like children; you’re – Never. Really. Ready.
    If these have less energy than a Mal; we are truly glad we went Schnauzer. Beamer keeps us going almost constantly. He has a down time about 9am to noon and he is back up full speed by dinner time.
    Can’t wait for your analysis on Std. Schnauzers.

  22. SheJackal August 24, 2013 at 11:49 pm #

    I have a malinois…you have pretty much hit the nail on the head (including that weird “OMFG YOU ARE NOT MAINTAINING ENOUGH CONTACT AND THEREFORE I HEADSTAND INTO YOUR SKIIIIIIIN” thing….)

    He will also take refuge in your shirt if you forget to tuck it in…

  23. Moglin August 25, 2013 at 1:13 am #

    I know it’s a weird one, but I’d love to see you profile the Catahoula. I never knew there was actually a name for the snap-snap-bow-pounce routine my girl is prone to doing when she plays.

  24. Anne August 25, 2013 at 1:39 am #

    Both my Mals have had lovely off switches. And plenty of drive, but they are both very easy to live with. Temperament, and socialization, are critical in the breed.

  25. Charlotte Hulett August 25, 2013 at 7:11 am #

    Having had Shelties for over 50 years, I can say with some authority, that not ALL of them are “barkers”. I have had groups that ran the gamut in that area.,from Quiet and Dignified, to all out big mouths. (I have one of the latter right now, and would occasionally like to tape her mouth shut.) Oddly,her barking is when she is going out the door or coming in from outside. The rest of the time she is normally pretty quiet.

  26. Catherine Duke August 25, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

    Hahaha, I’d love to see one on the JRT. Mine is a BLAST, but I was NOT prepared for a JRT when I got him and I had to learn FAST. It’s humbling to live with a dog who is smarter than I am most days!

  27. Ruth August 27, 2013 at 2:44 am #

    About your post on the malinois: OH MY GOD ARE YOU SPYING ON ME?? Nursing an injury right now from an “accident.” And, yes, the border terrier does round out the madhouse! God knows I love. love, love the mal, but often I wonder…

  28. Shelby September 6, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    I think most people get in a dog what they permit. When a woman asked me how i stopped my sheltie from barking (at a horse show) i told her i don’t permit it. She looked at me like i had grown a second head. Yes, shelties CAN be quiet. And they can have a working mindset but it does take work.

  29. Yankee Shelties October 22, 2013 at 5:15 am #

    Shelties are the best of the best. Couldn’t live without my pack. Some are noisier than others but otherwise they are pretty “easy keepers”.

  30. Hannah October 29, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    Your description of Malinois: all I could do was laugh and laugh. I am writing this as a malinois tries to share my skin. I also didn’t realize the malinois head stand was a thing – I just thought my dog was a weirdo 😉

  31. Yankee Shelties October 29, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    Wait, what was that about multiple shelties…. Sorry, can’t hear you for the barking!

    • darlene chroniger December 6, 2013 at 1:49 am #

      Shelties who knew they could be so addictive – as the mom of 3 rescue Sheltie’s I’m hooked. Yes, they bark – esp. with more than one – they bark out their emotions whether it is anxiety, excitement or warning. Their barks are as expressive as their faces. Such a good description here! enjoyed reading it so much.

  32. sagor December 16, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    If you have a hard time with understanding the list of dog breeds, then you can talk to your veterinarian as they can help you in deciding when the time is right for your dog to breed. Vets know everything about your animal, and know how to perform and interpret all the necessary tests and physical exams need for your dog. So, if you don’t know when the right time to breed your dog is, it’s best to wait until your vet says that she is ready to breed.

  33. David Meade January 28, 2014 at 8:04 pm #

    Though doubtless some of your readers will take offense, the sharp bark of a Sheltie can easily be “softened” through a safe and easy procedure on their vocal cords. Takes less than 15 minutes on an out-patient basis. Many of us in the confirmation show world have this done because of the number of dogs we own or which participate in shows. (Can you picture as many as a thousand shelties together?). The dogs still bark, growl, etc., but much more softly, and they have no idea of the difference. Before anyone gets up in arms about “mutilation”, tell me you are against spaying/neutering, which is just as unnatural and far more serious a procedure.

  34. Kristy mcTaggart February 4, 2014 at 4:40 am #

    no one ever talks about the lovely lovely rough collie! why, why do American families default to laboradors when it is time to get a puppy, and never even consider a collie for their kids? Labs shed their weight in hair every year and are crazy till age 5! The collie may look high maintenance but he isn’t. Add to this they have little doggie odor even if wet and some are downright fastidious about staying clean. Super intelligent, easy to housebreak, usually not aggressive with people or your other pets, what not to like??? Yet go look for one and see how hard they are to find.

    • Robbie February 16, 2014 at 4:22 am #

      Agreed 100% fabulous, fabulous family pets. And there’s really nothing to the maintenance, I’m amazed at how dirt and muck just fall off that fur with no real effort. Sad to see a decline in their popularity in recent years.

  35. Roberta February 4, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

    I just discovered your blog. I love it. I love this blog post even more because you described my Malinois. Over the past almost 7 years since she came into my life I have decided there are dogs and there are Malinois. This seems to be the right place to confess that she loves to lean in when you’re sitting on the toilet?!?!? If that bowl wasn’t bolted to the floor I’m sure it would topple over. She also picks up our shoes and deposits them around the house in pairs when we’re not home. They can most often be found by the toilet, on the bed or in front of the window. Completely bananas in all the ways you describe but so completely lovable especially after 3 hours of exercise. We’ve also discovered that on leash walks she is happier carrying her frisbee because that makes it a job and of course that makes it more fun.

    When she was young she wrestled constantly with my older dog – even when she was outweighed by 45 lbs as a puppy. That, training, competing and tons of swimming helped keep us all sane the first few years. Wouldn’t trade her for the world.

  36. gatesofdanielle February 20, 2014 at 11:57 pm #

    I’m waiting for a Dog Snobs review on the Cane Corse 😀 Many NFL players and other celebrities and athletes have recently been popping up with this breed. I hope it doesn’t become a thing…

  37. Twitter sdsu blackboard March 8, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

    Thanks for finally talking about >Dog Breeds: The
    Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. | The Dog Snobs <Liked it!

  38. martha hoffman April 23, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    After training many dogs my first Malinois was a shock. A different species of animal, and mine was extreme even for the breed. At 7 weeks he tried to climb the wooden stairs and failed several times to get up the step. He stopped, stared, and ferociously bit the stair and tried to shake it. Then he calmly stepped back, arranged his paws and got his hind leg onto the stair and climbed the stairs. When at 8 weeks it seemed he wanted to kill me I called a show breeder for advice, who said to put him down. The working Malinois people all offered to buy him. He became one of the well known IPO dogs in the breed, passed the toughest temperament and drive tests of the DOD and was one of two dogs in the USA at that time selected to be a stud for the military working dog program. He was a great inspiration to me and had so many qualities I lack. And became the most loving dog and friend. I tell people a Malinois is like a tornado, and can you train a tornado not to eat houses and people? Trainers told me he was like a rocket ship, and if I got him pointed in the right direction nothing could stop him, if I pointed him in the wrong direction it was my fault. I’m on my third Malinois now. I’m hooked to the sensation of having an IV of adrenaline directly into my arm, although I’m really too old for one now.

    • Chris August 10, 2014 at 7:42 pm #

      A Malinois is only as good as its breeding. And what it is bred for will tell you what it would do best. A high drive dog, of any breed, is going to be nuts. You want them to keep working. But experience with one Mal doesn’t give you any insight into the breed. I wish people would stop pretending they had a reliable opinion based on one event, and likewise, one dog.

  39. Pamela May 15, 2014 at 2:19 am #

    We had shelties when I was a kid. The first one, Hannah, was a wee thing, bright orange as a pumpkin. If she didn’t like a person she would try to herd them right back out the door. And she didn’t like anyone who wasn’t family. We also had a dozen chickens, a coop, an unfenced yard, and a neighbor who spent all day, every day, in his flawlessly manicured vegetable garden. He bred his own squash, kept all his seeds for replanting, did not want chickens in his yard. Hannah was fascinated with the chickens. Like most humans, my mother did not trust the dogs fascination with the chickens, Hannah’s superficial resemblance to a fox didn’t help that perception.

    So to make sure the chickens didn’t get into the neighbor’s garden, Mom would walk back and forth on the property line whenever they were out.

    One day, completely out of the blue, my sister let the dogs out while the chickens were out. The old elkhound mix and the easy-going sheltie flaked out in the breezeway, but Hannah went full tilt at the birds. My mom started yelling at her, thinking an attack was underway. Hannah ran in a big circle and that tightened and tightened around the chickens until they were so balled-up they were flapping on top of each other. Recovering from her surprise, Mom pointed to the opened door of the coop and said, Hannah, put ’em in the coop.

    And she did.

    It took no more than a day or two to train Hannah to keep the chickens out of Mr. Klein’s garden. Mom observed, “I knew it was bred into them, but I had no idea it was THAT bred into them.

    Interestingly, the easy-going sheltie was Hannah’s son, but Mom had chosen a mate for her who was gorgeous to look at and NOT yippy. He was calm, an excellent house dog, and NOT a herder. Ben took after his dad and had no herding tendencies whatsoever. All of his siblings who were shown, became champions, but I wouldn’t have given a fig for their working abilities.

    Hannah was a true Shetland sheepdog.

  40. Dawne May 15, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

    Martha, can I quote your last line, please?
    I’ve been in Karelian Bear Dogs nearly 25 years; dogs that were created and developed in Finland, a country known for its toughness and ‘take no prisoners’ approach to pretty much everything. My first litter was out of a ‘stone cold’ hunt-bred bitch who landed in my hands because she wouldn’t bark moose if they stood in front of her and blew smoke up her you-know-what. She was, however, a delight with children and the elderly – and sheer death on dogs and small animals. The first batch of pups resulted in a pair of semi-rabid boys who lived to be 17 years and spent 16 1/2 of those cursing each other and all their respective ancestors. One of those little marvels was christened “The Berserker”; at the tender age of 11 weeks he tried to eat the aforementioned sibling alive, and after using a chopstick as a breaking stick to get them apart, he turned around and glommed onto my thumb like it was his last meal. ‘Eenokki’ grew to be a stunning example of the breed, and true to the ‘great fighting spirit’ described in our standard he hated dogs. Truth be known, he wasn’t always that sparkling around people either, but his devotion and attachment to *me* was something I’ll never be able to adequately describe, and his ability to be one step ahead of whatever was going on around him was freakish. He was to prove himself as a brilliant sire and record-setting show dog – his kids and grandkids have proved the nay-sayers wrong in both their ability to hunt AND their rate of longevity. Handling one of these dogs was, and is, a *rush*. It’s as simple as that….and if that makes me an addict, so be it.

  41. Nadja July 29, 2014 at 1:57 am #

    Border collies are very intelligent, but it is a different kind of intelligence than a poodle has; poodles seem to think things through a bit more, possibly because they are more laid back.

    Border collies soon figure out if they are in charge, and what they want. Teddy was a Border Collie who lived on a boat at a marina in Oakland. Teddy had Teddy’s owner’s girlfriend buffaloed. Teddy would crouch and give her the eye as if she were a sheep – she would back off and Teddy would get away with being disobedient. She was totally shocked when one day she was trying to get Teddy back on the dock, and Teddy gave her the eye – very effective if you have China eye like Teddy – and I walked over and called Teddy who tried to give me the eye, at which point I took a hold and gave a gentle tug on the Teddy’s collar. Teddy immediately followed me right back onto the docks. It was all bluff and it had worked.

    Teddy’s owner and I became friends because he caught me talking to Teddy the way people did to the working collies back home – as if you were talking to another person. A border collie can and will understand if you tell them you can’t play now, but can play tomorrow after breakfast and the dishes are washed. When Teddy came over after Teddy’s family breakfast was over, I pointed out I had meant the breakfast on the boat I was on, and Teddy picked up the ball and went back home until Teddy could hear that we were done washing dishes.

    Border collies are smart; and Teddy’s owner was about the only person on the dock who didn’t think I was crazier than an outhouse rodent for talking to Teddy like that. An acquaintance of mine finally realized that Teddy understood and expressed astonishment – “that dog actually understands you.” Since she had repeatedly asked me why I talked to Teddy like that, and I had repeatedly told her “Teddy is a border collie” – all I could say was “Teddy is a border collie; of course Teddy understands.”

  42. Chris August 10, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

    LOL. You don’t know shit about Malinois. And while I normally find you humorous, you didn’t even pick the amusing things about Malinois to make fun of. I don’t feel like educating you, because I’m sure you know everything there is to know about Malinois. Of course you own one, right?

    • TheDogSnobs August 10, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

      Oh how cute a troll. Yup I’ve got a Malinois and manners. You having the former wouldn’t surprise me (They’re the jackass dog du jour at present.) but the latter would be a thrilling contribution to your repertoire. I’d look into it if I were you.

  43. Katie August 28, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    I just laughed my way through this post and comments! X-D I rescued a six year old dog three months ago. My dog trainer says that she’s definitely a Malinois/DS mix of some kind (I did the Wisdom Panel DNA test that said Akita/Staffordshire Terrier/Collie…THEN I found out they don’t test for Mals! >:o) Anyway, she has an amazing temperament and she’s not psycho like purebred Mals, but she’d definitely share my skin if she could and has come close to a headstand! She also has this on/off switch you mentioned. I’ve never had these other breeds, but they made me laugh so hard just the same. 🙂 I’m definitely bookmarking your blog!

  44. workbox August 30, 2014 at 1:00 am #

    Back to the question…what breeds do I want but can’t have? Airedale or Irish Terrier.

  45. Gina October 14, 2014 at 12:14 am #

    Love the Mal summary!

    Gnashing teeth is pretty normal for a Malinois, but often frightens the causal observer and pet owner. They never seem to grow out of this tactile expression.

    I would also like to mention that they are uncanny jumpers. My Mals climb trees and clear fences or walls in this weird, effortless “I’m in the Matrix” sort of way. Image how surprised the squirrel was the first time the dogs went up the tree with it or how surprised the dog was to find himself suddenly in neighbor’s yard when he just was trying to say hello to the bird on the eight foot privacy fence. No harm came to the squirrel, bird or dogs, but what a wake up call for me! My GSD has a natural understanding of boundaries and his place within them, the Mals barely register them.
    When I go anywhere new, I always ask “Is it Malinois proof?”. Even my very well trained Malinoises need constant supervision, much the way a very smart three year old child does.

    Love these guys, but they can be exhausting and not for the faint of heart!

  46. Cindy M February 17, 2015 at 4:24 am #

    Wait! You didn’t have the snobs to profile Bull Terriers here? Really? They could be the poster child for this topic and the entire blog. Git ‘er dun!

  47. RaeHughes February 24, 2015 at 8:39 pm #

    Oi! BCs have an OFF switch – it is absolutely essential in any herding breed. They don’t herd sheep ALL day!!! Yes, proud BC owner here – two of them – and they are absolutely fabulous! They do understand when you are going to play … but make sure that you do, or they will eye you very severely :).

    And, my others are Labs – again an often incorrectly described breed – fiercely loyal, high energy and intelligent dogs. Why else would you give them to the blind 🙂

  48. Norges hundetrenerforbund May 7, 2015 at 8:47 pm #

    Nice post… Also serves as a very good guidelines in choosing the perfect breed for your kind of personality. Thanks for sharing! ^^

  49. Laura June 30, 2015 at 4:39 am #

    Um… Doberman next please!!! (*loved* finding your blog). 🙂


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    […] Dog Snobs is definitely not for the easily offended, let me say. They poke fun at both dogs (Dog Breeds: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly) as well as owners (What Your Dog’s Name Says About […]

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