Do mini Aussies make good family dogs?
Yes, definitely. Australian Shepherds of the miniature variety become incredibly devoted to their people. They enjoy, and need to be involved in, family activities. They are gentle with children, good with other pets, and readily trained. But as the Australian Shepherd has a strong working heritage, mini Aussies often do best in families willing to spend time providing obedience training, exercise and who permit the dog to be part of the family. The standard calls for a dog of “strong herding and guardian instincts” and a “reserved” temperament. Because mini Aussies tend to be extremely loyal to their families, not all should be expected to be outgoing toward strangers. Early socialization is of the utmost importance in the mini Aussie.
What health issues are of concern in the mini Aussie?
In general, the mini Aussie is relatively healthy. However, certain issues are of concern and should be discussed with your breeder.
The most common problem currently recognized in the Aussie and mini Aussie are various hereditary eye anomalies, like iris and retinal colobomas and juvenile cataracts, the more severe of which can lead to blindness. The common approach to preventing these conditions is through certification of unaffected breeding stock by the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF). Potential owners should search for a breeder who has cleared both sire and dam of a litter and, ideally, the puppies at around 8 weeks of age.
Hip dysplasia, a crippling defect of the hip joint, has been recognized in almost every single breed of dog and is found in mini Aussies. Most breeders perform radiographs and seek certification from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) or PennHIP. It is necessary that all breeders cooperate in the effort to certify breeding stock in order to secure a successful future of the Australian Shepherd of the miniature variety.
See Health & Related Issues for more information.
Do mini Aussies respond well to obedience training?
Yes. Australian Shepherds of the miniature variety are herding dogs, historically used to aid ranchers working livestock in a variety of situations. Their natural instinct remains strong, and mini Aussies are well known for their intelligence, eagerness to please and trainability. Not only do they respond well to obedience training but it is highly recommended in order to direct their natural herding ability and inquisitive minds.
How much exercise do they need?
Australian Shepherds of the miniature variety require moderate amounts of exercise. Although energetic, the mini Aussie’s size enables it to fulfill its exercise requirements somewhat more quickly than larger dogs of similar activity level. They are usually relaxed when inside with their family. Nonetheless, adult mini Aussies can enjoy more vigorous activities, such as jogging and hiking. Games of fetch or with a flying disk are a terrific way for an adult mini Aussie to exercise. Owners often teach their dogs to play “hide and seek” and offer interesting toys to prevent boredom when they are not able to provide physical exercise. Boredom is the leading cause of destructive behavior and problems such as excessive barking.
Do they shed much? How much grooming is required?
The Australian Shepherd of the miniature variety wears a moderately thick double coat. The undercoat is shed twice yearly and shedding is moderate between these periods, although degree will vary with individual. Regular brushing once or twice a week will help to minimize shedding and keep the skin and coat healthy. The mini Aussie’s coat is not long enough to require heavy daily attention.
How big will a mini Aussie grow?
Males typically range from 15 to 18 inches (25 to 40 pounds) and females are proportionately smaller, although dogs will occasionally mature over the preferred size. A responsible breeder will be able to estimate approximate mature size. Expect your mini Aussie to be larger than the average Shetland Sheepdog. See the Australian Shepherd of the miniature variety breed standard for more information on size and structure.
Are mini Aussies noisy?
No. Most mini Aussies are relatively quiet, unless something extraordinary occurs about which they feel their family should be warned. Usually, a bark or two will suffice so long as their people acknowledge the disturbance. They are not prone to excessive barking, however, are extremely people oriented and tend to suffer when shut out of family life, thereby possibly developing some unusual habits. Appropriate training and exercise will direct behavior.
Why even breed mini Aussies? What’s wrong with the Australian Shepherd?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Australian Shepherd! In fact, mini Aussies ARE Australian Shepherds and likewise make excellent stock, show and performance dogs as well as companions. The smaller lines have been around for as long as the Australian Shepherd itself, becoming unfashionable in the 1970’s, around the same time at which the certain smaller lines gained the “miniature” label. The “miniature” applies only to size when compared with the Australian Shepherd, and should not imply diminished working ability or a “toy” size. Australian Shepherds of the miniature variety have no advantage or disadvantage over the Aussie.
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