Differences between a German Shepherd and a Belgian Shepherd and Malinois

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The differences between a German Shepherd and a Belgian Shepherd are more than evident for lovers of the breed, but not everyone sees them at first sight. Perhaps because both races are work dogs that are used at the service of the police, firemen, or armies around the world.

However, there are physical differences between a German Shepherd and a Belgian Shepherd, as well as behavior, health problems, and energy levels.

Characteristics of the Belgian Shepherd and Malinois

Regarding the Belgian Shepherd, there is a curiosity that not everyone knows. The Belgian Shepherd race consists in reality in four varieties of the race, which the United States considers four distinct races: malinois, tervueren, laekenois and groenendael. The first two, Belgian Shepherd Malinois and Belgian Shepherd Tervueren, are perhaps the easiest to confuse with a German Shepherd because of their physical characteristics.

From left to right: Belgian Shepherd malinois, laekenois, tervueren and groenendael

All Belgian shepherds, regardless of their variant, are generally healthy dogs that live between 12 and 16 years.

Belgian Shepherd malinois

The Belgian Shepherd malinois breed is characterized by having short hair. It is a very energetic dog that is normally used for work with explosives, as well as other police or military activities.

It is a little rough and moodier dog, which matures later (between 3 and 5 years). All this, together with his tremendous energy, make correct socialization and education very important.
The malinois is a protective dog, but not aggressive. However, he may be fierce with strangers.

Because of their energy and strength, it is not recommended to have them on artificial floors and special attention should be applied if there are children, especially if they are small, as they could hit them unintentionally. It is not a dog that likes to be alone.

The malinois has five standard colors: beige, saber beige, mahogany, red and saber red. The breed standard also accepts that it has a black mask.

Belgian Shepherd tervueren

The Belgian Shepherd tervueren has long hair and is a bit more independent than the malinois. The tervueren are also working dogs, which are used especially for tracking tasks.

The standard of the race allows two colors: beige and black, and mahogany and black.

Characteristics of the German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is a working dog that can adapt to a multitude of situations. They are agile and muscular, noble and with great intelligence.

It is a dog that is distinguished mainly by his character: brave, loyal, and able to learn different services (used for both police dog and assistance dog tasks). For all this, he has become one of the most popular and known races in the world, and appear on many series or movies (Rin Tin Tin, Rex, I am Legend, Super Agent K9).

The German Shepherd is an ideal dog for families and also as a guard dog. He gets along very well with children and other pets, and it is especially easy to educate.

Despite being family dogs, German Shepherds are "one man" (or women) dogs. They establish a special bond with their owner or primary caregiver, and do not like to spend time apart from him or her.

The standard of the race allows up to eleven different colors: two-color, black, black and cream, black and red, black and silver, black and toast, blue, gray, liver, saber and white.
German shepherds suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia, and their life expectancy ranges from 9 to 12 years.

Differences between a German Shepherd and a Belgian Shepherd


As their name indicates, the German Shepherd is original of Germany, whereas the Belgian shepherd is original of Belgium (this last one's varieties take the names of towns or Belgian cities).


  • The Belgian Shepherd females weigh between 20 and 25 kg and 25 and 30 kg if males.

  • The German Shepherd females weigh between 22 and 32kg and 30 and 40kg if males.

Physical characteristics

  • The German Shepherd has eleven standard colors of the breed, while the Belgian Shepherd has four variants, none of which presents more than five colors (the groenendael can only be black).

  • The German Shepherd has medium length hair, and the Belgian shepherd can have it short or long.

  • The Belgian Shepherd's head is narrower and the snout a little longer than the German shepherd.

  • The Belgian Shepherd is a healthier dog than the German Shepherd, which commonly suffer from hip or elbow dysplasia.


  • The German Shepherd is easier to train than the Belgian Shepherd and has a more balanced temper.

  • The Belgian Shepherd malinois is a little childish; he takes from 3 to 5 years to mature.

  • The German Shepherd is perfect for families with children, while the energy and the somewhat raw character of the Belgian Shepherd (especially the malinois), make it necessary to be cautious with him around children, especially if they are small.

  • The Belgian Shepherd malinois is more protective than the German Shepherd, although he is not aggressive.