Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd

belgian malinois vs german shepherd

German shepherds are great, but sometimes you can be tired of having the same breed of dog over and over again. Another reason for looking for other breeds is that German shepherds are too common that you want to steer away from the norms.

Fortunately, there are breeds just like the German shepherds. Among all other breeds, Belgian Malinois are the ones that can be considered as the closest relative of German shepherds. They have many similarities, maybe even more than their differences. This makes choosing between Belgian Malinois and German shepherd very challenging and confusing.

However, their few differences are what can lead to the disappointment or satisfaction of a buyer. To achieve the latter, it’s important to familiarize yourself with each of them. Their origins, positions in kennel clubs, appearance, temperament, health, and more.

The good news is that this blog post will help you learn about these differences between a German shepherd and Belgian Malinois and more. So let’s tackle them one by one, starting with the two breeds’ history.

History of Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds

Belgian Malinois came from Malines in Belgium, hence the name. They’re also considered as one of the four main breeds of herding dogs in the said country.

It wasn’t before long when Belgian Malinois was considered as the counterpart of the German shepherds.

As one might guess, the “German shepherd” name directly came from their origins and purpose. They were first used in Germany for herding flocks and protecting them from different predators.

This tells us that both of them are bred for the same purpose, as herding dogs.

However, nowadays, they are being bred as family dogs more often. We all know that they’re popular, so let’s not forget about how they became like this in the first place.

Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherds: Who’s Higher in Ranking?

Since many people want to compare things, they tried using the ranking of Belgian Malinois and German shepherds.

Belgian Malinois in 43rd Place

Belgian Malinois (best known as Mals) were already popular in their own country for a long time. However, it doesn’t change the fact that they were not as popular in America.

They only became known by the natives of the country in 1911. Their popularity then continually rose and now, they’re currently in 43rd place in terms of popularity in the American Kennel Club (AKC).

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But alas, the rankings are won by German counterparts. You can say that German shepherds are on a completely different level than Mals, at least when we’re talking about popularity.

German Shepherds in 2nd Place

GSDs are currently in possession of 2nd place in terms of popularity in AKC. They are even featured in many movies.

Their popularity, just like the Mals, only started to flourish in the 1900s.

Additionally, there has been a new hybrid of Belgian Malinois German shepherd mix recently, but they’re not as popular at the moment.

But then again, you can’t judge dogs by how many people know about them. That’s why you should consider their many distinct traits, and this takes us to the most obvious trait, their physical appearance.

Comparison Between Physical Appearance

There are three critical components when we’re talking about the physical appearance of a dog: the size, weight, and coat color.

  • Size: Typically, the size of Belgian Malinois and German shepherds can be anywhere from 24 to 26 inches for males and 22 to 24 inches for females.

That means they are on part with each other when it comes to height, but what about their weight?

  • Weight: The weight of Belgian Malinois males and females is 60 to 80 pounds and 40 to 60 pounds, respectively. German shepherds, however, can weigh from 65 to 90 pounds with males and 50-70 pounds with females.

Another aspect that German shepherds beat Belgian Malinois hands down is the number of coat colors.

  • Coat Color: Mals only have 5 variations, namely fawn sable, fawn, red, red sable, and mahogany. This is a bit too few compared to GSDs with variations including black, gray, sable, tan, blue, silver, red, and more.

But Belgian Malinois takes the crown back when it comes to markings. This is because they have black masks that German shepherds do not typically possess.

If you think the difference between a German shepherd and Belgian Malinois ends there, then you’re mistaken.

Who’s The Good Boy?

Belgian Malinois and German shepherd dogs are intelligent and confident. They are also both hardworking dogs, but what makes them different in this aspect is how they interact with humans.

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Mals are more alert than German shepherds. This typically results in Belgian Malinois having a harder time getting along with strangers.

On the other hand, GSDs can play along with strangers pretty well, but that’s not to say they can immediately be comfy around such people.

As you may already know, they aren’t much different after all. So let’s take it up a notch and go to the care needed by Belgian Malinois and German shepherds.

Taking Care of Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherds

The care needed by Belgian Malinois and German shepherds isn’t much different, either. You’ll find that this aspect will be the easiest to handle if you’re looking to buy one of these two breeds.


In terms of nutrient requirements, it’s practically the same. You need to adjust their diet according to their age, regularly see the vet, and so on. 

And like most dogs, they are prone to overweight, which means they shouldn’t be fed too much. You might also want to avoid providing supplements as much as possible.

If you want a friendlier dog, you might want to consider feeding them treats, as well, especially when training.


As one might expect, German shepherds will always be one of the most trainable dogs in the world. Hence, you’ll typically find it easier training GSDs than with Mals.

However, such eagerness leads German shepherds to have a carefree lifestyle than Belgian Malinois.

And as previously said, Mals are more alert around strangers than German shepherds. So you might need to keep an eye more on German shepherds than the Mals.


Their exercise is also practically the same, with the only difference being how much is needed.

Both the Belgian Malinois and German shepherd are active, which means you won’t be wanting to adopt either one if you’re a couch potato.

They are capable of doing the same activities, but Mals are more energetic than the GSD. For example, a German shepherd needs 60 minutes of exercise every day. But with a Belgian Malinois, you’re looking at spending 5-10 minutes more exercising the dog.


Just like exercise, both the Belgian Malinois and German shepherd require the same grooming, but this time, the frequency is also identical.

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The only difference is that German shepherds can shed more than Belgian Malinois, so you might want to do maintenance on your vacuum cleaner more when handling GSDs.

Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd: Health Conditions

It might not come as a surprise to say that Belgian Malinois and German shepherds suffer from the same health issues.

German shepherds are prone to hip and elbow problems, and so are Belgian Malinois. However, Mals can also be susceptible to vision problems.

That’s not to say that GSDs have a stronger immune system though. It’s just that the genes of Belgian Malinois make it possible for vision problems to occur.

Additionally, a Belgian Malinois owner may be seeing the vet more frequently than a German shepherd owner.

But that’s not the only investment you’ll need to make when taking care of either one of them.

What if We’re Talking Financially?

In addition to the above information, you may also consider the price for the dogs, particularly considering that Belgian Malinois are more expensive.

Belgian Malinois and German shepherds require the same care, so you’ll spend the same when taking care of them.

However, Belgian Malinois can live longer than German shepherds. Considering that Belgian Malinois are more in the working line, it’s very much worth it for those who want to turn them into police dogs, search and rescue dogs, and so on.

It might also help you to know that Belgian Malinois German shepherd mix is only a new hybrid, so there isn’t a much-fixed price to start with.

Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd: What’s the Verdict?

Compared to Belgian Malinois, German shepherds are better for a family. Mals, however, can be a great choice for those who want to prioritize work over play, since Belgian Malinois are more hardworking than GSDs.

Regardless, anyone who isn’t active enough for these dogs will only waste their time and the dogs. Of course, that also applies to adapting a Belgian Malinois German shepherd mix.

At the end of the day, you’ve learned about the differences between the two, as well as the similarities. It’s all up to you how you’ll use this knowledge to figure out the best one for your needs and preferences.

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