Breed History

Certain 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 America.

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 these goals.

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 companion.

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 Tri.

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.

All 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: https://www.pawprintgenetics.com/products/breeds/39/ 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 checkout!



Don Beard Paints and Hot House Kennels
Cheyenne, WY
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