Do you find the idea of a miniature German Shepherd appealing?
Maybe you’re a fan of this large breed for their courage and intelligence but want a smaller dog.
You’re not alone.
Many people have an interest in smaller versions of popular breeds.
But have you ever wondered how you get a miniature German Shepherd?
Is there a downside to this downsizing trend?
In this article we’ll look at the pros and cons of miniaturization.
So then you can determine if the miniature German Shepherd is the right dog for you.
Are There Miniature German Shepherds?
First of all, it’s important to understand that there is no miniature German Shepherd breed.
Miniaturization in dog breeding is achieved in one of three ways.
A standard German Shepherd can be crossed with a smaller dog breed.
They can possess the gene for dwarfism.
The final way to miniaturize is to breed two exceptionally small purebred German Shepherds together.
Each of these methods has drawbacks which we’ll look into.
But first, let’s look at the breed standard.
The Amazing German Shepherd
In the late 19th century, various strains of German dogs were combined to create the ultimate herding dog.
Today the breed is better known for their military, police, protection, and guide dog work.
A well-socialized German Shepherd Dog makes a wonderfully loyal family pet.
This is a well-muscled dog with a deep chest and strong hindquarters, and he is longer than he is tall.
Their double coat of medium length comes in a variety of colors.
They have a long muzzle, confident head carriage, and pointed ears.
The male stands from 24 to 26 inches and weighs from 65 to 90 pounds.
The female is somewhat smaller, standing from 22 to 24 inches and weighing between 50 and 70 pounds.
Appeal of the Miniature German Shepherd
Despite ranking as the second most popular breed in the U.S., many people feel the German Shepherd is too big for them.
They’re a powerful, active breed who needs plenty of exercise and room to move.
If you live in an apartment or a small house, space could definitely be a reason for wanting a miniature German Shepherd.
Perhaps you have young children and would feel more secure around a smaller, more manageable dog.
Then there’s the cuteness factor.
There’s no question that smaller dogs tend to be more adorable.
Therefore that makes them more appealing to many people.
The oversized round head and big eyes associated with little dogs engenders a feeling of caretaking behavior in people.
This phenomenon is known as baby schema.
So let’s find out how you get miniature German Shepherd Dogs.
Miniature German Shepherd Mix
Breeding a female German Shepherd with the male of a smaller breed produces a mixed breed dog.
This is the most humane way to miniaturize.
However, when mixing with another breed, there’s no way to know which parent the puppies will take after.
They could be smaller but not look or behave anything like a German Shepherd.
There’s also the possibility that the puppies will only be slightly smaller.
The upside to crossbreeding is that it can reduce the incidence of passing along genetic health problems.
Of course that is if both parents aren’t prone to the same condition.
Here are some breeds that breeders commonly mix with the German Shepherd.
German Shepherd Corgi Mix
Mixing the German Shepherd and the Corgi produces the German Shepherd Corgi mix.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is distinctive for being built long and low to the ground.
They measure just 10 to 12 inches and weigh from 25 to 30 pounds.
Despite the size difference, these are both herding breeds who are smart and trainable.
You can expect this mix to stand from 12 to 15 inches and weigh anywhere from 25 to 65 pounds.
The Corman Shepherd will be an athletic dog who needs plenty of activity.
German Shepherd Poodle Mix
The German Shepherd Poodle mix crosses the GSD with a Poodle.
This is a highly intelligent, loyal, and loving mix.
In appearance, these two breeds are very dissimilar, so looks can vary depending on which parent the puppies take after.
The standard Poodle is over 15 inches and weighs from 40 to 70 pounds.
You can expect the Shepadoodle to range from 15 to 26 inches tall and weigh between 40 and 90 pounds.
Border Collie German Shepherd Mix
The Border Collie German Shepherd mix combines the Border Collie with the GSD.
This is sure to be a whip smart and extremely energetic dog.
He will need plenty of physical activity and mental stimulation.
The Shollie will be highly trainable.
But a tendency to be protective might not make them the best choice for homes with small children.
The Border Collie stands from 18 to 22 inches and weighs from 30 to 55 pounds.
The Miniature German Shepherd and Dwarfism
Pituitary dwarfism is a genetic autosomal recessive disorder that affects the GSD.
Physical characteristics of this condition include:
- Shorter than normal legs
- Longer than normal body
- Bowed front legs
- Stagnant development of the hair coat or baldness
This would truly be a miniature German Shepherd in terms of temperament and behavior.
However, pituitary dwarfism can have some pretty serious health effects.
Impaired kidney function, hypothyroidism, and a weakened skeleton are just a few of the health problems that are associated with pituitary dwarfism.
The Miniature German Shepherd Bred From Runts
The term runt can refer to the smallest puppy in the litter.
To a breeder, it means puppies whose weight at birth is abnormally low.
To clarify, defined this way, you could have an entire litter of runts.
Unfortunately, puppies who are born extremely underweight are likely to face many health problems throughout their lives.
And the more underweight they are, the more they are at risk.
Breeding from two undersized purebred GSDs is another way to get a miniature German Shepherd.
Some breeders choose this method because the sought-after physical and behavioral characteristics of the breed will get passed down to the puppies.
However, when two dogs who are way below the standard size are bred together, it increases the chance of passing along health problems as well.
How Big Do Miniature German Shepherds Get?
Miniature German Shepherd size will depend on a number of factors.
If they’re crossed with another breed, they could be closer to the size of the other parent.
So crossing with a Collie would make a larger dog than one mixed with a Yorkie.
A miniature German Shepherd full grown with the gene for dwarfism would have very short legs and weigh approximately 30 pounds.
Breeding two very underweight purebred GSDs could potentially make an even smaller dog, but at what cost?
Miniature German Shepherd Health
The German Shepherd breed has an average lifespan of 7 to 10 years.
They are at risk of a number of health conditions you should be aware of.
Like many breeds, the GSD is prone to hip and elbow dysplasia.
This is a skeletal disease in which the ball and socket joint is malformed.
Consequently, the German Shepherd Dog Club of America recommends hip and elbow evaluations of the puppy’s parents.
This helps to reduce the risk of passing along joint problems.
Degenerative myelopathy is an incurable disease of the spinal cord.
It begins with a loss of coordination in the hind legs.
Then it gets progressively worse until the dog is unable to walk.
Bloat is a sudden, acute swelling of the abdomen that can be life-threatening if prompt treatment is not received.
Another joint disease which affects the GSD is osteochondritis dissecans (OCD).
This is caused by an abnormal growth in the cartilage.
Finding Miniature German Shepherd Puppies
It can be difficult to find breeders who specialize in specific crossbreeds.
Choosing to adopt a dog from a shelter has the advantage of allowing you to see exactly what kind of dog you’re getting.
This can also be less expensive than buying from a breeder, and many of these dogs will already be trained.
Choosing to get a puppy from a breeder may also require some patience.
Don’t be fooled by claims that miniature German Shepherds are rare.
This is a ploy used by unscrupulous breeders trying to charge more money.
Above all, ask questions and make sure the parents were health tested.
Is a Miniature German Shepherd Right for Me?
Is there a miniature German Shepherd in your future?
In short, only you can know for sure.
We recommend choosing a miniature German Shepherd who is the result of a cross with another, healthier breed.
Research the other breed type so you have a full understanding of the potential problems your puppy could have before deciding.
Make sure you’re able to dedicate time to a dog who will require plenty of exercise, socialization, and training.
If you’re ready to make a commitment, these intelligent dogs are loyal, devoted companions.
References and Resources
Borgi, M., et al. “Baby schema in human and animal faces induces cuteness perception and gaze allocation in children.” frontiers in Psychology, 2014.
Kooistra, HS, et al. “Combined pituitary hormone deficiency in German shepherd dogs with dwarfism.” Domestic Animal Endocrinology, October 2000.
Voorbij, A., et al. “Pituitary dwarfism in German shepherd dogs.” JVCS, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2009.
Stock, KF, et al. “Genetic analyses of elbow and hip dysplasia in the German shepherd dog.” Journal of Animal Breeding and Genetics, 2011.
Barclay, KB, et al. “Immunohistochemical evidence for immunoglobulin and complement deposition in spinal cord lesions in degenerative myelopathy in German shepherd dogs.” Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research, 1994.
Rivier, P., et al. “Combined laparoscopic ovariectomy and laparoscopic-assisted gastropexy in dogs susceptible to gastric dilatation-volvulus.” The Canadian Veterinary Journal, 2011.
Grøndalen, J., et al. “Arthrosis in the elbow joint of young rapidly growing dogs. V. A pathoanatomical investigation.” Nordisk Veterinaermedicin, 1981.