• Home
  • Dog Breeds
  • Belgian Malinois VS German Shepherd – The Ultimate Guide

Belgian Malinois VS German Shepherd – The Ultimate Guide

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd - which of the two is a better protector and which one will demand more of your time and love? Read on and discover.

Choosing between a Belgian Malinois or a German Shepherd can be a tough one. Not only that but to an inexperienced eye just telling the difference between these two can be challenging. After all, they do have similar characteristics. Some people can’t even believe that they are two different breeds, especially that they have the same type of build and color. But, the truth is that they are quite different.

Belgian Malinois VS German Shepherd

At first glance, both Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd look quite similar if not identical. However, when you look at these dogs again and more closely you will notice differences.

Yes, the truth is that they have similar appearances and even some of the abilities, but there are a few differences that you should take into consideration before you make the final decision. After all, you should know what breed fits you if you are an experienced dog handler, or if you have a busy lifestyle.

Both intelligent and devoted companions, how to choose? Let’s compare them and ease the decision.

Belgian MalinoisGerman Shepherd
Size24-26″ in height (male) and 22-24″ in height (female)24-26″ in height (male) and 22-24″ in height (female)
Weight55 to 65 pounds (male) or 50 to 55 pounds (female)65 to 90 pounds (male) or 50 to 75 pounds (female)
Lifespan10 – 15 years9 – 13 years
Breed TypeShepherd dogShepherd dog
Color VariationsRich Fawn and MahoganyBlack and Tan, Black, White, Black and Silver, Sable and Liver
Good for families5/55/5
Kid friendly3/54/5
Suitable for apartments3/54/5
Easy to groom4/54/5
General health4/54/5
Amount of shedding5/54/5
Exercise needs5/54/5

Belgian Malinois VS German Shepherd: Popularity

Herding dogs are known for having a strong ability to control the movement of other animals. These dogs were specially bred for gathering the cattle in one spot. Today, these dogs are commonly used for police and protection work.

As the most common representative of herding breeds German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois are seen on daily actions of police and military forces. That being said, these dogs are always first chosen for working with the law representatives.

Moreover, when someone is thinking about getting a watchdog they will think about German or Belgium. Moreover, the American Kennel Club, generates a list of the top breeds of dogs each year, and for several years, the German Shepherd is among first top five. On the same list is Belgian Malinois as well but he is ranked between 50 and 60 popularity rank.

The German Shepard is always among the top 10 due to his athletic abilities, strength, and gentle nature. AKS list is one of the most relevant lists to responsible breeders, so it may play a big role when it comes to the price.

German Shepherd: History

The German Shepherd is a relatively young breed, originated in Germany in the 1800s. This breed is known for being hardworking and intelligent. Originally, these dogs were developed from farm and sheep herding breeds, to create a working dog.

The breed almost disappeared during the wars, but the purpose of the breed was moved from herding to being a military dog. This move saved the entire breed. Today, German Shepherds are trained continuously for police and military activities, and they often perform heroic actions.

The German Shepherd is also known as the Alsatian. The Alsatian is known for its athletic ability and strength. They vary in colors, but they are usually black and tan. They can also be solid white or solid black.

They are amazing family companions and they are very protective of the family members and generally the people that they love. Also, they are extremely loyal. In general and in normal circumstances, their life expectancy is 10-12 years.

Belgian Malinois: History

If you ever hear someone talking about Pastor Belga Malinois know that they are actually talking about the Belgian Malinois. This breed was developed in the 1800s, in Belgium, when the breeders needed sheep herding dogs. With time, owners trained them as protection dogs, police dogs, military dogs and of course, family pets.

This breed is sensitive to negative and harsh training tactics. As an active breed, they prefer positive training.

In terms of color, Belgium Malinois is quite similar to the German Shepherd, as their coat is short and fawn in color.

Overall, they are slightly smaller than German Shepherd and their coats are fawn, brown, and red in most cases. Just like the German Shepherd, their life expectancy is 10-12 years.

Belgian Malinois VS German Shepherd: Physical Appearance

The first conclusion that you will get when you see the German and the Belgium Shepherd next to each other is that both dogs are large animals. Adult German Shepherds can weight up to 70 pounds (for females) and 90 pounds (for males). Of course, this may vary depending on the dog’s diet and activity level.

The classic German Shepherd look is well-known: tall, pointed ear and a slight downward slope to their back. The Malinois is similar, but smaller, leaner, and with a straighter back.

The Belgium Shepherd is a few pounds smaller than a German Shepherd. Males usually reach 80 pounds, while females can grow to about 50 to 60 pounds. The height is around the same height as the German Shepherd. The main difference? The German Shepherd usually seems heavier.

The German Shepherd also has a longer coat than the Malinois and more prone to shedding all year round.

Belgian Malinois VS German Shepherd: Fur And Coat

The German Shepherd has long and silky hair and various coat colors all together of red and black silver. Their hair lies close to their bodies and their hair is straight, wavy, and very dense. Important note about German Shepherds is that they don’t have a shedding season.

They shed all year long, meaning that you will have to constantly clean the dog’s fur. On the other hand, the Belgium Shepherd comes with straight and short hair. Their hair color is usually fawn.

Their ears are usually black, and not brown or in calmer colors like it’s the case with the German Shepherd. It’s not strange for Belgium Shepherd to have a white spot on their chest or a slight white color on their toe tips.

Belgian Malinois VS German Shepherd: Grooming

Both, the German Shepherd and the Belgium Shepherd have two coats, a dense undercoat, and a hard topcoat. The dense coat is designed to keep them warm during the winter, especially in extremely cold months. All in, this type of coat means that you will have to invest some serious time into the grooming. Moreover, you will have to upgrade your grooming skills as well.

Weekly grooming is mandatory if you want to keep dog’s coat healthy and shiny.

Weekly grooming is also a great way to remove loose hair and minimize shedding as much as possible. This applies to both Shepherds. Keep in mind that Belgium Malinois is shedding more than German Shepherd so make sure that surround yourself with adequate grooming and cleaning tools and have them on hand.

Also, when it comes to bathing it may be challenging with German Shepard because his outer layer is water repellent. Like with any other dog you should avoid excessive dog bathing, and especially when it comes to bathing your German Shepherd. If you overdo with bathing him, his coat will appear dull.

Another difference here that you should take into consideration is their ears. The Belgium Shepherd has deeper ears and his ears should be examined for wax buildup often. Don’t forget, with ears so open its easy for mites and other debris to go down into the ear canal.

Belgian Malinois VS German Shepherd: Personality

As large and intelligent breeds, these dogs need someone who understands their needs. Of course, dogs are as individual as humans are, so you won’t know if your dog has some other traits or not until you get to know him better. But until then some general pointers are useful and reliable.

Interestingly, German Shepherds are shy and independent dogs and they love to stay on their territory and protect it. Also, they love being active. Moreover, this breed is known for its intelligence and being careful when they are choosing friends for themselves and their family. That being said, they barely make friends, but when they do they tend to be profoundly loyal.

As a breed, they are very protective and there is always a feeling of safety around them. After all, they are often part of different rescue teams. They are also great helping dogs. They often and effectively guide disabled persons. Many visually impaired persons have a German Shepherd to guide them.

Just like the German Shepherd, the Malinois also seem reserved and shy, while they are not. The Belgium Malinois tend to be protective of their family, family’s friends and close companions in general. They react well only to positive training and they thrive in positive surrounding. They don’t like and don’t react well to intimidation. Malinois are amazing watchdogs and they can be trained to protect.

Their character will be built upon numerous factors such as heredity, training, and socialization. Therefore, it should be imperative to train them at a young age. If you are waiting for Malinois puppy and you know the breeder, you can visit the parents, especially the mother, to learn about your puppy’s nature.

Belgian Malinois VS German Shepherd: Who Is More Aggressive?

The practice showed that German Shepherd shows less aggression compared to the Belgian Malinois. German Shepherds tend to be peaceful and calmer. So, compared to the German Shepherd, Malinois are more aggressive. They are also more active, a smaller size, and energetic and fast, making it more prone to sudden reactions and moves.

Belgian Malinois VS German Shepherd: Children And Other Pets

The relationship between the children and pets can be challenging if your child doesn’t know the way around the dogs, or if you are introducing an adult a rescued dog.

German Shepherds are the best when they are introduced to children as puppies. Make sure that you educate your children on how to act around dogs and never to leave them alone, especially if you have toddlers around.

Your German Shepherd will get used to the family and other pets as he grows. But, you will have to invest a lot of your time in proper training and preparation. However, when it comes to children, the Belgian Malinois is friendlier with children compared with German Shepherds.

Bear in mind that if you are raising at the same time a dog and a child will demand a lot of work, time, and energy. And, raising a puppy requires a clear schedule and not a full-time working owner.

Malinois must be exposed to great socialization conditions, to achieve a good relationship with children. Last but not least, regarding the children and pets, is that dogs and children should never be left alone no matter how friendly and trained a dog might be.

These Shepherds are large dogs, and during the playtime, a dog may easily tumble over the kid and hurt them, unintentionally.

Belgian Malinois VS German Shepherd: Training

Just like any other dog breed, your Shephard will demand proper training and guidelines. Otherwise, you will end up listening to him, and this intelligent breed will be able to lead your pack if you’re not. Therefore, it’s crucial to train your Shepherd properly and to think about his needs and activity level. Long story short, if you don’t want your dog to destroy your home, train him.

Once you start looking at training for the Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd, you will see that both require proper, well-structured and intensive training to socialize well with other people.

These dogs are highly intelligent and training them is not as easy as it may sound. But, thanks to their intelligence it will be easy to train them (compared to other dogs) as long as you invest time, energy, and patience into training. They don’t adjust well to dominant training.

They are loyal and confident, which means that they understand commands well and can be easily taught not to do things that you want them to do without being forceful.

Both with the German Shepherd and the Belgian Malinois positive reinforcement training works the best.

By nature, they are workers and protectors, meaning that they are naturally wary of strangers, so they have to learn what is safe. Make sure that you introduce them from a young age to things that they will get to experience on a daily level.

Belgian Malinois VS German Shepherd: Exercise Needs

Both the German Shepherd and the Belgium Malinois are fond of outdoor activities, therefore they love spending time outside and being active, Belgium more German, trustfully saying. They will demand your attention, training, mental stimulation, and activity.

You will have to take the dogs for long walks and outdoor time in new surroundings boosting their mental and physical health. It’s imperative to keep both of your dog well-exercised. They will need a minimum of 60 minutes per day of active exercise. The Malinois will demand even more.

You should know that German Shepherd would gladly go to the hike and forest, and wherever the owner goes and he will eventually stop. However, the Belgium Shepherd will never stop, he will hike or run for hours, he just loves to be busy. Make sure that you keep them on the leash all time, unless you are within the doggy park, due to their sizes and the fact that they just might find something more interesting than you are. If they find something new and interesting, they will disappear in a split of a second.

Don’t ever forget their juvenile energy. If you leave your German Shepherd alone for hours the chances are that he will find a way to entertain himself, as long as you don’t leave him for too long. On the other hand, if you leave your Belgium Shephard alone he will demonstrate destructive behavior.

Good to know: Mental stimulation keeps them occupied too.

Belgian Malinois VS German Shepherd: Health

Both breeds come with unique health risks and sadly, German Shepherd has more. Both breeds can suffer from elbow and hip dysplasia, with the German Shepherd having an increased risk in the hips due to the sloped back. After all, sloped back is distinctive to the breed so you should keep him active for his spine and joints. That way you can postpone hind leg weakness in dogs.

On the other hand, the Malinois tends to have PRA – Progressive Retinal Atrophy. This is a degenerative disorder which leads to dog blindness, because of the loss of photo-receptors. Luckily, this condition can be detected many years before any symptoms show.

Responsible breeders usually test the dog at a young age. With both breeds, you should have regular veterinarian check-ups, and make sure that your dog eats good, train regularly and stays mentally stimulated. Altogether, then you will have a healthy and happy dog.

Good to know: Owning a Belgian Malinois will demand serious investment, so make sure that you can truly afford to own this energetic breed

Belgian Malinois VS German Shepherd: Lifespan

When welcoming a dog in your life you should know as much as possible about breeds characteristics, including physical needs, health characteristics and moreover their life span. When it comes to these breeds you can expect for the Belgium Malinois to live longer.

After all, its a smaller dog compared with the German Shepherd. That being said, German Shepherd usually lives between 9-13 years, while the Belgium Shepherd can live 10-15 years.

Belgian Malinois VS German Shepherd: How To Choose?

Think about your lifestyle, your needs, and focus on the positive aspects of each dog before you make a final decision. Each breed comes with unique traits and different needs.

They may look similar but their life preferences are very different. So, keep in mind that their energy levels are different and see how it fits in your life.

Moreover, also think about possible health issues so you can plan your budget as well. But, regardless of your final decision, you will enjoy and have memorable moments with your shephard.