Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd: 5 Key Differences

Written by August Buck
Published: April 24, 2022
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Beautiful and hard working, there are a lot of similarities between the Belgian shepherd vs German shepherd. While both of these dog breeds value working for their owners in a variety of jobs, there are a great deal of differences between them as well. But what might some of these differences be, and how can you learn how to tell them apart?

In this article, we will address all of the differences and similarities between the Belgian shepherd and the German shepherd so that you can gain a true understanding of both breeds. We will discuss their physical appearances, their ancestry, and their behaviors in comparison to one another. Let’s get started and learn all about these two fantastic shepherd dogs now!

Comparing Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd

Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd
The German shepherd is larger in both height and weight compared to the Belgian shepherd.

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Belgian ShepherdGerman Shepherd
Size21-26 inches tall; 40-75 pounds22-27 inches tall; 75-90 pounds
AppearanceLong black or gray fur in a silky appearance; large erect ears and fluffy face and tail. Wolf like eyes, nose, and pawsBlack, white, and brown coat in a coarse and thick appearance; erect and alert ears with long snout and huge paws. Tail is bushy and long, to match their thick coat. 
AncestryBred in Belgium for herding and workplace activities; colloquially known as a sheepdogOriginated in Germany for herding and workplace activities such as police and service work.
BehaviorExtremely friendly, eager to please, and high energy. Needs a large and secure yard to roam in, as well as consistent socialization and trainingIndependent and aloof, but incredibly loyal and intelligent; sheds often and may be prone to bouts of separation anxiety. Eager to work and learn a variety of tasks.
Lifespan11-15 years10-14 years

Key Differences Between Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd

Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd
The coat of the Belgian shepherd is longer and darker than the coat of the German shepherd.

©Dmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock.com

There are many key differences between the Belgian shepherd and the German shepherd. The German shepherd is larger in both height and weight compared to the Belgian shepherd. The coat of the Belgian shepherd is longer and darker than the coat of the German shepherd. Finally, the German shepherd and the Belgian shepherd originated in different areas, as their namesakes suggest.

Let’s take a closer look at all of these differences now.

Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd: Size

Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd
The German shepherd and the Belgian shepherd originated in different areas, as their namesakes suggest.

©icemanphotos/Shutterstock.com

One thing to note when taking a first look at the Belgian shepherd and the German shepherd is their size differences. For example, the German shepherd is larger than the Belgian shepherd, in both height and weight. But by how much? Let’s take a closer look at the appearances of both of these dogs now.

The average Belgian shepherd only reaches 21-26 inches tall, while the German shepherd grows 22-27 inches tall, making them one inch taller on average. Additionally, the German shepherd weighs anywhere from 75-90 pounds, while the Belgian shepherd weighs 40-75 pounds depending on gender.

Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd: Appearance

Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd
The German shepherd weighs anywhere from 75-90 pounds, while the Belgian shepherd weighs 40-75 pounds depending on gender.

©Barat Roland/Shutterstock.com

There are some additional differences in the appearance of the Belgian shepherd vs the appearance of the German shepherd. For example, the German shepherd has a distinct brown and black patterned coat, while the Belgian shepherd only comes in a jet black appearance. Additionally, the fur of the Belgian shepherd is much longer and more silky compared to the coarse fur of the German shepherd.

Both of these dog breeds have erect ears and long snouts, though the nose of the Belgian shepherd is wider than the nose of the German shepherd. Finally, the Belgian shepherd’s fur hangs off of its chin and face, while the German shepherd has shorter fur throughout their body in comparison.

Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd: Ancestry and Breeding

Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd
Both of these dog breeds have erect ears and long snouts, though the nose of the Belgian shepherd is wider than the nose of the German shepherd.

©Serova_Ekaterina/Shutterstock.com

Both the Belgian shepherd and the German shepherd were bred for identical purposes, just in different regions of the world. For example, the German shepherd was bred in Germany, while the Belgian shepherd was bred in Belgium. However, they were both bred for herding and other jobs, such as police and fire work, making them eager and intelligent companions for a variety of activities.

Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd: Behavior

Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd
Overall, the Belgian shepherd is more friendly and welcoming compared to the aloof German shepherd.

©dezy/Shutterstock.com

Given the ancestral background of both of these dogs, you may be wondering what the behavioral differences are between the Belgian shepherd and the German shepherd. Overall, the Belgian shepherd is more friendly and welcoming compared to the aloof German shepherd. Both breeds make fantastic guard dogs, though the German shepherd is more wary of strangers compared to the Belgian shepherd.

While both of these dogs enjoy training and are quite eager to please, the German shepherd is a more laid back breed compared to the energetic Belgian shepherd. If you are interested in adopting either of these two dog breeds, note that the Belgian shepherd is highly active and more of an escape artist compared to the calmer German shepherd. However, both need ample exercise in order to avoid anxiety or destructive behaviors!

Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd: Lifespan

Belgian Shepherd vs German Shepherd
The German shepherd lives a slightly shorter life on average compared to the Belgian shepherd, though this is likely due to the size of both dogs.

©Erik Lam/Shutterstock.com

A final difference between the German shepherd and the Belgian shepherd is their lifespans. The German shepherd lives a slightly shorter life on average compared to the Belgian shepherd, though this is likely due to the size of both dogs. Let’s take a closer look at these figures in more detail now.

The Belgian shepherd lives anywhere from 11-15 years, while the German shepherd lives anywhere from 10-14 years. However, it all depends on the health and care of the individual dog. Feeding your shepherd a well balanced diet and ensuring that they get plenty of exercise is key to a long and healthy life!

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German Shepherds will assertively stand their ground and are suited to be either watchdog or guardian, whichever the situation demands.
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About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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