German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois- The main differences

The German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois, which of these two dogs would be the best fit for your lifestyle? Both the German Shepherd and the Belgian Malinois come from the same lineage. So many dog lovers cannot tell the differences between them.

However, both of these doggos are incredibly different from each other and if you do not know what to look for you might confuse them for the same dog breed.

They may have the same colors, weight, and height but even the German Shepherd has their variations.

German Shepherd is one of the most popular dog breeds on the planet.

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 to look for.

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

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Let us get right into it. 

Belgian-Malinois 2

German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois comparison table

German Shepherd Belgian Malinois
Height 22 to 26 inches tall 22 to 26 inches tall
Weight Males: 65 to 90 pounds, Females: 50 to 75 pounds Males: 55 to 65 pounds, Females: 50 to 55 pounds
Purpose Bred to herd livestock Bred to herd sheep
Breed group Herding Herding
Suitable for Experience dog owners Active and experienced dog owners
Color Black, blue, Black and tan, tan, black and silver, white and sable Mahogany and fawn
Grooming needs Medium to high Medium to high
Lifespan 9 to 13 years 10 to 15 years
Temperaments Friendly, active, loving, intelligent, courageous, playful, loyal, and trainable Affectionate, active, eager to work, confident, loyal, and obedient
Exercise requirements High (90 to 120 minutes) High(60 to 90 minutes)
Feeding requirements 25 calories for every pound they weigh 30 calories for every pound they weigh
Destructive behavior Barking, chewing, and jumping Digging and chewing
Health issues Hip and elbow dysplasia, Degenerative myelopathy, bloat, and Degenerative Spinal Stenosis Hip Dysplasia, Cataracts, Epilepsy, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and Pannus

German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois major differences and similarities


German Shepherds are slightly slower and less aggressive than Belgian Malinois.

Belgian Malinois have shorter and thicker coats while German Shepherds coats are of medium length.

The Belgian Malinois is said to have a higher prey drive than the German Shepherd.

German Shepherds are prone to separation anxiety while Belgian Malinois is more independent.

Both the GSD and the Belgian Malinois suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia but German known to notoriously suffer from these conditions.

Belgian Malinois is considered to be much easier to train than the GSD.

German Shepherds weigh more and will require you to feed them on more.


Both the German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois have almost identical height and weight.

They are both intelligent and respond well to positive reinforcement and reward-based training.

Both of these dogs will protect the family and that means you can rely on them as guard dogs.

Their breeders bred them to have almost identical temperaments and personalities.

They are both prone to eye and skin conditions.

Because of their loyalty, you should expect both of these dogs to be aloof to strangers.

German Shepherd
German Shepherd

Historical differences between Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds

The German Shepherd is a prized sheep herding 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 exclude any links to the Germans. He then gained popularity to become one for the most sort after dogs.

The German Shepherd is now 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 the 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.


Physical appearance comparison

GSD is more popular than the Belgian Malinois but has a less athletic physique.

German Shepherds have broader chests, bodies, and skulls.

Both of these dogs might have almost similar height and weight but the GSD is stockier and heavier.

You may also notice that the Malinois often has a black mask on his face.

When it comes to the appearance of the coat, the German Shepherd has both a long and short-coated variety. Malis only have short coats and are less dense even when compared to the short-coated German Shepherd.

GSDs shed more than Malinois.

Apart from vacuuming your house, grooming is mandatory for both dogs. 2 to 3 brushes in a week should be enough to keep the coat in good condition.

They will also need their ears to be checked and cleaned. Their teeth will also need to be brushed to prevent periodontal diseases. You should also ensure that their nails are kept short.

Malinois usually has a rich fawn color that can come with other shades such as red and sable. They have darker ears.

For GSDs, there is a wider range of colors such as black, white, blue, and others.

The American Kennel Club does not recognize the White German Shepherd.

German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois: Temperament comparison

These dogs have some similarities because they were both bred to be herding dogs. However, they are not entirely similar as they have several differences between them.

They are both intelligent which makes them highly trainable.

However, this does not make them suitable for first-time dog owners.

German Shepherds may be happy to go on daily walks but the Belgian Malinois requires a more active owner. Daily walks will not be enough for this dog, he will need you to take him for hikes and runs.

A Malinois will easily get bored if not given enough mental and physical stimulation and could end up being destructive.

Both of these pooches are aloof to strangers but they are also highly devoted to their families.

Malis can cope with being away from their human friends for longer, unlike German Shepherds that easily suffer from separation anxiety.

In the hands of experienced dog owners, these pooches thrive to become good and devoted family pets.

Belgian Malinois is not much of a family dog because he requires a very active lifestyle. These dogs are more suitable for active adult homes.

However, German Shepherds are better playmates for children but they also need to understand the needs of the dog. They will happily play with them in the yard and give them a shoulder to cry on.

A German Shepherd Puppy on the left and a Malinois puppy on the right

Caring for these herding doggos

Exercise requirements

German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois– Who needs more physical and mental stimulation?

Both of these dogs are active dogs that have high exercise requirements with the Malinois needing slightly more exercise than the German Shepherd.

GSDs will need upwards of 60 minutes of exercise in a day while the Malinois will need upwards of 90 minutes of exercise.

Malis just love beeign busy.

However, when you are taking any of these dogs for a walk, you should have them on a leash. Some people might get intimidated by their large size.

It is also good that you keep them on a leash in case they find something more interesting than you.

They will also need mental stimulation and you can do this by playing some mind games with them.

Hide and seek is a good example of such games


German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois: Who eats more?

Food consumption of the German Shepherd
Calories 1500
Cups of Kibble 🍗🍗🍗🍗
Belgian Malinois Daily Food Consumption
Calories 1,300
Cups of Kibble 🍗🍗🍗

On average both of these dogs will need about 25 calories for every pound that they weigh.

These doggos thrive best on a high-quality diet that is formulated for large dogs. You should make sure that you meet their nutritional requirements.

The best diet is a high protein diet and preferably meat protein.

On average the Belgian Malinois needs around 1300 calories of in a day while the German Shepherd will need about 1500 calories in a day.

You should divide these meals into 2 portions, feeding one portion to them in the morning and the other in the evening.

This helps to prevent bloat which is prevalent in large dog breeds such as these.



A well-trained dog is a well-behaved pooch.

The German Shepherd and the Belgian Malinois are intelligent dogs which make them highly trainable.

However, this is should be done in the right manner and they are not suitable for novice dog owners.

You should be able to tell what your pooch responds best to.

Reward-based training and positive reinforcement is the best way to train these dogs. Punishment should never be used when you are training any dog as it does more harm than good.

Socialization is also another important part of training if you are looking to have a well rounded canine friend.

Introduce these dogs to other people, animals, and different environments. By doing this they will learn not to be wary of them.

Common health issues

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

German Shepherd are prone to;

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia. This is the abnormal development of the hip and elbow joint which causes pain lameness and stiffness.
  • Bloat
  • Pannus
  • Allergies
  • Degenerative Myelopathy

Belgian Malinois are prone to; 

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Pannus- Affects the eyes
  • Bloat
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy

German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois

Frequently asked questions

What is the lifespan of these dogs?

Belgian Malinois have an average lifespan of between 10 to 15 years while the German Shepherd has a lifespan of between 9 to 13 years.

German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois size 

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


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?

Give us your feedback and questions in the comment section below.

There you go WOOF!!

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