The Toy Australian Shepherd is a smaller version of the Standard ranging from 10″-14″ in height. 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.
The Toy 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.
They are a great companion for children and other pets, especially if socialized as a puppy. It can be shy around strangers, as it is territorial by nature. Toy Australian Shepherds are affectionate and kindhearted. They are easily bored. The character and temperament of the Toy Miniature Australian Shepherd, regardless of the size variation, is that of a herding dog. Most Aussies do not adapt well to a sedentary lifestyle. If you like to come home from work and just plop on the couch with the remote, this is not your breed. If you are looking for a dog that has a high intelligence level to be a major “partner” in your life that you can truly interact with, that is the Aussie. Many Aussies live on farms or ranches and thrive on the mental and physical stimulation of helping with morning chores However, there are many, many that live in cities. No matter where you live; your Aussie will be happiest to live with you. Australian Shepherds do not do well living a sedentary lifestyle. They thrive on mental stimulation and most will not be happy as a kennel dog. They need social interaction with their owners. Toy Aussies make excellent house dogs with appropriate exercise.
The Toy & Miniature Australian Shepherd has a medium length coat. It comes in blue or red merle, red or black tricolor, all with white and/or tan markings. The hair around the ears and eyes should not be white. The coat may be straight or slightly wavy, and should have feathering on the back of the legs, and a mane and frill around the neck. Hair on the head, front of the forelegs and on the outside of the ear is shorter than the rest of the coat. The hindquarters are the same length as the forequarters. The top of the skull is quite flat and clean cut. The feet are oval and compact. The lips do not hang over the lower jaw.
Toy & Miniature Australian Shepherds are easygoing, perpetual puppies that love to play. Courageous, loyal, and affectionate, they are excellent children’s companions that are great with active children. A devoted friend and guardian. Unlike some other small dogs, who are relatively fragile, they are a good choice as a child’s companion. Very lively, agile, and attentive, they are eager to please with a sixth sense about what the owner wants. Toy & Miniature Australian Shepherds are highly intelligent and are easily trainable because they crave approval. They can become nervous and destructive if left alone too much without enough mental and physical exercise. They need a job to do, as the breed is very intelligent, active, and thus easily bored. Socialize your dog well when it is a puppy to avoid it becoming suspicious of strangers. Some like to nip peoples heels in an attempt to herd them. They need to be taught herding humans is not acceptable. A fine companion, it also enjoys working small stock. They are quiet workers. This breed is not usually dog aggressive. Make sure you are this dog’s firm, confident, consistent pack leader to avoid Small Dog Syndrome, human induced behavior problems. Always remember, dogs are canines, not humans. Be sure to meet their natural instincts as animals. The Toy & Miniature Australian Shepherd will do okay in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised. They are moderately active indoors and will do okay with a small yard. This breed will do well in cold climates.
The Toy & Miniature Australian Shepherd needs little grooming and are an average shedder. Brush occasionally with a firm bristled brush and bathe only when needed.
Toy Australian shepherds stand between 10 and 14 inches tall at the shoulder when full-grown, weighing between 10 and 20 pounds.