"Shepherd's and Malinois are alike in the fact that they are both Shepherd dogs, and operate with a high amount of drive. Malinois have far greater drives.They are very hyper and reactive dogs. For a trainer they are excellent. For a regular person, they are a nightmare.
The Malinois is the type of dog who learns fast when trained correctly, loves working and has a real don't stop attitude. But for a normal pet owner the Malinois is a burdensome dog, that has to be watched like a hawk 24/7 or it will destroy something, bite something, kill something or hurt itself.
German Shepherds are much calmer dogs, and not as reactive. They are still a trainers dream, just a different type of trainer. When stimuli is introduced the Malinois has to be reeled in, but you can rely without so much as glancing at a good German Shepherd to hold position.
The main difference is the drives the two breeds work out of. A working dog person wants a hard dog. A dog that can be corrected hard without losing too much drive, and keep working. These two breeds achieve this in two very different ways.
The Belgian Malinois take hard corrections out of prey drive. They will take whatever is dished out at them, pressure, corrections and even pain, so that they can get their reward.
German Shepherds take pressure and pain out of hardness of character, because they are not bothered by them. They want to dominate the bad guy. Their livable drive in day-to-day life is wonderful and they can be house dogs quite easily.
The main thing you want in a working dog is an animal who bites out of anger ..hatred even. A dog who can get mad and forges on with the will to cause pain to what causes him pain. Such dogs have true aggression, social and fight drive. They bite you because they don't like you and want to hurt you. They bite because they want to win, dominate and own you. Malinois bite because they like to bite. To them it's a game.
So if you don't care why a dog bites, as long as he bites, then the Malinois is the bitingest, driviest workaholic there is. But if you want an old-school, rough-and-tumble and ready to rumble, simply for the chance to kick some butt, then go with the German Shepherd.
German Shepherds are the combat marines of the dog world. They dig in and they hit hard and will die on the beach to get some.
Malinois are more like a tactical unit, light and fast. They don't dig in with a fight or die mentality. They just want to hit the objective, do damage and call it a day.
When done correctly breeding good, hard-working German Shepherds is simple, it just ain't easy. But if you pull show lines and sporting lines out of the picture and stick with the real working dogs, the German Shepherd is doing just fine. He is alive and well and is here to stay. He is a damn fine working dog and did a damn fine job before anybody outside of Belgium and Holland had ever seen or heard of a Malinois." - Unknown