You can find several dog breeds in Miniature or tiny sizes, and the Australian Shepherd is one of them. Frequently referred to as the Aussie, Australian Shepherds are highly intelligent and energetic herding dogs, and so, they require a great deal of exercise and space. Depending on their lifestyle and living space, many owners will opt for smaller-sized Aussies, like Mini or Toy, but what’s the difference?
A Miniature Australian Shepherd is most easily identified by its size. Despite their name, these dogs are an entirely separate breed from the Australian Shepherd and typically measure the size and weight of a full-grown Aussie at 13-18 inches tall and 20- 40 pounds.
Read on to learn about the Mini Aussie, the difference between this breed and its full-grown breed counterparts, and the contentious name change to Mini American Shepherd. We’ll also detail how you can easily identify if the breed you have is a Miniature Australian Shepherd or not.
How to Tell if Your Aussie is a Mini?
The easiest way to determine if your dog is a Miniature Australian Shepherd is to measure and weigh them. Size is really the telling factor in determining the Australian Shepherd breed since a full-grown Australian Shepherd is usually larger than a full-grown Miniature Australian Shepherd.
Both breeds will always be larger than a Tiny Australian Shepherd. We will discuss their differences in size and care further in this article.
What Size Are Mini Aussies?
In the case of a Mini Aussie, you will find that, at full growth, they typically peak around 14 to 18 inches tall from the top of the shoulder to the floor.
In terms of weight, this breed will weigh 20-40 pounds on average. If you have a male Mini Aussie, they are more likely to be on the larger side of the scale than females, who tend to be smaller.
As with any breed, there are certainly outliers that might weigh more or less than the average range, but typically, a Mini Aussie will be about half the size of a full-sized Australian Shepherd.
What Is The Difference Between a Mini and a Standard Australian Shepherd?
Since the Mini Aussies was bred from smaller Australian Shepherds, there aren’t too many differences that set these breeds apart other than their size.
Australian Shepherds were first bred in the late 1800s, and the Miniature American Shepherd came to be through selective breeding of smaller Australian Shepherds. Although these dogs have a lot in common, it is important to note that they are two separate breeds and have some key distinctions.
A full-grown Australian Shepherd will typically measure 18-23 inches tall and weigh 47-57 pounds. Again, if the dog is a male, they are likely to be larger than the females, but overall, this breed is almost always twice the size of its Mini counterpart. For more about standard Aussie growth stages, visit Why is My Aussie Not Growing? which covers growth by age.
Here are a few other key differences between a Mini Aussie and a Standard Aussie:
|Standard Australian Shepherd||Miniature Australian Shepherd |
(aka Miniature American Shepherd)
|Life Expectancy||12-15 years||12-13 years|
|Grooming Frequency||Weekly brushing; Professional grooming is recommended, especially for trimming and cleaning haunches.||Daily brushing, same as Standard, haunches can collect debris that a professional groomer should handle.|
|Shedding||Moderate seasonal shedding||Significant frequent shedding|
|Temperament||Alert. Responsive. Strong herding instincts. Needs lots of attention, training, and exercise. Protective of their owners and homes, but not necessarily aggressive.||Friendly. Impulsive. Needs frequent exercise. Gets into mischief when they’re bored. Must be trained.|
Another significant difference is cost, although this factor differs widely depending on where the dog is purchased or bred.
Since the Mini Aussie is a sort of designer breed, meaning they are carefully bred for specific traits, they are typically more expensive than a standard Australian Shepherd. The cost of a purebred Mini Aussie can range from $1,000-2,000, whereas a purebred Australian Shepherd can be acquired for $600-$1,000
What is the Difference Between a Toy and Mini Aussie?
The Toy Aussie breed was created in much the same way as the Mini Aussie. Mini Aussies were selectively bred to create an even smaller dog with all the same personality and appearance characteristics as the standard Australian Shepherd.
On average, a full-grown Tiny Aussie measures 10 to 14 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs between 12 and 17 pounds.
Again, apart from their size, there is little that differentiates this breed from the other Aussie breeds mentioned here.
In terms of care, the most significant difference is that the Toy Aussie requires slightly less exercise and grooming than the larger breeds due to its size.
All Aussie breeds have double coats that need to be brushed and groomed throughout the year, but since the Toy Aussie is smaller, there is obviously less hair to maintain. That doesn’t mean it’s not the same type of hair and doesn’t require as much effort, just not as much surface area.
What Are the Similarities Between Breeds?
These breeds have far more similarities than differences. They all descended from the original Pyrenean Shepherds that traveled from the Pyrenees Mountains to Australia. After making their way to California, they were mistakenly named Australian Shepherd despite their European origins.
Each variety of the Aussie was bred to herd, and so, they are highly energetic dogs that need extensive exercise and mental stimulation.
On average, any Aussie breed needs at least one to two hours of physical exercise. The smaller breeds could possibly get by with only 30-60 minutes, but all breeds need their physical exercise supplemented with mental stimulation.
Because they are intelligent working dogs, all Australian Shepherd breeds have ample amounts of energy and enjoy having a job to do. Therefore, when they aren’t out on a walk or other forms of physical exercise, owners should ensure they have jobs or toys to help keep their Aussies busy.
A busy Aussie is a happy Aussie, and you can keep them busy with toys like these:
In terms of appearance and temperament, Aussie breeds are considered medium-sized to small, depending on the breed variety. Their coats can come in various colors and patterns such as black, red, and blue or red merle.
Aussie bodies are slightly longer than they are tall, allowing them to move quickly and smoothly with exceptional agility.
Aussies bond strongly with their owners and when Aussies are bored or insufficiently exercised/stimulated, they tend to engage in some undesirable habits, such as resource guarding, and can even be destructive in the home.
All Aussie derived breeds are intelligent, easy to train and can learn a vast amount of tricks and tasks. They are great family pets when given the proper exercise and stimulation and do exceptionally well as herding dogs, police dogs, or athletes in obedience trials and obstacle courses.
If you consider purchasing an Aussie breed, make sure you choose the one that best suits your lifestyle. Don’t be fooled by their size; each Aussie breed is extremely energetic and needs ample exercise and stimulation to prevent unwanted behaviors.
Aussies require a great deal of devotion and training, making them difficult for first-time owners. However, once they are properly trained, an Aussie, big or small, is guaranteed to be an exceptionally loving and loyal pet to any owner or family.