Belgian Malinois vs German Shepherd

Reviewed By Kyoko •  Updated: 03/22/21 •  5 min read
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There are two big dog breeds that are often confused with each other. These are the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd. Indeed, they can have a similar appearance when it comes to their size, coat color and shape. They have also been used as working dogs in the same ways, such as for herding and police work. But there are also many differences between these two wonderful breeds.

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If you want to add a pooch to your household, it is important that you know the difference between the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd. For many years, the German Shepherd has been a popular family pet and working dog, earning the second-best dog breed by the American Kennel Club. Recently, the Belgian Malinois has also become popular and more people are intrigued by this pooch. They are both fantastic canines to have in your home but they also have different needs. Let’s take a look at how these two breeds are different.

The Size

You will notice that there is a size difference between the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd. Typically, you will find that the Belgian Malinois is smaller and lighter. The males are around 60 to 80 pounds while the females are normally lighter at around 40 to 60 pounds. When you look at this canine, they will look smaller in their shape. This is compared to the German Shepherd that can weigh between 65 to 90 pounds if they are male and between 50 to 70 pounds if theyare female.

The Color

At first glance, the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd are mistaken for each other. This is often due to the color of their coat. But once you look closer, you can see that they are actually different. For instance, take a look at the Belgian Malinois. They are short-haired pooches and they tend to be lighter fawn color than the German Shepherd, as well as having a black overlay and black on the face. Of course, the German Shepherd also has black features but they can have a dark coat that is described as tan.

The Coat Texture

The German Shepherd does require more grooming than the Belgian Malinois. They have long fur and they are heavy shedders. In other words, they are going to lose fur throughout the year and it can get all over your home. In particular, they are going to be shedding a lot during the Spring and Fall. Therefore, you should be prepared for a lot of grooming when you adopt a German Shepherd. They will need to be brushed nearly every day in order to help with shedding. You are definitely going to need a vacuum too.

On the other hand, the Belgian Malinois is easy to take care of. They have a short coat, which needs to be brushed only once or twice a week. They are still going to shed some hair during the day. In particular, this can be noticeable around the Spring and Fall months. But they are typically lighter shedders than the German Shepherd.

Neither the German Shepherd or the Belgian Malinois require a lot of bathing. If you bathe your canine too often, this can mean that they lose natural oils from their fur. So, reserve the bath for when your furry friend is very dirty and smelly.

The Activity Levels

It is important to remember that the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd are both working breeds. This means that they have high energy levels and they are used to having a job to do. Neither canine is going to be good for an owner looking for a lazy lap dog. But if you are searching for a pup that is going to join you on outdoor adventures, both of these breeds are going to be perfect. They will happily join you on runs, hiking and outdoor exploration. In fact, this has to be a part of their daily routine as high-energy dogs.

One thing to realize is that the Belgian Malinois has more energy than the German Shepherd. Therefore, while the German Shepherd will relax during the day and be calmer in the home after they have been active, the Belgian Malinois is more likely to play and find ways to entertain themselves. They do not like to lie around and nap during the day. Instead, they will prefer to run in the yard, dig and play with toys. They also have a stronger prey drive, which means that they are likely going to be unable to live with other animals in the house.

What’s more, the Belgian Malinois is known to be more athletic. They are faster and able to jump higher than the German Shepherd. This can make them a good dog for agility and sports, as well as working.

The Temperament

The Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd are used as working dogs not only because they have a lot of energy. They are also intelligent and know how to adapt to different circumstances. This is exactly what the Belgian Malinois is becoming popular as a police dog and the German Shepherd continues to be used in the military and as a search and rescue dog. Therefore, both of these pooches are intelligent and they are going to be quick learners. With the right owner, they can be trained quickly and without a lot of effort. In particular, there are owners that argue the Belgian Malinois is easier to train since they are more active and curious.

In addition, both of these breeds are known for being loyal and devoted to their humans. So, you can enjoy having a loving canine in your household who is going to thrive with attention and training from their owner. However, it is important to note that both dogs do not respond well to harsh training methods. In particular, the Belgian Malinois is a very sensitive dog. Therefore, you should be firm with your training but use positive reinforcement at all times.

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Kyoko is from a family of 3 and moved to New York with her parents and siblings when she was 13. Kyoko is fond of spending a great amount of time with pets, specifically her beagle Luna and cat Missy. Her boyfriend often complains that she spends too much time giving attention to their animals. Kyoko has written dozens of articles concerning pets and is aiming at owning a pet shop one day!

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