Introduction to the Miniature American Shepherd
The Miniature American Shepherd is a miniature version of the Australian Shepherd. It became a separate breed in 2007 when it was recognized by the French Kennel Club (LOF) with the establishment of a precise standard.
It is important to understand that the Miniature American Shepherd was not created by crossing different breeds. It is the result of careful selection by breeders over several years of the smallest Australian Shepherds.
As the Miniature American Shepherd is not a result of crossbreeding, it is natural that it closely resembles the Australian Shepherd in terms of morphology and temperament, as it directly descends from it.
It is a medium-sized dog, typically measuring around forty centimeters at the withers and weighing around ten kilograms.
There are four main coat colors in the Miniature American Shepherd: blue merle, red merle, red tricolor, and black tricolor. Regarding eye color, you can find blue eyes, brown eyes, heterochromia (two different-colored eyes), and parti-colored eyes.
Origin and Evolution
The first Miniature American Shepherds arrived in the United States in the early 1960s. They emerged through the selective breeding of smaller Australian Shepherds over several years.
Shrinking the size of a dog requires several years of selective breeding to achieve stability in morphology and weight/size.
In 1980, the Miniature American Shepherd made its debut in theAmerican Stock Dog Registry under the name "Miniature Australian Shepherd." The American Stock Dog Registry is an American registry that often lists dog breeds in advance, providing them with an ASDR pedigree.
The first Miniature American Shepherd club appeared in 1990 in the United States, called the Miniature American Shepherd Club of the USA.It wasn't until 2011 that the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as the Miniature American Shepherd.
In France, the French Kennel Club recognized the breed in 2014, followed by the FCI in 2019. In 2021 and 2022, the Miniature American Shepherd has already become one of the favorite breeds among the French population. Today, the Miniature American Shepherd is in the spotlight, and the number of births in France is increasing every year, undoubtedly influenced by the popularity of the Australian Shepherd and its smaller size.
Distinctive Traits of the Miniature American Shepherd
- A Medium-Sized Dog
One of the great advantages of the Miniature American Shepherd is its medium size. It stands between 33 and 46cm at the withers and weighs an average of 7 to 15kg. Its medium size allows for engaging in physical activities while living in an urban apartment setting.
- Highly Sensitive
The Miniature American Shepherd is a dog with great sensitivity. It is essential to socialize them well and not neglect their training from a young age. Any traumatic event or negligence will leave a lasting impact on your shepherd.
For example, you cannot simply leave your shepherd to play in the yard without taking them out.
- Energetic Dog
The Miniature American Shepherd is still a herding dog, meaning it is a small, dynamic dog that loves having a purpose and participating in various activities. These may include forest walks, agility training, learning new commands, playing fetch, or swimming in streams.
Your shepherd will always be ready to join you in all your adventures.
We recommend a minimum of 1 to 1.5 hours of walks per day.
- Velcro Dog
If you are looking for an affectionate dog that will follow you everywhere, you've come to the right place. The Miniature American Shepherd is the epitome of a velcro dog. Their greatest joy is being able to be by your side and sleep next to you. Whenever they can, they will be with you. This is also the reason why it is challenging to leave a Miniature American Shepherd alone for several days a week. It is recommended to be present at home at least 3-4 days a week.
- Sociable Dog
When well-socialized, the Miniature American Shepherd is a very sociable and friendly dog. They get along well with humans, including strangers, as well as with other animals, whether they are cats or dogs of any size.
However, it is important to be vigilant as they can be reserved and wary of strangers. Therefore, it is crucial to expose them to various experiences from a young age to prevent them from developing reactive behaviors.
Behavior of the Miniature American Shepherd
The Miniature American Shepherd is a medium-sized dog that loves spending time with its owners more than anything else. Whenever possible, they will want to be with you, and the limits will be defined by you. On the contrary, they dislike being alone and struggle with solitude. It is advisable to have several days of remote work per week or to be able to adjust your schedule so that their alone time is not too long.
Despite their small to medium size, they are energetic dogs that require both physical and mental stimulation. They need regular and varied walks, as well as the opportunity to participate in activities such as agility, dog dancing, running, or biking. They also enjoy learning new commands and quickly understand expectations.
They are also very sensitive and can quickly become wary. Socializing them from the moment they arrive at your home is crucial. It is important to expose them to many things in a positive manner.
In my opinion, the Miniature American Shepherd can live happily in both houses and apartments as long as they receive regular activity. We recommend a minimum of one hour of activity per day, which can be divided into 2-3 outings of about thirty minutes each. It is also recommended to let them off-leash or use a long leash to allow them to release their energy. A simple walk on a leash is not enough to meet their exercise needs.
Regarding barking, the Miniature American Shepherd is not a dog that barks a lot. It will bark to alert you of danger or a particular situation, but it will not bark excessively. It is entirely possible to work on this to avoid reinforcing barking behavior in the shepherd.
Effective Training Techniques
As with any dog, it is important to invest in the training of your puppy from the moment it arrives at your home. Do not hesitate to seek the help of a dog trainer who can assist you during the first few months of your puppy's life.
A young shepherd needs to be stimulated and socialized from an early age. It is important to expose them to different environments, situations, animals, and individuals. Each experience should be positive for the puppy to prevent fear and behavioral issues.
A Miniature American Shepherd should be taken out several times a day outside of the home and the yard for their socialization and well-being. It is not sufficient to leave them in the same environment all day.
The most effective approach to training is positive reinforcement. In simple terms, positive reinforcement means rewarding the desired behaviors that you want to see repeated and ignoring the undesirable behaviors. I will provide you with a link to the website Hund, which I like and focuses on positive reinforcement training for pets, including dogs and cats: Animaux de compagnie, chiens, chats, ... (hund.fr). Additionally, in the realm of positive reinforcement training, you can also use clicker training. I will provide you with an article on clicker training: Eduquer son chien : la méthode du clicker training (wamiz.com). It helps avoid rewarding good behaviors with treats and instead uses a sound signal. Most people who use clicker training report excellent results in terms of training.
However, it is important to remember that not everything will happen overnight. A puppy is unlikely to be fully house-trained before the age of 5-6 months. They have everything to discover, and everything will be a source of amusement for them, such as leaves, grass, shoes, or books. Therefore, it is important to tidy up your environment, as it will quickly become their play and exploration space.
Puppies of this breed also love to nibble and gather things. They have a tendency to nip and especially target calves, which can be tiring in the long run. I will provide you with a well-written article on biting and how to prevent it: Le mordillement (hund.fr)
Common Health Issues in Miniature American Shepherds
The Miniature American Shepherd is generally a hardy and healthy dog. In our breeding program, we have never had to visit the veterinarian. They are a medium-sized dog that can withstand climate variations, physical activities, and exertion.
Of course, it is essential to ensure that the parents are tested for hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as the following genetic diseases:
- Collie Eye Anomaly (Choroidal Hypoplasia)
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Multidrug Sensitivity (MDR1)
- Hereditary Cataracts (HSF4)
- Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
- Multifocal Retinopathy (CMR1)
- Hyperuricosuria (A14)
For all the mentioned diseases, the dog can be:
- Affected and Carrier: -/-
- Healthy Carrier: +/-
- Clear: +/+
Dogs sold as companions or breeding stock can have a +/+ or +/- status because in the case of +/-, the animal will not exhibit the disease; they are merely healthy carriers. It is important to note that two dogs with a +/- status should never be bred together. Similarly, a dog with a -/- status should not be used for breeding.
Like any purebred dog, the Miniature American Shepherd is susceptible to hereditary and genetic diseases. It goes without saying that it is the responsibility of every responsible breeder to breed dogs that will produce healthy puppies free from genetic defects. To achieve this, each breeder must have the adults tested through accredited French laboratories.
How to Maintain the Coat of the Miniature American Shepherd
Another good news, this little dog is relatively easy to maintain. On average, it is recommended to brush them once a week and give them 2 to 4 baths per year. You should always use a shampoo that is suitable for puppies or dogs in order to avoid irritating their skin. Dogs have a lower pH and therefore have much more delicate skin.
Regarding brushing and grooming techniques, I am attaching an article where we have detailed the brushes to use and grooming techniques: How to maintain the coat of your Pomsky / American Shepherd? (royaumedesgalopins.fr)
As for going to a groomer, it is not mandatory or necessary, but going 1 to 2 times a year will allow you to have a well-maintained Miniature American Shepherd with a nice and aesthetic cut.
The Miniature American Shepherd in a family environment
In my opinion, the Miniature American Shepherd is a perfect family dog. It is a dog that is first and foremost very kind, and if it hasn't suffered from a lack of socialization, it is a small dog that loves everyone—adults and children—and will always be happy to approach them, giving them licks and seeking scratches.
A playful and active dog, the Miniature American Shepherd loves all ball games, frisbee, ropes... In short, it loves to play. Needless to say, it will be delighted to play with your children and engage in all kinds of games.
It is also a dog that loves walks, so it will be thrilled to accompany you in the forest, on bike rides, skiing, or to the beach. Every opportunity will be a good time to have fun.
It is also worth noting that the Miniature American Shepherd has a natural tendency to follow and recall. You can therefore engage in many activities with them off-leash.