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AuSSIE Basics










While there are many theories as to the origin of the Australian Shepherd, the breed as we know it today was developed exclusively in the United States. The Australian Shepherd was given its name because of their association with the Basque sheepherders who came to the United States from Australia in the 1800's. The Aussie rose rapidly in popularity with the boom of western riding after World War II, becoming known to the general public via rodeos, horse shows, movies and television. Their inherent versatility and trainability made them useful on American farms and ranches. The American stockmen continued the development of the breed, maintaining the versatility, keen intelligence, strong herding instinct and eye-catching appearance.

The Miniature Australian Shepherd was started as a breed in 1968 from a group of small select Australian Shepherds. The size and conformation was achieved over 10 years of breeding, crossing the smallest standard size Australian Shepherds. The ideal Miniature Aussie is the mirror image of the "Standard Australian Shepherd," only in a small package. Size ranges from 14" to 18" tall, measured at the top of the withers. It is in the "Herding Group" and is seen in the Breed and Obedience Ring, as well as in the home as a supremely devoted companion and pet.

A Miniature Australian Shepherd has all the attributes of the larger Aussie but the advantages of a smaller dog, weighing between 15 to 35 pounds at maturity. They come in coat colors of blue merle, red merle, black or red tri or bi. All come with or without copper/tan and white trim. Their eyes maybe blue, brown, hazel (amber) or one blue, one brown, and flecked or marbled. Their tails are sometimes naturally bobbed and longer ones are docked.

The Miniature Aussie's temperament is that of the larger Aussie - sensitive, easily trained, excellent natural guardians of the home and possessing strong herding instincts. They are calm and confident, but suspicious of strangers. They are entirely devoted to their master and will go to great lengths to please. Their unique size makes them great traveling companions and housemates.

Today, the Mini Aussie serves humanity in every imaginable way: as a working stock dog, guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the deaf, therapy dogs, search and rescue, drug detection, bomb detections, alert dogs, not to mention they are one of the greatest all time family and children dogs. Their devotion and loyalty to their families is unsurpassed. They are truly magnificent dogs. Once you have owned an Aussie, you’ll never own another breed.

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A small Australian Shepherd with the Aussie's attentive, energetic temperament, high intelligence and reserve, but never shyness, towards strangers. The Miniature Australian Shepherd's eager attitude means that working with the mini Aussie is a joy, but their intelligence means that obedience training is highly recommended. The ownership of any dog, especially one of an intelligent breed, should not be taken lightly. Because the Aussie was developed both to herd and guard the flock, the mini Aussies are entirely devoted to their family and make excellent watch dogs and companions. As with all breeds, early socialization is crutial.

He is well balanced, slightly longer than tall, of medium size and bone, with coloring that offers variety and individuality. He is attentive and animated, lithe and agile, solid and muscular without cloddiness. He has a coat of moderate length and coarseness. He has a docked or natural bobbed tail.

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STANDARD: Preferred height (male and female) is 18 inches up to 23 inches at the top of the withers.
MINIATURE: Preferred height ( male and female) is 14 inches up to 18 inches at the top of withers.
TOY: Preferred height (male and female) is 10 inches up to 14 inches at the top of the withers.

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Hair is of medium texture, straight to wavy, weather resistant and of medium length. The undercoat varies in quantity with variations in climate. Hair is short and smooth on the head, ears, front of forelegs and below the hocks. Backs of forelegs and britches are moderately feathered. There is a moderate mane and frill, more pronounced in dogs than in bitches. Non-typical coats are severe faults.

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Eyes defects of varying severity are the most common disorder in the Miniature Australian Shepherd.

Iris Colobomas: (0.27% of aussies are affected) are a cleft in the iris of the eye and will impair vision if large. A dog with a small IC may be sensitive to bright light.

Juvenile Cataracts: are a congenital opacity of the lens of the eye due to abnormal early degeneration of the lens tissue. They cause gradual, painless deterioration of sight, resulting in partial or complete blindness by 2 to 5 years of age.

Offset or Oval Shaped Pupils: : are usually due to multiple small iris colobomas. Impairment varies from mild light sensitivity to moderate vision loss.

CEA- Collie Eye Anomally: (0.22% of aussies affected) Common in rough coated collies.

PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy)/Prcd (Progressive Rod Cone Degeneration):Hereditary – (0.13% of aussies are affected) Common in many breeds of dogs and has been identified in Australian Shepherds. It affects the entire retina and is the canine equivalent of retinitis pigmentosa. This disease is usually detectable at an early age (6 to 8 weeks). Carriers show no clinical symptoms. The genetic disorder Progressive Rod-cone Degeneration-Progressive Retinal Atrophy, causes cells in the retina at the back of the eye to degenerate and die, even though the cells seem to develop normally early in life.  The result is declining vision and eventual blindness.  . Night blindness results. Most affected dogs will eventually go blind. It’s important to remember that not all retinal disease is PRA and not all PRA is the prcd form of PRA.  DNA testing will make the diagnosis, prior to the onset of disease.  This disease would only occur if both parents were either carriers or infected.

Canine Hip Dysplasia: is the dislocation of the hip joint. The poor fit eventually results in the deterioration of the joint, with painful and possibly crippling results. OFA radiographs require that the dog be at least 2 years old to receive permanent certification. Because CHD is inherited polygenically, the best prevention is to continue to breed only those dogs that have been certified free of CHD. Occurs in >50% of the large dog breeds.

Luxating Patella: is characterized by lameness due to the kneecap slipping out of place. It is inherited.

Certain dog breeds have reactions to certain drugs.  Below is a list to take with you to your vet. I currently do not test for this gene but simply remain aware for the safety of my dogs.

Remember to advise your vets that Aussies can be allergic to certain medications.


*IVERMECTIN (antiparasitic agent)
LOPERAMIDE (Imodium- over the counter human anti-diarrhea agent)
DOXORUBICIN (anti-cancer agent)
VINCRISTINE (anti-cancer agent)
VINBLASTINE (anti-cancer agent)
CYCLOSPORIN (immunosuppressive agent)
DIGOXIN (heart drug)
ACEPROMAZINE (tranquilizer)
BUTAPHONAL (pain control)


RIFAMPICIN                       DOMPERIDONE
QUINIDINE                         PACLITAXEL
MORPHINE                        MITOXANTRONE

I use REVOLUTION for broad spectrum control of all parasites internal and external.  Print the list of drugs that are potentially dangerous and give it to your vet.  Remind your vet again every time you go and especially at spay/neuter time.

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CERF (Canine Eye Research Foundation) :All of our dogs are tested annually and each of our dogs has continually tested clear for eye diseases! An eye exam is performed by a board certified" Veterinary Opthamologist".  This exam looks for a multitude of eye diseases.  Annual re-examination is recommended for all dogs. 

PRA-Prcd(Progressive Retinol Atrophy-Progressive Rod Cone Degeneration) We are currently using INGEN to do our DNA testing and are awaiting results.. Some of our dogs were tested with Genomia.

Hips (OFA-Orthopedic Foundation for Animals): Our dogs have their official OFA done at two years of age.  (OVC= Ont. Vet College has also done some testing for me) The Orthopedic Foundation of Animals provides a database of inheritable canine diseases, including but not limited to hip and elbow dysplasia, cardiac, and thyroid disease.  Hip testing is done via a radiograph that is examined by the specialists at OFA. The dogs with normal hips will be given a rating of Excellent, Good or Fair.  Mini Aussie dysplastic rate is 8.6%.

Visit for more information on canine hip dysplasia. 

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Many people believe that female dogs make better pets. Female preference seems to be ingrained in these people. Most calls for pet dogs have people wanting a 'sweet girl'. They don't think females display alpha behaviors like 'marking' and/or 'humping'. They believe that they are more docile and attentive and do not participate in fighting over dominance. Well folks, this is not true and they don't call them a 'bitch' for nothing!

In the dog pack makeup, females usually rule the roost, determine pecking order, and who compete to maintain and/or alter that order. The females are, as a result, more independent, stubborn, and territorial than their male counter parts. The females are much more intent upon exercising their dominance by participating in alpha behaviors such as 'humping'. There IS a reason people utilize the technical dog term of 'bitch' in a negative way-and it refers directly to the behaviors exhibited by the females of the dog world. Most fights will usually break out between  two females. Males, on the other hand, are usually more affectionate, exuberant, attentive, and more demanding of attention. They are very attached to their people. They also tend to be more steadfast, reliable, and less moody. They are more outgoing, more accepting of other pets, and take quicker to children. Most boys are easily motivated by food (how true!!) and praise, and so eager to please that training is easy. However, males can be more easily distracted during training, as males like to play so often. And no matter what age, he is more likely to act silly and more puppy-like, always wanting to play games. Boys are fun-loving until the day they die. Females tend to be more reserved or dignified as they age. Witness the human equivalent of the twinkling eyed Grandpa still playing catch at age 70, while Grandma quietly observes from the porch.

Neutered males rarely exhibit secondary sexual behavior such as 'humping', or 'marking' and lifting of legs. Once the testosterone levels recede after neutering, most of these behaviors (if they ever existed) will disappear. Boys who were neutered early (by 5months of age) usually don't ever raise their leg to urinate.

While the female will usually come to you for attention, when she's had enough, she will move away. While boys are always waiting for your attention and near at hand. Females are usually less distracted during training, as she is more eager to get it over with, and get back to her comfy spot on the couch. The female is less likely to wage a dominance battle with YOU, but she can be cunning and resourceful in getting her own way. She is much more prone to mood swings. One day she may be sweet and affectionate-the next day reserved and withdrawn or even grumpy. The female also has periods of being 'in heat' unless she is spayed.

 Seasonal heats can be a three week long hassle not just for the female, but you and every male dog in the neighborhood. Did we mention that the seasonal heats happen TWICE a year?

If you are not a breeder, your puppy should be  spayed/neutered  since during this time the female  can leave a bloody discharge on carpets, couches, or anywhere she goes. She will be particularly moody and emotional during this time. A walk outside during this period can become hazardous if male dogs are in the vicinity, and she will leave a 'scent' for wandering intact males to follow right to your yard, where they will hang out, and 'wait' for days.

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