If you’re looking for a small(ish), devoted, and lively dog, a Miniature American Shepherd might be the perfect dog for you. These dogs look and act like a compact Australian Shepherd; they stand 13-18 inches tall at the shoulder and usually weigh 20-40 pounds but have the energetic spirit and bright personality of a herding dog. These dogs do well in a variety of settings and can adapt to an apartment or farm, as long as they get plenty of exercise, enrichment, and affection.
The Miniature American Shepherd was developed in the 1960s California when folks started to intentionally breed small/undersized Australian Shepherds. The breed became popular with equestrians who traveled to different horse shows, as their size, intelligence, and herding abilities made them great traveling companions and comfortable around horses.
According to WagWalking.com, the only difference between Miniature American Shepherds and Miniature Australian Shepherds is that the Mini American Shepherd can be registered with the AKC while the Mini Australian Shepherd cannot. The site Dogell.com has a comparison chart between the two breeds if you’re curious about some differences. But some folks/breeders seem to use the names interchangeably and consider the two breeds to be one and the same.
This breed has a double coat of a short but dense undercoat and a medium length and weather-resistant outer coat. Their coats come in a few colors: solid red or black, red merle (patches of red on a cream background), or blue merle (patches of black on a gray or blue background). Some will have a natural bobtail and docked tails are common. Docking tails is a bit of a controversial practice and usually not necessary for family dogs.
Despite their medium-length double coat, Mini American Shepherds only need the occasional brushing (once a week or so) to prevent matting and clear the undercoat. They do shed year-round but will shed even more during the spring and fall. Regular brushing can help decrease the amount of fur that you might find around the house. Like any other breed, they’ll also need regular nail trimming and dental care.
These dogs thrive in an active home and are quite versatile in what activities they like to do. They can do dog sports like agility courses, fly ball, and disc dog plus hiking and working on a ranch/farm as a herding dog. Because of their size and adaptability, the Mini American Shepherd does well in a variety of settings (county or city, home or apartment). But these dogs do not do well with being left alone for long periods of time and can get destructive if bored or alone.
If you work from home or can include your mini American shepherd in work and can provide daily exercise, interaction, and toys, this just might be the breed for you!