Mini dogs are all the craze right now. Their tiny paws, little noses, and adorable barks are quite hard to resist. The mini-Australian shepherd isn’t left out; they have beautiful coats, pretty eyes, and intelligence that makes them amazing house pets.
If you plan to adopt a cute and fluffy mini Australian shepherd, read below to find ways to care for it.
1. What Is a Mini Australian Shepherd?
The mini Australian shepherd is considered a different breed from the Australian Shepherd by the Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA). However, these dogs are strong, loyal, and intelligent. These small dogs make perfect pets if you do not have enough space for a large dog.
2. History Of The Mini Australian Shepherd Dogs
Also known as the Mini Aussie, the mini Australian shepherd has the agility, speed, intelligence, and beauty of the standard Australian Shepherd. The American Kennel Club recognizes the breed as the miniature American shepherd. They were first produced in the 60s and have been a part of the American Kennel Club (AKC) since 2011.
These dogs are generally kept as beloved pets but can also be good herding dogs. Their rare beauty, intelligence, and agility are often displayed when they participate in dog sports and shows, making them all the more popular.
3. Where Does The Mini Australian Shepherd Come From?
American ranchers bred the small Australian Shepherd dogs for use in rodeos. This led to the creation of even smaller replicas of the dog breed.
Typically, miniaturization of these dogs can be achieved in three ways, each with pros and cons.
3.1. Mini Australian Shepherd Mix
This method introduces genetic diversity and decreases the chances of inheriting serious health problems. However, it might have a downside – the mini Australian shepherd might inherit some features from the small non-Aussie parent, too. So, if the breeders choose a small dog like the Yorkie or the Chihuahua as the second parent, the Mini Aussie puppy will be smaller than a standard Aussie Shepherd.
However, the puppies, in this case, might look like a Yorkie or a Chihuahua or have the temperament of its second parent, which could be more energetic and playful like the Yorkie or more reserved like the chihuahua.
3.2. Dwarf Mini Australian Shepherd Puppies
Generally, the genes causing dwarfism are recessive, which is comparatively uncommon. Thus, to create a mini Australian shepherd, these dwarfism genes need to be introduced during crossbreeding. Creating a mini breed this way will create skeletal side effects such as Portellar Laxation.
3.3. Breeding From Runts Of Mini Australian Shepherds
Breeding from runts of the mini Australian shepherd dogs does not introduce new traits or physical features from a non-Aussie parent.
However, this method often takes generations of breeding to get the size people usually want. Also, breeding from runts can put the parent dogs as well as the puppies at risk. Runt puppies are at a high risk of being sick and having weaker immune systems.
4. 5 Characteristics of Mini Australian Shepherd
4.1. Mini Australian Shepherd Appearance And Size
The characteristics of mini Australian shepherds, like their appearance and size, vary depending on the method used to breed them.
Crossbreeding the dogs with smaller ones results in puppies with mixed traits. Breeding from runts over generations results in a shrunken version of the standard Australian shepherd, including the dwarfism gene, which results in puppies with disproportionate attributes like short legs and larger heads.
Overall, Mini Australian shepherds are generally healthy dogs; they are strong and muscular, and their bodies are proportionate. They may have a naturally bobbed tail or heterochromia due to specific genetic mutations, but this is not the standard trait for the breed.
Mini Aussies are not super tiny. However, they are about 20 to 40 pounds smaller than a standard Australian Shepherd. Females can grow 13 to 17 inches at the shoulder, and males 14 to 18.
One of the significant features of the standard, as well as a mini Australian shepherd dog, is their fluffy, big, and gorgeous double coat that sheds all year round. Due to their frequent shedding, they may not be the best companion for those who suffer from mild allergies.
Black, blue merle, liver red, and red merle coats are the most common among the mini Australian shepherd dogs. They may have tan and/or white markings.
The puppies may have blue eyes or brown eyes, and some of them might even have one of each.
The mini Australian shepherd is a very active dog that loves to be outside and has lots of physical exercises. They were originally bred as smaller working dogs and are one of the typical herding breeds that have a strong work ethic.
They bond strongly with their owners and are an extremely smart species. Thus, it is easier to train them and make them do small chores, tricks, or other activities that give them a sense of purpose.
Though loyal and affectionate, they may not be a great choice for first-time pet owners. This is due to their high energy levels, need for training and stimulation, and the tendency to become destructive when bored.
4.5. Socialization Instincts
Although mini Australian shepherds bond very well with their owners, they can be wary of non-family members and strangers. Mini Aussies can harm someone if they get aggressive.
You will need to overcome this risk by helping them socialize. Socialization will reduce their aggression toward strangers and other dogs.
5. The Health of Mini Australian Shepherds
Like any other dog, miniature American shepherds and other mini Aussies are prone to health problems. Here are some of the diseases that mini Australian shepherds are prone to:
5.1. Disc Diseases
In some dogs that have been miniaturized, there is a predisposition to experience an early degeneration of discs that make up their spine and absorb shock. As a result of this disc failure, their neck and spine gradually lose the ability to absorb shocks from daily activities.
Approximately 65% of Invertibral Disc Disease problems are related to the back side of the spine and 18% to the neck.
5.2. Patellar Luxation
Patellar Luxation signifies the dislocation of the knee cap, thus causing lameness on the affected leg or both legs. Small dogs are especially prone to patellar luxation due to their small bones.
Dogs suffering from patellar luxation have a narrower femoral shaft or a general malformation of the limb involving the femur, tibia, or pelvis. Lumps can also occur in one or both knees.
5.3. Hip Dysplasia
Hip Dysplasia occurs in some smaller dogs when the thigh bone does not fit snugly into the hip joint. Some show signs of pain in one or both of their rear legs; others do not indicate discomfort. Hence, it becomes difficult for owners to understand if their dogs have this problem.
5.4. Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a group of genetic diseases seen in certain breeds of dogs. It is very similar to retinitis pigmentosa in humans. PRA is identified by the bilateral degeneration of the retina, which causes progressive vision loss and culminates in blindness.
PRA shows its first symptoms through loss of night vision, followed by day vision degeneration, leading to blindness. The eyes of the dogs with PRA begin to look cloudy and get covered by a slight sheen.
In most cases, dogs with progressive retinal atrophy completely lose their vision and go blind over one to two years after the onset of the disease.
5.5. Osteochondrosis Dissecans
Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OD or OCD) is an inflammatory condition in which the diseased cartilage separates from its underlying bone due to factors such as trauma and some genetic predisposition. It most commonly affects the knee joint. However, the elbow and ankles may also get involved in certain cases.
Your mini Australian shepherd might develop hearing loss due to old age, congenital disabilities, injuries, build-up of ear wax, severe untreated ear infections, tumours, parasitic infections, drug toxicity, and many other problems.
The seriousness of the hearing loss may vary, and dogs can develop temporary, partial, or total deafness. One or both ears can be affected. There is no precise cure for deafness in dogs.
6. Health Tests
All parents of Mini Australian Shepherd puppies must clear test for MDR1, PRA Optigen, and potentially another genetic test such as PEA, PRCD, BESTI, SODI, and NHEJI gene mutations. They should also undergo hip evaluation and ophthalmologic examination.
7. 4 Best Ways to Take Care Of Mini Australian Shepherd Puppies
Having mini Australian shepherds as pets comes with some responsibilities. In this section, we will unveil how to care for your mini Aussie to get the best of your pet.
7.1. Food And Diet
Remember, your mini Australian shepherd loves food. However, too much food increases their predisposition to obesity. You have to monitor what your pup is eating, ensuring your dog only eats healthy and highly nutritional food.
On average, your dog should have 1 to 2 cups of food spread over 3-4 meals daily. However, this depends on the dog’s activity level, age, and the brand of food you provide. Always check the pack for feeding instructions.
The mini Australian shepherd is a very active dog and requires around at least two hours of dog exercise each day. It’s enthusiastic and makes the perfect exercise buddy.
Due to their intelligence, this breed requires mental stimulation on top of the exercise. You must ensure that they do not start getting bored and show signs of frustration. A great way to do this is to give them jobs or teach them tricks. They also excel at dog sports like flyball and disc sports.
7.3. Grooming And Shedding
These dogs require systematic grooming to prevent matting. They shed their undercoats during shedding season, which comes twice a year. During this time, they need brushing every day. At other times, brushing once a week is enough.
Mini Australian shepherds do not need bathing often. It is advisable to bathe them only when dirty, as bathing irritates their skin. Clip their nails as and when required and brush their teeth often. To make it easier, you may also use dental sticks.
The mini Australian shepherd dog is quite easy to train. They are eager to please their owners while also enjoying the mental stimulation from the activities. These dogs don’t do well with punishment, so you should use positive reinforcement techniques like verbal praise and treats.
They are also great with obedience training and love puzzle toys and other interactive playthings.
8. Is The Mini Australian Shepherd Dog A Good Family Pet?
The right choice of Mini Australian Shepherd could make a great family pet. However, like every breed, they have their instincts. Being a miniature of the big standard Shepherd does not immediately make it easy to handle. They still require mental stimulation and exercise.
There are a variety of Mini Australian Shepherd dogs you can choose from. These dogs tend to portray a variety of characteristics and instincts. Each dog might be slightly different from the other; you have to find the right fit for you. Overall, they are loyal, active, and intelligent.
Before adopting, ensure you have the right resources to care for them. When trained to socialize, they can be very friendly pets.