The Lovable Miniature Australian Shepherd

Miniature Australian ShepherdIn the late 1960s, an equestrian enthusiast named Doris Cordova started breeding Australian Shepherds in Norco, California, in hopes of creating a dog that was smaller in stature. One of her studs, named named Cordova’s Spike, found a home with a local couple named Bill and Sally Kennedy, who helped the effort to develop the Miniature Australian Shepherd. Equestrian Charles Lasaler soon joined the company of the miniature breeders. By the 1980s, breeders and fans of the little dogs began establishing clubs and a number of registries that promoted the new breed.

Physical Description

The Miniature Australian Shepherd refers to a miniature or toy version of the breed. Miniatures stand 13 to 18 inches (33 to 46 centimeters) at the withers and weigh 15 to 35 pounds (6 to 16 kilograms). Toys stand 10 to 14 inches (26 to 36 centimeters) at the withers and weigh 7 to 20 pounds (3 to 9 kilograms).

Compared to the large counterparts, the smaller dogs have fine, silky coats of medium length that may be wavy or straight. However, fur on the head, front forelegs and the exterior of the ears is shorter. Around the neck area, the fur forms a mane and frill, while the backs of the legs have a feathered appearance. The coat colorations include blue, red merle, black tri-colored or red with tan and/or white markings. Eye color may be amber, blue, brown, hazel, marbled or two different colors. The shepherd’s rear legs are the same length as the front legs. Their feet are small and oval. The skull is flat. The dogs have a life expectancy of 12 to 13 years.


The smaller Australian Shepherd is a gentle, easygoing dog. Their curious, energetic and fun-loving puppy personality lasts for the lifespan of the pet. An outstanding breed for families with children, the dogs are affectionate, courageous, and loyal. The shepherds are people pleasers and seem to know instinctively what owners expect. They are extremely intelligent and generally easy to train. The smaller dogs are much more active than the full-sized Australian Shepherd. In combination with intellect, they may become bored and destructive, especially when left alone.

Begin the socialization process as soon as possible with family members, other people and other animals. Shepherds have a natural herding nature that often manifests in nipping at heels in attempts at fulfilling this instinct. Gentle correction soon dissuades this behavior. The animals are often used to work small livestock and love to work. Though not bred for aggression, the dogs may exhibit dominating “small dog syndrome” that often occurs when owners consistently allow cute, little dogs have their own way.

Miniature Australian Shepherd Care

Brushing the coat regularly with a firm brush helps remove shed and debris. The amount of shed often varies with climate, but routine shedding is common. Otherwise, the shepherd has the same bathing, ear and nail care requirements as many other breeds. Being small in size, the dogs are suitable for apartment living or in homes having small outdoor spaces. However, ensure that the animals receive an adequate amount of exercise via long walks or exuberant play. These happy little dogs readily adapt to all types of climates.

Health Concerns

The gene that creates the much sought after merle coloration might also cause deafness or a variety of visual problems that include blindness. The problem manifests when two merle dogs reproduce. Typically, breeders safeguard against this possibility by breeding a merle-colored dog with a solid- colored dog. Prior to acquiring a puppy, check the backgrounds of the dam and sire for any problems related to the eyes, hearing or hips. Herding breeds also sometimes carry a gene known as MDR1, which causes a life-threatening sensitivity to certain medications.

The breed is recognized by the:

* American Pet Registry, Inc. – APRI
* American Stock Dog Registry – ASDR
* Dog Registry of America, Inc. – DRA
* Miniature Australian Club of the United States of America – MASCUSA
* Miniature Australian Shepherd Club of America – MASCA
* North American Miniature Australian Shepherd Club of the USA – NAMASCUSA
* National Stock Dog Registry – NSDR