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What Is a Mini Aussie?

A Miniature Australian Shepherd (sometimes called a North American Shepherd) is a size variety of the Australian Shepherd dog. Mini Aussies exhibit the same intelligence, athleticism and herding instinct as their Aussie ancestors. They just come in a smaller package!

Despite their name, Australian Shepherds are one of the few dog breeds that originated in the United States. The Australian Shepherd was bred in the Southwestern United States in the late 1800s from several other herding breeds that tended Australian sheep. The breed standard for the Australian Shepherd was set in 1957. Several Aussie breeders focused on
breeding the best of the small Australian Shepherds together to maintain a smaller working dog, which became known as the Miniature Australian Shepherd. The standard for the Miniature Australian Shepherd was set in the 1960s.

Activity Level
Mini Aussies are intelligent, versatile dogs. Because they are bred to herd sheep, Mini Aussies generally require a lot of exercise to be happy and healthy. Their intelligence demands training and guidance or it can lead them to get into trouble - give them a job or they'll find one on their own! The Mini Aussies athletic ability makes it an excellent participant in dog sports like agility, frisbee, and flyball. Mini Aussies can make wonderful family dogs as long as they are given enough exercise and mental stimulation.

The Australian Shepherd usually measures between 18 and 23 inches at the shoulders and usually weighs between 35 and 60 lbs. The Miniature Australian Shepherd usually measures between 14 and 18 inches at the shoulders and usually weighs between 20 and 35 lbs. Males tend to be larger than females. Other than size, there should be no difference in structure or temperament between an Aussie and a Mini Aussie!


Aussies and Mini Aussies come in four main colors: black, red, blue merle, and red merle. Blue merle looks like splashes of black against a gray or powder blue background. Red merle looks like red or brown splashes against a buff or silver background. Any of these colors can come with white and/or copper-colored trim. Dogs that have only one color of trim are called bi or bi-colored (i.e., a red and white dog is a red bi). Dogs that have both trim colors are called tri or tri-colored (i.e., a black dog with copper and white is a black tri).


It's not uncommon for dogs with white mismarks to be born. But when two merle Mini Aussies or Aussies are bred together, there's a 25% chance of having white puppies with very serious health problems. These Double Merles are usually called Lethal Whites because they're often born with fatal genetic flaws. Pups that survive can be deaf and/or blind. Because of this, mismarked Aussies and Mini Aussies that have excessive white (especially on their heads) should be screened carefully for health problems. Deaf or blind Mini Aussies can still make loving pets though, and lead wonderful lives with their families. But while some breeders may try to sell a white dog as "rare" or "valuable," neither is true.   Echo
  Echo, a rescued deaf Mini Aussie, loves doing agility.

Miniature Australian Shepherds can have eyes that are brown or blue, or can have marbled eyes where the brown and blue are mixed. They are one of the very few dog breeds that have blue eyes. Brown eyes can come in many shades from light amber to dark chocolate brown. Blue eyes can range from very pale to a mid-blue, usually lighter than the blue eyes found in humans.


Mini Aussies and Aussies have a medium-length coat adapted to protecting them while they herd. These dogs do shed! They drop some fur year round but lose their undercoat completely twice a year, in the spring and fall. During this time, they can shed heavily for several weeks. Regular brushing can help reduce shedding. Overall grooming of Mini Aussies is relatively simple, and many owners do their own grooming.

The breed standard for Aussies and Mini Aussies calls for very short tails. Some dogs are born with a natural bobtail -- a tail no longer than a few inches. Most breeders dock the longer tails in their litters, so most dogs have bobbed tails. Occasionally, though, a Mini Aussie will come into rescue with a full tail.

Is a Mini Aussie Right for You?
Mini Aussies are exploding in popularity as more people discover these wonderful dogs. But they're not for everybody. And since Mini Aussies can live 12 to15 years, getting a Mini Aussie is not a decision to be taken lightly.

As with any herding dog placement, it's important to carefully match the energy level of each Miniature Australian Shepherd with the right home. Some Mini Aussies might live comfortably in an apartment for example, but many will be too active and require much more room than an apartment provides. As Mini Aussies can be reserved with strangers, it helps to socialize them with people outside their own families. And because of their coat and shedding, they are not recommended for people allergic to dog fur and dander.

Mini Aussies are extremely loving and devoted to their families, but due to their strong herding instincts, they are not a good choice for families with small or socially active children. They are incredibly smart, and make great performance dogs in sports such as agility, herding, and flyball. A Mini Aussie will want to be a part of your life: they're often called "velcro dogs" because they will follow you everywhere. If you can provide lots of time, exercise, training and love, a Mini Aussie might be the right dog for you!

For More Info
Visit the following webpages for more information about Miniature Australian Shepherds and Australian Shepherds.

Breed Clubs

Health and Genetics

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