Also known as the Mini American Shepherd, and Mini Aussie, this hardworking and loving dog can do almost anything it puts its mind to. The Mini Australian Shepherd comes from the standard Australian Shepherd, but with a few, small advantages – drive, adaptability, and devotion. Read more to find out how this adorable dog can fit into your family!
What is a Miniature Australian Shepherd?
Mini Aussies started out as a smaller version of the standard Australian Shepherd, and later, were bred into their own distinctive breed. Despite their name, they are not from Australia, though that is where their original breeder came from.
He immigrated to California in the 1960s, where he started breeding Mini Aussies. Their closest breed relation is the Border Collie. Mini Aussies are herding dogs and were once the choice breed for rodeos. They can easily tend livestock and help around the farm.
You do not need to own a farm to have a Mini Aussie. With their adaptability comes fast-learning, and they are willing to perform any kind of active task. Their devotion, intelligence, and loyalty make Mini Aussies a great dog to have around a variety of households.
Pros and Cons
The Mini Aussie comes with many Pros, some of which have already been discussed. Once they are introduced into their forever home, Mini Aussies are passionately loyal and very protective.
They are obedient and highly trainable, as they are eager to please. They also make great workout buddies, as Mini Aussies possess a bundle of furry energy.
Because of their high activity level, they can perform difficult and varying tasks without much trouble. Because of their miniature size, they also cost less than the average Australian Shepherd and do not require as much exercise.
Unfortunately, the breed does come with some Cons, too. Because of their inbred herding lifestyle, Mini Aussies tend to have a “chase instinct”, or a drive to chase prey animals.
They are intelligent and active, and they can get easily bored. If this happens, they can become borderline obnoxious and possibly destructive within the house. As they are pack animals, they are better for those with families, partners, or other animals, and not ideal for those who live alone.
Their training can take up a lot of time, and they need a good amount of grooming. Their miniature size can also cause specific health problems.
Mini Australian Shepherd’s possess a distinct and unique canine appearance. Their coats are long and wavy, needing consistent care. Mini Aussies are double-coated, making them waterproof and more agile. Their base coat is usually colored black or reddish-brown.
They can come tri-colored, or bi-colored, with patches of white, tan, and beige. Their most common “look” is the spotted gray coat, white chest, and brown-patched feet and head. This style is typically known as the merle pattern, with a black base that fades more into bluish-gray, and reddish-brown spots.
Mini Aussies tend to have beautiful, striking eyes. Their irises can range from brown, blue, or even heterochromia.
Mini Australian Shepherd Size
They are usually quite muscular, with broad chests and heads proportional to their body size. Their ears are floppy and many breeders prefer docked tails. They are small, with a height of 14-18 inches for a male dog, and 13-17 inches for a female. They typically weigh about 20-40 pounds.
Personality and Temperament
These dogs are best known for their eager, workaholic temperament. They have such an active personality, they are only happy once given daily tasks and outdoor chores. You must keep them busy. Otherwise, they could act out in bored rebellion – usually against a piece of house furniture. Once they are happy and performing tasks, their temperament will settle and they will become comfortable.
Mini Aussies love to run, play fetch, and release their boundless balls of energy. They have an alert, active, and attentive nature. Don’t worry, they barely bark and are actually quiet dogs. They will only bark if greatly alarmed. They can be cautious to outsiders of the family. It may take time for them to get used to frequent visitors.
Mini Aussies are highly intelligent and quick to pick up on cues. They are agile, with a surprising amount of strength and stamina. These traits allow them to work across all kinds of outdoor terrain, including mountains, hills, flatlands, and rocky roads. When they perform work, they are smooth, balanced, and strong.
They tend to be high maintenance, so are not the best dogs for first-time dog owners, let alone couples who are not very active. As you can see, Mini Aussies like to spend most of their time in outdoor training and play!
Are Mini Australian Shepherds Good with Kids?
Because of the Mini Aussie’s undying loyalty, the breed can make fantastic family dogs and are great around kids! As a matter of fact, Mini Aussies are better for families and couples than they are for single owners. They are especially good at wearing out your little ones and keeping them busy. The Mini Aussie has just about as much energy as a young, rambunctious kid!
The Mini Aussie is also not afraid to get lightly rough on the playground, but with caution, so you will not have to worry about them hurting your child. With their rough-and-tumble attitudes and their background in herding, the Mini Aussie will make sure to keep a close watch on your child. Your children will not only have fun with the Mini Aussie, but will be well-protected under their watch!
Did you know? In 2018, Mini Aussies were named the 17th most popular dog in the U.S.
Did you know? Mini Aussies were first popular among equestrians traveling to horse shows, as their intelligence, size, and devotion made them excellent companions and good around horses.
Did you know? This dog has had more than three different names, including; California Shepherd, Spanish Shepherd, and New Mexican Shepherd. Its most common names now are; Mini American Shepherd, Mini Aussie, or MAS.
Did you know? The American Kennel Club recognized the Miniature Australian Shepherd as late as 2015, where they became the club’s 186th breed.
Did you know? The Mini Aussie often competes in sanctioned events such as conformation, herding, obedience, rally, agility, and tracking.
You can feed your adult Mini American Shepherd a diet of 2 cups of kibble a day, 1 cup per meal. If you prefer to feed them wet food, simply replace one serving of dry food with the wet food. They do not need both wet and dry food twice a day; only once for each.
They should be fed with high-quality products, either commercially manufactured or home-prepared (given your veterinarian’s permission). Top commercial brands include Blue for dry food and Pedigree for wet. For puppies and growing Aussies, feed them half the amount of kibble you would usually feed an adult.
Both wet and dry food should come from raw meat ingredients and make up most of their diet. Though all dogs, including Mini Aussies, can eat small portions of healthy fats, carbs, and grains. Their daily calories should add up to about 1,200.
Just make sure to feed them appropriately, based on what kind of activities they do during the day. Mini Aussies are prone to obesity, so you’ll want to watch their calorie count.
This dog is a lover of nature, and certainly has higher exercise requirements than most. As a farmland worker, the Mini Aussie needs at least two walks per day. Roughly, the total amount of exercise needed equals 90 minutes per day. This can involve high-level training, chasing squirrels in the backyard, herding sheep, or simply walking on a leash through the park.
Either way, it is best to tackle the exercise in manageable increments. For example, you and your Mini Aussie could go out on an hour-long hike, or split the exercise into two, 30-minute walks. The choice is yours!
It is also helpful to your Mini Aussie if you allocate an extra 30 minutes a day for just playtime. Whether that be chasing a ball, fetching a stick, or running around with the kiddos, your Mini Aussie will thank you for the quality time outdoors.
Grooming and Shedding
Because of their double coat, Mini Aussies tend to shed a lot of shaggy hair. It is best to keep their longer, outer coat and their woolly undercoat as well-groomed as possible. Especially during the spring and fall shedding seasons! During those months, you’ll want to brush your Mini Aussie every day. During the winter and summer months, weekly brushing should be enough to keep the coat sleek, shiny, and detangled.
To keep it from getting matted, use a metal comb or slicker brush. Fleas, ticks, and dirt can get stuck in the double layers of your Mini Aussie’s coat, so a fine-toothed comb should do the trick on those nuisances. They won’t be able to hide in your friend’s fur after that!
A Mini American Shepherd’s nails should be trimmed regularly, too. As a working dog, Mini Aussies will likely wear down their own nails from daily work and other active duties. However, if you notice them curling beneath their paws, know it is time to cut them down.
Health and Lifespan of Miniature Australian Shepherds
These dogs have a lifespan between 11-14 years. Though they are great dogs that can live a long time, owners of the Mini should be aware of possible health concerns. Mini Aussies often come with inherited physical conditions, as well as being susceptible to typical canine health problems. Here are a few of their most common ailments:
- Hip or elbow dysplasia
- Vision problems
- Blood clotting
- MDR1 drug sensitivity
As a Mini Aussie owner, you want to make sure your furry friend passes the specific health exams covering these conditions, otherwise, you could be left with high medical bills. On top of this, there are a few other health concerns specific to the Mini American Shepherd. You will want to keep these in mind before buying:
- Disc Disease: Spinal disc failure. As the dog begins to age, their neck and spine are less likely to absorb shock from daily exercise. This condition can make it difficult for the dog to move and can cause hind-leg paralysis.
- Patellar Luxation: Dislocation of the knee cap. It can cause lameness on the affected legs.
- Fragile Bones: Mini Aussies have smaller, more fragile bones than their standard ancestors. They can get hurt more easily from accidental falls or kicks from animals.
- Microphthalmia: Vision impairment, or an underdeveloped eye. Mini Aussie’s gorgeous eyes can, unfortunately, come with a variety of disorders. An underdeveloped eye can also cause iris colobomas, which is a black mark on the iris. This can occur in one or both of the eyes.
Most of these concerns would not affect the Mini Aussie until they reach an older age and exist more as a list of things to keep in mind before purchasing. Pure dog breeds often come with inherited issues and it is unlikely your Aussie would develop all or any of them.
Is the Mini Australian Shepherd Easy to Train?
The Mini Australian Shepherd is super easy to train! Though that does not mean they do not require a ton of commitment and time. Mini Aussies are dedicated to their craft and are anxious to please their owners. They also seek the best and need to be challenged, otherwise, they may get reckless and rowdy.
Training your Mini American Shepherd is a team effort. You must be involved as much as your Mini Aussie. Start when they’re a puppy, but be forewarned that they will pick up on your current attitude.
If you are feeling grouchy, irritable, and angry, then that attitude will transfer to them! Being too distant with your pup could negatively affect their future training. The best advice is to be present and to act as both your dog’s mentor and friend.
Mini Australian Shepherds can learn all kinds of cool skills, such as obedience, rally, tracking, and agility. They are highly competitive and can go far in these talents if trained well. Another good tip? Shower them in positive reinforcements. Use treats as tools to get them to listen and follow your lead (though be careful not to overfeed with them). Likewise, you should also teach them a come-back cue, where they respond to a single whistle or command. This trick is ideal when calling them back from a leash-free walk or roam in the countryside.
If you aren’t a farmer or don’t think you will have enough space for the Mini Aussie, don’t be discouraged! Training can be as simple as daily tasks to keep them on their toes. When playing fetch, you can switch out toys after they return one, or throw a toy out at a longer distance for them to retrieve. You can ask them to carry a bundle of sticks or even find hidden toys behind furniture.
Another good tip is to enroll them in doggy daycare or obedience school. If you do this while they are still a puppy, it will not only help with their training but improve their socialization skills. Mini Aussies can be shy and cautious around strangers, even other dogs. These classes will ensure your Aussie pup grows into an adjusted and well-mannered mini!
How much does a mini Australian shepherd cost?
In conclusion, Mini Australian Shepherds (or Mini Aussies), are excellent dogs that will grow to love you forever. They will protect your home at all costs and work as hard, if not more so, than anyone else. Generally, the cost of a Mini American Shepherd can range between $1,000-$2,000, if you are getting them from the right breeder. Though that seems pricey, these puppers are certainly worth it.
Mini Australian Shepherds are high maintenance and require a lot of attention and time. If you do not think they are the right fit for your family, Mini Aussies are often crossbred with less active dogs, such as Poodles, which can calm their temperament. They certainly do not work well for sedentary apartment types!
The Mini Australian Shepherd is the dog breed of choice for most active Americans, and they certainly make great workout buddies. But do not just take our word for it. Go out and adopt a Mini Aussie today! They will more than grateful for it.