Miniature Australian Shepherd

About Miniature Australian Shepherd

Weight:
17-30 lb
Lifespan:
12-15 years
Group:
AKC Foundation Stock Service
Best Suited For:
Families with children, active singles and seniors, houses with yards
Temperament:
Intelligent, active, friendly, social
Comparable Breeds:
Australian Shepherd, Border Collie
Height:
14-18 inches
Miniature Australian Shepherd Basics


Sometimes you want an athletic working dog that isn’t big enough to qualify as a roommate. Thankfully, they are widely available. So, if you are looking for a small and compact dog with the strong work ethic of a much larger breed, consider the Miniature Australian Shepherd. This breed is a smaller form of the Australian Shepherd that is rapidly increasing in popularity. So, you’ll get everything that you could possibly want out of an Australian Shepard, without having to sacrifice the space that you’d need for that big boy. Owing to the place of origin, these dogs are recognized by the AKC under the name Miniature American Shepherd.


Not only are Miniature Australian Shepherds small in size, but these dogs are incredibly intelligent and easy to train. It may sound too good to be true, but trust us – these dogs are truly fabulous! They really live up to all that hype. Miniature Australian Shepherds can be trained for a wide variety of dog sports including agility, herding, obedience, disc dog, fly ball, and many more, as they excel in them just as the original Australian Shepherd dog does. If you are on the lookout for a smart, trainable, and family friendly dog, look no further than the Miniature Australian Shepherd. This breed will provide everything that you are looking for. And then some!


Not only is the Miniature Australian Shepherd small in size, but these dogs are incredibly intelligent and easy to train.


Origin


The Miniature Australian Shepherd is a fairly new breed. Believe it or not, this breed was actually developed in 1968. Back then, Doris Cordova of Norco, California began a breeding program with the dream of developing a smaller version of the Australian Shepherd. By using small Australian Shepherds, Cordova and a handful of other breeders were successful in creating a miniature version of the Australian Shepherd. Yet, throughout the short history of the breed, there has been a great deal of controversy. The National Stock Dog Registry (NSDR) considered the Miniature Australian Shepherd a size variant of the Australian Shepherd, while the Australian Shepherd Club of America considered it an entirely separate breed. For many years, it was impossible to get these two organizations on the same page. Both the AKC and the UKC grouped the Miniature Australian Shepherd and the Australian Shepherd together. Things finally changed in 2011. That’s when the AKC at long last admitted the Miniature Australian Shepherd to the Foundation Stock Service (under the name Miniature American Shepherd). Then in 2015, they granted full recognition to the breed. It took a while, but it happened. Still, no matter how you look at it, the Miniature Australian Shepherd is a truly wonderful dog, whether they consider it a new breed or not.


Pedigree

The Miniature Australian Shepherd was bred from small specimens of the Australian Shepherd breed starting in 1968. The current Miniature Australian Shepherd is a mirror image of the Australian Shepherd, just in a smaller size. Simple as that. Certain size parameters need to be followed in order for the breed to fit its description, however. It can be a thin line between an average sized Australian Shepherd, and its miniature counterpart. Here, the details are everything.


Common Health Problems


Because the Miniature Australian Shepherd is not genetically different from the Australian Shepherd (except for its size), it is prone to the same conditions. Some of the most common conditions affecting this breed include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, cataracts, epilepsy, collie eye abnormality, and spinal defects. In many cases, health problems are related to the genes that are responsible for the common merle coloration in this breed – particularly hearing and vision-related conditions. Another example is hip dysplasia, an inherited condition that has no cure. The genes are to blame here, just like many other issues that can potentially affect these dogs.


Food/Diet


As always, to make sure that your new pet stays happy and healthy in your care, you should provide the pup with a well-balanced diet. Predictably, the Miniature Australian Shepherd does well on a high-quality dry dog food diet. Kibble meets their nutritional needs and obviously it’s a rather convenient option (both in terms of serving and availability). However, not just any kibble will do. You will need to pick out a premium brand that offers the right blend for the unique requirements of a dog like the Miniature Australian Shepherd. This means dry food suitable for their age (puppy, adult, senior), size (small, obviously), and activity level (a small breed that’s also quite active).


To tick off all the boxes from this list, the kibble must have a high percentage of meat-based protein, followed by healthy fats and other important nutrients that will give them “fuel” but ensure that they stay lean. If you have trouble finding a brand of kibble that meets your Miniature Australian Shepard’s needs, then it’s always wise to consult with your vet. After all, every dog is different. Even if they seem to match the requirements on a package of kibble, there might be some unseen variable that changes things. Your vet will have a better sense of what your specific dog requires than any kibble manufacturer.


As a dog with a small stature but “big dog needs”, the Miniature Australian Shepherd will often have a voracious appetite. However, they are also prone to obesity so make sure that the nutritionally-dense food you’re giving them is well spent through exercise. Otherwise, your compact companion could quickly become overweight and suffer from health issues that come with it. Smaller dogs need to stay in shape because any weight related health issues can hit them quickly. So it’s always wise to keep your little pup active to ensure that they stay healthy and happy. As an added bonus, it should help keep you happy and healthy as well.


When this breed is considered, it is important to consider their agility and high energy levels. Their diet will need to go hand-in-hand with the energy they spend. High quality healthy food is important for recharging those “batteries”. Don’t make the mistake of neglecting your dog’s diet. Obesity and health issues can be one step away.


The Miniature Australian Shepherd is an incredibly intelligent breed and is eager to learn.


Training


The Miniature Australian Shepherd is an incredibly intelligent breed and one that is always eager to learn. These dogs can be trained for a variety of dog sports including agility, obedience, herding, fly ball, disc dog, and so much more. A lot of this comes from the inherent traits of the Australian Shepherd. These dogs have always been known as master sheep herders that would react swiftly to every command from their owner. And even though your mini-shepherd might not herd sheep, they’ll still be eager to obey commands, to run, and do tricks.The key is to start training early and to maintain a firm, consistent hand throughout the process. The most effective strategy for training Miniature Australian Shepherd (or any dog, to be honest) is to use positive reinforcement tactics. Motivate your pet by rewarding their success with treats and excited praise. No pooch can be immune to that!


Also, this breed wants to please their owners, so it will only contribute to the efficiency of this training method. On the other hand, aversive training is not only inefficient but cruel for the dog, too. Being harsh, yelling and punishing your dog won’t get you anywhere. Negative reinforcement and harsh training methods are thankfully a thing of the past. That’s abuse, not training. No dog should ever have to suffer through that process.


As with any pup, it’s always a good idea to start early with any training and socialization. Even when they’re just puppies, these smart dogs learn quickly and see training as just another source of the fun times that they get to spend with their proud owners. Start with the basics such as walking on a leash and potty training before moving on to the more “complex” stuff, like teaching commands or training for dog sports. Baby steps, people. Eventually, you’ll get to any trick or sport that you have in mind. Your Miniature Australian Shepherd will love it, just take your time and be patient if you want to see the best possible results.


Some owners will say that the Miniature Australian Shepherd is more difficult to housebreak and train than its larger counterpart, but maintaining authority over the dog will go a long way to simplifying the process. These dogs require plenty of mental and physical stimulation to prevent the development of unwanted behaviors. As a breed, they can be prone to separation anxiety as they grow very close to their families. To prevent this, teach your pet to feel safe when home alone, and crate train them on time. Otherwise, their natural sense loyalty and love for their humans will turn into something sad and destructive.


Weight


The average weight of the Miniature Australian Shepherd is between 17 and 30 lbs. Their compact size makes them a perfect pet for anyone living in an apartment, provided that you still give them the activity and exercise that they need to live long and healthy lives. Remember that even though they are smaller than their parent breed, they need the time outside. Sure, they’re great for an apartment – just don’t leave the cooped up there for long!


Temperament/Behavior

The Miniature Australian Shepherd is a friendly and active breed that loves to play. These dogs are loyal and affectionate and they get along well with active children and families. Miniature Australian Shepherds are attentive and somewhat protective but, overall, they aim to please. These dogs have a great deal of mental and physical energy so they require plenty of daily exercise and mental stimulation to prevent the development of any sort of problematic behavior. Owing to their compact size, people often forget that they have the same needs and drives as their larger shepherd cousins. Don’t neglect their activity requirements if you want your pet to be happy and well-behaved. Provide plenty of exercise and engage their bright minds with puzzle toys and interactive playtime. Regular playtime goes a long way to ensure that these pups live long and happy lives as part of your family.


These dogs are also social and love to spend time with family, so if they are left alone too often for long periods of time, they may develop separation anxiety. When combined with their energy levels, this separation anxiety can result in a lot of destroyed furniture and nasty surprises. Miniature Australian Shepherds also tend to be apprehensive around strangers, but they are generally not aggressive with people. So socializing them early in their development is a wise idea.


Life Expectancy


The average life expectancy of the Miniature Australian Shepherd is between 12 and 15 years. This can be considered a wee bit over the average lifespan for most dog breeds. Of course, this age is reached with proper care, balanced diet, and regular checkups at the vet. And in some cases, the doggo can even go a bit over the 15-year mark!


Exercise Requirements


The Miniature Australian Shepherd is an incredibly active and energetic dog. So, if they are not given adequate daily exercise and mental stimulation, this breed is likely to develop behavioral problems. This breed requires a long daily walk in addition to plenty of outdoor play time. Training this dog for various dog sports including herding, agility, and fly ball will help to work off some of its extra energy. Keep them active and you’ll never experience any problems with these energetic doggos.


It shouldn’t be too demanding and time-consuming to make a makeshift agility course in your backyard (if you happen to have one). You’d be surprised how quickly your Miniature Australian Shepherd would get the hang of it. But most importantly, it would mean that they’d have an efficient course to spend their energy at. This breed thrives doing this. Of course, if you lack a spacious fenced-in yard, you can always utilize the children’s obstacle courses that some parks have. Little tunnels, hurdles, and all sorts of odds and ends can guarantee hours of fun for your Miniature Australian Shepherd.


The Miniature Australian Shepherd is a friendly and active breed that loves to play.


AKC


The Miniature Australian Shepherd is part of the AKC’s Herding Group. The breed was officially recognized by this renowned canine club in 2015 as “Miniature American Shepherd”. It took 4 years for these compact shepherds to move on from AKC Foundation Stock Service to an official breed status in the United States, but it finally happened. The American Kennel Club describes the Miniature Australian Shepherd as a “highly versatile, energetic dog (that) makes an excellent athlete with superior intelligence and a willingness to please those to whom he is devoted”. We’re inclined to agree.


Coat


The Miniature Australian Shepherd has a medium-long double coat – a soft, dense undercoat and a longer weather resistant outer coat. The coat can be either straight or wavy. It also comes in a variety of colors including black, red, blue merle, and red merle. Any of these coat colors may also come with white markings or tan points. Though the coat is fairly long and thick it does not require more than occasional brushing to remove mats and loose hairs. So the upkeep on these pups won’t be too difficult. They are naturally pretty.


Puppies


The litter size for Miniature Australian Shepherds can range between five and nine puppies. The price of Miniature Australian Shepherd puppies will depend on the pedigree, but on average, reputable breeders sell puppies from AKC Champion bloodlines for $1200 to $1500. So, these dogs don’t come cheap. But then again, none of the best pups do. If you want an animal as special as this, you’ll need to seek out a specialist breeder and that comes with a hefty price tag. Fortunately, these beautiful and loving dogs are more than worth it.


Once your new puppy gets home and meets the family, it’s time to start teaching them the basics. It is important to start puppies with training and socialization at a young age to prevent the development of problem behaviors. Housebreaking Miniature Australian Shepherd puppies can be tricky so be firm and consistent during training, but as we said before positive reinforcement techniques work the best. You merely need to establish yourself as the alpha in the relationship and that takes a firm, yet gentle hand.


The rest comes naturally for the Miniature Australian Shepherd. With positive reinforcement, a leading attitude, and plenty of patience, you will soon see positive results. This ensures that you are rearing a wonderful four legged friend for the coming years. Thankfully, the breed is quite obedient and super quick to learn. Training puppies should be much easier than what is expected from some other breeds.


Photo credit: Photo credit: Helen Rose Gabriel/Shutterstock; Rachelli Dangelo/Bigstock.com; susanspix/Bigstock.com


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Kate Barrington
Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

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