Mini Australian shepherds look adorable and sweet, but they are one of the high-energy and intelligent herding breeds.
That means they won’t be content to hang out around the house all day. But if you want a compact companion who will join you on all your outdoor adventures, this is your dog.
Ready to learn about the Australian shepherd breed? Let’s go!
Where did the Mini Australian Shepherd originate?
The mini Aussie, as you may have guessed, comes from the Australian Shepherd. Basically, it’s like someone took a shrink ray and made the full-sized dog pocket-sized. They’re a smaller version of the standard Aussie.
The original standard Aussies didn’t come from Australia. Surprising, right?
The original dogs came from Spain and France originally before being taken to Australia. Then, they went to the United States, where the breed was refined to the one we know today.
The miniature Australian shepherd was first established as its own breed, rather than a smaller size of an Aussie, sometime in the 1960s when the rodeo circuit started breeding the dogs smaller.
These dogs are also known as Mini Aussies, MAS, toy Australian shepherds, toy Aussies, teacup Australian shepherds, and miniature American shepherds.
These dogs are purebreds created by breeding a mini Australian Shepherd to another mini Australian Shepherd. It’s not a matter of breeding standard sized dogs that just happen to be smaller. This is a distinct breed.
The mini Aussie is recognized by many different registries, but not all under the same name. Confused?
The American Kennel Club calls this dog the miniature American shepherd and categorizes it in the herding group. The American Stock Dog registry calls them the miniature Australian shepherd.
The AKC first recognized this dog in 2015.
What does a Miniature Australian Shepherd look like?
The mini Aussie is a small, agile dog with a thick medium-length double coat.
The head should be in proportion to the body with an alert and intelligent expression.
According to the AKC breed standard, eyes can be blue, brown, hazel, amber, or any combination.
They might have different-colored eyes or flecks of color. They might also have marbling. The eyes should be almond-shaped and proportional to the head, with black rims. Red dogs can have red rims.
The ears are triangular and lay flat against their head, but when they are listening hard or paying attention to you, they may be half pricked or face forward.
The neck is also proportionate to the body, with a slight arch, and it should transition into the shoulders and to the top line, which should be level from the withers to the hips.
The dogs should give an impression of being athletic and strong overall, without appearing muscular or bulky. The forequarters (that’s the shoulders, front legs, and feet), should look well conditioned, with equal space between the elbow and the feet.
Speaking of feet, they should be oval and compact, with pretty little arched toes that help them move quickly and with lots of agility.
The hindquarters (the rump, back legs, and back feet), should have short hocks and compact, oval feet and those same arched toes. The AKC says it doesn’t matter what color the nails are, but the dogs shouldn’t have dewclaws.
You may have spotted these pups running around without tails or with very short tails. So are mini Aussies born without tails? Nope!
All Aussies, big or small, have tails. Some are born with long tails that are then docked when they are young.
Others are born with naturally short tails, called bobtails. In the US, that means a tail under three inches is preferred, though docking has become controversial.
In some other countries, the practice of docking a tail is banned, and you’ll see Aussies there with longer tails.
If you’ve ever seen a full-sized Aussie, then this might all sound kind of familiar. That’s because their appearance is extremely similar to the standard but just shrunken down in size.
How big do mini Australian shepherds get?
When the dogs get full-grown, they reach about 14-18 inches tall at the shoulder for males, and 13-17 inches high at the shoulder for females.
How much should my Mini Aussie weigh? When they reach their full size, they should be somewhere between 20 to 40 pounds, with females closer to the smaller end of the range.
How does that differ from a standard Australian shepherd?
A standard gets about 20-23 inches for males and 18-21 inches for females (at the shoulder). They weigh somewhere between 40 to 65 pounds once they’re full-grown.
The Mini Aussie Coat Adds A Ton of Individuality
The coat is one of the more distinctive characteristics of this breed. They have a pretty, medium-long double coat that isn’t too fluffy, nor is it overly thin. In other words, it’s just right.
Under the long, weather-resistant outer coat, they have a soft, dense undercoat. Their hair can be either straight or wavy.
Coat colors can vary widely, and they give these little dogs a lot of distinction. They can come in black, blue merle, red (liver), and red merle. They can have lots of marbling or flecks, or they might have little of these marks.
They might have lots of white, or they could have hardly any. The white is usually on the face, chest, tummy, and feet when it is present.
They might also have tan points in addition to the white markings, or they might just have tan points. Those tan points can range from creamy to dark rust.
This Pup has a personality to spare!
Have you ever heard of a velcro dog? This pup is the very definition of that! They LOVE their humans and they always want to be nearby. When you’re on the sofa, they want to be there cuddling with you.
If you’re on the road to work, they want to be with you. When you go for a hike, they won’t let you leave them behind.
In other words, this dog always wants to be with you, no matter what you’re doing.
They may be small dogs, but they have big personalities.
That’s part of what makes this pup such a good family dog. They’re also easygoing, curious, and loyal.
On top of that, they don’t know that they’re little. They’ll come to your defense against a much bigger dog or other humans if they feel that you or your family is being threatened.
They’re also friendly with strangers, happy to say hello with a wag of that adorable tail. But that doesn’t mean they’ll just take off with anyone who invites them. They prefer their family over everyone else.
When it comes to small children, mini Aussies can be a great companion, but both kids and dogs need to be trained to be polite with each other. Once everyone knows the rules, they will be life-long friends.
The same thing goes with cats and strangers. These dogs are generally easy-going, and they’ll get along with other animals and new people so long as you teach them to be calm and respectful when they meet.
I have to note, however, that because they’re so obsessed with their humans, they can be prone to separation anxiety. If you want to leave them alone, you’ll need to teach them to accept it calmly when you leave the home.
Separation anxiety can result in a dog chewing, whining, barking, or otherwise expressing anxiety because they’ve been left alone. Dogs are all social creatures, and mini Aussies are especially so.
To teach them to accept being alone, give them a treat as you leave to show them that it’s a good thing. Then, when you return, be calm to teach them that it’s no big deal.
Early socialization helps prevent separation anxiety and can help ensure that your dog will be friendly with strangers.
While these are high energy dogs, they are well-suited to apartment life. Their small size makes them perfect for a smaller space.
But don’t think you can just leave them indoors all day and ignore them. They’ll still need lots of exercises.
Aussies aren’t the worst barkers out there, but they can definitely be prone to letting you know what they think with a bark or two.
On top of that, these dogs sometimes use their voices while they’re working as herding dogs, so don’t expect them to forget that instinct.
Because they come from working breeds, mini Australian shepherds have the ability to run fast! The full-sized dogs can hit up to 40 miles per hour, and the minis aren’t that far behind.
That’s why they are one of the top dog breeds for competing in agility and other active sports.
These dogs are incredibly smart, too. That’s why it’s important that you train them well. Luckily, they’re easy to train because they are eager to please and focused on making their people happy.
In fact, they’re considered one of the best breeds in terms of trainability.
The key to training is to be consistent and give them plenty of positive feedback. They are sensitive to your moods and they won’t be happy if you snap or yell at them to correct their behavior.
Also, some dogs are food lovers and some aren’t, so you might be able to reinforce good behavior by giving them treats, but you also might not be able to get them to do what you want with food.
In that case, it’s all about praising them when they do the right thing.
Because they’re easy to train and want to make you happy, they’re also easy to potty train.
Gain, it’s all about consistency and positivity, but with the right attitude, it’s easy to get these naturally clean dogs to poop in the right place.
How to take care of your Mini Aussie Shepherd
Mini Australian shepherds don’t require a ton of maintenance. For instance, they don’t need monthly haircuts or daily brushing. But they do need some regular care.
Exercise is the most important part of keeping them healthy because they have a high activity level.
Some small dogs are extremely cold-sensitive, but these pups aren’t. Like their standard cousins, they can handle some cold weather.
Just keep in mind that if it’s too cold for you to be outside in your jacket, it’s too cold for your dog to be outside for too long.
Exercising your Miniature Australian Shepherd
Like the standard-sized dog, these pups have a ton of energy. They need lots of exercises, especially if you live in a small apartment.
Plan to give them, at the very least, an hour of exercise every single day. That sounds like a lot, but there are lots of fun ways to get that energy out.
For instance, fetch is an easy way to get them to run around, but you can also let them swim in a lake or job next to you as you run.
They love hiking and doing agility, along with flyball.
Really, anything that gets them with their high energy levels so that they don’t feel frustrated and bored is ideal. If you want a partner to participate in dog sports, you should definitely consider a mini Aussie.
Puppies need less exercise, and you should never force a puppy to jog or walk for too long. Until they are about a year old, you can let them run around as much or as little as they want.
On top of physical exercise, they need mental stimulation, as well. That means food puzzles, obedience training, and games like hiding and seek.
This video shows you the daily exercise routine for one adorable mini Aussie.
Grooming is Important
Do mini Australian shepherds need to be groomed? You bet. All dogs need to be groomed to some degree. But these dogs don’t need as much as some others.
They shed every day, so frequent brushing will help keep the shedding under control. A weekly brushing to pick up that loose hair is smart, especially during shedding season.
Because they are small dogs, you won’t get as much hair as you would with a large dog, but they do shed quite a bit. The more you brush, the less hair you’ll find on your clothes and sofa.
Brush them a few times a week to prevent tangles, as well. A rake and undercoat comb are your best tools for keeping your dog looking and feeling good.
Wondering how often you should bathe a mini Aussie?
It depends on whether they’re working or doing activities that get them dirty frequently. A working dog may need a monthly bath. Pets who spend more time indoors can get away with a bath every 6-8 weeks.
Use a good quality shampoo made for dogs and clean their ears while you’re at it. You should also brush their teeth at least once a week with doggie toothpaste.
Feeding / Nutrition
Mini American shepherds need a high quality, protein-based diet. Make sure that fillers like corn or wheat aren’t in the recipe.
The amount of food they need depends on their size. Plan on about 25 calories of food per pound per day. So a 20-pound dog needs at least 500 calories a day, split between two meals.
Don’t miss: Best Dog Food for Australian Shepherds
Miniature Australian Shepherd health issues to watch for
While these dogs are relatively healthy, there are a few health problems you need to watch out for.
They suffer from eye problems like iris colobomas and microphthalmia. They can also have ear problems such as infections, and joint problems like canine hip dysplasia (CHD).
All collie-type dogs can carry a genetic mutation known as MDR1 that makes them sensitive to some medications. You can get a DNA test to know if this is something you should watch for.
You might want to give them a health screening annually to make sure that they are healthy and no problems are developing that need to be addressed.
Miniature Australian Shepherds have a pretty long life expectancy and can live 13-15 years or even longer.
There isn’t anyone common cause of death, but some die from cancers like lymphoma, though many live a long healthy life and die of natural causes.
How much is a Toy Australian Shepherd puppy?
Mini Aussies are NOT cheap dogs. You might find them cheap occasionally, but you should be wary.
Cheap mini Aussie puppies could be poorly bred, and you’ll end up with heartbreaking health or behavioral issues that could cost you more in the long run.
Whether you get one of the teacups or one of the small Australian shepherds, expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 and up to $5,000 or more.
Finding a Good Breeder
The Miniature Australian Shepherd Club of the USA (MASCUSA) is a good resource for finding a breeder with a healthy, well-bred miniature Australian Shepherd puppy.
Even though they aren’t focused on the minis exclusively, the Australian Shepherd Club of America is also a good resource.
Reducing Mini Aussies
Mini Australian Shepherd Mixes
There are several mixes out there that combine the mini Aussie with another breed. These include:
Who should get a Miniature Australian Shepherd dog?
So what’s the bottom line on this adorable dog? Let’s look at some of the pros and cons.
These are smart and easy to train and are perfect for active people who want to have a fitness partner. They are adaptable to a range of situations and they are very obedient. Plus, they love their family!
The bad news is that they can be challenging with other animals, especially small pets like gerbils because they have a high prey drive.
They also need frequent brushing and they can get bored easily. If you live alone and work all day, this probably isn’t the right dog for you.
Given the right home, however, they make a marvelous addition to the family. Just make sure to give them plenty of exercise, lots of affection, and the appropriate care.