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Meet the breed: Miniature American shepherd

Anna is a lifestyle writer who spends way too much time with her two dogs. When she is not writing, she is probably gardening, reading, tripping over dog toys, or trying to acquire more farm animals than she really needs.

Is the miniature American shepherd the perfect dog for you?

Get ready to meet one of America's newest and cutest dog breeds, the miniature American shepherd. These pups sport the intelligence, agility and beauty of Australian shepherds in a pint-size package guaranteed to melt your heart.

History of the miniature American shepherd

The miniature American shepherd is a relatively new breed of dog, developed in the 1960s in California from small, unregistered Australian shepherds. They were originally called miniature Australian shepherds, but the AKC officially recognized the miniature American shepherd breed in early 2016, establishing the breed standard and opening AKC competitions to these adorable little canines.

Miniature American shepherds, also known affectionately as mini Aussies, are a herding breed. Despite their small size, they are agile, energetic and extremely intelligent, making them excellent sheepdogs and athletes. Mini American shepherds excel in agility, obedience, rally and other dog sports, and this high-energy breed requires regular exercise to stay mentally and physically fit.

More: Meet the breed: Skye terrier

Miniature American shepherd colors

Like Australian shepherds, mini Aussies come in a variety of colors. The officially recognized colors are black, blue merle, red and red merle. Mini Aussies can also have tan points and white markings.

Is the miniature American shepherd the perfect dog for you?
Image: Lori Schiffert/Flickr

How miniature is a mini American shepherd?

Miniature American shepherds are about 6 inches smaller than Australian shepherds. An AKC registered Aussie male dog typically measures 20 to 23 inches, whereas mini American shepherd males are only 14 to 18 inches at the shoulder. Female mini American shepherds can be 13 to 17 inches tall.

This means that there is no excuse not to take your miniature American shepherd with you, no matter where you go.

More: Meet the breed: Australian cattle dog

Miniature American shepherd personality

The breed developers wanted to keep the intelligence and loyalty of Australian shepherds in their new dog breed, just in a smaller package. Mini Aussies are highly intelligent, which makes them easy to train. They are eager to please and enjoy spending time with their people. Relatively high-energy needs make them the perfect dog for active owners. These little herding dogs need daily exercise in a fenced yard or multiple walks a day, and they love games like catch, flyball, hide-and-seek and learning new tricks.

Miniature American shepherds love having a job. Despite their adorable size, they are a working breed and do best in households that can devote time to activities like agility or hiking. Miniature American shepherds are usually good with children as they are good-natured and devoted to their families.

Miniature American shepherd health and grooming needs

Miniature American shepherds are generally healthy dogs, but as with any breed, they are prone to certain issues. Hip dysplasia is not uncommon, so always purchase a puppy from a reputable breeder. Mini American shepherds are also at risk for certain eye diseases, including progressive retinal atrophy, persistent pupillary membrane (PPM), microphthalmia and iris coloboma.

Mini American shepherds have a double coat that requires weekly grooming to prevent clumping and matting. Regular brushing also reduces shedding, and your mini Aussie will benefit from regular baths to keep it clean. Their nails are strong and fast growing, so you will need to keep up on trimming or grinding their nails and also keep an eye on their ears to prevent buildup of wax and dirt, which leads to infection.

Is a miniature American shepherd for you?

The small size of the breed makes them popular with equestrians as they fit easily into the cab of the truck on the way to horse shows, but all kinds of people own this fun-loving breed. A miniature American shepherd might be the perfect addition to your family if you enjoy spending time outside, have the discipline to train your dog, love playing fetch and crave cuddles after a long day of physical activity. Luckily, their slightly smaller size makes them better suited for smaller yards than Australian shepherds or border collies.

Mini Aussies are not couch potatoes. Their ideal afternoon consists of a long run followed by a game of fetch and then a lap around the agility course you lovingly built for them in the back yard. With proper nutrition and enough exercise, your mini American shepherd will live a long, healthy, active life at your side.

More: Meet the breed: German shepherd

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