The Mini Australian Shepherd is smart, agile, and active. They have an affinity for horses and they make great working dogs for cowboys and ranchers. This temperament is very similar to their larger counterparts the Australian Shepherd.
Mini Australian Shepherds (or Mini Aussies) are a relatively new breed—created within the last few decades by breeding the smallest possible Australian Shepherds.
Mini Australian Shepherds also go by the names of the Miniature American Shepherd or the North American Shepherd.
If you are thinking about adopting any new pet, do diligent research to make sure that the animal is a good fit for your lifestyle.
For example, the Mini Aussie temperament is best suited to active, experienced owners. Miniature Australian Shepherd behaviors can be too much for novice dog owners to handle.
In this article, we will explore in-depth some of the most common Mini Australian Shepherd physical characteristics. As well as, temperament and behavioral traits so you can assess if this breed is a good fit for your home.
Miniature Australian Shepherd History: The Origins of the Mini Aussie
Mini Aussies are a product of America—specifically California.
The Mini Australian Shepherd dog breed first emerged in the late 1960s or early 1970s.
Small Australian Shepherds from the rodeo circuit were deliberately bred to maintain their small stature.
A woman named Doris Cordova from Norco, California is believed to be the first person to intentionally breed Miniature Australian Shepherds.
The National Stock Dog Registry was the first registry to recognize the “miniature” size of the Australian Shepherd in 1989.
In 1990, the Miniature Australian Shepherd Club of the USA (MASCUSA) was formed.
On July 1st, 2015, the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) under the name of the Miniature American Shepherd.
The Miniature American Shepherd is part of the AKC’s herding group.
Mini Australian Shepherd Size and General Appearance
The full-size Australian Shepherd is described as a mid-size, stocky working dog.
The Miniature American Shepherd has the same appearance as the regular Australian Shepherd but on a smaller scale.
Mini Australian Shepherd vs. Australian Shepherd
For example, normal Australian Shepherds weigh between 40 and 65 lbs. In contrast, the Mini Australian Shepherd weight range is between 20 and 40 lbs.
A normal Australian Shepherd stands between 18 and 23 inches tall.
However, the typical Mini Australian Shepherd height range is between 13 and 18 inches.
A full-grown Miniature Australian Shepherd should never exceed 18 inches at the withers.
Miniature Australian Shepherd Colors
Mini Aussies come in a variety of gorgeous coat colorations.
The Red Merle Mini Australian Shepherd has patches of red, cream and copper.
The Blue Merle Mini Australian Shepherd has patches of black, gray and/or blue. He may also have splashes of white or copper.
The Black Bi or Black Tri Mini Aussie is either solid black, black with white trim, or black/ white/ copper.
The Red Bi or Red Tri Mini Aussie is either solid red, red with white trim or red/ white/ copper.
A Note about Homozygous Merles or Double Merles
A Homozygous Merle can occur when a breeder breeds together two Merle dogs.
When such breeding occurs, every puppy in the litter has a 25% chance of being homozygous merle (also called a lethal white).
Lethal whites are predominantly white and they are almost always deaf and/or blind.
Sadly, there are very few homes willing to take on such special needs dogs. Many are euthanized or brought to shelters.
This type of breeding is irresponsible, but some breeders still do it.
If you purchase your Mini Aussie from a breeder, ask questions about this breeding practice. Do not support any breeders that practice this kind of breeding.
The United Kennel Club (UKC) has publicly condemned double merle breeding and hopefully, the AKC will follow suit.
Miniature Australian Shepherd Temperament
Are You Ready for the Mini Aussie Personality?
In this section, we will dive into the Mini Australian Shepherd temperament.
Although, of course, not every Miniature Australian Shepherd will be exactly alike.
Still, this list of traits will give you an idea about what to expect from your Miniature Australian Shepherd.
Check out Our Indepth Temperament Guide
Energetic Working Dogs
The Miniature Australian Shepherd temperament makes this breed well suited to be a working dog.
Indeed, Mini Aussies are popular working dogs on farms and ranches. You will also spot them accompanying their owners on the rodeo circuit or the horseshow circuit.
Their small size makes them a good traveling companion.
Mini Aussies thrive when they have a job to perform.
If you plan to keep one as a pet, you will need to provide another outlet for their boundless energy.
For example, Miniature Australian Shepherds require a lot of daily exercise.
You should expect to budget at least one hour per day for exercising your Mini Aussie.
Miniature Australian Shepherd exercise could take the form of hiking, jogging, biking, Frisbee, or a canine sport.
These dogs excel at canine sports. Agility, Flyball, Disc Dog, Freestyle, Rally Obedience, Nosework, and Herding Trials are just a few of the fun activities that you can explore with your Mini Aussie.
If you work long hours, you might need to hire a dog walker or pay for doggie daycare to make sure your Miniature American Shepherd gets an adequate amount of daily exercise.
Canine Mensa Members
The clever Miniature Australian Shepherd temperament makes this one of the smartest breeds in the dog world.
Miniature Australian Shepherds are famous for their intelligence and trainability.
These dogs are bred to work in tandem with people. Therefore they are highly focused on their handlers and eager to please.
Miniature Australian Shepherds require plenty of daily enrichment and mental stimulation to keep them from getting bored.
Try increasing its mental enrichment. For example, make him work for its food by solving food puzzles or work-to-eat toys.
Teach him new tricks, play hide-and-seek, or give him interactive toys like Kong toys.
Devoted to their Family, Unhappy When Left Alone
The people-oriented Mini Australian Shepherd temperament makes this breed a very loyal companion.
The Miniature Australian Shepherd wants to be by his master’s side at all times.
You will usually find a Miniature Australian Shepherd trotting at the heels of its owner.
Since they are so people-focused, these dogs do not do well being left alone for long periods of time.
In fact, they can be prone to anxiety-related issues such as separation anxiety.
If you work long hours, this is probably not the best breed for you. Do not expect a Mini Aussie to be happy living outdoors in the yard. These dogs want to be part of the family unit.
Herding Behaviors are in their DNA
The Miniature Australian Shepherd temperament is designed for being a top-notch herding dog.
Herding behaviors are ingrained in their DNA.
Even if you do not train your Mini Aussie to be a herding dog, you will still see some of those behaviors exhibited in your pet.
For example, Miniature Australian Shepherds are known to try to herd other dogs, cats, and even children in their household!
Like all dogs, Miniature Australian Shepherds should be closely supervised when they interact with young children.
Sorry, not a good Apartment Dog
The energetic Miniature Australian Shepherd temperament means that this breed is not well-suited to living in an apartment.
Even though they are smaller than their larger Aussie counterparts, do not be fooled by their small size. They still need a lot of room to run.
Additionally, some Mini Aussie’s can be vocal. Mini Australian Shepherds often bark when they are excited.
This trait is not usually the best fit for apartment dwellers.
Miniature Australian Shepherd Training
The smart Mini Aussie temperament makes this a fun and easy breed to train.
Miniature Australian Shepherds excel at obedience trials. With patience and consistency, you can train them to do just about anything!
Just beware of trainers that use rough, outdated training methods. Always use positive reinforcement training tactics when training your Miniature Australian Shepherd.
Sign up for a positive reinforcement obedience class at your earliest opportunity.
After you have learned the basics, you and your Miniature Australian Shepherds can explore more challenging activities such as herding, agility, or search and rescue work.
Helpful Dog Training Resource:
A Guide to Mini Australian Shepherd Grooming
The Mini Australian Shepherd has a long, flowing coat that requires frequent brushing, combing, clipping, and bathing.
If you are looking for a dog that is low-maintenance in the grooming department, this is probably not the breed for you.
You will need to provide daily brushing or combing to prevent tangles.
A trim of the “sanitary region” is needed about every month or so. A full haircut is necessary two or three times per year.
Mini Australian Shepherd Shedding
Be prepared for moderate shedding throughout the year and heavy shedding one or two times per year during “shedding season.”
If you adopt a Mini Aussie, you will want to invest in a good vacuum cleaner!
Regular brushing, bathing, and grooming can help keep shedding under control, but it cannot be completely eliminated.
Is the Mini Australian Shepherd Hypoallergenic?
The Miniature American Shepherd is not a breed that is considered to be hypoallergenic.
If you suffer from allergies, check out this article for a list of hypoallergenic breeds.
Staying Healthy: Miniature Australian Shepherd Health Issues
Miniaturized breeds are prone to a host of health issues, and Miniature Australian Shepherds are no exception.
Breeders often create “miniature” breeds by breeding together runts of their litters. Runts are usually not the healthiest specimens of their breed. Breeders also resort to in-breeding to get the smallest possible dogs. This increases the risks of genetic conditions in the puppies.
Talk with your veterinarian about what to expect before you bring home a Miniature Australian Shepherd.
Below are some of the health conditions to be aware of:
As soon as you adopt a new dog, set up an appointment with a veterinarian right away.
Like all dogs, your Mini Aussie should see a vet at least once per year for an annual checkup and shots.
All dogs, your Miniature Australian Shepherd should be on heartworm prevention as well as flea and tick prevention. You can talk with your vet about the best brands for your Miniature Australian Shepherd.
The Miniature Australian Shepherd lifespan is usually between 12 and 13 years.
Helpful Dog Health Resource:
Miniature Australian Shepherd Rescue and Adoption
If you think the Mini Aussie temperament is the perfect choice for you, it is time to start looking for your new pet.
Potential owners need to be very careful when looking for any kind of “miniaturized” breed.
Miniature breeds are sometimes the result of poor breeding practices, and the puppies often have increased chances of genetic problems. These issues will be discussed further below.
An adoption is a great option for adding a new pet to your home.
There are many benefits to adopting a Miniature Australian Shepherd.
First of all, you can avoid potentially supporting a breeder who employs questionable breeding practices to create “miniature dogs.”
Secondly, you get to provide a loving home to a dog in need. There is an animal overpopulation problem in the United States, so it is rewarding to rescue a dog from a shelter or rescue group rather than add to the problem by supporting breeders.
There are some additional benefits as well. Rescue dogs are usually a little bit older and have outgrown the destructive puppy stage. They are frequently already housebroken or crate trained. They do not require as much exercise or training as a brand new puppy.
If you do not have the time to train and socialize a very active puppy, adopting an adult Mini Aussie (or even a senior!) might be the perfect solution.
Additionally, the Miniature Australian Shepherd price is much lower when you adopt from a shelter or rescue group rather than buying from a breeder.
Adoption fees vary depending on the organization, but they generally run between $100 and $300. This price almost always includes spay/neuter and basic vetting (like vaccines and heartworm testing).
Where to Find an Adoptable Miniature Australian Shepherd?
The best place to start your search for a Miniature Australian Shepherd for adoption is at your local animal shelter.
You can also search online on websites such as Petfinder.com and Adoptapet.com.
The Miniature American Shepherd Club of the USA also has a webpage dedicated to Rescue resources.
Finding a Miniature Australian Shepherd for Sale from a Reputable Breeder
Finding a Miniature Australian Shepherd puppy for sale from a good breeder is a risky venture.
Unfortunately, there are many irresponsible breeders and puppy mills that are trying to make money off of the latest “fad dog.” Right now, “miniature breeds” are extremely popular and lucrative.
If you choose to purchase a puppy from a breeder, you will need to do a lot of research to make sure that your new puppy comes from an ethical source. Start by reading this informative article.
Never purchase Miniature Australian Shepherd puppies over the internet or from a pet shop.
Start your search by contacting the Miniature American Shepherd Club of the USA for a list of recommended Miniature Australian Shepherd breeders.
Once you have identified a possible breeder, ask to make an appointment to visit the breeder in person. Always make sure to check out the property and the breeding dogs yourself. If the breeder will not allow you on the premises, this is a major red flag.
Ask to see the breeding dogs’ medical records and ask about genetic testing and breeding practices.
A good breeder will want to ask you questions as well.
They will make you promise to get your pet spayed/neutered at the appropriate time and they will make you guarantee that you will return the pet to them if you cannot keep it for any reason.
A good breeder will probably have a waiting list for their puppies, so you will need to be patient.
If a breeder has puppies available on-demand and offers to sell you one without meeting you or counseling you on the needs of the breed, you are probably working with an unscrupulous breeder.
Simply move on and keep looking for other options. It's not worth the risk.
Miniature Australian Shepherd Cost
Since these dogs are in such high demand, they are also expensive. The price can get easily get over $2500 for certain bloodlines.
Conclusion: Why the Miniature Australian Shepherd?
The Miniature Australian Shepherd is a smart, loyal, energetic companion in a small package.
However, the Miniature Australians Shepherd temperament is not the right fit for everyone.
Before you bring one home, make sure you are ready to provide enough time, attention, exercise, and mental stimulation for this highly intelligent and sensitive creature.
Allie has worked in the field of animal welfare for over ten years and as a freelance writer the space for many years. She has had many different kinds of dogs (and cats) throughout her life—all adopted. She currently shares her home with a lovable pit bull mix named Huckleberry.