Belgian Malinois Vs German Shepherd: The Top 10 Differences

Belgian Malinois Vs German Shepherd: The Top 10 Differences

A Belgian Malinois is a powerful working dog, with an intense and independent personality but also possessing great soulfulness. They are easy to train, highly intelligent, and are very affectionate towards their family. Their athletic build requires exercise every day as they can easily become bored or hyperactive without it.

German Shepherds are gentle giants who require large amounts of human interaction in order to thrive. They will be best suited for those owners who want a lazy pet that spends most of its day napping in the sun or just hanging out at home.

While the Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd are both intelligent and durable dogs, these two breeds can vary quite drastically. It is important to learn the differences between them before making a decision on which dog would be best for your lifestyle.

Below are some of the main differences between German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois dogs.

1. Belgian Malinois Vs German Shepherd: Their History

Belgian Malinois History German Shepherd History
The Belgian Malinois was first bred in France as a working dog during World War I. It was developed by Jean Philibert Debret de Nansouty, a member of the French Army during World War I. The German Shepherd Dog originated in 1899 in Germany as a working dog to herd sheep. The breed was first established by Captain Max von Stephanitz while working with the “Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde” (Society for the German Shepherd Dog).

2. Malinois Have Heavier Builds Than German Shepherds:

Belgian Malinois Height/Weight German Shepherd Height/Weight
Malinois can range from being as small as 33 pounds to over 100 pounds for males. Males stand 24-26 inches high at the withers and females 22-24 inches. German Shepherds range from 42-90 pounds. Males stand 24-26 inches high at the withers and females 22-24 inches.

3. Malinois Have Thicker Fur Coats Than German Shepherds:

Belgian Malinois Coat German Shepherd Coat
Belgian Malinois have thick, tough fur that is short and close on the head and legs, but slightly longer on the neck and tail. Their coat color ranges from deep fawn to mahogany with black tips. They have a black muzzle. German Shepherds have two coats. The outer coat is thick and wavy, and the undercoat is thick and medium-length. The coat comes in a variety of colors and patterns, including black, black and cream, black and silver, and white.

4. German Shepherds Are More Suitable As Pet Companions Than Malinois:

Belgian Malinois Temperament German Shepherd Temperament
Belgian Malinois aren’t bred as pet companions, and often have a high prey drive and work ethic. These characteristics make them aptly suited to put their nose to the ground in search and rescue positions, bomb and narcotics detection, and as tracking K-9 officers. German shepherds were originally bred for herding, became a favorite for police work, and are now more frequently bred for companionship. This breed is more likely to be able to meet the physical and mental needs of companionship, compared to Belgian Malinois.

5. Malinois Need More Exercise Than German Shepherds:

Belgian Malinois Exercise Needs German Shepherd Exercise Needs
The Belgian Malinois needs large amounts of exercise every day. They thrive on challenges and will be happy while learning tricks or performing any other type of physical exercise.

The breed is best suited for an active owner who will give them stimulation every day in the form of long walks or other physical activities.

The German Shepherd requires at least an hour of exercise every day in order to keep them happy. They are extremely playful and energetic dogs that also need a lot of room to run and play.

These dogs are not suitable for owners who need their dogs indoors all day.

6. It’s Easier To Train A German Shepherd Than A Malinois:

Belgian Malinois Training German Shepherd Training
Belgian Malinois is incredibly intelligent and very eager to please, but this can be a challenge with novice owners who may not know what they are doing in training their dogs. Mistakes will often result in aggression or destructive behavior towards the owner resulting in abandonment of training sessions by either party involved. The German Shepherd is highly trainable and easy to train especially if prepared for it from the start. It tends to be very confident in its abilities and will be able to learn commands quickly. If these dogs are trained from the start they will require less effort to train and be more obedient both as a dog and with their owner.

7. Malinois Have More Energy Level Than German Shepherds

Belgian Malinois Energy Level German Shepherd Energy Level
Belgian Malinois can be extremely energetic towards both strangers and their owners that may need some extra exercise themselves.

This breed needs an active owner who will give them enough exercise each day in order for them to remain happy and avoid destructive behaviors such as chewing, digging, or barking at strangers.

The German Shepherd tends to have high energy levels as well, but not as much as the Malinois.

This breed is best suited for active owners that can provide enough physical stimulation each day along with walks and other exercises with them.

8. Grooming Is Easier With A German Shepherd Than A Malinois

Belgian Malinois Grooming German Shepherd Grooming
The Belgian Malinois needs to be brushed at least 3 times each week. The German Shepherd has a thicker hair coat that can be maintained by brushing daily or every other day.

9. Malinois Are Healthier Than German Shepherds

Belgian Malinois Health German Shepherd Health
Belgian Malinois suffers from Hip and Elbow Dysplasia. They are also prone to congestive heart failure.

Belgian Malinois have a slightly longer lifespan as they can live up to 15 years.

The chances of getting the Von Willebrand’s Disease for a German Shepherd are comparatively higher. These dogs are also at a high risk of Progressive Retinal Atrophy. German Shepherd owners also need to be aware of is Degenerative Myelopathy.

The average lifespan of a German Shepherd is 11 years

10. German Shepherd Is More Popular And Cheaper Than A Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois Popularity and Price German Shepherd Popularity And Price
According to AKC, the Belgian Malinois ranks 43rd out of 196 breeds in popularity.

Belgian Malinois are more expensive than German Shepherds as these guys carry a premium price tag of $1,500 – $2,500.

The German Shepherd is incredibly popular, ranking number 2nd out of 192 breeds, according to AKC.

For one of these dogs you can expect to pay anywhere between $300- $900, but, show dogs have been known to boast a premium price tag of $6,000- $9,000.

FAQs about the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd:

Are these dogs likely to fight with others?

Both the Malinois and German Shepherd have a strong desire to defend their owner and will be very territorial. However, they can get overly excited and aggressive even towards other dogs that are small in size.

Are they good with children?

These dogs are not appropriate for families with small children as they can be overly protective of their owners against unwelcomed guests. They will often bark or growl at visitors to their home whenever they do not know them, but this does not mean that it is not suitable for your family if your children are older than 10 years of age.

Are they good watchdogs?

The German Shepherd and Malinois are both extremely alert dogs that are very good at detecting when intruders are about. However, their strong desire to defend their owners means that they may not wait for their owners to instruct them before attacking a perceived threat.

Do they need large amounts of exercise?

Both breeds require long walks or other physical activity every day in order to remain happy and calm while indoors. Both breeds can get destructive when left bored and indoors for extended periods of time, so owners who lead busy lives may have difficulty with this breed. The Belgian Malinois needs more daily exercise as it is more active as compared to the German Shepherd.


All in all, both these dogs are considered to be one of the best dog breeds available for all types of families due to their overall personality and temperament. However, a Malinois will not be happy in an apartment or small house as it needs plenty of space to exercise and run around. This breed will also require more training due to its independent nature which requires more patience in order for it to learn new things from its owner.

German Shepherds will be happier in a house with another dog to play with and will be extremely loyal and protective of their family due to their strong sense of pack loyalty. They also require plenty of space for exercise but are not aggressive or destructive dogs overall. This breed will require more training than the Malinois, but can also get along with cats and small animals.

Both breeds are excellent dogs that can have a long life span if cared for properly by their owners. As two of the strongest dog breeds on the market, these dogs make excellent guard or watchdog dogs due to their protective nature.

If you are looking for a new furry family member, both of these breeds may be of interest. But you should know that adopting either one of these two beautiful breeds is a lifetime commitment. You’ll need to make sure you understand more about both breeds to know if you can offer them a suitable home.

Thank you for reading the article.

Here are some other articles that we have on the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd.

Which is the breed of your choice? The Belgian Malinois or the German Shepherd? Let us know in the comments below!

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