You have probably heard about the Australian Shepherd, and what an awesome dog this canine is. But do you know that the Aussie is available in three different sizes? No, The American Kennel Club doesn’t recognize different sizes. But that shouldn’t stop you from getting a Toy Australian Shepherd.
Identical to the standard Australian Shepherd, this puppy is smaller, lives longer, and has fewer health issues.
Now, you might be wondering, if these puppies are such great companions, why are they not as popular? Well, the main issue is you might have a hard time finding a Toy Australian Shepherd puppy. Now, let’s take a look at this version of the Aussie Shepherd.
History Of The Breed
It is important to note that Toy Australian Shepherds have yet to be recognized in their own right by the American Kennel Club.
So far, the AKC and most Aussie clubs recognize only the Standard Aussie and Miniature Australian Shepherd.
Speaking of the history of the breed, here is a fun fact. While it bears the name Australian, it does not come from Australia. It was developed in California, United States, in the 19th century. Its history began as a herding dog breed for shepherds in the state.
At the time, breeders mixed a lot of different sheepdogs with different working qualities. They used Collie dogs from New Zealand and Australia, including the Australian Cattle Dog.
Hence, the name Australian Shepherd. It was unknown outside of the farming industry up to the 20th century. We can trace its popularity to a famous rodeo performer known by the name Jay Lister.
He had an Australian Shepherd who would entertain crowds with an impressive array of tricks. This is the point where we have to mention that the Aussie pup is one of the smartest dogs in the canine world.
Soon, these puppies became companion dogs. It was in the 1960s, when Doris Cordova from California, began breeding these Aussies and trying to make them smaller for housing and travel.
One of her Mini Aussies, called Spike, was part of the family of Bill and Sally Kennedy. They fell in love with the dog and continued to breed Mini Aussies. We also have to mention Chas Lasater, who also began breeding a Miniature Australian Shepherd.
These four, Doris, Chas, and the Kennedy family are considered the main reason why the Mini Aussie and Toy Aussie came to this world.
The AKC recognized the standard Australian Shepherd in 1979, with the Miniature version in 2015. Both remain popular to this day. But, as you can assume, people always look for something new. And that is how the Toy Australian Shepherd came into existence.
The main difference between the standard Aussie, Mini Aussie, and the Toy Aussie is the size. Physically, these smaller puppies look a bit different due to their size. They weigh between 10 and 12 pounds, growing between 10 and 14 inches.
Just for comparison, the standard breed can reach up to 60 pounds. They retain the collie-like face and triangular ears. Their coat is medium in length and their fur can be either straight or wavy.
Coat color options that are accepted include blue merle, red merle, black and white combination, brown and white, or tri-colored with black, white, and brown. A tri-colored merle is also accepted. You can find solid, also known as one-color Aussies, but they are extremely rare.
These puppies have markings such as facial blazes, defined eyebrows, and white patches on the chest, legs, feet, and tummy.
As with the Standard Aussie, the Toy version has a double coat, with a medium-length outer coat and undercoat that provides insulation in cold climates.
Here is a fun fact. Their double coat is water resistant, but that doesn’t mean waterproof.
Just because they are smaller, it doesn’t mean they are different in character. Their temperament is identical to the regular Australian Shepherd cousin. They do not act any differently than any other Aussie.
These intelligent dogs can pick up any command or cue, and act accordingly. This extremely intelligent dog is also quite protective. He loves his family and will consider his job to protect the family. That is a herding dog instinct that you have to work on.
Eager to please, this intelligent dog can be easy to train in the right hands. A handler who doesn’t understand the temperament of the canine will face some challenges.
Combine everything, and you have an amazing family dog. No matter if you have small children or older ones, these puppies are a great addition to your household. You should work on their herding instinct, but that is a trait you can train and eliminate.
Do They Get Along With Other Pets?
Generally speaking, Toy Australian Shepherd puppies get along with other pets, even cats. Yet, early socialization is critical. Remember they have a herding instinct and medium-to-high prey drive.
If you do not socialize them early on, that prey drive and instinct might cause problems in the household. Tame these tendencies before they get out of control.
Are They Noisy?
No matter if you have a German Shepherd, a Border Collie, a Sheltie, or anything in between, you should know one thing. Shepherds are vocal, and it is all thanks to their working background.
Growling and barking are not always bad behaviors. Aussies express themselves vocally, even more, when they are having fun.
Now, if that growing and barking becomes excessive, train your dog to stop it. Most importantly, train them to stop barking when they are playing. Here is a nifty trick. If your dog barks extensively, stop the game. The Aussie will learn that the fun stops when they start barking.
These pups are clever and highly trainable. Now, that doesn’t mean that training is easy. They also have a stubborn streak and low tolerance for boredom.
What does that mean? Well, it means you cannot do the same things over and over again. You have to put in some effort in finding new ways to keep your Toy Aussie pup entertaining and interested in training.
Keep training sessions short and fun. Give clear and consistent commands that will prevent confusion. Positive reinforcement works wonderfully here. These dogs can be highly motivated by food. Clicker training is a great option as well.
The Toy Aussie Shepherd is a smaller version of Standard Aussies. But just because this puppy is smaller, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t need plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation.
They will run around the apartment if you do not provide enough exercise. I always recommend a fenced-in yard for playing. But you can also work in the park. These loving and affectionate dogs tend to remain close to their owner.
Make sure to provide between 45 minutes and 60 minutes of physical exercise every day. And some more mental stimulation as well. Work their body, but also their brain.
I mentioned in the beginning that the Toy Aussie Shepherd is a healthier breed. That is because he doesn’t suffer from large dog problems like hip dysplasia and so on.
The minor problems that might arise include epilepsy, hypothyroidism, and eye problems. Generally a healthy dog breed, these dogs live a bit longer than their standard counterpart.
It is worth noting that the Standard Aussie lives between 12 and 14 years. With a Mini version, you get a few more years with your companion dog.
The smaller dog still gets a long double coat. You need to stay on top of the grooming routine, including brushing them two to three times per week. Do not bathe them often, as their water-resistant coat will do the trick.
You can bathe them once every four to six months.
Different Australian Shepherd Sizes
Now just so that you get an idea of the size difference between the small dog Aussie and the larger breed standard, let’s talk size.
- The Standard Australian Shepherd is taller than 18 inches and can grow between 45 and 60 pounds
- The Miniature Australian Shepherd grows between 14 and 18 inches, weighing between 20 and 40 pounds
- Toy Aussie grows between 10 and 14 inches, weighing between 12 and 18 pounds