ABOUT AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERDS
and MINI AMERICAN SHEPHERDS
Thanks for enquiring about our Aussies and Mini Americans.
From a reputable breeder, the only real difference between Australian Shepherds and Miniature American Shepherds should be size and the breed name on the registration certificate. They should be the same in every other way.
Without boring you with years of history the change in the breed name from Miniature Australian Shepherd to Miniature American Shepherd is political in nature. Historical pictures from the 50's 60's and even the 70's show that Australian Shepherds under 18 inches at the shoulders were a naturally occurring size within the breed as they still are today. The Australian Shepherd Breed Standard was written to "prefer" dogs that were over 18 inches but with no height disqualification. In the 60's a select few breeders decided they actually "preferred" their dogs well under 18 inch for working purposes. These breeders decided that they would intentionally select the smallest dogs they could find that were of true Aussie quality and they used those small dogs as the foundation of the Mini Aussie. Some of the foundation dogs used to establish the mini size were not registered and had no known or recorded pedigree, whether they were 100% aussies or not is the foundation for the hostility between Aussie breeders and Mini Aussie breeders today. In order to get the smaller dogs recognized by the AKC and CKC we had to go in as a separate breed
derived from the aussie but NOT an Aussie. As such the Miniature American Shepherd was born. Because they are now a separate breed on paper we CAN NOT breed them together. Any dog registered as an AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD will only ever be bred to other registered AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERDS and the Mini Americans will only breed to other registered Mini Americans.
All of our dogs are now CKC registered as one breed or the other.
The preferred height for each size is as follows....
Miniature American Shepherds are between 13-17 inches for females and 14-18 inches for males.
Australian Shepherds are 18 inches and taller at the withers.
It is possible to breed two large size parents together and get smaller size dogs, just as it is possible to breed two smaller sized parents together to get larger sizes depending on how genetics fall into play.
We are phasing out our registrations as Mini Aussies so please make sure you understand what you are buying from us and that you get the registration that meets your needs as a buyer.
If you don't get any farther in the website than this, I really hope you read this part and read it again so it really sinks in. Aussies and Mini Americans are not for most average families. This is a working farm dog regardless of size. They have been bred to be not only very physically active running on a farm all day rounding up livestock, but they are incredibly MENTALLY active as well.
Your average Aussie or Mini American will need 2 hours of Training per day, every day for it's entire life, obedience, tricks, games, sports, something where the dog needs to use it's brain to think, to pay attention and to interact with you, plus 1-2 hours of off leash running. Not a back yard, but a football field, a forest or some place they can really run full out and stretch those muscles.
You have to take a day in the life of a farm dog and translate it to living in your situation. So instead of running an acre away to gather the cattle they will run to chase a ball or a frisbee. Instead of reading the body language of the cattle and sheep to move them where they need to go and instead of watching and listening to the farmers instructions on when and where to move the livestock, instead your dog will listen to you to learn how to do tricks, and learn to use his nose to do scent work, and run through obedience exercises, and get his mental stimulation in different ways. But he MUST get that same amount of mental stimulation in the city as he would on a farm, to be a happy dog.
This is NOT a lay in the back yard and sunbath breed. This is an active breed Mentally and Physically and if you do not meet the dogs needs then they will be like a bored toddler and find ways to entertain themselves, ways that you will likely not appreciate such as remove the stuffing from your furniture, tear the paper off the drywall, play tug of war with curtains, figure out ways to get onto counters, and dig deep holes in the backyard.
Working families can certainly own this breed if you have the time and dedication to meet the dogs needs early mornings, late evenings and weekends. If you don't have the desire to work with a dog to that extent, then this is probably not the breed for you.
If you have young children then you need to think long term. We hear lots of stories of people who want to get a dog for the kids. Sometimes it's getting a dog while the kids are toddlers so they can grow up together and sometimes it's getting a dog now that kids are old enough to help out. BUT what is going to happen long term when life changes. When the kids have school activities that may or may not be dog friendly, or after school jobs, and then they start dating, and they go away to college/university and everyone's lives change because our lives are fluid. The dogs needs stay the same, whether the kids are in school or sports, whether you live in a house or a condo, whether it's warm out or cold, whether you are healthy or under the weather, the dogs needs stay the same and you must have a long term plan to meet those needs.
Mental stimulation is the key to living with this breed and I try to give my buyers lots of ways to make it work but the desire to make it work really starts with you.
BARKING AND RESERVE WITH STRANGERS
So again we are going to go back to this is a working farm dog, a herding breed. As a herding breed it is important to know your dog is not going to let a stranger walk away with your livestock or with your children and the dog itself for that matter. When anything out of the ordinary is happening on your property, your dog should bark to alert you. This is what they were bred to do. In the city this can end up being the mail man, the stray cat, the garbage man, the UPS driver, a squirrel etc. Anyone or anything which the dog feels doesn't belong that close to his property and family, will result in the family being alerted to a possible danger. With this behaviour some dogs may be less suited to apartment lifestyles. I find my girls are more alert barkers than my males, although there are exceptions to that. Some of my dogs are also very vocal during play. So if barking may be an issue for your family, you should let your breeder help you choose a puppy who barks less than the others.
This also means that Aussies and Mini Americans are not everyone's best friend. They are bred to be reserved with strangers in order to protect the farmers livestock and his family. They are not golden retrievers who love anyone with a friendly smile and a cookie.
These dogs should avoid being touched by a stranger, they should be aloof, if a stranger leans in to touch them, they should casually back away to avoid being that close. They should not seek out attention from non family members. They do not want to walk down the street and have a dozen strange people pet them. They watch their owners body language, and will often stand in between the stranger and the family until they know it is safe. We need to teach them that when we say it is alright they do not need to be as protective, but they should continue to be aloof and uninterested. If your dog is forced into this situation and you allow or encourage people to get too
close to your dog before he is comfortable, it can result in these dogs resorting to a snap or a bite to show their extreme discomfort.
If you do not appreciate this trait in these dogs, this is not the breed for you.
Being reserved is not isolated to people. Both Aussies and Mini Americans are not dog park dogs. Thinking dogs need canine companionship is totally a human emotion. Your dog does not want dog friends if they do not live in the home with him. In his eyes these dogs could be potential dangers to the family, and the dog will likely growl, stand in between the strange dog and the family to protect you.
In a park setting with multiple strange dogs running towards the family, a lot of Aussies and Mini Americans will lash out and bite first to prevent the family from being harmed. It can be very overwhelming to the dog to be put in a situation that he can not control and where he feels he has no choice but to lash out to protect you. You should always watch your dogs body language and respect his personal boundaries and comfort limits.
If you have a really active home with a lot of people coming and going, big family gatherings and parties always happening, again this can be a lot for this breed to deal with and you must follow their lead. If they are uncomfortable with that much going on as many of them will be, then you need to respect that and give the dog a place to get away and relax. Specially with smaller children, a lot of running and loud noises can seem like the families children are in danger and it can set the dog on the highest protection level. This breed is incredibly devoted to their families and are wonderful in the right homes, but they are not for everyone.
Always think about what your dog was bred to do, go back to his origins and try to put yourself in his place and understand why he acts the way he does. He is not being a bad dog, he is being a working bred farm dog and doing his job to the best of his ability. If you do not want those qualities in a dog, then a herding breed may not be the breed you are looking for no matter how pretty they are.
If you see us at an event and our dogs seem social you have to remember a few things. First the dogs are my profession, I have been working with them for many years and I am very good at reading them and will not put them in a situation they are not ready for.
Second the amount of socializing and training our dogs get is likely to surpass anything you could ever think to offer, we have an incredible bond and partnership with our dogs and we trust one another and they know I have their backs and they trust me to keep them safe. It takes years to build this bond and get these breeds to this level of trust.
GOOD WITH CHILDREN
Aussies can be wonderful with children. This requires both children and dogs to be well trained and supervised at all times. Both kids and dogs have big hearts and may forget to be as gentle as required. Adult supervision will make their relationship a safer one. Always remember that dogs need their space. When a dog is a herding breed they often have a strong desire to chase and even nip small moving objects including children. This is not biting and is not aggression. This is a natural herding instinct and should be expected.
If you need advise on this behaviour, please talk to your breeder. When Aussies and Children are raised together they develop a very strong bond and are often best friends.
When they have this type of bond the Aussie is usually a natural guardian to the children in the home. We hear many stories of Aussies babysitting children out on the farm not letting them wander where they were not supposed to go. Aussies often sleep under the babies crib or beside the childs bed as a natural protector.
That being said children do take some getting used to, so if your dog has not been raised around children they may be frightened of them.
It is important to seek out children who have good manners around dogs and acclimate your puppy from an early age making sure each experience is a positive one.
GOOD WITH OTHER PETS
Being a herding breed, Aussies and Mini Americans were never allowed to be rough with other animals without just cause. They had to be able to have the power to move a herd of cattle and the gentle finesse to round up a herd of ducks. Any farm dog which was rough or aggressive with other animals was of little use to a farmer and was never included in the original gene pool. This history of gentle behavior makes them generally safe to live with cats and other animals of all sizes as long as they are supervised early on and taught manners. They
may try and entice the cat to play and as puppies may even chase the cat, but with supervision and training, they can become best of friends. All of our dogs and puppies are raised with a cat. So they have early exposure.
We also operate a small hobby farm so there are always different animals coming and going that they are exposed to. If you introduce a new pet to an adult dog it will take longer for them to learn how to live with each other. It is always best to start the introduction as young as possible to ensure a safe and loving bond.
Aussies and Mini Americans are typically good with other dogs that they live with, they do however take a lot of time to warm up to dogs they do not live with. It requires a great deal of socializing and positive experiences for your dog to learn to enjoy the company of strange dogs and some never get to that point. If your dog does not appreciate strange dogs in his space then you MUST accept that. This breed often sees other dogs as a threat and they feel the need to protect you from them. If you must have a dog who is social with other dogs then this is absolutely not the breed for you.
NEED TO BE INCLUDED
Aussies and Mini Americans thrive on being with their family as often as possible. For this reason they do not make good pets for non active families. They also do not make good pets for families who are active in a lot of areas where the dog is not welcome, such as hockey, ballet, church, etc. They do not accept being left out.
If you expect to have BBQ's outdoors and lock the dog indoors because some people do not like dogs, they will likely destroy furniture in protest. Likewise if you plan to have indoor gatherings and lock your dog outdoors away from the activity, expect him to bark, dig and cause a real commotion. They are family dogs who need to be included in what their family does. If you do not have the time to dedicate to your dog, you will not have a good relationship with your dog.
They also require above average mental and physical stimulation. A lot more than your average breed of dog. A normal walk just isn't going to cut it. Your dog, dog wants to have his 2 hours of off leash running WHILE you are interacting with him, directing him to go around trees, over park benches, to get up on rocks etc. They need you to be included in their lives actively and not just walking behind while they run aimlessly.
When you are at home they want to follow you, they are always under foot, they will go into the bathroom with you, sit at your feet under the computer desk, be at your feet while you are cooking, follow you room to room when you are cleaning. The reason is that they are waiting for you to include them in your every day life. They WANT you to give them a job. Teach them to push the laundry basket across the floor for you, teach them to open lower cupboard doors so you can put dishes away, teach them how to pick things up off the floor and put them in a basket or in the washing machine, teach them how to open and close the fridge for you, teach then how to pick up the remote control, how to fetch your slippers, how to pull your jacket sleeve to help you get undressed, put them to work, it is what they were bred to do and it is what they WANT to do with you. If you do not want to include your dog in everything you do, this is probably the wrong breed for your family. Again I may sound like a broken record, but this is a working dog, they were bred to work all day out on the
farm with the farmer and they want that same level of connection and work load from you while living in the city.