Originating from the Australian Shepherd, this breed has undergone name changes from the “Miniature Australian Shepherd” to the “North American Shepherd,” finally settling on the name the breed is known by today.
History and Origin of the Miniature American Shepherd
The Miniature American Shepherd originated in the United States, as its name would suggest. This shepherd was bred to be a herding and working dog, but smaller than its Australian Shepherd counterpart. The American Kennel Club (AKC) felt that “Miniature Australian Shepherd” was too close in name to its predecessor, so the name was changed at that time to the North American Shepherd. Eventually, a compromise was reached between the AKC and Miniature American Shepherd breed clubs to settle on the current breed name.
Appearance and Size of the Miniature American Shepherd
Miniature American Shepherds very closely resemble a small version of the Australian Shepherd. They stand at about 13-18 inches in height and weigh approximately 20-40 pounds. The waterproof, medium-length coat can be a variety of colors, including blue merle, red merle, or red. There may also be markings of tan or white in combination with those colors. Tails are typically either naturally bobbed or docked after birth.
Personality of the Miniature American Shepherd
The Miniature American Shepherd is a friendly, loyal, and highly intelligent companion. A well-socialized Miniature American Shepherd can participate in a variety of jobs, including therapy dog work, herding, agility, obedience trials, or search and rescue. As a working breed, they enjoy having a “job” and thus do well when provided with regular physical and mental stimulation. The Miniature American Shepherd can often be seen gazing at his human expectantly, waiting for further instructions.
Home and Family Relations with the Miniature American Shepherd
This breed is a desirable family companion, good with children and other household pets when properly socialized. The Miniature American Shepherd is also a proficient watchdog and protective of his family. This breed does well with an active family who can provide daily exercise, both physical and mental.
Training of the Miniature American Shepherd
The Miniature American Shepherd is known for being biddable and hardworking. Early training is optimal to help structure his natural herding drive. Short, frequent training sessions using positive reinforcement are recommended in order to increase learning and carryover. With proper training, this breed can excel in just about any dog sport, such as agility, herding, obedience trials, flyball, or lure coursing. The sky is the limit!
Grooming of the Miniature American Shepherd
This breed is relatively low maintenance and only requires occasional brushing and bathing, as well as regular nail trims, tooth brushing, and ear cleaning.
Special Care of the Miniature American Shepherd
Miniature American Shepherds of merle coloring can potentially possess a blind/deaf gene. For this reason, merle puppies should be tested for vision or hearing impairments. Some herding dogs, this breed included, may possess a gene mutation (MDR1) that causes dangerous adverse side effects if the dog is given certain medications. Genetic testing is the only way to determine if the dog possesses this mutation.
Common Diseases and Disorders of the Miniature American Shepherd
Although the Miniature American Shepherd is a relatively healthy breed, the following conditions have been noted:
- Juvenile cataracts
- PRA (progressive retinal atrophy)
- Iris Colobomas
- PPM (persistent pupillary membrane)
Life Span of the Miniature American Shepherd
The life span of the Miniature American Shepherd is approximately 12-13 years.