The miniature American shepherd is a small- to medium-sized herding dog breed from the United States that has a medium-length double coat and resembles a smaller version of the Australian shepherd. Miniature American shepherds are active, intelligent dogs that love spending time with their families. The herding breed is best in homes with older children and owners devoted to providing the exercise and training they need to thrive. In fact, the mini American shepherd was bred down from the Aussie and still possesses the athleticism and intelligence of its larger cousins. These small dogs can be quite adventurous and adaptable, and they enjoy an active lifestyle.
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Miniature American Shepherd Size and Appearance
Miniature American shepherds are similar in appearance to Australian shepherds; they’re a double-coated breed with a dense undercoat and medium-length hair that’s either straight or wavy. These dogs have shorter hair on their heads, moderate “manes” around their necks, and feathers on their breeches.
But put a miniature American shepherd and an Aussie side by side, and their difference in size becomes apparent. Miniature American shepherds are petite herding dogs that stand 13–18 tall, weigh between 20–40 pounds, and have life spans ranging from 12–13 years. Compared to the Australian shepherd, who can stand 23 inches tall and weigh up to 65 pounds, these compact pups are everything fans of the Aussie love, just in a smaller package.
Miniature American Shepherd Temperament
Miniature American shepherds have big hearts. Melissa Hardwick, president of Save Our Herders Outreach: SOHO Dog Rescue, describes the breed as intelligent and good-natured, adding, “They pack a similar personality to a full-sized Australian shepherd.”
These are dogs that love spending time with their families, but Hardwick says their exuberant personalities and strong herding instincts can make them too much for small children. Socializing miniature American shepherd puppies and early training will help them learn that little kiddos (and the family cat) are not for corralling.
History of the Miniature American Shepherd
The creation of the miniature American shepherd is closely tied to that of its larger cousin, the Australian shepherd. Both breeds emerged in California in the 1960s. The predecessor of both breeds was a type of herding dog from the Pyrenees Mountains that came to the U.S. by way of Australia. California ranchers admired the dogs and referred to them as Australian shepherds or Aussies.
Some people began purposely breeding smaller Aussies, and they became popular on the rodeo circuit. They had the stamina and herding skills of their larger counterparts but were more portable and suitable for indoor living.
By the mid-1970s, there was a consistent version of mini Aussie, as the dogs were called at the time. The name was later changed as people pursued a separate breed recognition. The American Kennel Club first recognized the breed in 2015.
Miniature American Shepherd Care
The miniature American shepherd needs a lot of exercises every day. It also requires proper training and socialization, in which it typically excels. And its grooming needs are fairly straightforward.
Miniature American Shepherd Exercise
These are smart, athletic dogs that need mental and physical challenges to keep them happy and healthy. Otherwise, they might develop problem behaviors, such as excessive barking and unwanted chewing. Plan on at least one to two hours of exercise per day via walks, jogging, hikes, and playtime. They prefer to be active with their humans rather than being left to their own devices.
In addition, dog sports, such as agility, are a great way to exercise them both physically and mentally. And puzzle toys can provide mental stimulation as well.
Miniature American Shepherd Grooming
The miniature American shepherd’s coat is pretty wash-and-wear. It needs no trimming or shaving. Brush it at least weekly to remove loose fur and prevent tangles. Shedding will increase a couple of times a year, often in the spring and fall. During that time, brush at least a few times per week to keep up with the loose fur.
Bathe your dog roughly every month, depending on how dirty it gets. And check its nails to see whether they need trimming on a monthly basis. Also, be sure to look in its ears at least weekly for wax buildup, debris, and irritation. And aim to brush its teeth daily.
Miniature American Shepherd Training
These dogs are typically quite smart and eager to please, thus making them highly trainable. Start from as young of an age as possible with basic obedience to prevent bad habits from forming. And always use positive training methods.
In addition, start socializing your dog when it’s a puppy with different people, other dogs, and in various locations. This will build its comfort and confidence, helping it grow into a well-mannered and adaptable companion.
Miniature American Shepherd Health Issues
Mini American shepherds are mostly a healthy dog breed. But they are still prone to some hereditary health issues1, including:
Progressive retinal atrophy and other eye issues
Drug sensitivity due to a mutation of the MDR1 gene
Miniature American Shepherd Food and Nutrition
Always have fresh water available for your dog. And feed a nutritionally balanced canine diet. It’s common to feed two measured meals per day, but you should discuss both the type of food and the quantity with your vet. If your dog leads a very active lifestyle, it might need more calories. But you should always watch treats and other extra food, as even a pound of weight gain can be a lot for a small dog.