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Miniature American Shepherd: Breed Info, Pics, Puppies, Traits

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By Nicole Cosgrove

miniature american shepherd running outdoor

Height: 13 – 18 inches
Weight: 20 – 40 pounds
Lifespan: 12 – 13 years
Colors: Blue merle, red merle, red, black
Suitable for: Families looking for a small, high-energy dog with plenty of personality
Temperament: Clever and loyal, fun-loving and energetic, good watchdogs

If you love the looks and personality of a breed like the Australian Shepherd but wish they were a bit smaller, then we might have the perfect solution for you: the Miniature American Shepherd. These little dogs love to be busy, whether that’s having fun in the park or racing around an agility course.

On looks alone, these cute pups appeal to most of us, but they do need a specific type of owner who can meet their needs as a particularly high-energy breed. These aren’t dogs who can be left at home alone all day.

But if you want an intelligent and devoted companion who’s going to love being involved in whatever you do, then the Miniature American Shepherd could be a great choice. If you’re not yet familiar with all that this breed has to offer, then keep reading to find out all the details.

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Miniature American Shepherd Puppies

Miniature American Shepherd puppy
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

As puppies, Miniature American Shepherds are exceptionally cute. These little balls of fluff will capture your heart within seconds. While it might be tempting to pick your new puppy right there and then, we recommend spending the time considering whether you can offer what these little dogs need.

As an incredibly intelligent and active breed, a Miniature American Shepherd needs a great deal of attention every day and significantly more in terms of exercise and training than average. If you don’t provide enough physical and mental stimulation, then they’re going to let you know all about it.

Just because they’re small doesn’t mean these dogs want to be treated as lap dogs, they’re about as far away from that stereotype as you can get!

3 Little-Known Facts About the Miniature American Shepherd

1. The breed is inspired by the larger Australian Shepherd

In the 1960s, Australian Shepherds were popular dogs at rodeo shows across the U.S. Some breeders decided to concentrate on creating a smaller version of this talented breed, and this led to the creation of the Miniature Australian Shepherd. These little pups were prized by equestrians thanks to their attitude around horses, their small size, and their loyalty.

2. Their name was subject to some debate

Since this breed was inspired by and created using the larger Australian Shepherd, why not call them Miniature Australian Shepherds? Breeders of Australian Shepherds disliked the use of this name and the fact that it connected this new breed to their pedigree dogs. Initially, the breed’s name was changed to the North American Shepherd before breeders eventually decided to call them Miniature American Shepherds.

Even so, there’s dispute between breeders, so sometimes you will see adverts for Miniature Australian Shepherds. There’s no real difference between the two apart from the fact that Mini Australian Shepherds aren’t accepted by the American Kennel Club and Mini American Shepherds are!

3. The Miniature American Shepherd was only officially recognized by the AKC recently

While these little dogs have been bred since the 1960s, they’ve only been accepted by the American Kennel Club recently. It was decided to include them in the AKC Foundation Stock Service Program in 2011, and in 2015, the breed was accepted into the AKC Stud Book.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Miniature American Shepherd 🧠

Miniature American Shepherds are incredibly clever. So, you might find yourself struggling to keep up with them! As a descendant of a classic herding dog, they retain plenty of independence, as well as the ability to problem-solve.

They’re friendly and loyal with their families but can be wary of strangers. This means proper socialization while they’re a puppy is vital, especially if you want to take your dog to plenty of places once they’re grown up.

Their herding instinct is strong, so they enjoy the opportunity to spend time working on farms. They also love to spend time with their families and won’t enjoy being left alone for long periods.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Miniature American Shepherds make great family dogs, especially if they’re going to be included in plenty of outdoor activities. They love being outside and having plenty of opportunities to be challenged mentally and physically.

A family might be a must for these pups, as they require so much exercise that sometimes it can be useful to have a few people to help share the load!

They make great partners for horseback trail riding, hiking, cycling, or any outdoor activity! After they’ve had plenty of exercise, they’ll be more than happy to relax with their families.

They can get along well with children, but remember that smaller kids need to be taught how to interact with dogs appropriately and should always be supervised.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

Miniature American Shepherds are friendly little dogs and will usually get along well with other pets. Remember to control their first interactions by using a secure indoor space and allowing both pets to retreat if they feel uncomfortable. Start with small amounts of time, and increase as they grow more used to each other.

These little pups do have a strong herding instinct, so you might find them trying to round up your cat in the backyard!

Miniature American shepherd
Image Credit: LNbjors, Shutterstock

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Things to Know When Owning a Miniature American Shepherd

Choosing to add a Miniature American Shepherd into your family is a wonderful decision but not one that should be taken lightly. These little dogs need plenty of attention from their owners. If you’re still unsure, here’s more information to help you make up your mind.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

These active little dogs require a good-quality dog food with a high percentage of protein to help keep their bodies well fueled. It’s up to you whether you choose to feed them wet food, kibble, or a combination of both. Choosing a brand that’s specifically designed for smaller breeds is a good idea, especially if using kibble, because the pieces will be the correct size for your little dog’s mouth.

Exercise 🐕

Here’s where you’re going to spend a good proportion of your time! While the body and bones of your pup are maturing, you can keep exercise limited to short low-intensity walks and games in the backyard. Once they’re mature, though, these dogs will take as much exercise as you can throw at them!

You’ll need to dedicate at least 90 minutes per day to keep your dog well exercised. This should be active and engaging, rather than just a gentle walk around the park. Mix up fast walks, games of fetch, agility, and obedience sessions to keep their attention.

As well as plenty of physical exercise, Miniature American Shepherds relish the challenge of mental stimulation. Check out our training recommendations below.


Training 🦮

These little dogs are highly trainable, so it’s an excellent idea to enroll in puppy training classes as soon as possible. They will excel at whatever you want to teach them, and be prepared for the fact that they pick up new commands quickly!

Socialization, while they’re still young, is important because these dogs can be a little wary of strangers. If you want them to grow up into obedient and friendly adult dogs, then hard work while they’re puppies will pay off.

Grooming ✂️

Miniature American Shepherds have a double coat and do shed a fair bit. For most of the year, weekly or biweekly grooming sessions will be enough to keep their coats in good condition.

Most dogs will shed their coats twice a year, at which time, you’ll likely need to groom them once a day. A de-shedding tool can help strip out the undercoat and prevent mats or tangles.

Training your Miniature American Shepherd to accept having their nails, teeth, and ears checked at the same time as their grooming sessions is a good habit to get into.

Health and Conditions ❤️

As with all pedigree dog breeds, the Miniature American Shepherd can be prone to developing several health conditions. It’s important to speak to any breeder you’re interested in buying a puppy from about these conditions. Not all puppies will be affected, but it’s important to know what to look out for.

Minor Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Eye problems
  • Nose problems
  • Hip dysplasia
Serious Conditions
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease
  • Deafness
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus
  • Osteochondritis dissecans

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Male vs. Female

Maybe you’ve already made up your mind that the Miniature American Shepherd is the perfect breed for you. Is it time to start thinking about whether you’d prefer a girl or boy pup?

We recommend waiting to meet the litter of puppies that you’re interested in first. You might find yourself with a female puppy on your lap when you thought you’d prefer a boy. Puppies have a strange way of making themselves known to the right person, so it’s always a good idea to spend time with the litter and see which of the pup’s personalities you prefer.

If you’re concerned about hormonal behaviors of one sex or the other, remember that most of these will be drastically reduced or completely removed when you take your pup to be neutered or spayed.

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Final Thoughts

The Miniature American Shepherd is a charismatic breed, and it’s not hard to fall in love with the idea of adding one to your family. The fierce intelligence and extreme energy of these dogs sure is a force to be reckoned with, though. You need to make sure you have both the time and energy to keep up with these active dogs! Without plenty of time for training and exercise, they will quickly become bored and even start engaging in negative behaviors.

But if you’re looking for a smart and active companion for all your outdoor adventures, you could certainly find these cute and bouncy pups to be the perfect dog for the job.

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Featured Image: LNbjors, Shutterstock

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