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Australian Shepherd vs. Miniature American Shepherd

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Australian Shepherd (left) vs. Miniature American Shepherd (right)

"What is the difference between the Miniature American Shepherd and the Australian Shepherd?" This is the question most people ask when it comes to choosing between both breeds. Since this blog is dedicated to Australian Shepherds, I have decided to answer this question once and for all. For starters, the only significant difference between both breeds is size. The Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized herding dog breed whereas the Miniature American Shepherd is a small herding dog breed.

The Australian Shepherd, or Aussie, as they are nicknamed, was developed in the United States in the 1800s. According to legend, the breed descended from sheepdogs imported from Australia to the U.S., hence the name. On the other hand, the Miniature American Shepherd, or simply American Shepherd is a relatively new breed. It was developed in the U.S. in the late 1960s from small Australian Shepherds. Initially, they were called Miniature Australian Shepherds before being renamed Miniature American Shepherds in the 1990s by the AKC and its associates.

The Miniature American Shepherd can be called the smaller version of the Australian Shepherd, and rightly so.

Physical Characteristics

Australian Shepherd vs. Miniature American Shepherd

As I mentioned earlier, Aussies are larger in size, compared to American Shepherds. Adult Aussies typically measure from 51 to 58 cm in height and weigh between 25 and 32 kg, with males being slightly larger than females. On the other hand, adult American Shepherds weigh from 9.1 to 18 kg and stand between 36 and 46 cm tall. Like male Aussies, male American Shepherds tend to be slightly taller than their female counterparts.

Both breeds have a double coat, with a longer outer. American Shepherds' recognized coat color variations include:
  • Red merle
  • Red tricolor
  • Black tricolor
  • Blue Merle
Australian Shepherds' eye-catching coat comes in:
  • Blue merle
  • Red merle
  • Solid red
  • Solid black
  • Black Bi
  • Black Tri
  • Red Bi
  • Red Tri
The Mini American Shepherd shares many physical characteristics with its ancestor, the Australian Shepherd, albeit in a more compact form.

The Aussie sheds a lot while the American Shepherd sheds a fair amount, even more so during shedding season. They both require weekly brushing to help remove dirt and loose hairs from their coats. However, daily brushing will be required during the shedding season, which is spring and fall.


Both the Australian Shepherd and the Miniature American Shepherd are:
  • Intelligent
  • Energetic
  • Loyal
  • Trainable
  • Sweet-natured
  • Protective
  • Versatile
  • Eager to please
  • Biddable
  • Affable
  • Affectionate
Both breeds love being around their family but are somewhat wary of strangers. Additionally, they both make excellent family dogs but sometimes try to herd family members by barking and nipping at heels. This behavior, which can be curbed through training, reflects their herding heritage. Also, this behavior is one of the reasons they often end up in shelters. Fortunately, both breeds' intelligence combined with their biddability makes them very easy to train.

If you bring an Australian or American Shepherd home, you may have to make them understand that humans are not livestock. However, every dog is different, and not all Australian and American Shepherds exhibit this herding instinct at home. That is because both breeds are being predominantly bred for pets today, as the traditional livestock industry dwindles.

Both Australian and American Shepherds are active and athletic dogs that enjoy engaging in activities that will occupy both their minds and body. Aussies are more energetic and require a great deal of exercise on a daily basis. The breed is known to become easily bored and destructive if it does not receive enough exercise or attention. The AKC recommends a large, fenced-in yard for Australian Shepherds to run around in for at least an hour or two daily. Aussies love accompanying their owners on long walks, or better yet, hikes.

On the other hand, American Shepherds are equally active but need a moderate amount of exercise due to their size. What's more, they are also very adaptable to their family's lifestyle. Unlike Aussies, American Shepherds are suitable for apartment living as long as they receive sufficient exercise. 

Both breeds enjoy and excel in many canine events, including dog agility, dock diving, obedience, tracking, and flyball.

Australian and American Shepherds are both good with children. While Aussies tend to be defensive over territory, American Shepherds get along extremely well with other dogs. Furthermore, Miniature American Shepherds tend to be "Velcro dogs," with some owners saying they are more affectionate than Aussies. As such, they can develop separation anxiety.

Lastly, the Australian and American Shepherds are both considered moderate barkers, though they can become very vocal when not given enough attention.

Health and Lifespan

The Australian and American Shepherds are both deemed to be generally healthy dogs. Regardless, the AKC recommends regular vet visits for checkups to ensure the dog has a long, healthy life. Recommended health tests for Miniature American Shepherd include:
  • Hip Evaluation
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Multidrug Sensitivity
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
Recommended health tests for Australian Shepherds include:
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Hip Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
Both Australian Shepherds and Miniature American Shepherds have an average lifespan of 13 to 15 years.


Australian Shepherd vs. Miniature American Shepherd: Conclusion

The American Shepherd is a miniature version of the Australian Shepherd. Both breeds are equally intelligent, loyal, and affectionate. The above comment about the American Shepherd being more affectionate than the Aussie doesn't seem to be true most of the time. They both form strong attachments to their owners and always want to be with them. When it comes to choosing between the Aussie and the American Shepherd, the only considerable factor is size. Your choice should be based on whether you want a small dog or a medium-sized dog.


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