Aussie & Mini Aussie stuff
* Both the Aussie & the Mini Aussie are established breeds with their own
separate Breed Standards & their own separate Parent Clubs.
* Early beginnings of the Australian Shepherd focused on preserving the
working qualities and traits of the Spanish - Basque sheepdogs that had
come to America with the hired sheepherders.
* Early beginnings of the Mini Aussie concentrated on producing small sized
* The history of the "Australian Shepherd" in America can be traced to the
* The history of the "Mini Aussie" begins in 1968 with the breeding of a toy
sized "Aussie-ish" female to an undocumented small Aussie ( both sire and
dam of first litter are unregistered and have unknown pedigrees ). These
offspring and mother are then inbred. ( see info on Travis Dogs ) .
* The Mini Aussie has a larger gene pool than the Australian Shepherd because
it encompasses all of the Aussie bloodlines plus the Mini Aussie bloodlines.
* Even though many Mini Aussies share most of their pedigrees with the
Australian Shepherd, the Aussie Clubs do not recognize the Mini as the
same breed or as a size variety of the Australian Shepherd.
* Some Mini Aussie bloodlines are ( however ) entangled in the AKC Aussie
pedigrees ( studbooks ) and these dogs are registered as Australian Shepherds.
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A little about the Aussie : * Preferred size 18" to 23" at the shoulder
* Average weight is from 35 to 70 pounds
Australian Shepherds are descendants of the livestock dogs that came to America during the early & mid 1900's. Many arrived with the sheepherders that came to tend sheep flocks. Many of the sheep flocks originated from Australia, so the dogs became known as the Australian shepherd dogs. American ranchers and farmers acquired some of these dogs or their offspring and then bred these dogs to other working farm and ranch dogs. The dominant lines of the original shepherd dogs continued to breed true and the breed type and character were preserved. The natural bob-tails and blue merle coats became identifying Australian Shepherd characteristics. The breed was made famous by Jay Sisler, a 1950's & 1960's rodeo performer. His performing Australian Shepherds appeared at shows across America and in several Walt Disney movies. Jay also toured with Roy Rogers and appeared on the Ed Sullivan show with his extremely well trained and talented Aussies.
The Australian Shepherd is prized for it's herding capabilities, intelligence, trainability and
for his protective instincts. Read more about the temperament and character.
* In 1957 a few fanciers of the breed formed ASCA, the first Club for the Aussie.
* In 1971 the Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) formed it's own registry.
* In 1977 a BREED STANDARD was developed and adopted by the membership.
The average sizes for the breed were 18-23 inches and that remains true today, although occasionally smaller Aussies, (16"-17") do occur in some bloodlines. However, the smaller size is not the most common size among ASCA registered Aussies and the smaller dogs do not normally pass on the small size to all of their offspring.
ASCA still maintains and protects it's own stud books (registry). ASCA also enforces a mandatory DNA 'parentage verification' on all ASCA registered litters (the sires and dams).
* If you are going to purchase a BREEDING quality purebred Australian Shepherd, it
is recommended that you make certain that your dog is fully registerable with ASCA ( to help insure the integrity of the pedigree ). Your Aussie should also come with AKC registration to increase your opportunity to compete in events.
A little about the Mini Aussie : * 13" to 18" at the top of the shoulder
* The average weights are 20 to 35 lbs
Much the same as the big Aussie, the mini-size became popular largely due to the American "horse people". The smaller size Aussie was much more suitable to travel and smaller for inside the house ( and also when needed, was more compact for the saddle ). Horse shows and rodeo circuits helped spread the mini-size throughout the United States. The Mini Aussie is truly an American breed !!
There are several different organizations available for registering Mini Aussies. However,
the "mini" is not ASCA registerable (like my Aussies). This is because they have different origins (or as some believe, just undocumented pedigrees) so ASCA will not accept the Mini Aussie into their registry.
The MINI AUSSIE is registerable into AKC under a different breed name and are now
also known as the MINIATURE AMERICAN SHEPHERD .
An AKC registry mistake in 1991, made it possible for the Mini Aussie to become AKC registerable in 2011. It took 20 years and a breed name change but, the Mini Aussie became the AKC Mini American Shepherd. This was made possible with the help of the AKC Aussie parent club. Since the Mini Aussie had slipped into their stud books 20 years earlier, there was too many years of intermingling to remove them. Instead the AKC mini-sized Aussie and any full-sized Aussie that wanted to, was allowed to voluntarily make the move to become their own AKC registerable breed ( now known as the AKC Miniature American Shepherd ). Additional outside bloodlines were also brought in via the AKC FSS ( the Foundation Stock Service ). Read about it here and also here : USASA Q & A
The first Mini Aussie club was formed in 1990 (33 years after the first Aussie Club and 10 years after the first Mini Aussie was given an NSDR Mini registration ). This Club (MASCUSA / NAMASCUSA) was first to establish a Breed Standard for the Mini Aussie, which was based on the ASCA Aussie Breed Standard. This Club promoted the breeding of Aussie "type" and character and required health testing on parents before litter registrations would be issued through their registry. The Club later dropped it's health requirements and made registration eligibility available to a wider variety of bloodlines. This change helped to broaden the gene pool and database. This Club, MASCUSA, is now the Parent Club for the AKC Mini ( Miniature American Shepherd ).
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FYI : Neither the ASCA Aussie Registry nor the AKC Aussie Club recognizes the Mini Aussie as a
"size variety" of the Aussie. They consider the Mini to be a different breed than the Aussie. This is
not just because of size, it is because of the history of the dogs. But in my opinion, the well bred
Mini Aussie is just as much an Australian Shepherd as the Australian Shepherd is. And I say this
because I have both sizes and know that both breeds were DEVELOPED here in the United States
from a variety of farm and ranch dogs that basically go back to the same origins. They may have
some different twists along the way but, there are good breeders who have very nice Mini Aussies
that both look and herd just like their bigger cousins. The only big difference is that the Aussie has
a closed stud-book, which makes it an already developed breed and the mini has an open stud-book
that makes it a still developing breed ( therefore having less consistency and even respect as a breed ).
MINI PAST :
Although many Mini Aussies contain ASCA Aussie bloodlines, the original Mini lines are from unregistered and unknown pedigrees. A small female puppy that resembled a small Aussie was purchased at a rodeo by a 15 year old teenager. This female puppy did not have "papers" or a pedigree and only grew to be *11" ( * from the buyer's account ). This female was then bred to a dog ( also without a known pedigree ) and the offspring all
stayed under *13" ( * from the breeder's account ). The breeder knew people who wanted a puppy like hers, so she continued to inbreed the offspring of this first litter. This is the
basis for the first registered Mini Aussie and is how the "toy-size" first came on the scene.
In 1978 ( not 1968, as some websites state ) one of these inbred puppies was purchased
by Doris Cordova who ( in 1980 ) was able to get the NSDR to register her "Travis" bred dog (Cordova's Spike) as the first MINIATURE Australian Shepherd. And this is where the controversy begins. Should Spike have been registered as an Aussie at all ? If the Mini Aussie had been called another name at this point, would we even have the Mini Aussie?
I say "yes" ! The mini-size is just way too popular and highly desirable. Many people love the versatile Aussie, they just prefer a smaller size. Even if the name had been changed back in the beginning, it would not have made a difference. As a matter of fact, this was evidenced when the breed changed it's name to the North American Shepherd for a 5 year period (93-98) for rare breed show purposes. The goal then was to become recognized as a separate breed. The "mini" became increasingly popular during this time. But, some club members were against the name and recognition change and it was changed back after
the rare breed show clubs changed their rules about showing.
The first Mini Aussies were developed from Spike. He was bred to Australian Shepherds
to help develop smaller sized Aussies with better type and consistency.
Other lines were also registered by other breeders thru the NSDR "hardship" registry.
The majority of our modern day Mini Aussies have some degree of recognizable Australian Shepherd pedigrees crossed in and many Mini Aussies can also be traced back to Spike.
No matter whether our smaller dogs are called Mini Aussies / Mini American Shepherds / North American Shepherds ... they are still all one in the same breed and are loved for being smaller versions of the Aussie.
MINI FUTURE :
The breed is in the hands of many good, responsible breeders who are breeding toward achieving the total Mini .... health, type, character, herding ability and dogs that meet the breed standard. A stricter size requirement and the acknowledgment of being a new AKC breed will help bring more popularity and uniformity to the smaller sizes.
The future looks bright !
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To learn more about the Clubs and their mission statements visit these websites :
* MASCUSA - AKC Parent Club for the Mini American Shepherd * USASA - AKC PARENT CLUB for the Australian Shepherd * ASCA - an independent Aussie club and registry. * MASCA - an independent Mini Aussie Club
( * NOT currently accepting the AKC Mini American Shepherd into their database)
* NSDR - the original registry for both the Aussie & the Mini Aussie.
NSDR accepts "hardshipped" dogs into their registry. Even though "hardshipped" dogs may not have a known pedigree, those dogs become new branches of the NSDR database.
PRIZM AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERDS
FLAGTREE MINI AMERICAN SHEPHERDS