What type of family / owner is best for this breed, the Belgian Malinois? Thanks.
Belgian Malinois are very similar to GSDs in almost every way. They are very hyper as pups and need consistent training. They need an experienced owner as these are smart dogs and will run circles round you if you let them.

They also make wonderful family dogs if brought up correctly.
As Sequeena said, experienced owners are preferable, i.e. owners who have already had a dog. They are best for the Malinois. Many newly minted owners are not ready for the high-intense nature of the dog. Everything that these dogs do, they make it to the maximum: working, playing or loving you. Malinois like to take part in all your affairs, so if you like jogging, walking, cycling, outdoor games or if you just like to spend time with the dog, the Malinois is for you.

However, if you're frequently held up at work, if you go away on business trips often, then this breed is definitely not a right choice.

I'd also add, they are more like a Border Collie in many respects, than a GSD. They are very very intense and highly-wired, needing a great deal of mental as well as physical exercise. This is why they do so well in Agility, Obedience and other dog sports. They need a huge amount of socialisation or they will be spooked by many things later in life, as they are naturally very suspicious of new things, situations and strangers. They are also rather superstitious... and their guarding side must never be encouraged in a family situation, as they have very long memories and if they decide something or someone is a threat it takes forever to persuade them otherwise.

Their innate chase/prey drive needs to be channelled into something early on, as with Border Collies. Choose carefully, as a working-line Mali may be far too much dog for a family! The show lines have more stable temperaments providing the breeder has been conscientious in this area, but all will be hyper live-wires and pretty demanding, so make sure you have the time to devote to training.

You cannot be heavy-handed in their training - they are sensitive & will not tolerate harsh punitive methods, though at the same time you must be totally committed and consistent or they will end up in charge of you.... They respect boundaries both mental and physical. If you are ever too harsh they will retaliate.... they don't tolerate fools gladly. Yet they are almost obsessively loyal to their owners and those they know as friends. Just never cross one of you will have an enemy for life. At the same time, they are very much people-dogs and don't do well as an outside yard dog, they need to be with their people and 'herd'.

But if you want a real performance dog with tons of character, a sense of humour, die-hard loyalty and a very eager brain, then not many other breeds come close. Oh and did I say they are also beautiful and pretty healthy too?

There's a saying about Belgian shepherd breeds: You'll either never have one again, or never own another breed! Emotion: smile
Thanks for your replies. Whow I didn't in fact realize that Malinois were like this. Merly I've never heard of that saying but I it sounds interesting. Hmm I guess I'll have to think slightly more before having a dog like this but if I ever happen to own one, I'll do my best to give it enough attention and training!
Just to tag onto what everyone else is saying, my wife and I are not young and not real active, but we own 2 acres that we are always messing with. These two dogs (Malinois) are constant companions no matter where we go they are on my heels. Truth be told, they both are about half grown now and still love to get in my lap and are very affectionate with both of us !!!

The instinct to protect is amazing to say the least. They are on constant guard duty for me. We even jokingly refer to our female as the "head of security".

They are most certainly NOT appartment dogs or small yard dogs. They love to run at full speed and romp and play.