Skip to Content

German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois

Sharing is caring!

A good question German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois. Are you maybe thinking about adding a new member to your family in the form of a cute canine?

Maybe you’ve even got it down to two choices: German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois. Or what’s more likely is that you didn’t even know that they were two distinct breeds.

Either way this article will answer all of your questions about these regal breeds of canines!

Belgian Malinois
Belgian Malinois

It’s easy to confuse the German Shephard breed of dogs with the Belgian Malinois (pronounced mah li wah). They have similar physical attributes, such as the similarity in the coloring of their fur coats. Over the years, people have often considered them the same species of dogs. But they are not.

These two dog breeds have distinct differences, which will all be covered in this article. Let’s get into the battle: German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois!

Brief History

German Shepherd
German Shepherd

Their names are the first giveaway that they are two different breeds of dogs. German shepherds originated from Germany and came about as a result of various breeding experiments. Meanwhile, the Belgian Malinois hails from Malines near Belgium.

A german captain, Von Max Stephanitz, wanted to create a strong and capable companion, having all the preferred features in one single dog. He then went on to breed several species of dogs, forming the german shepherd as it is known today.

This means that the german shepherd developed from breeding different types of dogs in the late 1800s. Its creator meant for it to be a herding dog and companion. Due to its high intelligence and patience, it is instrumental and influential as a police and military dog.

The Belgian Malinois is a part of the four related species of Belgian shepherd dogs. The Groenendael, the Laekenois, and the Tervuren are the other three related species. Dog breeders wanted to create a strong herding dog who is also a loyal protector with a fierce work ethic – as a consequence, the Belgia Malinios was produced.

In short, breeders brought together other species of dogs that had the attributes they desired. They crossbred these dogs and birthed the Belgian Malinois in 1800. When they landed on U.S. soil in the early 1900s they instantly became extremely popular.

Differences: German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois

#1 Appearance

Belgian Malinois
Belgian Malinois

The easiest way to differentiate between these two breeds of dogs is their coloring. At first glance, they look almost the same. Upon closer inspection, german shepherds are darker in color than Belgian Malinois. They have a mixture of black and blonde as their coloring. On the other hand, the Belgian Malinois is lighter, with a blonde coat and streaks of black on its ears and mask.

Moving on, german shepherds have more body depth than the Belgian Malinois. This means they are deep-bodied, whereas their counterparts have a square-like body structure.

The german shepherds are not as tall as the Belgian Malinois. They are sturdier dogs, males weigh about 90 pounds and females weigh about 70 pounds. This is not the case with the Belgian Malinois, whose female weight is between 40 to 60 pounds and its male about 90 to 80 pounds.

Another great way to tell these two breeds apart is their hair length. While the German shepherd is fluffier and fuller, the Belgian Malinois’ coat consists of shorter hairs. Regardless, they both have double fur coating.

Furthermore, the ear tips of the Belgian Malinois are triangular, while that of the german shepherd are rounder. Likewise, the face shape of the Belgian Malinois is more prolonged and leaner. The face shape of the German shepherd is fuller and stodgier.

#2 Lifespan

German Shepherd
German Shepherd

Another main difference is their lifespan. While the Belgian Malinois has a longer life span of between 12 to 14 years, the german shepherds, on the other hand, typically live for 10 to 13 years.

#3 Character Traits

belgian malinois
Belgian Malinois

With regard to character attributes, these dogs differ vastly from each other. The German shepherd is more independent and more stubborn than the Belgian Malinois. They have a mind of their own and tend to thrive on new tasks and challenges, which is quite different from their counterpart.

On the other hand, the Belgian Malinois is eager and ready to please. They thrive on routine work and are better at training than the german shepherds. These character attributes also affect their careers as working dogs.

It is common knowledge that both dogs are the standard breeds for police dogs, primarily due to their high intelligence. However, the german shepherds’ attribute of getting bored with routine tasks makes it harder for them to stick to one job as they soon tire of the routine. On the contrary, the Belgian Malinois is likelier to thrive in one job type because of its eager-to-please characteristic, so long as there are people to please.

#4 Temperament

German Shepherd
German Shepherd

Belgian Malinois is much more intense than german shepherds, which is the primary reason they are not the best suited for a family or as a pet dog. They also show problematic behaviors that are usually a result of stress and anxiety. Similarly, they are more energetic and athletic, requiring more activity – and hence more praise and acknowledgment than the german shepherd. This tends to reduce their stress and anxiety.

Suppose the Belgian Malinois does not get their required exercise. If so, they tend to showcase their problematic behavior by being destructive in whatever environment they are in, which could also escalate even further. As a result, they desperately need regular exercise. On average, they require 1,5 hours of daily training. 

Moreover, the Belgian Malinois does not like being alone for extended periods. This is because they usually form strong bonds with their owners and trainers. Thus, when alone, they are anxious and hyperactive. This is another factor that makes them unsuitable for family living as they form strong bonds with just one family member.

On the other hand, german shepherds, while they also form good bonds with their owners, are more detached. They also tend to bond with all the members of the family which they are a part of, making them the better choice if you are looking for a pet. Although these dogs are good companions and have strong security, they are not ideal for a first-time dog owner.

#5 Living conditions

YouTube video

When it comes to living conditions, both dogs do not like living in small quarters. Still, german shepherds are more adaptable than Belgian Malinois. This is because they are less high-strung and temperamental.

As long as a german shepherd is entertained well with the right and appropriate dog toys, they are content with most living environments. Meanwhile, the Belgian Malinois breed does not tolerate close quarters because of their extreme need for outdoor exercise. They can only live in close quarters if the owners completely dedicate themselves to ensuring they get the right amount of exercise and outdoor experience. Otherwise, it will be catastrophic for them and they will be extremely unhappy. 

As much as these dogs differ significantly, they still have remarkable similarities and can look very much alike when seen from a distance. They are both initially meant for herding and are the obvious choice for police, security, search and rescue. This is primarily due to their intelligence and very sensitive noses, which can detect the tiniest of details.

Conclusion on German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois
Belgian Malinois

The German shepherd and the Belgian Malinois are both breeds of dogs with remarkable intelligence. They tend to bond well with their trainers, although the Belgian tends to do this with just one owner, making them even more fiercely loyal.

With the above differentiation of these dogs, one can make better-informed decisions about the breeds, and which one might be better suited for your particular needs. The above differentiation also shows that despite having several similarities, their differences are overtly more significant. All it takes is a closer inspection to identify which breed you are dealing with.

Many confuse the German shepherd and the Belgian Malinois, but after having read this article, you’ll be able to spot their differences in a second! 

Thank you for reading this article about the German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois! If you want to uncover facts about another canine from a completely different part of our planet, read our article on the African Wild Dog.

Sharing is caring!