Belgian Malinois Vs German Shepherd

Both Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd dog breeds look alike, however, they have a few notable differences. Both dog breeds are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and versatility as guard dogs. When comparing a Belgian Malinois vs. German Shepherd, it’s important to consider factors such as energy level, temperament, and more.


Searching for a German Shepherd or a Belgian Malinois for sale? Before you do, explore some of the most notable differences between these dog breeds to help you determine which is best for you. This guide will compare noteworthy considerations when shopping for the best dogs for protection.

Appearance & Size

Though similar in appearance, the size difference between a Belgian Malinois vs. German Shepherd is noticeable. A Belgian Malinois dog will generally be lighter in weight than a German Shepherd. On average, a Belgian Malinois dog will weigh between 40 and 80 pounds, whereas a German Shepherd weighs around 50 to 90 pounds.
Despite the difference in weight, both breeds of dogs stand around 22 to 26 inches in height. However, visibly, German Shepherds have a slightly more muscular and robust build, whereas Belgian Malinois are more athletic.

Coloring and Coat

Both dog breeds have a double coat, but their coats differ slightly. A Belgian Malinois dog’s coat is shorter and slightly denser in comparison to a German Shepherd’s medium-length coat. In terms of coloring, Malinois come in red, fawn, or mahogany colors with a black mask while German Shepherds have other color combinations, such as black with tan or solid black.

Lifespan & Health

Both Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds are generally healthy breeds, but they can be prone to certain health issues. Belgian Malinois may be more susceptible to conditions such as hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and certain skin allergies. In contrast, German Shepherds can also be prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as degenerative myelopathy.
The average lifespan of Belgian Malinois ranges from 12 to 14 years, while German Shepherds typically live between 9 to 13 years.
It’s important to note that individual dogs within each breed can vary in temperament and characteristics. Proper socialization, training, and responsible breeding play significant roles in shaping a dog’s behavior and health.

Abilities as Protection Dogs

These two dog breeds make excellent protection dogs. Belgian Malinois are known for having exceptionally high energy, which means owners must be prepared to take daily walks and provide opportunities for exercise. These dogs also have a strong eagerness to work, an ideal attribute for a protection dog.
German Shepherds are also high energy, though slightly less high energy when compared to a Malinois dog. These dogs are confident and loyal, showing protectiveness over their family and surroundings. Both breeds of dogs are highly trainable, so it really comes down to personal preference when shopping.

History of Each Dog Breed

The German Shepherd originated in Karlsruhe, Germany in the 1800s and was first exhibited at a show in Hanover in 1882.
The first true German shepherd dog was a male called Horand von Grafrath, who was owned by ex-cavalry officer Max von Stephanitz.
Like the German Shepherd, the Belgian Malinois was bred to herd stock and is the only Belgian shepherd with a short coat. It is also one of the oldest breeds of Belgian shepherds and originated near Malines, Belgium. Its origins date back to the 13th century, yet it took till 1959 for the American Kennel Club to recognize the breed.

Which Dog is Best for Me?

Ultimately, the choice between a German Shepherd vs. Belgian Malinois comes down to personal preference. A Malinois dog may have a slightly longer lifespan and a slightly easier coat to take care of. However, these dogs may need slightly more training than a German Shepherd. At Scotts K9, we train both of these breeds as unbeatable protection dogs.

Not sure which breed of dog is best for you? Contact us and we’d be happy to help you decide which dog breed is best for you and your family’s lifestyle. We’d be happy to help you find the best Belgian Malinois for sale from our selection.