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Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd

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When it comes to the Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd, what is the difference between the breeds?

Although the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd have similar appearances and some of the same abilities, there are a few differences that you want to consider before making a decision as to which dog would be the right one for your family.

Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd
Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd

Take a look at each dog and what it has to offer. Consider the dynamics of your household as well as the time that you have to train the dog that you bring into your home.


The American Kennel Club, or AKC, generates a list of the top breeds of dogs each year. For several years, the German Shepherd has ranked second. The rank seems to be locked in place because the dog has a gentle nature while delivering strength and athletic abilities.

On the same list is the Belgian Malinois. This dog ranks around the 50th spot. When looking at the Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd, the Belgian Malinois is beginning to gain some popularity among dog owners, but the German Shepherd is still at the top of the list.

AKC rankings can sometimes play a part in how much you might spend on a dog, so keep this in mind when talking to breeders.


As you look at the Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd sizes, you will notice that both dogs are large animals.

Adult German Shepherds weigh between 50 and 70 pounds if they are females and up to 90 pounds if they are males. These numbers can fluctuate depending on the activity of the dog and the diet. Most German Shepherds stand close to 24 inches tall.

The Belgian Malinois is a few pounds smaller than a German Shepherd. A male usually reaches about 80 pounds while a female will grow to be about 50 to 60 pounds. The height of the dog is about the same as the German Shepherd. The main difference that you will see when looking at the size is that the German Shepherd is often heavier.

Dog comparison
Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd

Grooming Tips

As a pet owner, you will probably take your pet to have it groomed or even give your dog a bath at home.

When you look at the coat of a Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd, you’ll notice that the German Shepherd has a double layer of protection to keep it warm. The outer layer does shed seasonally, usually in the fall and winter months. It could take some time to bathe a German Shepherd as well because the outer layer is water repellent.

Weekly grooming is almost necessary in order to keep the coat neat and to remove loose hairs. If you give a bath too often, then the natural oils of the skin can begin to make the coat of the German Shepherd appear dull.

The Belgian Malinois also has a thick coat and usually requires grooming at least once a week. This dog does shed more than the German Shepherd, which is something you want to keep in mind if you plan on keeping the dog inside your home.

Another difference is that the Belgian Malinois has deeper ears and should be examined for wax buildup as well as mites and other debris that can get down into the ear canal.

Energy And Temperament

Looking at the Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd, you won’t see a big difference in temperament or energy levels. They are bright dogs that enjoy doing what they can to offer pleasure to their owners.

Both dogs are loyal and easy to train as long as you are consistent. They are protective of their owners, which is why many German Shepherds are used in the security field and in the military. You will need to commit to a few hours of training each week if possible so that your dog understands what you expect and so that you gain the trust of your dog.

If you’re considering the energy levels of the Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd, then the German Shepherd might be better suited for your family if you want a companion with lower energy levels.

The German Shepherd was once used to herd sheep and still has the herding instinct. This dog has a high mental capability, making it one that is often more of a relaxed family member while still offering protection instead of one that jumps and plays all the time.

If you want a dog that has a lot of energy, then consider the Belgian Malinois. Although used for herding as well, the Belgian Malinois is accustomed to herding cattle, sheep, and other livestock that don’t always pay attention to where they are going. This means that the Belgian Malinois often needs higher energy levels to ensure that the animals get to their designated area.

Ultimately, the Belgian Malinois is very social and enjoys a lot of movement in the home or outside.

Which dog should I get
Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd


Any dog that you get will require some type of training if you don’t want your pet to destroy your home or harm someone.

When looking at training for the Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd, you will see that both require intensive training in order to socialize well with other people. Because of their high intelligence, however, training is often easier with both these breeds compared to that of other dogs.

These dogs don’t adjust well to dominant training. They are confident and loyal, which means that they understand commands well and can be easily taught how to do the things that you desire without being forceful with the training delivered. Positive reinforcement works well with both the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd.


The health of the Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd is something that you should keep in mind if you want a pet that will live for several years.

There are a few issues that tend to develop with both dogs as they age including hip and elbow dysplasia. You can have a veterinarian perform testing to determine if there is a risk for these issues in your dog before you bring the animal into your home.

German Shepherds often develop allergies and diabetes as they age while the Belgian Malinois is susceptible to diabetes and cancer as the most common ailments that impact them in life.

Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd: What is right for you?

Think about the positive aspects of each dog before you make a final decision. There are several benefits of each dog that would make both a nice addition to your family. However, keep in mind the energy levels of each one as well as possible health issues that could arise.

Check out more articles about: Dog Breeds


  1. Frank J Mitchell

    Would love to buy and train a Belgian Malinois puppy about 10 weeks old found on ready at a breeder in Lodi California. He has only been breeding this breed since 2018 does this make a difference in the quality of the dog.He is asking $1700 for the pup. And in all his animals he has microchip them and had all their vaccines to date. My question is is this breeder to be trusted with the quality of dog I am looking to purchase and I assume the price of the pup is the going rate for that particular breed of dog.

  2. Adela

    Microchip and vaccines are one of the last things, which should interest you, when you want to buy a puppy. Look to their pedigree online, check the health results. If you want to do sport cynology, check their sport result too. Ask the breeder about characters of their parents. And really important, go to visit the breeder, before you commit yourself. See, what conditions he has his dogs, how many dogs he has (normal is maximal 5, everything above is already suspicious – the guy may do it just for money and it’s always bad).

    If the result of your research comes well and you do reservation of one of the puppies, don’t forget to ask a contract. The day, when you take the puppy from the breeder, check his testicles when male (both have to be already down), his teeth (he has to have all of them and they have to make a correct bite), the puppy has to be clean, no running eyes or nose, no big “balonated” belly (may be woms or other problems), no diaria, puppy must not be scared or so, must be happy and activ with clear eyes.

    Good luck with your new four-legged friend! :)

  3. Robert

    Tap into your heart and try rescuing your next dog! I found a my Malinois thru petfinder.com, and he’s an absolute joy; very loyal, bright and well mannered.

  4. Stephanie Milner

    I cannot believe that the person that wrote this article doesnt even talk about the belgian mallinois being predominately used for K9 dogs….as well as Military dogs…if you truly want to talk about the difference a…thia is a HUGE one..Belgians will skydive with their masters…this is a huge difference in temperament….this is apples to oranges…its irresponsible to even be that ignorant

  5. John

    Good article, the Belgians and Germans have both been used extensively by military and LE. They are great companions and easily trained. Like all dogs they have breed characteristics, but ultimately it’s how you train them.

  6. Wayne

    Why the negativity Stephanie? I thought this was a good write up comparing the two without making it a “one is better than the other” comparison. Who cares, in this context, that the Malinois, not Mallinois, is used primarily in K9 work? I’ve been working and training K9’s for LE and the military for maybe longer than you’ve been alive and we don’t need more of the my breed is better than your breed mentality.

  7. Sherry

    I have one of each, and I love them both. The Mal seems to be just a little quicker on the uptake than my GSD, but she’s a little stubborn so that might be a personality thing. They are both extremely affectionate, protective, and smart. My Mal is indeed higher energy, but she’s younger and doesn’t come with the baggage my GSD does (rescued from a horrible situatuion). I do spend a lot of time on training, but the Mal in particular loves it. Both are rescues, and amazing dogs.

  8. elsuperbus

    Exactly. It’s not like GSDs are foreigners to K9/military work. Other than agility, the increased energy level of the Belgian Malinois and slightly smaller size were covered in the article. The article is clearly geared to home owners, not law enforcement and the military.

  9. Barbra Clark

    I don’t like that you ONLY talk about the had traits of the malinois and the good traits of the German shepherd I thought this was a comparison not an opinion

  10. Matthew Holley

    Having owned/trained several Mali, GSDs, and a
    Dutch Shepherds… I can unequivocally say that the Dutch takes the cake as “best all around.” The drive, loyalty, athleticism, trainability, fearlessness, and kindness towards other animals and children are truly unmatched from my history. I do understand that there are variances but I’m basing this comment on thousands of hours with working dogs and my own personal experience. Plus the dutch’s brindle coat and black mask just looks cool. Dutch Shepherd bite force is only slightly less than a GSD, and significantly more than a Mali. Mali and Dutch are often mistaken by outsiders tho each breed has their own lineage

  11. Wildegurl

    Here is what concerns me… is this person aware of what a HUGE pain a Malinois can be? Its not a dog that you can be gone all day, then come home and chill with. A Malinois does best if it has a job with you, all the time. And they are really happy if that job is physical. Its not a guard dog you can stick out in the yard and ignore except an hour or two.

    I have rescued 8 Mals over 25+ years and kept 3 as my own dog. All the rescued dogs were gotten as pets by people who thought they were pretty and then found out its like adopting a toddler with ADHD.

    And the challenge they are is why I love them.Way smarter than most people I know… giggle

  12. Doneitwice

    The world needs more adopters and less breeders. Adopt, don’t shop!

  13. Mitzi

    I own a Belgian Malinois. He has been training with a former K9 Officer for the past 2 years and I must say he is intelligent. He is very hyper and requires many walks a day. If people are looking for a cuddler dog, this isn’t the dog for you!! If you can’t walk the dog numerous times a day, this dog isn’t for you. If your lifestyle is being a home body, then this dog isn’t for you. If your lazy, then this dog isn’t for you. If you can’t devote hours of attention to a BM, then this dog isn’t for you. Jasper has been a handful at times yet I wouldn’t trade him for a million dollars. Love my Malinois 🥰♥️

  14. rosie

    My loyal Sam (BM) is entering his 15th year. If I had to describe him with one word it would be “loyal”. I walk him twice a day and even though it is now hard for him to get up from his bed, his internal clock is sound and he comes in and kicks my hands off my computer with his nose when its time for his walks. He loves the water and loves, loves snow. This past few months he has started “herding me” on our walks. We used to walk 2-5 miles a day, now when he is tired, He’ll open his mouth on my leg and gently let me know he wants to head home. Love this dog so much. He is smart, well behaved and has been the protector of our family since the day he arrived. He would do anything to protect me, my kids and the other pets we’ve had in our home. He takes charge of protecting everyone. Such a smart, wonderful breed. I’m chuckling a bit at the high energy, maybe we keep him moving, but for most of his life, while we took him out walking, swimming or chasing tennis balls at least once or twice a day, the rest of the day and night he was laying on his bed zonked out. An excellent combination of energy and calm. ;)

  15. Victoria Bailey

    Interesting article, I just laughed a little tho when it said Malinois shed more than GSD. No dog. Sheds more than GSD 🤦🤣 I’ve had shepherds and my Mali I have now doesn’t compare at all when it comes to shedding, there’s no clumps of hair everywhere and I can actually wear nice clothes and go out to dinner without globs of hair on me 🤣 Anyways, both breeds are magnificent and beautiful companions thank you for the quick read

  16. Dee Parke

    I just adopted a belgian malinois and she is lovely. At one year old she needed to be re-homed because the owner became disabled and could not give her the exercise she needs. She may have some german shepherd in her, but I’ll do the wisdom panel test. She is very sweet and beautiful. I never buy a dog from a breeder. Look online and you’ll see literally thousands of dogs that could meet your requirements.

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