Miniature American Shepherd: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

miniature American shepherd hanging over a chair


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The miniature American shepherd is a small- to medium-size herding dog breed from the United States that has a medium-length double coat and resembles a smaller version of the Australian shepherd. 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. 

Breed Overview

GROUP: Herding

HEIGHT: 13 to 17 inches (female), 14 to 18 inches (male)

WEIGHT: 20 to 40 pounds

COAT: Medium-length double coat

COAT COLOR: Blue, blue merle, red, or red merle with/without white markings and/or tan points

LIFE SPAN: 12 to 13 years

TEMPERAMENT: Intelligent, active, playful


ORIGIN: United States

Characteristics of the Miniature Australian Shepherd

The miniature American shepherd generally has a lively and loyal temperament. It is a friendly, playful breed that loves people and even other dogs. Its temperament also is marked by its high intelligence and ability to learn various tricks.

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark Medium
Amount of Shedding Medium

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 later was 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 exercise every day. It also requires proper training and socialization, in which it typically excels. And its grooming needs are fairly straightforward.


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.


The miniature American shepherd’s coat is fairly wash-and-wear. It needs no trimming or shaving. Brush it at least weekly to remove loose fur and prevent tangles. A couple times a year, often in the spring and fall, shedding will increase. 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.


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.

Mini American shepherd looking up

Stephanie Zell / Getty Images

mini American shepherd sitting and smiling
Tiffany Kelly / Noble Soul Photography / Getty Images
mini American shepherd in the snow
Rebecca Smith / Getty Images

Common Health Problems

Mini American shepherds are mostly a healthy dog breed. But they are still prone to some hereditary health issues, including:

Diet 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 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.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Miniature American Shepherd

The miniature American shepherd isn’t a very common breed, but it’s still worth checking local animal shelters and rescue organizations for a dog in need of a home. If you’re looking for a puppy from a reputable breeder, expect to pay around $2,000 to $3,000, though this can vary widely. For further information to help you find a mini American shepherd, check out:

Miniature American Shepherd Overview

  • Portable size that's good for traveling

  • Very affectionate

  • Takes well to training

  • Needs lots of exercise

  • Requires ample mental stimulation

  • Can become a problem barker or destructive if bored

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Before bringing home a mini American shepherd, do plenty of research to ensure the dog is right for your lifestyle. Talk to breed owners, rescue groups, reputable breeders, and veterinarians. And spend some time with the dogs if possible.

If you're interested in similar breeds, check out: 

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

  • What's the difference between a mini American shepherd and mini Australian shepherd?

    Mini American shepherds and mini Aussies are the same breed. The breed was initially called the miniature Australian shepherd, but that name changed to reflect the breed's United States origin.

  • Are mini American shepherds good family dogs?

    Mini American shepherds can be excellent family pets when they are properly trained and socialized. However, due to their herding instinct, they might nip at the heels of children—especially when kids are being rambunctious.

  • Are mini American shepherds good apartment dogs?

    Mini American shepherds can adapt to apartment living as long as they get enough time outside for exercise and mental stimulation every day. Otherwise, they might be prone to problem behaviors, such as excessive barking.

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  1. Miniature American Shepherd. American Kennel Club.

  2. Miniature American Shepherd Puppies For Sale. American Kennel Club.