You can often mistake recognizing one between the German shepherd vs Belgian Malinois as they both share mostly common personality and appearance traits. But when you go deeper into reckoning their inner characteristics, you will find both the breed to be extremely active and energetic, lively and loyal.

In this write-up, we will pull out all the similarities and dissimilarities between German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois so that you can easily choose which suits you better.

If you are going to be a pet parent soon, this article can help you a lot in knowing even the smallest details about these breeds. Let’s get started.

History of Origin

Never mind to a bit of history of the origin of these two breeds. German Shepherd is one of the most popular breeds among dog owners across the world while Belgian Malinois is gaining popularity due to its gentle and energetic character.

Both the dogs were bred for herding jobs. In the late 1800s, Captain Max von Stephanitz was impressed by various dog breeds used for herding in Germany. From there, he went on a dog show in 1899 and found a dog that will be his ideal dog of the dream.

It was a medium-to-large dog with intelligent, independent, and obedient character. This dog breed later got recognition as the German Shepherd we all know today. Over time, the German Shepherd has become one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. It is currently holding the 2nd rank in the AKC ranking.

On the other hand, Belgian Malinois somehow came from a group of herding dogs known as Belgian Shepherd. These dogs were also bred for herding sheep or livestock. This breed also dates back to the late 1800s when professor Adolphe Reul characterized one of these varieties as Belgian Malinois, the name coming from the Malines region near Brussels.

The Belgian Malinois we see today are mostly used in police and armed forces for a variety of jobs. They currently hold the 50th rank in AKC ranking. Both German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois are very suitable for being working dogs due to their high energy level.

Let’s not bore you with any more histories. We will now take a look at the appearance of both these breeds so that you can easily recognize which is what. Then we will go into their personality traits to make you aware of how these breeds can behave.


Being confused between German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois is pretty easy due to their identical appearance. Both these dogs are large in size and muscular in look. Under the coarse fur, they both possess a store of high energy.

But if you watch closely, German Shepherds are a bit heavier than the Belgian Malinois. Once fully grown, male German Shepherds can weigh anywhere between 80-90 pounds and female Shepherds weigh between 50-70 pounds depending on their diet and exercise level. Males are usually 24-26 inches tall and females are 22-24 inches tall.

The same height occurs in the case of the Belgian Malinois though they weigh a bit less than their German competitors. Fully grown male Malinois can weigh from 60-80 pounds and females can weigh from 40-60 pounds depending on their activity status.

Both the breeds have a double coat which makes identifying them even more difficult. But the fur on the Malinois is a bit shorter than the German Shepherds. Though the coat is short on Malinois, they shed a lot throughout the year which alarmingly increases twice a year. There is a difference in coat color too.

The coat of the Belgian Malinois is mostly fawn in color and sometimes they can have a touch of mahogany. In most cases, the top of their fur turns black which helps to recognize them easily. Underneath the belly, you will a lighter color and there might be a few patches here and there.

Belgian Malinois is also seen to have masks that are mostly black. They also have pointier ears than the German Shepherds which is also a good sign to differentiate them. Despite these minor dissimilarities, both these breeds are great to be used as working dogs.


Comparing the temperament and energy level of both these breeds, German Shepherds come out gentler and more controlled than the Malinois.

Though both Shepherds and Malinois possess a high level of energy and need enough physical and mental activity to burn off the excess energy, a Shepherd always loves to be the center of attention when it isn’t doing anything.

This is why German Shepherds are so good as family dogs. But even when they are sitting idly with your family, they always have the eyes and the ears open for any intruder. No matter what happens, they always come forward to save their owners.

They are also very intelligent, persistent, and incredibly loyal. But Shepherd puppies need to undergo early training sessions to be familiar with their owner. Once they accept you as their human, they will go to any extent to protect you and this is one of the main reasons behind German Shepherds being so popular.

On the other hand, Belgian Malinois being a herding breed, use to be very active all the time. As inherited from their predecessors, they jump and play for hours at stretch. They are loyal and protective too, just like the Shepherds.

But this doesn’t come easy. You should earn their loyalty through a lot of daily activities until they find you to be the master of them. Once they are properly trained, they will show the true temperament of a Belgian Malinois and be ready to harness the power inside them.

Belgian Malinois loves a lot of movement and physical activities. So, if you are getting a Malinois, make sure you have enough room for it to surf. A small backyard will work fine in most cases provided that you put regular time and care into completing their daily cravings.

Training And Exercise

As working dogs, both the German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois are bred to be highly active, enjoying hours of exercise without complaining, and being destructive with the lack of exercise. So, if you are planning to get one of these dogs, you better watch out for their training details carefully.

Both these dogs are highly intelligent meaning they can learn very quickly. But any forceful training will bring an opposite result. They don’t need to be forced to any training. Instead, you can train them in a positive way that consists of instructions and rewards.

This training should be started from a very early age so that the dogs socialize well as they grow. They love people around them but you should be teaching them about how to treat strangers or kids. The training program is pretty similar for these two breeds.

When it comes to exercise, both Shepherd and Malinois need intense exercise sessions regularly to keep fit and healthy. It also keeps them mentally free and stable. In case you aren’t giving enough exercise to these dogs, they can be destructive as hell and ruin your home by either scratching or digging holes here and there.

Belgian Malinois needs at least 90 minutes of exercise per day to be in tiptop condition. So, if you plan to leave them inside your apartment all day long, you are going to see a different scene when you come back. Lack of exercise makes them aggressive and destructive.

German Shepherds need even more training daily to be physically and mentally fit. You should give them at least two hours of exercise per day to keep pace with their working muscles. Stimulation games also work fine in this case but make sure you are providing plenty of your time and attention to the dog.

Health And Diet

These dogs are healthier than most other breeds. As they work out a lot, they tend to live a healthy life for their whole lifespan. Belgian Malinois usually lives 14-16 years depending on the care, diet, and workout level.

But German Shepherds live a lot less than Malinois. Shepherds live only 7-10 years at best. This is one of the major dissimilarities between German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois. We see some common health issues in both German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois like allergies, diabetes, hip dysplasia, and cancer.

Some of these diseases come as hereditary so you better look for a healthy puppy while buying. Also, take a veterinarian with you to check whether the dog you are buying is okay or not. Once you have the clearance from the veterinarian, you are good to go. But check for any unusual behavior regularly so that you can contact the vet as soon as possible.

For the diet, you need to be extra careful as both these dogs suffer from allergies, most of which are food allergies. Watch out for the items that they get irritated with, remove them from the diet plan and consult a vet.

The best way to keep these dogs healthy is to provide a balanced diet suggested by a professional nutritionist. Otherwise, you might end up feeding them a lot more than they need which will result in bulkier and disease-prone dogs. You don’t want that, right?

Make a regular feeding schedule for the dogs if you want them to take their food at the right time. Building this schedule helps your dogs to be trained easily. Also, don’t forget to provide food and water in clean pots so that they don’t catch any harmful bacteria which might cause issues later.

Care And Grooming

Grooming is essential no matter whatever breed you have at your home. But the grooming amount and frequency vary depending on the breed. If you are planning to have a Shepherd or Malinois, the grooming frequency won’t be that high for either of these breeds.

German Shepherds have a medium double coat that helps them keep warm regardless of the season. You will see seasonal shedding in Shepherds which mostly occurs in fall and winter. You need to brush the coat at least once a week to remove all the loose hair. It will also keep your pet to be tangle-free and mat-free.

Shepherds usually don’t need a bath frequently. You can bathe them anywhere between 1-3 months depending on the play they live in. Some catch less dirt and debris than others. So, the bathing schedule should be set accordingly.

Though the Malinois has a shorter coat than the Shepherds, they too shed. The shedding increases twice a year leaving a lot of loose hair all over your house. So, bring your dog into the grooming session regularly to brush its coat with a bristle brush and remove the sheds.

Check inside the ears of your dog for wax and clean them regularly. Trim their nails with a nail clipper so that they don’t get injured while exercising or playing. These are pretty common grooming needs for any breed. But if you aren’t familiar with these sessions, it will be better to take them to a professional groomer.

But as it costs a lot of money and time, many people choose to groom their dogs themselves at home. You can now find various grooming tools online. Buy them and learn how to groom your pets. This will lessen the hassle and the cost as well as make a better bond with your dog.

During the grooming sessions, watch your dog closely for any unusual signs such as redness in the eyes or irritation in the skin. If you find something suspicious, urgently consult a veterinarian before it’s too late.

Final Word

No matter what are the similarities or dissimilarities between the German Shepherd vs Belgian Malinois, both these breeds are amazingly attractive and lovely to become life-long friends.

With their highly loyal character, they will always be by our side once we acquire that position. Take your time, learn all the small details about these breeds and choose which dog you want to bring home.

Also, You Can Check Our More Grooming Product Reviews For German Shepherd Puppy

Ashraful Islam, the Founder and CEO of Best Dog Grooming Tips, has a deep passion for animals and an extensive understanding of pet care. He established the website to offer valuable information and resources to fellow pet enthusiasts. Ashraful’s devotion to improving the lives of pets and their owners is evident from his commitment to sharing expert advice and innovative pet care solutions.