The Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd have a very similar appearance making it hard for some people to tell the difference. They are close in size with comparable coloring. Both of these herding dogs are hard working and eager to please. The German Shepherd is highly popular among families and law enforcement. The Belgian Malinois is less known but extremely intelligent and utilized by the police as well. So what is the difference between the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd?
The main difference between Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd is their appearance and size. The Belgian Malinois has more of a short solid fawn color coat. The German Shepherd has a fluffier medium length coat that is normally two tone black and tan. The Belgian Malinois is a tad bit smaller averaging around 10 pounds less in weight. They also have more of a square shape and triangular ears.
Belgian Malinois Info:
The Belgian Malinois originates from the Malines region of Belgium.
The breed was first acknowledged by Professor Adolphe Reul.
It was one of four different variations of Belgium Shepherd Dogs used for herding livestock in the late 1800’s.
Over time, the breed transitioned from its herding lifestyle to police work. This was mainly due to a decline in the agricultural need for livestock dogs. They excelled as police dogs and eventually made their way to the states as early as 1908.
Belgian Malinois officially became a fully recognized breed by the American Kennel Club in 1959. Since then they have remained active on the force. They are used to track down criminals, sniff out bombs or drugs and search and rescue survivors after catastrophic events.
German Shepherd Info:
The German Shepherd originates from Germany and was developed by Captain Max Von Stephanitz in the 1800’s.
Similar to the Belgian Malinois, this breed was also used for herding sheep.
Like their cohort, they would eventually become more widely used as police dogs as the need for herding dogs declined.
Today they are one of the most popular breeds around. Their personality is infectious and their big fluffy coats and erect ears make them hard to resist.
They are super intelligent and have a knack for learning commands. This makes them a top choice for the military and police. German Shepherds excel in many fields including the sport of Schutzhund Training. They are extremely loyal and will defend and protect their family with vigor.
How Big Does Each Breed Get?
This is one of the main differences between a Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd. Both are medium size dogs and close to the same height. Males are 24-26″ tall at the shoulders and females are 22-24″ tall. But the German Shepherd is a little bit bigger normally outweighing the Mal by about 10 pounds.
The male Belgian Malinois weighs between 60 and 80 pounds while the female weighs between 40 and 60 pounds. In contrast, the male German Shepherd weighs between 65 and 90 pounds while the female weighs between 50 and 70 pounds.
Overall the GSD looks slightly bigger than the Mal. The German Shepherd’s longer coat adds to the size discrepancy. They have a much more full look.
Each Breeds Appearance
The Belgian Malinois coat color is probably the first giveaway that it is not a GSD. The most common is a solid rich fawn color with the black mask covering their face. This includes accents on the ears, eyes, mouth, nose and tips of the hairs.
The other four standard colors are Fawn Sable, Mahogany, Red and Red Sable. They have a smooth coat that is shorter than the GSD’s. Also their ears resemble more of a triangle than a German Shepherd’s.
The traditional German Shepherd coat is medium in length and black and tan in color. Other colors include bi-color, black, black and cream, black and red, black and silver, blue, gray, liver, sable and white.
Which Breed Has More Health Problems?
German Shepherds have more health problems overall compared to Belgian Malinois. While both dogs can be prone to elbow and hip dysplasia, GSD’s can also develop conditions including Degenerative Myelopathy, Gastric Dilation and Skin Issues.
Belgian Malinois on the other hand are a bit healthier. They live on average around one year longer than German Shepherds with a lifespan of 10-14 years. On top of joint dysplasia, Mals can suffer from Anesthesia Sensitivity and Progressive Retinal Atrophy.
Which Breed Cost More?
The two breeds are similar in price. Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd puppies for standard pets range between $500 and $1500. This is the average price for a family looking to own one of these precious pups.
In contrast, a well trained adult guard dog of either breed can reach upwards of $50,000-$100,000. In 2015, a German Shepherd named Julia was sold by Harrison K-9 for a whopping $230,000. This particular dog could speak three languages.
Belgian Malinois Vs. German Shepherd, Which One Should You Get?
Want to know which of these two breeds is right for you? Each breed has its pros and cons but both make wonderful family pets. Aside from their appearance and size difference, they both have some subtle and unique distinctions that separate the two canines.
Reasons to get a Belgian Malinois:
There is a reason you rarely see this breed as a family pet. They are more suited for experienced owners and can normally be found working with the military or police. You should only considering owning one of these dogs if you can provide the appropriate amount of time and effort necessary to keep them busy.
While extremely smart and highly trainable dogs, Mals are super intense and can get rough during play. This makes them less ideal for families, especially with small children. For this reason, they aren’t ranked very high as a family dog.
Reasons to get a German Shepherd:
Subsequently German Shepherds make great family pets. They are currently the third most popular dog breed ranked by the American Kennel Club. GSD’s possess the wit and trainability of the Belgian Malinois with a bit more calm demeanor. They still require ample exercise but don’t quite need the amount of attention and dedication Mals do.
GSD’s are beautiful animals that excel in many different areas. They can help you do chores around the house and they are great with children. They are instinctively protective and completely loyal to their owner and family. This breed is commonly used as a guard dog and can compete in multiple sports including Rally Obedience or Dog Shows.
Hopefully this gave you some good insight into the main difference between the Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd. For families, the GSD is a good choice. The Mal is better suited as a watch dog for experienced owners. If you are looking to adopt one of these breeds, you can check your local shelter or contact a local breeder. You can also visit AdoptAPet.com or PuppyFind.com.
Looking for more dogs that are similar to GSD’s? Check out these German Shepherd look alike dog breeds!
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Have you ever been the owner of a Belgian Malinois or German Shepherd? Let us know! We would love to hear about your dog’s story!