German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois: Facts You Need to Know

The German Shepherd vs. Belgian Malinois, Which one is the best dog for you. Both the German Shepherd and the Belgian Malinois come from the same lineage.

So many dog lovers cannot differentiate between the two. However, both of these dogs are incredibly different from each other, and if you do not know what to look for, you might just distract them for the same dog breed. They may have the same colors, weight, and height, but even the German Shepherd has their differences.

Both of these dogs make great family dogs, but the Belgian Malinois prefers to have a busy life. Belgian Malinois are more work-driven. You may have considered getting one of these dogs, but you may not be entirely sure what you should look for.

In this article, we are going to break down the significant differences between the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd. This is going to help you make a more informed choice.

Table of Contents

Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd Comparison

FeaturesBelgian MalinoisGerman Shepherd
Size22-26 inches tall22-26 inches tall
CoatShort/Medium length and Double CoatMedium length, Double Coat
ColorMahogany and fawnBlack, blue, Black and tan, tan, black and silver, white and sable
Lifespan14-16 Years7-10 Years
TemperamentConfident, Well-Balanced, PossessiveConfident, Well-Balanced, Possessive
Destructive BehaviorChewing and DiggingJumping, Chewing, and Barking
SocializationNeeds early socializationRequires early socialization due to their propensity to become possessive
GroomingMedium to high grooming requirementsMedium to high grooming requirements
Exercise Needs60 to 120 minutes daily90 to 120 minutes daily
Energy LevelRequires a high level of exercise. At least 90 minutes per dayRequires an extremely high level of exercise. At least 120 minutes per day
Feeding Calculation25 calories for every pound they weigh20 calories for every pound they weigh
Health IssuesHip Dysplasia, cataracts, epilepsy, Progressive retinal Atrophy, and pannusHip and elbow dysplasia, Degenerative myelopathy, bloat, and Degenerative Spinal Stenosis

German Shepherd Vs Belgian Malinois Differences


  • Almost identical in size with them both standing between 22 and 26 inches tall.
  • Both dogs were initially bred to herd, so have a very similar temperament.
  • Both the German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois have almost identical height and weight.
  • These dogs are both intelligent and respond well to positive reinforcement and reward-based training.
  • Both dogs are excellent as a guard dog.
  • They are both loyal and will become possessive of their owners. It usually results in them being aloof with strangers.
  • As large, intelligent dogs, they both respond well to positive reinforcement, and dominance theory should be avoided.


  • German Shepherds have a medium-length coat whereas the Belgian Malinois has a shorter thicker coat.
  • German Shepherds are slightly slower and less aggressive than Belgian Malinois.
  • The Belgian Malinois is generally considered to have a higher prey drive.
  • German Shepherd can suffer from separation anxiety once they form a strong bond with their owners while Belgian Malinois are known to be more independent.
  • Both the GSD and the Belgian Malinois suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia, but German is known to notoriously suffer from the conditions.
  • The Belgian Malinois has a reputation of being slightly more comfortable to train.
  • The Malinois is generally considered to be a more independent dog as German Shepherds can suffer from separation anxiety once they have formed a bond with their keepers.

Belgian Malinois Breed Info

They are very intelligent dogs who can be trained for pretty much any task or role (within reason).

Belgian Malinois Breed Info

Malis needs to be exercised for at least 90 minutes a day. Also, this needs to be split between 3 to 4 different sessions. Ideally, you would opt for either 3 x 30-minute sessions or 4 20/25 minute sessions.

In terms of what to do during these sessions you can walk, play, run, and hike; the list is endless. Because of their high levels of energy they are best suited to a family/individual that leads an active, outdoor lifestyle.

You need to remember that purchasing this breed is a big commitment. They are a large dog who is very creative and requires a lot of exercises and mental stimulation. Without this, they can become destructive.

Belgian Malinois Appearance and Size

At first glance, you could be forgiven for confusing a Belgian Malinois with a German Shepherd.

The Belgian Malinois is a large-sized dog that is covered in coarse fur. Once fully grown, you can expect males to reach up to 26 inches tall and weigh up to 80 pounds. At the same time, females will be a touch smaller, at up to 24 inches and 60 pounds.

Just like the German Shepherd, they have a double coat. This double coat helps keep them warm as they spend the majority of their time outside, herding. The topcoat is hard, almost bristle-like, whereas the undercoat (shield) is thick and dense.

Belgian Malinois always shed small amounts of their coat throughout the year, with two annual massive “blowouts.” If you want a house that shows no signs of dog hairs, the Belgian Malinois is not for you.

If we look at official breed standards, their coat color is a rich fawn to mahogany, with the ends of each hair must a black tip. Their stomach and underside are typically lighter in color with the occasional white spot or patch.

Stood next to a German Shepherd you will notice the Malinois’ fur will be shorter and their ears will be slightly longer and pointier.

Belgian Malinois Temperament

In terms of temperament, the biggest thing you should expect from a true Belgian Malinois is their working character; remember they were initially bred as livestock herders and became famous amongst both sheep and cattle farmers for their unrelenting work.

You can expect an even-keeled temperament that is neither aggressive nor shy. It is a confident breed and, whilst occasionally aloof with new faces, is more than loving with their keepers.

Belgian Malinois are known for being very possessive of both their owners and their property; while this doesn’t usually cause behavioral issues if pushed, they can become aggressive. Because of their unrelenting work and high levels of intelligence.

They are a versatile dog. They are now becoming popular within both the police and military and even private security. They are active dogs that want to please and can be taught to master just about any command or drill.

Belgian Malinois Price

You should expect to pay between $800-$1200 for a purebred Belgian Malinois. Of course, dogs without paperwork and rescues will be significantly cheaper. Also, trained Malinois will be substantially more expensive and generally start at upwards of $5000.

German Shepherd Breed Info

German Shepherd Breed Info

The German Shepherd is the second most popular dog breed in the US, and it’s hardly surprising. They are a large, muscular, confident, and brave dog, truly one of the best all-purpose workers you could hope for. GSDs were initially bred to herd sheep in Germany.

They were refined over 35 years by Captain Max von Stephanitz until he was satisfied with the breed. Its key attribute is character. They can be a loving family member and, at the same time, steadfast guardians. They are brilliant and have lots of energy.

When compared to the German Shepherd, they need even more exercise, around 2 hours per day. This should be split into several sessions. You can expect German Shepherds to live between 7-10 years; this is one of the significant differences between them and the Malinois. They can live between 14-16 years, so if you’re looking for a more prolonged companionship, there is a clear winner.

German Shepherd Appearance and Size

When looking at the Malinois and German Shepherd, you could be forgiven for confusing them as the same breed. The German Shepherd is classified as a large dog.

A fully grown male will stand between 24 and 26 inches tall, with a female standing between 22 and 24 inches. In terms of weight, you should expect a female to weigh between 50 to 70lbs and a male between 60 to 90lbs.

Just like the Malinois, the German Shepherd also has a double coat. However, they have a slightly longer coat, with the Malinois being shorter and coarser.

Your German Shepherd will shed lightly throughout the year and then slowly twice, so in terms of grooming, you should expect a similar amount will be required for both dogs. Whilst there are no officially recognized colors for the color of their coat, you should expect a black top with blonde and light sides and underbelly.

German Shepherd Temperament

The one critical defining trait of any German Shepherd is its character and temperament. They are without question the best in class, all-round workers, amazingly adaptable, and can master any role or task expected of them.

Because of this, they have a long and successful history both within the military and the police. Wealthy selves are also turning to German Shepherds as private security and guard personnel. In terms of individual traits it possesses, it is confident, brave, and intelligent.

Just like Belgian Malinois they are possessive and will defend anything or anyone which they deem they ‘own.’ This behavior can make them appear unreceptive or even aggressive towards strangers. Because of this, you need to socialize them from a young age slowly.

Like any other large, dominant dog, you should not use dominance-based training techniques. You should use positive reinforcement instead as they will respond better to this.

Generally, large dogs will resist dominance-based training because it uses coercive techniques to modify behavior, which creates stress. Also, just like Malinois, it’s a big commitment.

They are large dogs who are intelligent and can become destructive when not adequately cared for and exercised. German Shepherds require an owner who has lots of time to commit to their training and daily exercise needs.

GSD Price and Lifespan

Pedigree German Shepherds should cost between $500-$1500 depending on the breeder and lineage. If you’re looking to adopt an older German Shepherd it will cost around $50-150 in donation fees. A healthy, well looked after German Shepherd will live between 7 to 10 years. An overworked Shepherd could live less than seven years.

Other Differences Between Belgian Malinois Vs German Shepherds

The German Shepherd, who is prized at herding sheep, is a dog that originated from Germany in the 1800s, just like his name suggests. By herding sheep, the German Shepherd managed to develop speed, stealth, and agility, which are what a dog needs to qualify as a working breed. In the early 1900s, the GSD found its way to the United States, where he was renamed ‘the Alsatian’ to remove any links to the Germans.

He then gained popularity to become one for the most sort after the dog in the world. German Shepherd is the second most loved dog breed, according to the American Kennel Club. For a single German Shepherd pup, you should expect to pay anywhere between $300 to $900.

However, for the premium pups, this price could go as high as $9000. The Belgian Malinois(pronounced as Malin-wah) is another European dog breed that is known for his work drive. And just like the German Shepherd, Malinois found its way to the US around the same period in 1911.

They are, however, more expensive than the German Shepherd, and you could end up paying between $1600 to $2600 for a puppy. Both of these dogs are intelligent, powerful, and active dog breeds that require owners that have experience dealing with large dog breeds.

Common Health Issues

Unfortunately, both the German Shepherd and the Belgian Malinois are prone to some health problems.

German Shepherd Health IssuesBelgian Malinois Health Issues
Hip and elbow dysplasiaHip and elbow dysplasia
PannusPannus- Affects the eyes
AllergiesProgressive Retinal Atrophy


Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd Size?

The Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd are nearly identical in size with them both standing between 22 and 26 inches tall. In terms of weight, the German Shepherd is slightly heavier (50-90lbs) than the Malinois (40-80lbs).

Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd Temperament?

Both the German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois have a fantastic temperament. They are both confident, loyal, and predictable dogs. Both breeds can be trained to an incredibly high standard, which has resulted in them both being used as policy/military dogs.

German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois size?

GSDs can reach a height of up to 26 inches and weigh up to 90 pounds while Malis has a height of up to 26 inches and weigh up to 80 pounds.

Final Words

After reading our complete guide, you will now know the critical differences between the German Shepherd and the Belgian Malinois. Both of these breeds were initially bred as herding dogs, and because of this, they are both intelligent with high levels of energy.

The German Shepherd has a slight edge in terms of trainability, but they would both make loving family pets. When you are comparing the German Shepherd vs. Belgian Malinois, you will find that there are several similarities and differences between the two.

Both of these dogs require experienced dog owners that can understand and take care of their need. However, German Shepherds are more compatible with families than Malinois which requires active adult families. Do you have any experience with any of these dogs?

Leave a Reply