The Belgian Malinois is an entirely different breed of dog than the German Shepherd, but they are sometimes thought to be the same because of their similar appearances. Malinois and German Shepherds have a number of differences: including origin, type of coat, potential colors and shedding habits.
The most fundamental difference between the two breeds is their origin, as each hails from the country in their name. While the two breeds sometimes look similar, there are subtle differences in their appearances. Malinois have a fine or wire coat, while German Shepherds have a medium coat. Both breeds can be black or tan and black in coloration, but Malinois can also be grey while German Shepherds can be white. Additionally, Malinois only shed seasonally, while a German Shepherd will shed continually throughout the year.
Belgian Malinois are almost exclusively bred as herding dogs, while German Shepherd breeds can be either herding or working dogs. German Shepherds have a slightly lower minimum life expectancy, but they have the same maximum life expectancy of 13 years. German Shepherds also have both a lower minimum and a higher maximum weight. Finally, while the dogs share a very similar general temperament, Belgian Malinois are not very inclined to be protective, while German Shepherds are not well-inclined to be responsive or independent.