The Miniature Australian Shepherd is identical to the Australian Shepherd breed, but he is smaller. There are three types of this smaller Australian Shepherd: the standard Miniature Australian Shepherd, the Toy Australian Shepherd, and the Tea Cup Australian Shepherd.
He is an active dog and is solidly built with a medium length coat with straight fur; some dogs have wavy fur. He has a double coat with a course outer coat and a soft inner coat. He has a long body with arched feet and straight legs. He holds his head very high unless he is working. He has a tapered nose and oval shaped eyes. His ears are high and rounded, and the tips fold forward at the top. The dog has longer fur on his legs and a short tail.
The Miniature Australian Shepherd has a double coat with both coarse and soft hairs. The coat is naturally thick and is medium length on the body and longer at the chest and legs.
There are four different color variations for Miniature Australian Shepherds: red merle, blue merle, black, and solid red with white markings. These markings can be on the dog's face, chest and legs.
In the 1960s and 70s the Miniature Australian Shepherd was bred from the smallest versions of the Australian Shepherd. The first Miniature Australian Shepherd was bred in the United States, despite the fact that the Australian Shepherd is originally an Australian dog. The dog was bred to be a sort of urban sized working dog. However, he is rarely used as a working dog anymore. Rather he is a family pet in urban areas where families do not have the space to have a larger working type dog.
The Miniature Australian Shepherd is a working dog and he needs enough exercise to exercise his body and his mind. He has a calm and social temperament and loves people and other animals. Since the breed is a herding breed, they tend to herd people, children, and other pets. He makes a good watchdog and will bark at strangers unless commanded not to. He likes to play with children and responds well to commands. He does not do well alone and needs to company of his family. He is affectionate and because he is smart he is easy to train. He needs daily activities because he is a working dog. He is very good as a traveling companion.
Along with typical purebred dog health issues like the tendency toward hip dysplasia, there are a few breed-specific health problems with the Miniature Australian Shepherd. He has a tendency for Collie Eye Anomaly, a general term for eye problems like progressive retinal atrophy. Certain colors of the dog, particularly the merle color, carry a recessive blindness and deafness gene. This gene only becomes a problem when two dogs with the gene breed.
Even though the Miniature Australian Shepherd has a double coat, he is easier to groom than other breeds that also have double coats. It is best to use a stiff bristled brush when grooming the Miniature Australian Shepherd. When brushing the dog, for both coats, go with the direction of the hair pattern in the under coat and the outer coat. Remember that the longer hair on the dog's chest and legs can mat easily. If the dog gets mats in his coat, they need to be cut out. The Miniature Australian Shepherd sheds a lot in the spring and the fall. Daily brushing will help keep his shedding to a minimum. The dog does not need to be bathed very often and owners can use dry bath powders on the dog's coat to remove dirt.
The Miniature Australian Shepherd enjoys walks, hikes, and runs with his owner. He needs exercise sessions that is both long and challenging. This can include training sessions or obstacle courses. Because the dog is smart and agile, he does very well in dog trials and competitions. Training for these types of events is great exercise for the dog and it also helps him exercise his mind. The dog will become destructive if he is left alone and is not exercised enough or properly.
The Miniature Australian Shepherd is very easy to train and easy to housebreak. He is a very clean dog. It is best to use positive reinforcement with the Miniature Australian Shepherd as he does not respond well to harsh punishment, physical punishment, or loud voices. This can actually cause him to become timid. The dogs are very good problem solvers, making them ideal candidates for dog trails. They are very obedient and from the time they are puppies they will follow their owners. They have a high rate of verbal recognition and can remember a lot of tricks.