7 Things To Know Before Getting A Miniature American Shepherd Puppy

Updated on: Jan 23, 2021
7 Things To Know Before Getting A Miniature American Shepherd Puppy

When looking at a Miniature American Shepherd you’d be excused to think “Well, that’s just a small Border Collie!” Or, more accurately, “This is just a small Australian Shepherd!”

And you’d indeed be correct! The Miniature American Shepherd is a miniature version of the classic Australia Shepherd (itself related to the British Border Collies). This new and unique breed was developed – or miniaturized – by American breeders hence why it’s called a Miniature American and not Australian Shepherd.

Does that mean that it has the same personality and characteristics as the Australian Shepherd breed, however?

Yes and no.

Naturally, this breed is very similar to its bigger Australian counterpart. However, there are still plenty of significant differences worth talking about.

So, is the Miniature American Shepherd the right breed for you and your family? Let’s see!

What are the key characteristics that make Miniature American Shepherds special?

This unique and lovable breed is one of the newest stars in the dog breed pantheon. Small, energetic, highly intelligent, and very social, the Miniature American Shepherd is the perfect blend between a small family dog and an active and social shepherd breed.

If you want a small dog that’s good in an apartment or a small home but you don’t want the stereotypical “yappy” toy breed, the Miniature American Shepherd offers the perfect alternative!

So, let’s break down the main things you need to know about this fascinating breed?

The 7 things you should know before getting a Miniature American Shepherd

1. This is one of the newest dog breeds in the world

The Miniature American Shepherd was officially recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club) in 2015. It was the 186th dog breed to be added to the list at the time but as of 2019, the Miniature American Shepherd resides as high as #29 out of 196 on the popularity ranking – quite a jump in just 4 years!

All this doesn’t mean that the breed “came into existence” in 2015, of course. Small or “miniature” variants of the Australian Shepherd breed have been spreading across the U.S. since the 1960s. Back then, these small doggos became exceedingly popular in the rodeo circuit where traveling equestrians recognized the breed’s loyalty, small size, and high intelligence as excellent qualities for a traveling companion.

It took over 50 years since then, but this new and unique breed eventually started getting bred under a unified standard and is no universally recognized.

2. Miniature American Shepherds are as good as companion pets as they are as shepherd dogs – a lot!

Given that they are directly descendant from a shepherd breed, you’d assume that the Miniature American Shepherd is a good herding breed, right?

Indeed it is. At least depending on whether its small size is a problem or not – some types of herding require a large herding dog after all.

But the Miniature American Shepherd breed does retain all the abilities and personality characteristics of a good herding breed.

So, naturally, the next question is whether that makes the breed suitable for a family pet breed?

Once again, the answer is positive – the Miniature American Shepherd is an excellent family pet.


Quite simply for the same reasons why most other herding dogs make for excellent family pets – they are intelligent, social, loyal, energetic, and adorable. What’s not to love?

In fact, it’s worth mentioning that the Miniature American Shepherd is an even better than most other herding breeds. While shepherd dogs like the German Shepherd are characterized by their laser focus and “working dog” mentality, that can make them a bit stubborn and difficult to train.

That’s not the case with the Miniature American Shepherd. This breed offers the near-perfect balance of intellect and obedience.

3. The breed is great with kids and other dogs but cats might be iffy

Given that the Miniature American Shepherd is characterized as “social” and “loyal” it should go without saying that it’s good with kids, right?

Yes indeed!

This is an excellent dog breed for new families with toddlers or for couples who are thinking of having kids soon. Whether you’re considering getting a doggo for your child or a child for your doggo, either way, it should be a great combination!

Of course, you should prepare both your dog and your child for their first meeting – the fact that a breed is “social” doesn’t mean that there aren’t right and wrong ways to introduce a dog to a child.

But as long as your mini shepherd is properly socialized and trained, it should be the perfect companion for your child.

The same applies to other dogs and pets – it’s a matter of sufficient socialization and training. The only potentially problematic combination is a mini shepherd plus cat.

This isn’t because the breed doesn’t get along with cats – from the point of view of the dog, they get along splendidly! However, this breed is a little too energetic and social for most cats so you should make sure that your dog is trained to respect the cat’s personal space.

4. This breed is both highly intelligent and easy to train

It’s easy to think that if a dog breed is intelligent then it must be easy to train.

If only.

Experienced dog owners know very well that most “highly intelligent” dog breeds can actually be very difficult to train. Generally speaking, the smarter a dog breed Is, the more stubborn, determined, and focused it is. So, while a breed like German Shepherds is the ultimate working dog because of their intelligence and laser focus, they still need an expert trainer if they are to reach their potential.

The Miniature American Shepherd, on the other hand – they are a breeze to train!

This breed is not just intelligent, social, and loyal, it’s also very trusting and easily recognized and respects its owner’s authority. This stems from the breed’s inherent non-aggressiveness and non-assertiveness that aren’t as pronounced in other dog breeds.

What does this mean for you?

It means that you’ll have a lot of fun training your mini shepherd to do all kinds of things with relative ease even if you’re a novice owner!

However, don’t take that to mean that you should neglect your mini shepherd’s training! These dogs still need socialization and training if they are to behave well around strangers, kids, and other pets.

And just as importantly – like all highly intelligent breeds, the mini shepherds need training and mental stimulation to stay happy. A neglected mini shepherd will soon start growing bored, anxious, depressed, and even develop destructive chewing tendencies.

5. These small shepherds need to move. A lot.

As with any other herding breed, the mini shepherd is not a slouch! These dogs love to move and need to move a lot! If you were thinking that you’ll just take a “mini” breed for you to chill with at home, you’d better pick another dog.

Granted, the mini shepherds are not the most hyper-energetic breed in the world and they can easily be raised even in an apartment. However, they also won’t be happy with just two 15-minute walks around the block per day.

Instead, this breed needs to run and play in the park for at least a while every day. If you can’t afford that much time then you really only have three options:

  • Hopefully, you have enough family members to play with the dog outside every day.

  • You can hire a dog walker for when you’re at work.

  • If you don’t have enough time for play with your mini shepherd, just get a different dog. Or a cat.

6. Miniature American Shepherds are a very healthy breed with a long life span

One of the best news when it comes to this breed is that these dogs are very healthy! The breed lacks most of the traditional canine problems that plague so many other purebred dogs which makes your life as a dog owner much easier.

Granted, this doesn’t mean that mini shepherds are immune to everything – you’ll still need to watch out for stuff such as hip dysplasia, retinal atrophy, degenerative myelopathy (spinal cord disease), and others, but those are a rare occurrence. As long as you take good care of your dog and don’t skip the routine vet check-ups, everything should be fine.

Of course, to further make sure that your pet is as healthy as possible, it’s important to get your dog from a reputable breeder or shelter/rescue that is ready and willing to give you a health certificate for the dog.

7. The grooming needs of this breed are also conveniently low

The last great news about this breed is that mini shepherds really don’t need all that much grooming. All you need is the occasional weekly bath and brushing, some nail trimming, and regular ear & fur checks for debris and parasites.

And that’s it!

Who are Miniature American Shepherds “right” for?

This breed is basically perfect for everyone who wants a small and compact but also intelligent, social, low-maintenance, and energetic dog by their side.

Whether you have kids or other pets, or you live alone, as long as the mini shepherd is always going to have company and get enough playtime – it’s going to be a very happy dog and it’ll make you happy too!

How to prepare for getting a Miniature American Shepherd?

Getting ready for a Miniature American Shepherd is quite easy. All you need is the standard dog owner items such as a leash, food bowl, dog toys, and a dog bed and you’ll essentially be ready for your furry little pet!

Granted, you’d do well to research a bit about dog training and socialization but that’s a given with any other dog breed anyway. In fact, mini shepherds are easier to train than most other dog breeds so they are suitable for rookie dog owners as well as experts.