Belgian Malinois Vs. German Shepherd

Belgian Malinois Vs. German Shepherd

The Belgium Malinois has built a solid reputation like its German counterpart, the German Shepherd. Both are purebreds, both are valued by dog owners for their shepherding skills, and both are esteemed for their personality traits.

When people speak about the Belgian Malinois vs. the German Shepherd dog, it is hard to tell which breed is better.

They are both handsome breeds, easily trainable, protective, and eager to please.

Since the Malinois and German Shepherd are exceptional breeds, it may not be easy to decide which one is best.

Ultimately, it may not be a competition in terms of their qualities but personal preferences.


Overview Of Belgian Malinois

Overview Of Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois’s have a long history spanning over 100 years. They were bred to work and have served humanity in many positions over time.

They’re a relatively popular dog breed, with an American Kennel Club (AKC) breed popularity rating of 43 out of 197.

People value them for exemplary characteristics, including an elegant physique and a sense of purpose.

Most of their value lies in the fact that they are a loyal, hard-working breed coupled with intense loyalty. Serving as working dogs and being reliable with children adds to their allure.

Caring for this breed is simple and complex. Simple in the sense that grooming short hair is easy, and complex in that their intelligence and energy require positive channeling.

Deciding the winner in a Belgian Malinois vs. the German Shepherd comparison is challenging. Still, an overview of this breed may help you make the best decision to suit your expectations.


The Belgian Malinois breed came from Belgium during the latter part of the 19th century (unlike the GSD, which originated in Germany in 1899 through Captain Max von Stephanitz.) Their first known home is in the northwestern city of Malines, where it was used as a shepherding dog.

As a hard-working and intelligent dog with a high prey drive, it was used to shepherd both cattle and sheep and is counted among several Belgian sheepdog breeds. Other popular breeds include the Groenendael, the Laekenois, and the Tervuren.

After the Malinois breed was introduced to the U.S. in 1911, it began serving in the military.

As a working dog, the Malinois’s duties varied between carrying messages and pulling machine guns in the First World War.  

The advent of World War Two meant the postponement of Malinois breeding as the U.S. was no longer able to import new stock from Belgium.

Following a 50-year break, the Malinois dog was officially registered as a distinct breed in the U.S. in 1959.

Cairo is probably the most famous Malinois in the U.S. after he helped with Osama bin Laden’s capture in 2011.

This dog’s popularity continues as desirable police dogs, guard dogs and military dogs, and as a gentle, intelligent pet.

About the Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois had to have a stable temperament to look after farm animals or act as a watchdog. It also had to be trustworthy enough to drive off predators to protect these animals and loyal enough not to eat them.

Therefore, the Belgian Malinois is known as a trustworthy dog that belongs to the herding group of dogs.

This breed is confident in its abilities as a work animal and gentle enough to be a family dog. It is intelligent, works hard, and is a strong, streamlined animal.

Rather than being bulky, it has a fine, elegant build that translates into a speedy, agile dog breed.

Other prominent Belgian Malinois characteristics include:

  • Being easily trainable
  • Easy to groom
  • Strongly territorial
  • Tolerant of weather extremes
  • Extremely energetic
  • Courageous
  • An air of sophistication
  • Building strong bonds with their human guardians

Belgian Malinois’s only tend to bark when necessary. They have a long lifespan of up to 16 years and are strong, healthy dogs overall.

Their temperaments may be somewhat aloof, but they are generally friendly, playful, and protective–whether as work dogs involved in farming, military or police work, or as family pets.



The Malinois has a streamlined appearance with fine facial and physical features. Males grow up to 26 inches in height at the shoulder and weigh between 58 and 82 pounds.

Females are a little shorter at 24 inches but weigh significantly less, usually between 42 and 62 pounds.

Unsurprisingly, this weight difference highlights the masculinity of the adult male while drawing attention to the female’s finer lines.

They have strong slim physiques with sloping backs down to a long-upturned tail, further increasing their stature.

Malinois’s have short hair that is typically a warm tan color, with some possessing a deeper red-brown hue. Malinois’s are also bred to have creamy chocolate and dark chocolate-colored coats.

Their striking appearance is reinforced by their black mask and ears.

The Malinois is known for its proud carriage, confidently aware of its abilities. Its astuteness serves as a strong contrast to its stable physique and personality.

Anyone who sees them is struck by their air of sophistication which is often interpreted as aloofness.

Malinois physical care

Physical care of your Malinois is relatively effortless. Short coats mean that brushing once a week is sufficient. Brushing after a day outdoors is recommended, though, to remove dirt and restore luster.

It is also important to brush after a day outdoors to check for ticks. You might also like to engage in daily brushing as they shed hair once the winter months are over.

Your Malinois only needs a bath and shampoo once or twice a year since it has a waterproof coat. An extra bath to wash away extra grime may be necessary if your Malinois rolls in nasty smelling stuff.

Other than this, too many baths can negatively impact natural skin oils and lead to skin problems. Add nutrients to your Malinois’s diet if their coat lacks shine.

Give your Malinois’ ears a regular check to see if it has contracted any mite infections.

Cut your pet’s nails only if it leads a sedentary life and doesn’t spend much time on rough surfaces.

Having said this, your Malinois is highly energetic and should be exercised daily. If this is the case, nail cutting might not even be necessary.

Limit dental care to giving your pet dog chews and leather bones to chew on. If you feel it is necessary, purchase a doggy toothbrush and toothpaste and brush their teeth.

Should you notice a smelly breath, bleeding gums, or that your Malinois struggles to eat, consider taking them for a dental checkup.

Malinois mental and emotional care


Early socialization with people and other animals, together with regular exercise, will ensure that you raise a stable, obedient Malinois.

The best way to ensure your Malinois is happy is to spend time with them. Set aside time to walk them twice a day for at least 30 minutes.

Make time to create challenging games with balls and other stimulating games.

This is a brilliant breed, so it is essential to stimulate them emotionally. Spending time with you to bond in training your pet is one way to achieve this goal.

Be consistent with dog training and keep teaching them new things to keep them happy. Be present with training to build an ongoing relationship, which will help embed learning.

Malinois health

The Malinois has a long-life expectancy of between 14 and 16 years. Purchase high-quality food filled with nutrients or prepare food in the home to increase your pet’s lifespan.

Always conduct research or consult your vet about homemade food for your pet. Add extra nutrition as needed and give your pet treats when training.

Not all Malinois’s will become sick, but it is worthwhile knowing what diseases this breed is known for. Among health problems to watch out for are:

  • Heart problems
  • Eye diseases, like Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) which can cause vision loss and even blindness
  • Joint dysplasia (though they don’t appear to suffer from elbow dysplasia or hip dysplasia as much as GSDs)
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Thyroid diseases

Take your pet for regular vet checkups at least once a year and twice yearly for senior dogs. Always give them food according to their age group and ensure that water is available throughout the day. 

Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd

When comparing the Belgian Malinois with the GSD, you will notice many similarities and differences between the two breeds.

Learning more about both animals will give you a better idea of which breed you prefer.

Size and speed


Comparing the Malinois with the German Shepherd breed in terms of size and speed shows more similarities than differences.

The Malinois is marginally smaller than the German Shepherd, but both breeds can grow to heights of between 24 and 26 inches.

A male Malinois reaches up to 82 pounds, and the male German Shepherd grows to between 65 to 90 pounds.

The female Malinois weighs in at approximately 40 to 60 pounds which is smaller than the female average German Shepherd weight of between 50 and 70 pounds.

The main difference between the breeds is that the Malinois is around 10% lighter than the German Shepherd.

The Malinois is as fast as the German Shepherds despite being slightly smaller.

Both breeds can reach up to 32 mph at top speed.


When discussing the Belgian Malinois vs. the German Shepherd, you can’t escape the striking similarities in their appearances. Both breeds have a similar shape, but the Malinois is more streamlined than the German Shepherd.

The German Shepherd has a sloping back, whereas the Malinois’s back is much straighter.



Placing the Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd side by side also shows similar temperaments. Both breeds are protective and loyal.

Both breeds have high energy levels and make good family pets and working dogs.

The Malinois is thought to be more aggressive than the German Shepherd on average, though both need lots of mental stimulation.

Belgian Malinois vs. the German Shepherd coat

Malinois coat colors are limited in comparison to the German Shepherd. Where the Malinois coat commonly has three shades in brown, creamy chocolate, and tan, the German Shepherd’s coat is more diverse.

The German Shepherd coat colors include five markings–saddleback, panda, black, sable, white, West German working line, and the Czech working line.

Both breeds have double coats and shed their undercoats seasonally (twice a year). The Malinois coat is easier to maintain due to its shorter hair.

Depending on where you look, some sources say that the German Shepherd sheds its hair more profusely between seasons than the Malinois.

Information conflicts on this topic but seems to lean more towards German Shepherds being heavy shedders than the moderate shedding of the Malinois.

If you want a result for shedding between the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd–the Malinois wins by a few points.


Because German Shepherds are slightly larger than the Belgian Malinois, they require more food.

Typically, the German Shepherd needs between 3 and 4 cups of food a day. In contrast, the smaller Malinois only needs 2 to 3 cups of food daily.

Food volumes depend on the dog’s stage of growth, age, gender, and activity levels, but these volumes are common for adult dogs.

The feeding winner between the Belgian Malinois vs. the German Shepherd is the Malinois as it is more cost-effective.

But feeding costs are only important if this is a concern.


Both breeds suffer from known health ailments and diseases, but the German Shepherd’s list of health concerns is longer than the Malinois.

Again, the Malinois comes out on top compared to the Malinois and German Shepherd concerning health.


The German Shepherd’s average lifespan ranges from 9 to 13 years. You can expect the Malinois to live for a marginally longer period of up to 14 years.


The German Shepherd is known to be more stubborn than the Malinois. Because the Malinois is less independent and stubborn than the German Shepherd, it is easier to train. Both breeds of dog respond well to positive reinforcement training.

Both make excellent service dogs and herding dogs, but it seems the Malinois has a greater propensity to please its owner than the German Shepherd.

The Malinois is also considered to be more independent than the German Shepherd, as GSDs are more likely to suffer from separation anxiety.

Of course, the dog’s personality must always be considered as they are all individuals.

Which One Should I get?

Which One Should I get?

Belgian Malinois vs. the German Shepherd–which one is better? Which breed is better depends on what you’re looking for in a pet?

Do you prefer the Malinois’s appearance or the German Shepherd’s looks?

Does trainability matter more than temperament, or is grooming an issue?

Is the smaller, slightly more aggressive Malinois a better fit? Ask yourself how either dog will integrate with your personal circumstances and environment. Whether size, trainability, or personality are concerns.

Both breeds are working dogs, but the German Shepherd is slightly more family-friendly, although this difference is minor.

Both breeds will require lots of attention and energy to keep them engaged and happy, no matter which one you select.

Final Words

What decision have you made after reading about the Belgian Malinois vs. the German Shepherd?

The two breeds have many endearing characteristics and share lots of common ground with minor differences.

If you want a large dog, then a German Shepherd is better, but if you want a marginally easier dog to train, then a Malinois ticks this box.

Both breeds have excellent qualities, so the final decision is entirely up to you. Whatever breed you choose, you can count on having a loyal, loving pet for life.


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