Belgian Shepherds and German Shepherds are often mistaken for each other as they have a lot of similarities. However, there are also some differences between them.
For example the German Shepherd is heavier than the Belgian Shepherd. In addition the German Shepherd is easier to train.
By the way my name’s Irena and I live on the island of Crete with four crazy but lovable dogs.
Short Introduction: Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd
Belgian Shepherds as the name suggests were first developed in Belgium in the 19th century.
They were used mainly to guard farms as they make great watchdogs.
German Shepherds originated in Germany, also in the 19th century and were originally used as herding dogs. However they were later taken to work in war zones.
Overview of a Belgian Shepherd
Belgian Shepherds are clever dogs as well as being courageous and devoted to their family.
There are four varieties of this dog, the Belgian Sheepdog, the Belgian Tervuren, the Belgian Laekanois and the Belgian Malinois.
All come in different colors and coat types. They need firm owners to train them otherwise they will just do as they wish.
Once trained however, they can become excellent police dogs and they will also perform well in competitions. They are very energetic dogs and need to be exercised.
Overview of a German Shepherd
German Shepherds also originated in the 19th century but this time in Germany.
They are loyal dogs and they are easy to train which is why they are now used as military and sniffer dogs as well as being dogs for the blind.
They were the dogs of choice used in the rescue attempt in the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks. They have plenty of energy and need lots of exercise.
Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd: Which is Bigger?
These two dogs grow to about the same height which is 24 – 26 inches for the male and 22 – 24 inches for the female.
However, the German Shepherd is stockier than the Belgian Shepherd and can even get as big as 88 pounds.
Belgian Shepherds usually weigh around 65 pounds. Quite a difference for dogs of the same height.
Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd: Temperament: How do They Behave?
Belgian Shepherds are clever and observant dogs. However they can be shy, so early socialization with strangers is recommended.
Start training them as soon as you get them home, but don’t be heavy handed. If you are they can become uncooperative.
They are clever enough to become police and guard dogs, but they can also make great family pets as long as you challenge their minds.
They like to do things so teach them new tricks like fetching the paper or working their way through an obstacle course. They will love it.
They need exercise every day and companionship so you will need to spend time with these dogs otherwise they can become destructive.
They can be dominant with other dogs so early socialization is best. The same goes for cats.
German Shepherds have loads of energy and need plenty of exercise otherwise they will start barking and chewing.
If they are brought up with a family they make loving pets and socializing them with family friends makes them more adaptable to other people.
They’re not dogs to have if you work long hours as they can suffer from separation anxiety. Obedience classes are a good idea as they love to learn new things.
Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd Life Span: What’s Their Life Expectancy?
Both German Shepherds and Belgian Shepherds have reasonably long life spans seeing as they are quite large dogs and larger dogs tend not to live as long as smaller dogs.
The Belgian Shepherd has a life span of 13 – 14 years while the German Shepherd lives 10 – 14 years.
Of course there are exceptions to the rule and some can live longer.
Belgian Shepherds vs German Shepherds: Are They Prone to Health Conditions
Belgian Shepherds are generally healthy dogs.
There are some concerns however like epilepsy, skin allergies, eye problems and sometimes hip or elbow dysplasia which can lead to arthritis.
These dogs can become obese if you overfeed them so it is best not to give them too many treats or ‘table food’.
German Shepherds are also generally healthy dogs, but there are a few health conditions which they can suffer from.
Like Belgian Shepherds they can get hip and elbow dysplasia. They have a tendency to eat too quickly like my dogs and they are prone to getting bloat which can kill very quickly.
Another disease which they can suffer from is degenerative myelopathy and it’s serious. It can progress to the point where the dog can’t walk and then has to be put to sleep.
Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd: What do They Look Like?
Belgian Shepherds and German Shepherds do look alike and often people can’t tell the difference between them.
The Belgian Shepherd however is more squarely proportioned than a German Shepherd. However, they both have strong and well-muscled bodies.
They also both have long muzzles, triangular and erect ears and almond shaped eyes.
Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd: What Kind of Coat Do They Have?
The different types of Belgian Shepherd don’t all have the same coat. Belgian Sheepdogs have a black coat and long straight hair.
Belgian Tervurens are also long haired, but have a fawn and black coat. Belgian Laekenois are quite diferent in that they have a rough and wiry coat.
They are fawn and reddish in color. Belgian Malinois are usually tan or a darker brown with black tips to the hairs.
The most common color of German Shepherds is black and tan. However they do come in other colors like sable.
Sable German shepherds resemble grey wolves. You can get completely black German Shepherds, but there are also some that are bicolor.
These are black with a few bits of brown and tan on their feet, under their tails and on their faces.
Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd Grooming: How Much Do they Require?
German Shepherds and Belgian Shepherds don’t generally need a lot of grooming. They can just be brushed once a week although the long-haired types need more frequent brushing.
The long-haired variety are prone to matting and tangling so keep an eye on them otherwise they might end up having to go to a professional groomer to have the mattes cut off.
If you can’t face doing this yourself take them to a groomer.
Both breeds have a double coat and shed twice a year in the spring and in the fall so you will probably have to brush a little more during those seasons.
However, German Shepherds shed more heavily than Belgian Shepherds so there will be a lot more sweeping up with them. Still it’s worth it if you have a loving companion.
Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd – Can They be Trained Easily?
They only need to be bathed 3 or 4 times a year. Funnily enough the toenails of German Shepherds tend to grow very quickly so they need to have them clipped.
Belgian Shepherds are more difficult to train than German Shepherds.
You need to start when they are puppies and you have to be firm with them otherwise they won’t listen to you.
It is a good idea to take them to obedience classes from a young age. Don’t let them off the leash unless you are sure that they will come back.
German Shepherds on the other hand were bred to follow orders and are keen to excel. They look up to their family and want to please them.
They are very energetic dogs even as puppies so it is good to start training them early and giving them something to focus on. Go beyond the basic commands as the more they are taught the happier they will be.
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Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd: What do they Eat?
Both Belgian Shepherds and German Shepherds do well eating a good quality dry dog food which can be mixed with some wet food, water or broth.
German Shepherds particularly like beef, lamb, fish and chicken flavors and they also like cheese, carrots, peanut butter, yogurt and pizza crusts.
However, don’t give them too much cheese as it can lead to stomach upsets. Belgian Shepherds are partial to eggs, fruit, vegetables and cottage cheese.
Don’t just give them table food however as it can lead to nutritional deficiencies and obesity.
Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherds Family Dog: Are They Good With Children?
German Shepherds make great family pets. They love the energy most children have and are great playmates.
If their family is in danger they will do anything to protect them, even risking their own lives.
Belgian Shepherds on the other hand need to be socialized early with children for them to completely accept them.
Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd: Where are They Best Suited?
Belgian Shepherds and German Shepherds can both live in an apartment as long as they get enough exercise.
However, having a yard is an advantage as they will be able to play in addition to a long daily walk.
Both dogs suit hot and cold climates although the long haired varieties prefer a more temperate climate.
Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd Running Costs: Are They Expensive to Look After?
Belgian Shepherds and German Shepherds are reasonably expensive to look after as they are relatively large dogs.
You have to remember that they don’t only need food which can be expensive if you pick a better brand, but there are vet costs on top of this.
In addition to yearly vaccinations they will have to be sterilized in the first year. Then they will need toys, possibly a crate for toilet training purposes, a carrier and collar and leash.
Final Thoughts: Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd
Belgian Shepherds and German Shepherds may be different breeds but they have a lot of similarities, not least in their appearance.
They are both reasonably healthy dogs, are intelligent and need to be kept active.
However, German Shepherds are easier to train and make better family pets.
So which is better? They are both lovely dogs but I would probably go for German Shepherds because of their trainability.