Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd – Which Dog Is Right For You

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

The difference between the two breeds is not only physical appearance but also behavioral characteristics. Believers of these two dogs have different reasons for choosing one over another.

So what makes them so different?

Let us take a look at some of their differences.

Physical Appearance Of These Two Dogs

Appearance is certainly the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to judging these two dogs. Both of these dogs are medium sized with short legs, thick bodies and long necks. They both weigh around 20 pounds each. However, there are some major differences between the two breeds.

Belgian Malinois

The most obvious physical characteristic of a belgian malinois is its body shape which resembles that of a large dog rather than a small one like other smaller breeds such as pugs or bulldogs. Their heads are rounder than those of other breeds. A typical belgian malinois will stand approximately 24 inches tall and weigh from 30 to 40 pounds.

Their coats tend to be lighter in color than others, ranging from light browns and grays to cream and even chocolate. Their ears may be pointed or flat, but they always point forward on the head rather than up or down. They have relatively short legs compared to other breeds of similar size.

Belgian Shepherds

Belgian shepherds are a little leaner than belgian malinois. They are less bulky and more angular in appearance. During World War I and World War II, many belgian shepherds were used as military dogs because they were easy to train. Many of them were assigned to sentry or scout duty.

These dogs have shorter, thicker legs and smaller frames than the belgian malinois. They typically stand around 22 inches tall and weigh from 32 to 45 pounds. Their ears are typically floppy rather than standing straight up or being erect. Their fur is usually either black, black and tan, or black with white markings.

Behavioral Differences

Belgian shepherds and belgian malinois are very similar in some of their behavior both as pets and as working dogs. They are both very energetic and intelligent breeds that need lots of exercise and mental stimulation. They are fairly easy to train as long as you are consistent, praise them often, and offer rewards when they obey your commands. Both breeds tend to be protective of their owners and make good watch dogs because of this.

Belgian malinois are a little more playful than belgian shepherds, but many belgian shepherds enjoy playing fetch and other games involving throwing objects around. Many belgian shepherds also love hanging out by the pool or going for a swim on a hot day.

Belgian shepherds are believed to be better with families with small children, however, because they are more affectionate than belgian malinois. Female belgian shepherds tend to be more people oriented and sociable than males of the breed. Belgian shepherds also tend to have longer attention spans when it comes to training.

Belgian malinois are more playful than belgian shepherds and are very affectionate toward their owners, however, they tend to bond more strongly with only one or two members of the family rather than everyone. Female belgian malinois tend to be a little more people oriented and sociable than males of the breed. Belgian malinois have shorter attention spans and require more intensive training.

Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd – Which Dog Is Right For You - Picture


The belgian malinois is typically smaller than the belgian shepherd, but there is some overlap in size. A belgian malinois typically measures around 22 to 24 inches tall and weighs 45 to 60 pounds. The belgian shepherd typically measures around 22 to 26 inches tall and weighs 50 to 90 pounds.


Belgian malinois tend to have short coats that don’t require extensive grooming except for occasional brushing. Belgian shepherds have longer coats that need more extensive grooming.

Life Expectancy

Belgian malinois and belgian shepherds have similar life expectancies of between 10 and 15 years.

Exercise Needs

Both of these breeds need quite a bit of exercise, however, the belgian shepherd needs more time to burn off energy than the belgian malinois. Belgian malinois also tend to be more active indoors than belgian shepherds.

Energy Levels

Belgian malinois and belgian shepherds have similar energy levels and both enjoy working, whether it’s doing tricks or participating in an activity such as agility, herding, or obedience.


Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd – Which Dog Is Right For You -

Both of these breeds are very affectionate toward their owners and enjoy lots of attention.


Belgian malinois and belgian shepherds are both very intelligent, people oriented, energetic, confident, and strong willed. These dogs need owners who are equally as intelligent, confident, and in control to keep them from getting bored and developing behavior issues. These dogs are also very alert and have lots of guarding instincts, so they make good watchdogs.


Both of these breeds need lots of attention and affection from their owners. However, both belgian malinois and belgian shepherds also like to spend a lot of time on their own and either likes to be left alone or spends a lot of time with other dogs.


The short coat of the belgian malinois is an advantage over the longer coats of the belgian shepherds in hot climates. However, in arctic or snowy weather, the belgian shepherd’s coats offer more protection than the belgian malinois’.


Belgian malinois are typically more affordable than belgian shepherds.

Getting One

Belgian malinois and belgian shepherds can be obtained from purebred breeders, animal shelters, or adoption centers.

Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd – Which Dog Is Right For You - from our website

Since these dogs tend to have strong guarding instincts, it’s important to socialize them with people starting at an early age. Training should also begin at an early age. These dogs are very intelligent and will easily learn commands in a short period of time, but these commands will not necessarily be followed without proper enforcement by the owner. In other words, just because your dog knows how to perform a trick, doesn’t mean it will always do it on command.

Sources & references used in this article:

Statistical analysis and genetic diversity of three dog breeds using simple sequence repeats by H Jeong, BH Choi, J Eo, YJ Kwon, HE Lee, Y Choi… – Genes & genomics, 2014 – Springer

Conjunctival Dermoid in A Belgian Malinois Dog by M Korkmaz, U Yavuz, HH Demirel… – Kafkas Univ Vet Fak …, 2013 –

Brightness discrimination in the dog by …, G Windischbauer, C Gabler, U Griebel – Journal of …, 2004 –

German shepherd dog pyoderma by EJ Rosser – Veterinary Clinics: Small Animal Practice, 2006 –

Effect of auditory stimulation during early development in puppy testing of future police working dogs by JC Alves, A Santos, B Lopes, P Jorge – Topics in companion animal …, 2018 – Elsevier