Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd

GSD or the Malinois?

german shepherd playing frisbee

The German Shepherd and the Belgian Malinois are often mistaken for each other due mostly to their similar color and builds. There are however, differences in their physical makeups and in their dispositions and natures that play a big role in how well they will adapt and fit in to different lifestyles. If you are trying to decide which pup will be best for your family, the following information can be useful in helping you to decide which will suit your situation best.



Also commonly known as the Alsatian, the German Shepherd is a relatively new breed that has only been in existence for about 90 years. They were developed from a variety of different farm and shepherding breeds for the specific purpose of being a work dog. Their high level of intelligence and physical capability makes them one of the best military and police dogs in the world. They are high on the list of most popular dog breeds in the world, coming it as the 2nd most popular breed in the US and 4th most popular in the UK.

It is thought that their insane popularity is due, not only to their acts of heroism in past wars but also to their common use in comics and films, which led to rather extensive stardom for a dog breed. Their high popularity also contributes to a rather higher cost than the Belgian Malonois. An average puppy cost is over $1000. Their average expected life span is about 10-12 years.

Physical Make-Up

german-shepard sitting next to wooden fenceThe German Shepherd is widely known as being very strong and athletic. Physically, they are very versatile and excel at nearly anything they are trained for.

They are talented at not only police and military work, but also in guiding and assisting the handicapped, drug detection, search and rescue and obedience competitions.

The most common colors that they come in are black and tan but they are also found in solid white and solid black. Their coats are of a medium length and are very thick and dense. They do typically tend to shed some but they still only require low maintenance grooming.

German Shepherd height is generally between 24-26 inches tall. Their weight range is 75-95 pounds which is significantly heavier than the Belgian Malinois.

The German Shepherd Breed does come with some genetic tendencies towards specific health issues. Major concerns usually include Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) and Elbow Dysplasia.

Dysplasia is an abnormal disformation of the joints that can lead to extremely painful arthritis and can even cripple and leave the dog lame. This trait is certainly genetic but is very much affected by environmental factors.

The list of minor concerns includes, cardiomyopathy, cataracts, Malignant Neoplasms, Perianal Fistulas, Panosteitis, skin allergies, and Pyotraumatic Dermatitis.

It is rare, but occasionally Pancreatic Insufficiency is also seen in German Shepherds. It is suggested that, in order to keep your German Shepherd in optimal health, their blood, elbows and hips and eyes be checked on a regular basis.

German Shepherd litters are a little bit smaller than those of the Belgian Malinois. The usually will have about 4-9 pups per litter.


As mentioned previously, the German Shepherd is very intelligent. The breed is also known for being extremely loyal and protective. Their versatile nature allows them to not only serve as wonderful work animals, but also as lasting and faithful companions. Without proper training they can tend towards being aggressive in nature and they are a very alert breed.

Like the Belgian Malonois, they do tend to be frequent barkers, however, they otherwise have a quiet and gentle nature that makes them a great family pet to have around kids. With proper socialization they are friendly and outgoing dogs.


german shepherd sitting with stick in front of itThe German Shepherd is easier to train than the Belgian Malinois. If you are a brand new pet owner and inexperienced with training or if you prefer a dog that learns to listen and respond a bit more easily and quickly, then a German Shepherd may be a good option for you.

With Kids

A German Shepherd can be a wonderful dog for kids with the right training. Given that the German Shepherd is a large breed, introducing a full grown dog into a family with young kids, could prove to be complicated if the dog is not used to children.

Even if they are trained to not be aggressive with humans, they are still large enough that they could easily knock a little one over and hurt them without much effort.

If you have the time and energy to handle a pup and children at the same time, raising a German Shepherd pup alongside children can be very fruitful and rewarding for all. Be prepared to have a lot of patience and to invest a lot of time in training, since children don’t know how to be consistent or firm with the pup like you do and can quickly undo a lot of your hard work.



This breed is also commonly referred to as the Malinois or Pastor Belga Malinois. This breed was developed in Belgium in the late 1800s as a herding dog. It is one of four different varieties of Belgian Sheepdogs. In the UK all four varieties are considered to be one breed, where as in the US the four varities are split into three seperate breeds.

The average price for a puppy is half that of a German Shepherd at about $600. Life expectancy of 10-12 years on average.

Physical Makeup

malinois dog peeping from the corner of a wooden gateThe Belgian Malinois is a somewhat smaller dog than the German Shepherd and has a lighter structure. Their height is generally between 24-26 inches and their weight range is between 60-65 lbs. Their coats are most commonly fawn, red or brown. They also have a short, dense coat and they shed more than the German Shepherd.

Though the Belgian Malinois is often confused with the German Shepherd in terms of overall looks, they also differ noticeable in the shape of their heads. Their ears are more of a triangular shape and are smaller and their heads are rather more chiseled and refined looking than the German Shepherd.

In overall health the Belgian Malinois is not usually genetically prone to any major issues. Minor concerns include epilepsy, allergies of the skin and canine hip dysplasia (CHD). In order to keep your Belgian Malinois in optimal health and keep these health concerns at a minimum, it is recommended that their hips be tested regularly.

The German Malinois have slightly larger litters than the German Shepherd, usually around 6-10 puppies.


The German Malinois has a much more adaptable nature than the German Shepherd allowing them to adjust to many different environments and lifestyles. This means that they can live in smaller living spaces as long as they are properly exercised.

This breed is highly intelligent, alert, protective, energetic and also aggressive in nature. Some claim that the Belgian Malinois is rather more alert than the German Shepherd and also quicker to respond. They do need regular exercise and their many talents include obedience competing, military work, herding, guarding, narcotics detection, agility, retrieving, search and rescue, police work, sledding and tracking.

Remember to take into consideration that the Belgian Malinois is a dog that is very intense emotionally, and thrives on being included and involved in their family’s lives. If you work long hours or are away a lot, a Belgian Malinois may not be the best choice as they do not do well being left alone for extended periods of time.


The Belgian Malinois are thought by some to be more difficult to train, requiring more patience if you take it upon yourself to handle their training. Due to their sensitive natures and their high energy levels, many recommend that only those with previous dog training experience consider training this breed. Obedience schools might be a good option if you are inexperienced or not interested in investing extensive time and effort into training. If you do decide to embark on the training journey, keep in mind that the German Malinois has a sensitive disposition and does not cope well with harsh training methods.

With Kids

This breed is very people oriented and they are loyal and protective of their pack. Due to this nature, if they are well trained and well socialized they can be wonderful pets for raising with kids. Keep in mind that if you introduce a full size dog is big enough to knock over a small child if they are not used to being around kids. It is also always a good idea for children to be properly coached and taught how to approach a dog so as to avoid issues. Remember that no dog, no matter how friendly should ever be left alone with a child and unsupervised.

With Other Animals

The Belgian Malinois will need thorough socialization to interact well with other dogs and animals due to their protective and territorial dispositions.



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