The name mini Australian Shepherd is sometimes used to refer to a purebred Miniature American Shepherd. But it can also mean an Aussie-cross or purebred Aussie that has been selectively bred to be smaller than the standard size. They grow up to 18 inches tall and weigh up to 40lbs as adults. But don’t let that fool you into thinking he will be content as a house dog. Mini Aussies will be happiest living on a farm or on an otherwise larger piece of property. They like plenty of open space for them to run in. These intelligent pups are loyal and very active, just like the standard herding and farm breed.
- Where did they come from?
- How big are they when full grown?
- Family friendly or built to work?
- Mini Australian Shepherd puppies and breeders
Mini Australian Shepherds come in a variety of colors and patterns, but they all have long coats that need a lot of grooming and care. In the 1960s small Australian Shepherds were used to found the Miniature American Shepherd breed. But, a lot of people are still confused about the difference between a mini and a Miniature American Shepherd.
What’s In A Name?
A mini Australian Shepherd could be one of two things. It will either be:
- a Miniature American Shepherd, incorrectly described
- a recently miniaturized version of an Australian Shepherd
Recently miniaturized Australian Shepherds are created in one of three ways. We will look more at this in a moment. First, let’s learn about the Miniature American Shepherd.
The Shrinking Of A Breed
Many people like the lively and hard-working Australian Shepherd. But not everyone can deal with this dog’s abundant energy in a 40–65 pound body.
In the 1960s breeders sought to overcome this by establishing a new breed from some of the smallest Aussies. They were renamed to avoid confusion, and that’s how the Miniature American Shepherd breed came about. The very-slightly-different new name was not enough to avert everyone’s confusion.
Some breeders still try to breed new small Aussies from full-sized dogs. These scaled-down dogs won’t qualify as Miniature American Shepherds, since they are now a pedigree in their own right. But they are likely to be sold as mini Australian Shepherds.
Where Do Mini Australian Shepherd Dogs Come From?
American ranchers used selective breeding of small Australian Shepherd dogs who worked rodeos. As a result they created even smaller replicas of the breed. Typically, miniaturization of a dog breed can be achieved in one of three ways, each with various pros and cons.
- Mix the larger dog breed with a smaller dog breed
- Introduce the dwarfism gene
- Repeatedly breed from the runts of litters
The Miniature American Shepherd was developed using the third option. But, modern mini Australian Shepherds may be made using any of these three.
This is the healthiest method to create a mini Australian Shepherd. It increases genetic diversity, and can reduce the likelihood of inheriting serious health problems, or behavioral issues. However, the downside here is that a crossbred teacup Australian Shepherd can inherit any traits from the non-Aussie parent.
So, if you choose a small dog like a Chihuahua, or a Yorkie as a second parent, it’s likely the puppies will be smaller than a standard Aussie. But, they may also look more like a Chihuahua or Yorkie, and have a similar temperament to the second breed used.
Sometimes one of the genes responsible for dwarfism will occur by chance, but more usually it needs to be introduced by crossbreeding. Creating a mini breed this way will reduce the size of a dog by shortening their legs, but they also often have oversized heads.
So, a mini Australian Shepherd with dwarfism won’t look proportionally the same as the standard breed. It also carries a risk of painful muscular and skeletal side effects.
Breeding from Runts
Breeding from runts doesn’t introduce new traits and physical features like cross breeding, but runt puppies can be sickly, with weaker immune systems.
This method will ensure that puppies look the most like smaller versions of the standard breed. But, it often takes generations of breeding to get the size people want. Breeding from runts can also put them and their puppies at risk.
What Do They Look Like?
The appearance of teacup Australian Shepherd dogs will vary depending on the method used to create them. Puppies bred from small Australian Shepherds over generations are the most likely to look like a shrunken version of the standard breed.
Those made by introducing dwarfism will usually have very short legs and oversized heads. Whereas crossbreeding to get smaller puppies results in dogs that can inherit any mixture of traits from either parent.
How Big Are Mini Australian Shepherds?
A Miniature American Shepherd may grow to be 13 to 18 inches tall at the shoulder. They weigh somewhere between 20 and 40 pounds. Males are generally larger than females. So this breed is not super tiny, about 20–35 pounds smaller than a regular Australian Shepherd.
Coat Type and Colors
One of the most eye-catching and much-loved features of the Miniature American Shepherd is their gorgeous coat! This is something breeders try hard to replicate in miniature versions of the breed. It can be seen in the Miniature American Shepherd.
- blue merle
- red merle
In addition, they may have tan and/or white markings.
Grooming and Shedding
With their long and shaggy double-coats, mini Australian Shepherd shedding is nothing to sneeze at. Aussies come with a lot of hair. During their seasonal shedding season, you’ll need to brush a mini Aussie daily. Weekly brushing during non-peak shedding will keep their coat from tangling or matting.
A mini Australian Shepherd created by crossbreeding with a miniature Poodle – also known as an Aussiedoodle – might shed less, though it’s not a guarantee! And these are unlikely to be allergy friendly dogs.
Mini Australian Shepherd Temperament Traits
These headstrong dogs are likely to be defined by a strong work ethic and a love of herding livestock.
Any Australian Shepherd may be wary of strangers. You’ll need to socialize a mini to ensure that they do not become aggressive or nippy toward non-family members. Even though they are smaller than the standard breed, a teacup Australian Shepherd can harm someone if they are aggressive. Socialization will reduce this risk.
On top of this, the breed is very active and does not do well if not allowed to burn off energy outdoors. The miniature Australian Shepherd’s herding instinct could manifest as ankle-biting if he is not used for work.
The Appeal of Mini Australian Shepherd Dogs
Mini Aussies are appealing to people who love the full size Australian Shepherd, but have less room at home for a dog. Smaller dogs also cost less to feed, and appeal to our instinct to look after things which are small and cute.
They usually need less exercise than the full sized version of the breed. A standard Australian Shepherd is a very active dog. The smaller version will also need plenty of exercise, but not quite as much as the standard breed.
So generally, miniaturized dogs have cheaper general care and lower needs in terms of space and exercise. However, there are some drawbacks.
Drawbacks of Miniaturization
One drawback of miniaturization of a breed is that it increases the potential occurrence of some other health problems. Similarly to humans, dwarfism in dogs can create a number of skeletal issues. Examples include:
- Basset Hound’s sometimes twisted legs
- Dachshund’s propensity toward back injuries caused by his elongated spine and short legs
Increased health issues means these dogs can cost more in vet bills throughout their lives. In extreme cases, this leads to more dogs being given up for adoption and losing their homes when families can no longer afford them.
Inherited Health Problems
Miniature American Shepherds and other mini Aussies alike are not only susceptible to common canine health problems. They are also prone to inherited health problems specific to the Australian Shepherd breed as a whole:
- hip or elbow dysplasia
- vision problems
- blood clotting disorders
- MDR1 drug sensitivity
All parents of mini Australian Shepherd litters should pass the following tests:
- PRA optigen (to rule out progressive retinal atrophy)
- MDR1 DNA genetic test
Mini Australian Shepherd Health Issues
In mini Australian Shepherds, the following conditions may be observed as a result of miniaturization or dwarfing:
- Intervertebral disc disease
- Luxating patellars
- Fragile bones
Finding a Good Breeder
If you will be buying a mini Aussie puppy from a breeder, make sure that their puppies meet registration guidelines. Additionally, only look at puppies that are housed in a clean environment. Make sure they are not sick, and are well-cared for.
Breeders who house their stock in poor conditions should be avoided. Be wary of breeders who refuse to show you all of their stock. They may be hiding something. Bear in mind that mini dogs of all types are very popular at the moment, and this trend is being exploited by poor quality breeders and puppy mills.
Generally, you will need to spend $600 to $900 for pet quality puppies, or $1,200 to $2,000 for show quality puppies. The price of a mini Aussie puppy may depend on the:
- number of available puppies in your area
- care the available ones have received (such as deworming, vaccinations, microchipping, spaying/neutering, registration, etc.)
- value placed on their parents