Miniature American Shepherd

Miniature American Shepherd

This herding dog is smaller than many of his shepherd cousins, but he is equal to them in energy, enthusiasm, and smarts. The Miniature American Shepherd was developed in the US in the 1960s from small Australian Shepherds. Alert and athletic, the breed becomes easily bored if not kept busy and active. He requires a lot of exercise and is never more content than when learning new dog sports and tricks. The Miniature American Shepherd is loving and devoted to his family, but can be reserved with people he's unfamiliar with.

Physical Description

Coat

The dense, double coat of the Miniature American Shepherd needs brushing once or twice a week. They 'blow' their undercoats twice a year and during that period of rapid, heavy shedding daily brushing will help keep the fur under control.


Height

Average Height: 13-18 inches


Weight

Average Weight: 20-40 pounds

Breed Standard & History

The Miniature American Shepherd is small in stature and slightly longer than he is tall. The breed is a true athlete, solid of build, quick, and able to sustain his energy through long days spent herding or playing sports. Miniature American Shepherds have an alert demeanor, always at the ready for commands from their owner to get to work or play. Their eyes can be a variety of colors, including brown, blue, hazel, and amber, and the color can be different in each eye. If not naturally bobbed, their tails are often docked.


The Miniature American Shepherd is one of the most recently developed dog breeds. They were bred in California in the 1960s from unregistered dogs that were thought to be Australian Shepherds but were smaller in stature. The goal of the breeding was to sustain the lively personalities, intelligence, and small size of these dogs. Their original name was the Miniature Australian Shepherd, but the breed's middle name was switched to American in the 1990s. The Miniature American Shepherd's popularity as a working dog and pet has grown steadily since then across the US and in Europe.


AKC Breed Category

Herding Group

Personality

General Temperament

The Miniature American Shepherd is a lively and loyal dog. They can be a bit wary of strangers, but they warm up to people as they get to know them. To bring out the best qualities in this energetic, intelligent breed, it's important to keep them mentally stimulated and physically active.


Family Life

Are Miniature American Shepherds Good with Kids? This breed is good with children they know well, though when things get raucous they are known to begin herding by barking and nipping at heels. Early Training that kids, family members, other pets, and guests are not for herding is important with Miniature American Shepherds.


(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)


Are Miniature American Shepherds Good with Other Pets? Miniature American Shepherds are patient and playful with pets they were raised with. When things get raucous around the house, however, they are known to get everyone in line by barking and nipping at heels. Early training that pets are not for herding is important with this breed.


Protective

Miniature American Shepherds are protective of their families, always keeping a sharp lookout for any dangers that may be approaching their 'flock.'


Are Miniature American Shepherds Good Guard Dogs? This breed keeps a keen eye and ear out for dangers lurking around their pasture or home, and will warn away unwanted visitors with loud barking. Once someone is invited into their home, they go from possible intruder to friend.


Energy Levels

Miniature American Shepherds are very energetic. They require an active family with the time and energy to keep their dog on the move.


Specific Concerns

  • Prone to destructive habits and nuisance barking when bored.
  • Their herding instinct can kick in unless they are trained to reserve it for sports and play.
  • May be aloof with strangers.
  • They require exercise and mental stimulation.
  • They need a moderately active owner.

Requirements

Indoor

This dog is the outdoorsy type, but that's not where he should live. Miniature American Shepherds want to spend time indoors with their owners when they are not playing, walking, or training. They are small enough to adjust to apartment living as long as they are given plenty of exercise.


Outdoor

Miniature American Shepherds are small, but they are hearty enough to play and train outside for hours. They should not live outside or be left alone outside for more than a few minutes. They will bark incessantly or seek an escape route from a fenced-in yard if they get bored.


Exercise

Miniature American Shepherds don't need quite as much exercise as their bigger cousins, but they do need ample activity. A few long walks per day, along with some games in the yard, and weekend dog sports will keep this breed healthy and fit.


Endurance

Their herding roots mean they have the stamina for long days on the job, whether that's gathering the flock or learning a new dog sport.


Activity distance rating

  • Running Miles: A healthy Miniature American Shepherd will run with you for a mile or two. However, this breed prefers sports that are more mentally challenging than running, such as agility training and Frisbee.
  • Hiking Miles: Miniature American Shepherds can keep up with you on hikes that last an hour or two.


Food

The weight and activity levels of Miniature American Shepherds can vary significantly. Talk with your veterinarian about an optimal diet plan for your dog.


Alone Time

Miniature American Shepherds can tolerate spending an hour or two alone, especially when they've been accustomed to it from a young age. Beyond a few hours, however, they become bored and will turn to barking and destructive chewing to pass the time.

Health and Grooming

Life Expectancy

12-13 years


Grooming

The rough, medium coat of a Miniature American Shepherd needs brushing once or twice a week to prevent mats. A bath once a month is usually enough to keep them clean and smelling pleasant. They have fast-growing nails that should be trimmed every few weeks to prevent splitting. Check and gently clean your dog's ears with a mild cleanser once a week to prevent wax buildup, which can cause infections. Brush their teeth every day.


Common Health Issues

Miniature American Shepherds have some breed-specific health concerns to be aware of, including:


  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Patellar luxation
  • Cataracts
  • Spinal abnormalities

You can minimize serious health concerns in a Miniature American Shepherd by purchasing from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.

Trainability

Basics

Miniature American Shepherds love to learn and show off new skills to their owners. They learn the fundamentals fast, and also housetrain quickly.


Advanced Training

Athletic, agile, and lively, Miniature American Shepherds benefit from advanced training that keeps them physically and mentally active. They excel in agility classes, advanced obedience classes, and a variety of dog sports.


Sporting Dog Training

Miniature American Shepherds clearly enjoy herding training with goats or sheep. If that's not possible where you live, consider Treibball, a sport in which shepherding breeds 'herd' large exercise balls.

Breed FAQ

Here are a few commonly asked questions about Miniature American Shepherds.

Explore Other Breeds

No. Miniature American Shepherds shed and, as a result, cause pet dander in your home. Dander is the cause of most pet-related allergies.

Some Miniature American Shepherds will enjoy a short swim or splash in the shallows on a hot day, others will have no interest in the water. They are not especially strong swimmers, so dips should be kept short and they should always be watched near the water.