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Mini Australian Shepherd: Complete Breed Guide

The Mini Australian Shepherd is a smaller version of the original and much loved large breed, the Australian Shepherd. Despite their compact size, they are still herding canines and possess all the beautiful qualities of the Australian Shepherd. As a result, they are highly affectionate, protective, and good-tempered companion dogs.

Mini Australian Shepherd Origin

Mini Australian Shepherds, also known as American Shepherds, originate from the original large breed dog, the Australian Shephard. Despite their name, full-size "Aussies" were developed in the United States, bred by dogs such as collies imported from Australia.  They were initially bred as herding dogs but soon won the hearts of families worldwide, becoming one of the most popular companion dogs today.  The Mini Aussie breed was also developed in the USA. In the 1960s, a woman named Doris Cordova had the idea to create a new version of the Australian Shepherd, which is smaller but with the same loveable qualities.  Doris began working with a veterinarian, breeding the runts of Australian Shepherd litters. This process was slow initially, but by the mid-1970s, the new breed reached its intended size, becoming a breed in its own right. The compact version of Aussies became a desirable companion dog as they take up less space than the original breed and thus, make great travel buddies. However, this designer dog breed is not cheap.  Mini Australian Shepherd puppies typically cost between $1000 to $5000, depending on the puppy's bloodline and coat color. If a breeder can prove their puppies come from a lineage with good genetics, they will charge towards the higher end of the price scale.

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What Does A Mini Australian Shepherd Look Like?

So just how much smaller are mini Aussies compared to the traditional breed?  Standard Australian Shepherds are 18 to 23 inches tall, while the Mini Australian Shepherd size is between 13 to 18 inches tall. In addition, the large breed weighs between 35 to 65 pounds, whereas the smaller version will be between 20 and 35 pounds, so they can be up to half the size. Also, note that a third Aussie breed exists, the Toy Australian Shepherd. The toy breed is different from the miniature one, standing between 10 to 14 inches tall.  Aside from the size difference, the Mini American Shepherd looks almost identical to the original. They possess the same beautifully unique and eye-catching coat colorings, usually black, red, blue merle, or red merle. They also have the same medium-length double coat consisting of thick, coarse, and usually wavy hair on the outer coat. The downy undercoat will be dense and curly. These pups also typically have some feathering on the backs of their legs with a moderate mane and frill.

Personality and Behavior of Mini Australian Shepherd's

mini australian shepherds require lots of physical and mental stimulation

Like the original breed, Mini Australian Shepherds make lovely family dogs as they have a naturally loving and loyal personality. In addition, they have a protective nature and will take care of their family. Still, they are typically not aggressive dogs or excessive barkers. However, even though the Australian Shepherd Mini is much smaller than the standard Aussie, as a herding dog, they are highly active. Miniature American Shepherds require lots of physical exercise and mental stimulation to keep them healthy and happy. So if you're considering getting this adorable pup, be prepared to take it on long walks daily, along with plenty of play sessions. As long as this athletic canine gets the exercise it requires, the Miniature Australian Shepherd can adapt to its owner's lifestyle. Thus, despite being bred for farm life, they do just fine living with families in busy cities. What's more, their playful nature makes them excellent buddies for children. That being said, bringing this pup into a household where everyone is out most of the day is not ideal. Due to their high intelligence, they can get bored quickly. When they do, they can become destructive and develop separation anxiety.

How to Train Mini Australian Shepherd's

Mini Australian Shepherds are highly intelligent and obedient, always wanting to please their owners, which makes them easy to train. In addition, herding dogs like these are very attentive and excellent problem solvers. Thus, they can solve complex tasks, which makes them perfect candidates for agility courses.  However, anyone considering this breed should note that their herding instincts may cause them to try to herd small children or smaller animals like cats or chickens. Therefore, early training and socialization with kids and animals are crucial to prevent this desire from developing.  Luckily, because they have a strong will for pleasing their owners, positive reinforcement techniques are typically very effective with Mini Australian Shepherds.

Grooming and Maintaining a Mini Australian Shepherd's Coat

Although they have thick double coats, the Australian Shepherd Mini doesn't shed as much compared to other double-coated breeds. Still, they are not low-shedding dogs by any means and shed more in certain seasons like spring. During shedding season, you might find that daily brushing is required. However, twice weekly is usually sufficient throughout the rest of the year. A Mini Aussie's gorgeous coat will start matting and tangling if not groomed enough. Aside from brushing, this breed should be bathed every 2 or 3 months. Always use a dog-specialized shampoo rather one a human one. This is safer and will keep their iconic coat shiny and soft.  Lastly, although most Miniature Australian Shepherds tend to spend lots of time outdoors and go on long walks, nail trimming is still required from time to time. Aim to do this every 3 to 4 weeks, using a dog nail grinder or clippers.

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Common Health Issues

Compared to some other dog breeds, Mini Australian Shepherds are pretty healthy dogs, most living for between 12 and 15 years. They have the same health dispositions as the full-size Aussie, such as:
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Epilepsy
  • Luxating Patella
  • Spinal defects
The biggest health concern with this breed is hearing and vision problems. This is most common with pups with the Merle coloration as this particular color gene is related to hearing and vision. Unfortunately, many dogs with this coloring have issues such as progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, or iris coloboma.

Final Thoughts

Without a doubt, the pros of a Miniature American Shepherd outweigh the cons. If you're after a loving, protective companion whose loyalty will never fail, you can't find a better pet than a Mini Aussie.  Moreover, being smaller than the original breed, they are much more suitable for travel and can adapt to any living environment. Lastly, as one of the easiest dogs to train, they are ideal for first-time dog owners, and their playful, protective nature makes them any child's new best friend!

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