All About Minis

Country of Origin: The Australian Shepherd (affectionately called an ‘Aussie’) does not actually originate in Australia. It is believed that some Basque farmers brought ancestors of these dogs with them when they emigrated to Australia, then subsequently to the United States during the 1849 California gold rush. However, the breed as it is known today was developed in the American Southwest over the next few decades. The Australian dog was crossed with several breeds in an effort to produce an animal able to deal with the harsh temperatures and demands of the American West. Breeding during this period was mainly focused on ability—speed, agility, and endurance–rather than appearance, which delayed the Australian Shepherd’s recognition as a breed. Australian Shepherds became popular pets after they were featured as rodeos performers in the 1950’s, and later in Disney films such as ‘Run Appaloosa Run’. The Miniature Australian Shepherd was created by selectively breeding small Australian Shepherds. It has increased in popularity in the last few years due to its combination of small size with high energy level and endurance.

In 1968 a horse woman in Norco, California, began a breeding program specifically to produce very small Australian Shepherds.   Her name was Doris Cordova, and the most well known dog from her kennel is Cordova’s Spike.  Spike was placed with Bill and Sally Kennedy, also of Norco, to continue to develop a line of miniature Aussies.  Another horseman, Chas Lasater of Valhalla Kennels soon joined the ranks of mini breeders.  Cordova, Lasater and the Kennedy’s together attempted to form the first parent club for the miniatures.  Although the club never quite got off the ground, their stated purpose for developing the miniature was to produce an Australian Shepherd who had the heart, intelligence and drive to work stock, and yet be small enough to travel easily to stock shows and be a “house” dog as well.

Size: The Miniature Australian Shepherd has a shoulder height of 14″-18″  and weighs 17-40 lbs.  Aussies in the lower end of that range are referred to as ‘Toy Australian Shepherds’.  The Miniature Australian Shepherd has highly set, triangular ears, a moderately defined stop (point at which the muzzle meets the forehead), a scissors bite, and brown, blue, or amber eyes (or a combination thereof). It has a flat back, natural or docked bobtail, and oval feet. The Miniature Australian Shepherd is slightly longer than it is tall.

Coat: The Miniature Australian Shepherd’s coat ranges from medium to long, with a dense undercoat. It can be straight or slightly wavy, and is highly weather resistant. The coat is short and soft on the head and legs, with a thick mane around the neck. The Miniature Australian Shepherd can be black, red, red merle (dark patches on a light colored background), or blue merle. All may have white markings or tan points.

Character: The Miniature Australian Shepherd is intelligent and eager to learn. It is relaxed, loyal, and devoted, bonding closely with family, even to the point of developing separation anxiety. Aussies are confident and lively; they are known to behave like puppies.

Temperament: The Miniature Australian Shepherd are highly trainable and a versatile family dog and companion.  They are wary of strangers because of their territorial nature, but never aggressive.  Miniature Australian Shepherds are affectionate and kindhearted.  They get along well with other dogs.  The Miniature Australian Shepherd are very intelligent with a strong instinct to herd and guard.  They have high problem solving abilities and are very obedient when trained.  They actually enjoy obedient classes.  Mini Aussies are enthusiastic dogs.

Care: The Miniature Australian Shepherd requires relatively little grooming, but a thorough combing is required when shedding. Bathe only when necessary. Miniature Australian Shepherds can tolerate warm or cool climates.  Aussies have a life span of 12-13 years.

Training: The Miniature Australian Shepherd is fun to train because it learns quickly and easily. Aussies are unusually eager to please and adept at a wide variety of sports and games, such as herding, Flyball and agility competitions.

Activity: The Miniature Australian Shepherd is an excellent companion for people that are active, particularly those who recreate outdoors. Miniature Australian Shepherds are especially popular in dog agility competitions and other dog sports. Aussies will do okay in an apartment if sufficiently exercised.

Published on September 8, 2008 at 7:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

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