Belgian Malinois vs. German Shepherd

Know the difference between a Malionois and German Shepherd? Can’t decide what makes the better pet? Read on for a full comparison…

Some consider the Belgian Malinois and the German shepherd dogs to be variations of each other. Others recognize them as two separate breeds. On careful observation one can identify a host of similarities between the two but at the same times there are many respects in which they differ.


Both the Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd are part of the sheepdog family. They have had a long and strong association with human beings helping them to herd sheep on the hilly pastures of Europe. In recent years both these breeds have also been introduced into the police forces and security agencies of many European countries including Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Many home owners also make use of the German shepherds and the Belgian Malinois as guard dogs for their homes. Hence we see that with regards to their purpose both these breeds have occupied a similar position with human beings.

The Belgian Malinois and the German Shepherd make it to the top ten list of the most popular breeds in the world. On first appearance both of them actually seem quite familiar. In terms of their character both of them display a high level of confidence, intelligence, loyalty and alertness which is why they serve as excellent guard dogs.

Both these kinds of dogs like to keep busy with a job that they are given to do. Shyness and aggressiveness are not part of their nature. They are renowned for their intelligence and sense of alertness.


The German Shepherd is categorized as a large sized dog whereas the Belgian Malinois is a medium sized dog. People generally have a misconception that the Malinois is more aggressive than the German Shepherd. In truth however this is not the case at all.


The Belgian malinois is however a lot quicker on its feet than the German shepherd and has an unlimited amount of energy and agility when compared to its distant cousin. This is why it is often being chosen over the German shepherd as a military and police dog.


When it comes to training the Belgian Malinois is much more easy to control than the German Shepherd. Although both these dogs are known to be loyal, once you win over the respect of the Belgian Malinois things will get a lot easier.

The Belgian Malinois has also been observed to be a lot more curious than the German Shepherd. It loves to work but it can’t survive with not having to do anything for a long time. This could make it a little difficult to manage especially for amateurs whereas the German Shepherd makes things easier for their master.

The Belgian Malinois also stands in need of constant socialization. They would much rather prefer to be with the family or other dogs than alone in a cage. The German Shepherd however is fine as long as it keeps getting its daily meals. The Belgian on the other hand performs his duties to perfection out of respect for its master.

If you’re interested in seeing a pretty cool info graphic comparing the Malinois & Shepherd click here.

Belgian Malinois guard dog

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Amelia says:

I think what people forget when they read this is that all dogs of a certain breed can have different personalities. I’ve known some GSDs that were crazy and excitable, and others that were really laid back and kind of aloof. I have a Mal who is super gentle with our 2 y.o. and spends all day just laying around as long as he gets about an hour to run around during the day. Both breeds are great and can be adjusted to live in different circumstances.

zak says:

This article is rubbish. German shepherds are much more intelligent and easier to train, and they certainly do need a lot of attention and exercise. The truth is that they both are excellent dogs but GSD are eager to please their owner while Mals are eager to please themselves.

lyes says:

hi i have a have a 1 year old female malinoi and she is great as she is my dog i spent a lot of time with here as she was young and now she is loyal and very easssy to control and very loyal but very scared of people so agressive iv never had a german sheapherd but i know a lot of people that have them and they seam like very nice dogs and rather similar to the malinoi im actually planning on buying one but a pure bread as there are to many mixtures of the german shepher the wait to know is if the back legs a low that is a pure bread the malinoi cant have to many owner like a hole familie not like my to labradors it needs on owner to camand it and gove it tasks it doesnt obey to to uther people but thet are very afectionat dogs my cries if she cant sleep in room if you are planning on getting one i would totally advise it its a good perchas and you will not be disapouinted
hope this helped

Maddy says:

I had German Shepherds years ago and now own a Mal. My Mal is crazy smart and fast on his feet. He was a nightmare as a pup as they are like furry piranhas.. the mouthies dogs I have ever seen. Now at a year he is amazing. What a character.. you can teach him anything in minutes. He’s great with the kids and very friendly with people and dogs (if I introduce them to him). He is so protective but as soon as I give the word he stops. I can’t imagine owning anything else.. anything else would be just a dog haha.. Love my mal. I like German Shepherds too but I will never own another one.

Cristy Vandenhende says:

Our German Shepherd Mattie: 6 years old… had her for 6 years.

IF she, for whatever reason senses that someone is a threat…SHE WILL go jump on them bark and scare them without warning OR command!

LUCKILY we haven’t had to face a REAL threat yet. She has NEVER bitten a person or dog!

Even though we have trained her to be particularly NICE and NOT defensive (she will not just go attack someone just cuz.) She will NOT kill a cat or small animal. She plays with and playfully chases our cats. She has had our kitten’s head IN her entire mouth and not hurt them.
( I can’t stand people who train their dogs to attack /kill people or animals smaller than they are, just because they can.)

Anyway my point is she doesn’t think a whole LOT about it. She makes a decision in a split-second. BUT…will ONLY chase a person or dog IF she views them as a threat. Which has only been a handful of times in 6 years. One of those times it was a coyote that was about 30 feet from me! She saw him in a nano-second…and POOF she was doing 90 down the street chasing him…..(it was a rural area, and the coyote was in our front yard.) She had every right to do it.
Now, we live in a Rural-Urban area and for all of these reasons, we keep a close eye on her and keep her in yard now. (she has a GIANT, fenced yard).

Here is another for instance….I am walking her with a good dog halter on her and a strong lead rope. We are on a trail right behind my house. We are not on private property! Everything is fine. Suddenly, 2 VERY AGGRESSIVE dogs came just tearing up to someone’s backyard fence. She was SO aggressive with them it was scary. I was so glad they were behind a fence. Not saying she would have won that fight either!! Just glad the fight didn’t have to happen. I have never seen her so pissed at another dog. She just knows when she feels threatened….and these dogs snuck up on us!!! The only time I can’t control her is when she is right.

She hasn’t been wrong yet!!

But I also saw her be pretty kind to a Retriever that was outside the fence, barking VERY aggressively 2 inches from her face. She did bark back and got right in his face, but NOTHING like the dogs on the trail. Some kind of dog code or something.

Having said all that. I don’t recommend an aggressive breed to someone who has never owned an aggressive or partially aggressive (Mattie) dog. If you have never had a German Shepherd DON’T try one out on your family. Our experience has been like the movie Marlie. Only the (sometimes wants to rip someone’s head off) Marlie.

We learned by trial and error and now I realize we are lucky. But we also are kind people, so I think that helps. I treat people like I would want to be treated.

Mark says:

Malinois are a breed few people know about because they are a specialized breed. Great for police and military work, some sports and their story ends. The German Shepherd is known by all around the world because of their unbelievable versatility. It is no secret that the American GSD has been ruined by the show ring yet the Czech, DDR, and German (working lines) German Shepherd dogs have remained true to the breed. The German Shepherd is a thinking dog that has drive, a Malinois is all drive and thinks about it later. You can keep your “Dragster”race dog Malinois and I’ll keep my 4×4 SUV German Shepherd…It will take me more places in life.

JR says:

Having owned Malinois’ for 18 years, there is a reason they are called Malinuts and Maligators. I would NOT recommend them as pets. They are phenomenal working dogs and I would have no other as a partner but without constant work, they can get destructive or aggressive.

Personally I think German Shepherds make awesome pets and most are great with children. They are number three on the list of intelligence.

Malinois are purely for working and most are not good with children or small pets; THE most STUBBORN of breeds, over the roof PREY drive and number 22 on the list of intelligence (probably because of their stubbornness :)

But Malinut or not, I would have NO other dog for my K9 partner.

RIP K9 Jake and K9 Hunter

Cristy Vandenhende says:

I read this comparison: German Shepherd vs. Belgian Malinois. The Belgian Malinois seems like a very cool dog breed. They are bad-ass. So is the German Shepherd (if they have the right owner!!) I learned through trial and error and an intense love for animals.

The only problem with the ariticle is that German Shepherds DO need to have a job, or a LOT of attention. Preferably a job. For instance, I noticed my German Shepherd made her own job. She “guards” my horses. There are only 2 horses, but I have observed her running outside many times a day and finding and trying to herd the horses. After she figured out they can hurt her, she started “herding” them outside the fence. If she can’t do this for some reason she gets all upset. Also, when she is getting less attention she gets depressed looking.

German Shepherds are absolutely NOT OK IN A CAGE AT ALL!! They would go crazy in a cage.

* You can crate any dog for SHORT periods, meaning a few hours under the right conditions. Like when traveling, so they don’t bounce all over the car. While crating, you should let the dog OUT of the crate often for stretching, water, etc….But NO dog should be CAGED OR PUT ON A SHORT LEAD FOR LONG.

Don’t get a dog if you aren’t ready to commit to and understand them. We did it the hard way. If I ever get a different breed I will read up beforehand.

Cristy Vandenhende

Mike says:

Wow…what a bunch of misinformation. The “information” about German Shepherds is utterly ill informed. As someone who has one, and has been around them for a long time, I can tell you they are not “content” with being fed their meals everyday…haha. All dogs have their personality, no matter what breed..however most German Shepherds are unbelievable energetic, and curious. Mine hates being in a cage, and sticks to me like velcro. She is much more interested with exploring, than she is with food. She has wild energy but is very intelligent and was not difficult to train. She is so loyal and attentative to me, that I walk her freely 100% without a leash and she listens to my every command no matter the distrations present. I hike with her in the woods where she runs free and always looks back to see if I am keeping up, and will wait for me before continuing. She does this without any instruction from me. She can be in a dead sleep, and I can shout “come on!” and she will be up and ready to follow me anywhere before I can move a muscle. She is a truly amazing animal, and I’ve seen countless Shepherds just like her. Malinois and Shepherds are very closely related in general in terms of characteristics. Size is the biggest difference. This article does a serious misjustice to the breed. Don’t listen to this garbage.

Jerry says:

I have to agree with Mike. Our last two Shepherds are as described above. Spot on.

We recently lost our last Shepherd and are looking into the Malinois breed for our next dog.

Sarah says:

It’s important to note that the German y shepherd most people own is an Americanized watered down version. True german blood shepherds are thousands of dollars and hard to come by. The American version is not as hardy. It’s a shame what’s been done to this breed.

houdini says:

ok. whatever. :p Belgian Malinois is so far the best guard dog. .

Penny says:

Both of my pure bred German Shepherd Dogs were not just content to be “fed their daily meals” and be satisfied. They required mental as well as physical activity. Please do not debase this incredible breed with such rubbish, though I do admire the Belgian Malinois as well.

jason cruise says:

too biased….

Mark Penny says:

Please note that the German Shepherd Dog was created by mixing the 4 types of Belgian Shepherd and some other breeds. So they are separate breeds with the Malinois existing first.