early ancestors of today’s Australian Shepherd may have
migrated with Basque shepherds from continental Europe
directly to North America. The blue merle color phase is
still present in the modern Berger des Pyréneés. The breed
may have acquired its name via Australia where the Basques
are known to have accumulated larger flocks of sheep. By
whatever path, Aussies had arrived in the United States by
the late 19th century where the dogs’ qualities became
recognized by local ranchers, who used the dogs to work
cattle, sheep and other livestock.
Working ability was the paramount consideration during the
early years, rather than any particular conformation but a
distinct breed of moderate coat and size, superb herding
instinct and often of unusual blue merle coloring emerged,
still bearing a marked resemblance to Pyrenean ancestors,
although undoubtedly influenced by various British and
American working breeds, such as the Scotch Collie, Border
Collie and English Shepherd. The "little blue dogs" were
soon highly esteemed on ranches and farms throughout western
Jay Sisler popularized the Aussie with the American public
through his trick dog acts performed at rodeos throughout
the United States during the 1950’s and 1960’s. His dogs
also appeared in movies and several figure prominently in
the pedigrees of the modern Australian Shepherd.
The Aussie is a relative newcomer to purebred registries,
only being formally recorded since 1957. The first
organization to register the Australian Shepherd was the
National Stock Dog Registry (AKA International English
Shepherd Registry). The Australian Shepherd Club of America
(ASCA) established recording services in 1971, taking over a
majority of Aussie registrations. ASCA adopted a unified
breed standard in 1977.
During the 1960’s, a Californian Australian Shepherd
enthusiast acquired several small working Aussies from the
rodeo circuit. Intrigued by their compact size, she worked
with a veterinarian to develop a breeding program in order
to preserve the trait, which quickly resulted in litters
producing both dogs only 13 to 14 inches tall as well as
larger Australian Shepherds. The smaller dogs eventually
became known as "miniature" Australian Shepherds.
The mini Aussie soon attracted the attention of experienced
Australian Shepherd breeders and eager newcomers. Lines were
researched and educated breeding to full-size Aussies was
and is strongly encouraged to diversify the gene pool and
improve conformation and type of the mini Aussies. Herding
instinct, intelligence and drive were preserved and many
mini Aussies continue to work a variety of livestock today.
The Early Days of Recognition
The first registry to accept the Miniature Australian
Shepherd was the National Stock Dog Registry (NSDR): the
same to first recognize the Australian Shepherd. Cordova’s
Spike, a 15 inch blue merle male, was the first mini Aussie
to be registered. Acceptance was next achieved with the now
defunct Rare Breed Kennel Club (RBKC) in the 1980’s.
Croswhite's Miss Kitty Fox, a blue merle NSDR registered
bitch of true Aussie type, secured the first Miniature
Australian Shepherd championship.
After the RBKC folded in the early 1990’s, the mini Aussie
gained acceptance with the American Rare Breed Association (ARBA).
Unfortunately, ARBA regulations stipulated that in order for
a breed to qualify for Group and Best in Show competition,
it could not have a name associated with an AKC breed. So in
1993, when the Australian Shepherd was granted full show
privileges in the AKC’s Herding Group, one group of mini
Aussie enthusiasts opted to change the mini Aussie’s name, a
move which caused great confusion in the dog world and for
the general public and eventually led to the development of
a separate and distinct breed from the Australian Shepherd
called the North American Shepherd.
Dissatisfied with the limited show schedule offered by any
one club, enthusiasts attempted to secure wider recognition.
However, it soon became apparent that acceptance could not
be gained under the new name because it implied a new breed.
In actuality, the mini Aussie remained a size variety of the
Australian Shepherd, with a continuous genepool, and not a
separate breed. Those concerned with maintaining Australian
Shepherd heritage, instinct, temperament and type, and
interested in pursuing further recognition formed a
Miniature Australian Shepherd parent club in order to attain
The ideal Miniature Australian Shepherd is the mirror image
of the Australian Shepherd, only in a smaller, calmer
package. Their size ranges from 14" to 18" tall for the
Miniature and 13" and smaller for the Toy. They are compact
and well balanced; very athletic and alert. They are in the
Hearding Group and can be seen in the Breed and Obedience
show ring, as well as in the home as a supremely devoted
They come in a variety of coat and eye colors. The Blue
Merle has patches and patterns of black on a background
varying from slate gray to powder blue. The Red Merle has
patches and patterns of red on a cream colored background.
The Black has a solid black body.
They may have white trim, in which case they would be a
Black Bi, or black, copper and white, which would be a Black
Tri. The Reds vary in intensity from a deep mahogany to a
brownish-red color. As with the Blacks, a Red and white is
known as a Red Bi; add copper points and the dog is a Red
Their eyes may be blue, brown, amber, or one blue, one
brown, flecked or marbled. Tails are sometimes natural bobs,
longer ones are docked.
They are sensitive, easily trained, excellent natural
guardians of the home and they possess varing degrees of
herding instincts. They are calm and confident, usually
suspicious of strangers. They are entirely devoted to their
masters and will go to great lengths to please them. Their
unique size makes them perfectly suited to our growing urbon
lifestyle, as well as making excellent traveling companions.
With their many attributes you will find this amazingly
versatile and affectionate companion great with children.
They are a devoted friend and guardian, for they are
naturally protective. They are eager to please and seem to
have a sixth sense about what the owner wants.
Their coat is easy to groom and needs little attention.
Brush occasionally with a firm bristle brush and bathe only
when necessary. They are a average shedder.
IMPORTANT HEALTH INFO
breeds of dogs have genetic health issues associated with
their breed. When choosing a puppy it's important to buy
from a breeder that tests their breeding dogs. These puppies
will be more expensive, but they'll be less likely to have
genetic health problems. We want you to be aware of issues
that can affect the Mini Aussies, so please visit the
websites below for more information.
The Miniature Australian Shepherd Club of America is
pleased to have partnered with Paw Print Genetics to
provide affordable testing for your dogs. Using discount
code MASCA, save 20% off any order or 25% off two or
more tests in the same dog, including disease tests,
coat colors and traits, or 40% off the Miniature
Australian Shepherd Disease Panel. Find your tests here:
Place your order at https://www.pawprintgenetics.com/ or
call them Mon-Fri 8am-5pm pst at 509-483-5950. This code
is valid through December 31, 2016, cannot be applied to
previous orders or combined with other offers. Discount
excludes Parentage testing and DNA profiling. Be sure to
use your discount code only for MASCA members at