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Are Mini American Shepherds and Mini Australian Shepherds The Same?

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A purebred Mini American Shepherd

Yes, the Miniature American Shepherd and the Miniature Australian Shepherd are one and the same. The Miniature American Shepherd was first developed in the U.S. in the late 1960s. Originally, it was called the Miniature Australian Shepherd as it was bred from small-sized Australian Shepherds.

By the mid-1970s the Mini Australian Shepherd had reached its current desired size. In 1993, the Mini Aussie was renamed the North American Shepherd, as it was too similar to that of an AKC-affiliated breed.

Subsequently, the North American Miniature Australian Shepherd Club of the United States (NAMASCUSA) was created. The NAMASCUSA was the first Parent club registry for the breed. The second club was the Miniature Australian Shepherd Club of America (MASCA), which was founded in 1996.

In May 2011, the NAMASCUSA, the AKC, and the USASA worked as a team and renamed the breed the Miniature American Shepherd. In 2015, the Miniature American Shepherd became AKC's 186th breed. In September 2019, the Miniature American Shepherd was officially accepted by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI). However, the MASCA disagreed with this new name, saying the mini Aussie will always remain a size variety of the Australian Shepherd.

The MASCA is still active today but no longer accepts dogs registered as Miniature American Shepherds with the American Kennel Club (AKC). In other words, the breed is recognized by the AKC as the Miniature American Shepherd and by the MASCA as the Miniature Australian Shepherd. However, AKC Miniature American Shepherds may still breed to MASCA Mini Aussies.

According to the MASCA's website, however, the MASCA mini Aussie is not the same as the AKC Miniature American Shepherd. Additionally, the Club says it's "NOT seeking recognition as a Miniature American Shepherd with the AKC." To the MASCA, the dog will always be an Aussie and won't become a separate breed, unlike the AKC MAS.

So, is the Miniature American Shepherd the same as the Miniature Australian Shepherd?

Yes, the Mini American Shepherd is the same as the Mini Australian Shepherd, albeit the MASCA says otherwise. The names are used interchangeably by many people today. To members of the AKC, the breed is known as the Miniature American Shepherd. However, to members of the MASCA, the breed still goes by its original name, the Miniature Australian Shepherd. Today, the Mini American Shepherd or Mini Aussie, or whatever name you choose to call it, is established across the U.S. and internationally.

Traits and Characteristics

A Blue Merle Miniature American Shepherd lying down in a field

The Mini American Shepherd or Mini Australian Shepherd is a small breed of herding dog. According to the breed standard, males stand 14-18 inches tall. Females, on the other hand, measure 13-17 inches in height. Acceptable coat colors on the breed include black, blue merle, red, liver and red or liver merle. Merle Mini American Shepherds may exhibit any amount of marbling, flecks, or blotches. 

Tan markings are permissible in any or all of the following areas: on the feet, legs, chest, muzzle, around the eyes, the underside of the neck, face, underline of body, the underside of the ear, as well as under the base of the tail and the breeches. 

White markings are also acceptable on the breed but are restricted to the muzzle, cheeks, crown, blaze on the head, the neck in a partial or full collar, chest, and belly, as well as front and hind legs.

The breed standard says Mini American Shepherds should not have a non-typical coat nor prick ears and ears that hang with no lift. Additionally, a pink nose on a Mini American Shepherd is deemed a serious fault and so are white markings covering over 25 % of an ear. Pink spots may be present on a Mini Aussie's nose but not cover over 50% of the nose leather. Otherwise, the dog may not be able to participate in conformation shows.

Further, Mini Aussies aren't aggressive or extremely shy dogs. Per the breed standard, any dog clearly exhibiting physical or behavioral abnormalities is a "disqualifying fault." Per the AKC's Breed Traits & Characteristics, the Mini American Shepherd is:
  • Good with young children
  • Very affectionate with family members
  • Good with other dogs
  • Cautious around strangers
  • Very playful
  • Eager to please
  • Highly adaptable
  • High energetic
  • A dog that needs a job or activity

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