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. 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
simonne provost says
Adopted ( bought ) a mini Australian Shepperd, she has been spayed, is now 7 months.
unfortuneterly we found out she suffers from arithmia…. but certainy doesn’ t affect her energy! we are seniors and have time for her, I will be doing more trsaining for obedience she has a very strong personnality and nothing stop her for trying new things. We have another older small dog and would like to know how to correct her jalousy?
We are so interested in Australian. shepherds. We are looking for a miniature Australian Shepherd. He would have a loving home. The puppies are so adorable.
Sharon Cline says
I am looking for a tea cup Aussie
Mine does as well..she not only has a strong personality but does not like anything that makes noise, she gets really nasty if you use any beater, vacuum, hair dryer, in other words..noisy. She is ten months old and c requires constant attention which drives me crazy as I am retired and like to have time to myself. They Aussies are bossy and require a lot of time, they dont like strangers and bark a lot and the bark is really loud…
I have a almost 3 year old mini aussie shepherd. Just last summer he started to get very aggressive toward our German shepherd as well as my children. He has bit both of my kids in the face and just last night, I woke up to him growling and attacking my ear. I’ve had him since he was a baby and hes never ever been mistreated. Does anyone know what could cause him to turn like this for no reason?
Thomas Pluth says
Love my boy! I have a red tri mini. he is my whole life! I love his energy. This article was very enlightening and informative. It gave me some very good tips to keep my boy happy and healthy as well as well behaved!
John McDivitt says
We have a 5 year old red merle neutered male who has just started vomiting. Our vet has not been able to discern any reason. He keeps very little down and we are very concerned. This has been going on for nearly three weeks and I can find nothing in the literature about stomach or intestinal issues. He had a clear x-ray of the esophagus, heart and lungs. No pain when palpitated. Any suggestions? Thanks!
John McDivitt, I’d like to know how it worked and how your pup was doing? Our 7 yr old neutered mini also started vomiting but we figured out it was due to allergies, he’s mostly fine when I remember to give him medicine.
smaller dog breeds are prone to allergies and if there was a change in the dog food you normally use the dog vomiting could be a sign that you need a different dog food. Also maybe he ate something outside that made him really sick. When I changed my dog’s food she stopped throwing up every time she ate. did they check his stools to see if he had any parasites?
Aussies should not beceating any food that contains corn or corn bi-products. Im not sure if whom you purchased your pup through told you this. Hopefully they did. Second, make sure you are not using any flea or tick medications, shampoos, sprays, etc that contain Ivermectin. Aussies have a major reaction to this product. It can be fatal. Lastly, as a long time Aussie owner ,7 minis and 1 standard, (not counting what I grew up with or around with my parents 10+) and us as a family being small hobby breeders the one condition I would suggest to look at is possibly the kidney. There could be a blockage, uti, etc. Some of the symptoms you are mentioning are what I have seen or heard of in others Aussies over the years.
mike lee says
I just had to have a toy yorkie put down for this reason. She had lost a lot of weight and was not herself. Two vets didn’t know what to make of it. She got to where she was suffering from not enough food and water kept down so we had to give my sweet puppy of 16 years up. SOB!!
We got are mini aussie JoJo at 16 weeks. He is now 7 months old. He immediatly bonded with our 2 senior pomeranians. He is super playful, active & smart. We have a fenced backyard with a above ground pool we cant keep him out of. He actually ate through the gate so he could get in. Though quite intelligent his personality is a cross between Jethro on the Beverly Hillbillies & Ricochet Rabbit. He loves to sleep on his back, snuggle, play fetch & tug-o-war. He absolutly LOVES the chomping the water from the garden hose. I would not recommend this breed if you do not have a good size enclosed yard. Daily walks are not enough for their energy level. They are also very strong & could accidently injur a small child or frail elderly person buy jumping on them or being too playful. Great dog for active folks & older kids that enjoy being outside.
Well that was an interesting article but now I feel shouldn’t get a Mini Aussie and my daughter really wanted one.
We have one and he is awesome! He is our first family pet!! I have a 9 year old son and an 18 yr old; Tucker plays well with both of them. We do have an acre for him to get energy out. He is very sweet, fun and cuddly. 😊
I just purchased my first Mini Aussie. She is now 10 weeks old. She seems very smart: learned to sit and shake within 15 minutes. She is showing some characterization of being quite athletic. I’m wondering what tricks/training i can do with her to teach her things that you often see at fairs? I’m a young, retired 60 year old and have all day to work with her! 🙂
Cheryl Paluseo says
We adopted a mini Aussie at about 1 yr old. She is extremely shy and easily spooked. She may have had a very bad first year of life…She is 20 lbs and chocolate brown with a white throat/chest. Does anyone have any ideas about getting her to act more outgoing and loving? She’s 5 yr old now and still extremely wary of everything. She loves up to me sometimes, but not to my husband, but loves to walk with him. AND, she has no desire to play with toys! I find that unbelievable! Anybody know what we can do??? ( our last dog, a beagle was the exact opposite) Thanks
Larry Douglas says
I adopted an older (about 4-5yo) female dog that was supposedly a mix between an Australian Shepard and Border Collie, but believe she is a miniature Aussie. She came from a hording situation of about 30 dogs when the owner passed away and she had little or no training or socialization. When I adopted her she was extremely skittish and shy. After a year and a half (i.e. now) she’s a lot less skittish, comes to me without being called, and actually likes tummy rubs. I pay a lot of attention to her – petting, brushing, and talking to her. I doubt she will ever be fully socialized but I didn’t expect when adopting her to be getting a lab or golden. Dogs inherently are social animals, being patient and giving them lots of attention usually pays off.
If they don’t grow up w toys, then isuathey dont care bout toys. My three rescues are the same. They could care less
Aussies are very smart dogs..they talk too.. when I am eating, she wants a piece of my food.. I do spoil her actually that is my bad but they are smart dogs for sure..the down side is ..THEY HAVE TOO MUCH ENERGY AND NEED TO KEEP MOVING
Shane H. says
I have (2) aussies and they are both great. The older dog is very protective of my wife and I. They are very well mannered, however I would recommend some sort of training. I also live on a Cattle ranch so they have a job each day with our cattle. As of you have read please excerice them each day. They are wonderful companions.
Our mini aussie is the most loving dog I have ever owned! Perfect companion – she follows me everywhere
Thomas Pluth says
Recently adopted a mix breed mini Australian/American Shepherd he has all the characteristics of an Aussie. How do I find out what is the other breed? The shelter apparently said it was a mix with Chihuahua but I’m not sure he definitely behaves more like an Aussie. Any thoughts?
Larry Douglas says
There are tests available that require you send in a sample of saliva on a swab stick that you purchase. I don’t know how accurate they are having never used them.
I have been reading up and comparing notes on mini-Australian Shepherds so thank you for your information.
WE purchased our miniature Aussie through a rescue service. He is now about 7 months old and apparently was on a puppy mill farm but was not used for breeding and, upon request, was included in the dogs purchased. Due to those circumstances he has not demonstrated any of the challenges of many rescue dogs.
He is all the best of what you have said. We have had him for a month and he is very easy to train, always aims to please, causes a stir at the dog park because he is adorable, loves people, and loves to run and play with any size dog – totally not intimidated – but knows how to take of himself. He came to us knowing sit and shake. He was not housetrained but only took about 3 weeks to train and only about 4 accidents. We really should have named him Einstein!
I have to say I feel very blessed as he helped to fill in lonely heart spot left by my previous Aussie-Retriever mix – another rescue. We are older and his size is perfect for us. At 7 months he weighs about 33 lbs. I will say he loves companionship and loves to play and run so activity is very important and he loves games like tug-a-war, fetch, etc. He settles down pretty easily so I call him AP for short – Almost Perfect!
I have an 8 month old Mini American Shepard. Looks like she will mature around 32 pounds. I have had at least one Aussie (standard) since 1978. My current is on the small range at 42 # and 14 yrs old. I have done obedance herding breed and agility through the years. Could not have a better trainable breed. The sheding is an issue but worth is for the beauthy of the coat. My old lady dog was a certified therapy dog with amazing intuition. One could not ask for a better breed. The smaller size is a benifit at my age as I do not have 2 1/2 acres any more. The minnie does have an action 5y old to play with in a safe fenced yard. Nancy
AIZAN ALI says
Thanks For helping to know more about Australian shepherds…
I also have a micro-niche blog on the Australian shepherd.
If you have any suggestions or tips for me or about my Australian shepherd
blog plz share with me.
We have had our Aussie for several years now. He is 9 years old, a primarily inside dog, that for the first time, has started recently loosing his undercoat. I am concerned as to why. Could you offer me any suggestions?
Emilie Phelps says
To say that the AKC has accepted miniature australian shepherds simply isn’t true.
The AKC recognizes miniature AMERICAN shepherds, bred from small, unregistered, alleged australian shepherds during the 80s and 90s, but anyone selling you a mini aussie is a puppy mill breeder registering with less stringent and acclaimed agencies.
There is no such standardized breed.
Sarah Holloway says
You are right of course, thank you for drawing our attention to the mistake. We have amended the article to clarify the difference from a Miniature American Shepherd.
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