The Miniature American Shepherd is a small to medium-sized herding dog. For such a small dog, this breed is known by a long list of names: Miniature American Shepherd, Miniature Australian Shepherd, Mini American and Mini Aussie. Whatever you call it, this breed is loving and charming family companion.
The Miniature American Shepherd is incredible versatile, happy to adapt to whatever lifestyle you live. Today’s Miniature American Shepherd feels equally at home whether herding goats, sheep or cattle on a ranch or farm; hanging in the backyard with the family in the suburbs; or even living in an apartment high-rise in a big city. As long as you provide enough attention, daily exercise and mental stimulation, the Miniature American will thrive and provide you with an endless supply of affection and entertainment.
Friendly and adventurous, the Miniature American is perfectly portable, happy to join you in anything and everything you do, from the kids’ soccer games to camping to beach outings and more. Miniature American Shepherds generally gets along great with kids, especially those who are taught to treat them with respect. Mini Americans are also usually amiable with other family pets, including other dogs, cats and horses, although if not brought up together, some Mini Americans might think it’s fun to chase the family cat. They are excellent watchdogs, although some might take it to the extreme and become problem barkers.
Height: 13 to 18 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight: About 20 to 40 pounds
Coat: Medium length, straight to wavy, weather-resistant double coat
Color: Black, blue merle, red (liver) and red merle, with or without tan and/or white markings
Life Expectancy: 12 to 13 years
Characteristics of the Miniature Australian Shepherd
|Tendency to Bark||High|
|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 Australia, which had a number of other breeds in its background, including the Pyrenean Shepherd, Border Collies, Collies and others. These outstanding herding dogs were brought to California by Australian immigrants. The dogs quickly became sought after by California ranchers and cowboys, who helped to solidified these dogs as a breed, christened “Australian Shepherds,” or “Aussies,” in honor of the country from which the dogs first came. Australian Shepherds vary in size, but in general Aussies are a medium- to large-sized herding breed.
At the same time, Australians Shepherds were being perfected in California, some people began purposefully breeding dogs thought to be small Australian Shepherds. These smaller dogs had the athleticism, stamina and superb herding skills of their larger relatives, but were more portable and better-suited for indoor living in addition to ranch work. Initially, these dogs were known as Miniature Australian Shepherds. Years later, when breed fanciers approached the American Kennel Club to request that their breed be recognized, some people felt that calling the breed a Miniature Australian Shepherd was problematic since it was (and is) an entirely separate breed from the larger Australian Shepherd. Eventually, the name Miniature American Shepherd was chosen, in honor of the breed’s country of development.
Although many breeders and pet owners continue to refer to the breed as the Miniature Australian Shepherd or Mini Aussie, both the American Kennel Club and United Kennel Club recognized the breed as the Miniature American Shepherd. The breed was accepted for full registration by the AKC and the UKC in 2015, as part of the Herding Group.
Miniature American Shepherd Care
As befitting a working ranch dog, the Miniature American Shepherd’s medium-length, double coat is wash and wear. The coat needs no trimming or shaving. The weather-resistant coat repels dirt—dried mud can simply be brushed out. The coat does shed, so brush three or more times a week to remove loose and shedding hair before it ends up on your clothes and furniture. Bathe when dirty and trim the nails weekly to keep them short. Look into the ears occasionally, cleaning them out with a pet-safe ear cleaner if necessary.
The Miniature American Shepherd is small, but its abundant energy and high intelligence demand adequate exercise and mental stimulation. When provided with enough to keep body and mind busy, a Miniature American settles in beautifully to family life at home. Luckily, the Mini American’s small size makes it easier to provide enough exercise. Daily walks, jogging (after 2 years of age) and games of fetch even in a small yard can burn off energy. Additionally, the Miniature American is an outstanding athletic competitor. Consider training for a canine performance sport like agility, flyball, flying disc, dock jumping, herding or obedience. Due to its portable size and personable nature, the Miniature American Shepherd is also well-suited to animal assisted therapy.
Mini Americans are both smart and willing to please, so training can be a breeze as long as you take the time to teach them. Use positive-reinforcement and make it a game and your Mini American will quickly learn the basics. Don’t stop there, though. This breed can learn lots of skills, including a repertoire of tricks that will impress family, friends and strangers alike.
Common Health Problems
Nearly all purebred dogs are predisposed to developing certain genetically linked conditions. The Miniature American Shepherd shares similar hereditary health concerns with the Australian Shepherd. The main health issues seen in the Miniature American Shepherd are hip dysplasia and several eye diseases, including progressive retinal atrophy (PRA, a degenerative eye disease) and drug sensitivity due to a mutation of the MDR1 gene (which is commonly seen in herding breeds). The Miniature American Shepherd Club of the USA, which is the national parent club for the breed in the United States, requires certain health testing of breeder club members, including an OFA hip evaluation, ophthalmologist eye evaluation, PRA Optigen DNA test and MDR1 DNA test.
Diet and Nutrition
Feed your Miniature American Shepherd regular meals using a measuring cup or scale to portion out the food. Don’t allow your Miniature American to become overweight by feeding too much or leaving food out all day (free feeding). On the flip side, very active Miniature American Shepherds, especially performance dogs, might need to consume more food if they are burning a lot of calories. If you’re unsure about how much to feed your Mini American, or what food to feed, ask your breeder or veterinarian for advice.
Portable size good for traveling
Excellent family dog
May be destructive without exercise
Requires adequate mental stimulation
Some are problem barkers
Where to Adopt or Buy
The Miniature American Shepherd Club of the USA maintains breeder directory on its website, but prospective puppy buyers should research any breeder before deciding to buy from them. Be prepared to get on a waiting list if you want a puppy—most reputable breeders only breed a few litters per year, so they might not have puppies available when you inquire. Miniature American Shepherds sometimes end up in rescue. For those Mini Americans in need of rehoming, the Miniature American Shepherd Club of the USA offers rescue information and support, also listed on the group’s website.
More Dog Breeds and Further Research
If you like the Miniature American Shepherd, you might also like these breeds:
Otherwise, check out all of our other dog breed articles to help you find the perfect dog for you and your family.