Belgian Malinois Vs German Shepherd: What’s The Difference?

By helloBARK!
Updated on 22 September 2022
Fact Checked

Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds are two breeds that are often confused for each other.

They’ve got a similar appearance and temperament but these working dogs do have some subtle differences.

Both Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds can work as military, police and search and rescue dogs.

German Shepherds are considered one of the smartest dogs in the world – and Belgian Malinois aren’t too far behind.

Malinois can make great pets but they’ve got more requirements than German Shepherds.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherds.

What is a Belgian Malinois?

Belgian Malinois (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Belgian Malinois (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Belgian Malinois are a working dog that were initially bred to help Belgian shepherds and cattlemen. Hailing from the Belgian city of Malines, they were one of four types of dogs that made up the Belgian Shepherd breed.

Although they started as a member of the Belgian Shepherd variety, the American Kennel Club has recognised Belgian Malinois as a separate breed since 1959.

They were bred by breeders who were looking to create a peerless working dog. The AKC add that there was a real emphasis on performance in the early members of the breed.

Belgian Malinois arrived in the USA in 1911 and they’re popularity continued to grow until their importation was temporarily halted during the Second World War.

Their numbers have swelled since the 1960s after their recongition by the AKC. Belgian Malinois service an array of different functions within society as police and military dogs.

What is a German Shepherd?

German Shepherd drinks from a water fountain (Photo: Adobe Stock)

German Shepherd drinks from a water fountain (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The German Shepherd came about as a result of a German cavalry officer captain Max von Stephanitz. He set about creating an ideal German herder. Von Stephanitz is credited with co-creating the first German Shepherd Club, with his dog Horand.

In modern society much like Belgian Malinois, German Shepherds perform a number of different roles. However, they started as herders of sheep in the late 19th century. The AKC write that their famous qualities, including intelligence, agility, speed and stealth, were forged in the sheep pasture and not the police academy.

German Shepherds became increasingly popular in the UK and the USA in the early 20th century. However, they suffered in popularity during the First World War and Second World War. Their name was even changed to Alasation in the UK before it reverted back in the 1970s.

The AKC rank the German Shepherd as the third most popular dog in the USA.

Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd: size

German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois (Photo: Adobe Stock)

German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Belgian Malinois can grow to be 22 to 26 inches tall. In terms of weight, they can be as light as 40 pounds and as heavy as 80 pounds.

German Shepherds are also medium-to-large dogs with a height range of 22 to 26 inches. However, they’re bulkier than Belgian Malinois. German Shepherds can weigh anywhere from 50 pounds to 90 pounds.

Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd: appearance

As we mentioned above, Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds can often be confused. However, there are some subtle differences between these two herding breeds.

The American Kennel Club write that “Belgian Malinois have a passing resemblance to the German Shepherd Dog but has a different head, and is leggier and finer boned, than his better-known German counterpart.”

Belgian Malinois should be elegant rather than bulky. They’ve got what is described as a “proud carriage of the head”. Their coat color ranges from rich fawn to mahogany with black ears and questioning eyes.

German Shepherds are strong and well-muscled dogs that are still agile. They should have the general appearance of being longer rather than tall. The GSD varies in color, and most colors are permissible. Strong rich colors are preferred. They should have a keen expression with erect ears.

Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd: temperament

German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois (Photo: Adobe Stock)

German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds have a relatively similar temperament. They’re both smart breeds that are eager to learn and eager to please. These two herding dogs have been bred to work.

Malinois need to perform an activity or function with their dog owner to feel complete. This breed needs a lot of mental and physical stimulation. They want to play an active role in the family unit rather than being a lap dog.

Let’s hear from Katy (@katykat1) to shed light on Malinois temperament:

Some Malinois are VERY high strung and do best in a purely working environment, such as police and military. Not every dog in the breed is the same, but in general they are active, energetic dogs. If your goal is to have a lay around the house lap dog, DO NOT get a Malinois.

Millie the Belgian Malinois (Photo: @milliethemali / Instagram)

Millie the Belgian Malinois (Photo: @milliethemali / Instagram)

While the German Shepherd Dog doesn’t go to the same extreme as Malinois, these dogs will also benefit from having a role to play, whether it’s in the family or as a K9.

Both breeds can resort to destructive behaviors if they’re bored and they’re not getting enough stimulation. These aren’t dogs that you can leave in a kennel or leave alone for long periods of the day.

German Shepherds are generally considered the third most intelligent dogs in the world. Although Belgian Malinois were ranked 26th in “The Intelligence of Dogs”, they’ve also got a reputation for being extremely smart canines.

Here is Rex the German Shepherd (@adventures_of_rex_au) to provide an insight into training:

Rex is a smart dog, however he isn’t food or toy motivated. So training him is all about positive reinforcement and praise. He catches on pretty quick. He knows his basics (sit, down, come and stay) and since I’ve owned him he has learnt Handshake, high-five, heel and we have done a lot of off-leash work.

Rex the German Shepherd (Photo: @adventures_of_rex_au / Instagram)

Rex the German Shepherd (Photo: @adventures_of_rex_au / Instagram)

Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd: exercise

As you’ll know if you’ve read some our Belgian Malinois pros and cons, the breed have substantial activity requirements. They’re a breed that like to be active, especially with their dog owner. The American Belgian Malinois Club have a range of activities that they suggest for Malinois. These include obedience, tracking, agility, flyball, herding, showing, Schutzhund and other protection sports, search and rescue, police work, and just about anything else a dog can do. Belgian Malinois require up to 120 hours of exercise a day.

Here’s Katy to give us an insight into how much exercise her Malinois called Millie needs:

In general, yes, they need something to burn off some of that energy. This is not a dog you keep all day in a crate, come home from work, and think the dog is going to just lay around calmly sleeping all the rest of the night day after day. Just like kids get mischievous and misbehave when they don’t burn off their energy, so can a Malinois.

Millie the Belgian Malinois (Photo: @milliethemali / Instagram)

Millie the Belgian Malinois (Photo: @milliethemali / Instagram)

German Shepherds require a lot of exercise but perhaps not to quite the same extreme extend as Belgian Malinois. Having said that, if your GSD isn’t getting sufficient mental and physical stimulation, you’ll know about it. German Shepherds have relatively high exercise requirements. You should try to give your GSD around 90 minutes of exercise a day.

Let’s hear from Rex’s owner Alex to learn more about his exercise needs:

Be prepared to have a companion like no other. However they can be a lot of work if you’re not experienced with the breed. Their size and strength means they require a lot of exercise and can be destructive if they aren’t kept preoccupied.

Rex the German Shepherd (Photo: @adventures_of_rex_au / Instagram)

Rex the German Shepherd (Photo: @adventures_of_rex_au / Instagram)

Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd: hypoallergenic

Neither Belgian Malinois nor German Shepherds are hypoallergenic, so they’ve got this is common. If you’re looking for a breed that doesn’t shed as much as other dogs, check out the AKC’s list of 19 hypoallergenic dog breeds.

Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd: grooming and shedding

Belgian Malinois have a short coat that is considered waterproof. They will shed twice a year, with dog owners recommended to brush their Males on a daily basis during shedding season. In doing so, you can remove dead hair in their coat.

German Shepherds have a double coat that shed all year round but the process is ramped up during shedding season. The AKC recommend frequent brushing to keep on top of the malting.

Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd: price

Belgian Malinois will usually cost around $1,000 and $2,000. German Shepherds are usually priced at around $1,000. We recommend checking out the American Belgian Malinois Club and the German Shepherd Dog Club of America if you’re looking to find an experienced and respectable breeder.

The difference between Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd

Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds have more similarities than differences. GSDs are slightly bigger and bulkier than Malinois. They’re both members of the herding group with a strong desire to work. They excel where learning new commands and tasks is concerned.

Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd to follow on Instagram

If you want to learn more about these respective breeds, you can always follow some examples of Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds on Instagram.

Here are some Instagram accounts to check out:

• @thekatykat1

• @ninathemalinois

• Loki & Tallulah (loki_the_shep) – 54,000 followers

• Guinness (@guinness_the_gsd) – 17,000 followers

In conclusion

We’ve reached the end of our article on Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd.

These dogs have a lot of similarities but some subtle differences.

Whether you go for a Belgian Malinois or a German Shepherd, you should be prepared to exercise your dog regularly.

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