The Miniature Australian Shepherd is an athletic dog that should appear solid and sturdy. They have a medium length straight coat that can have a slight wave. The coat is double with a somewhat thick and coarse outer coat covering a soft, downy inner coat. The outer coat is not coarse feeling but is rather smooth to the touch. The body is longer than the dog is tall at the shoulders, and the ribcage and chest is moderately developed. The topline is very straight from the withers to the hips. The legs are straight and the feet are slightly arched with the back legs having a well defined stifle that gives the dog its ready to jump into action appearance.
The neck is in proportion to the body and flows naturally into the powerful shoulders. The head is carried high and level when walking but often carried lower when working livestock. The muzzle is tapered and there is a well defined stop between the muzzle and the eyes. The eyes may be different colors including blue, brown, amber and flecked but are always slightly almond shaped and very clear and alert looking. The ears are full triangles with slightly rounded tips that fold over and forward.
The legs and lower body are covered with slightly longer hair known as furnishings. The Miniature Australian Shepherds are either born with a very short, stubby tail known as a natural bobtail, or the tail in docked when they are a few days old.
The Miniature Australian Shepherd is a good watchdog and will bark whenever someone unknown approaches. They are not yappy like some of the miniature breeds and can easily and quickly be taught not to bark or to stop barking on command. One of the difference in the Miniature Australian Shepherd and other herding or working dogs is that it is quiet when herding and does not yap or bark at the animals.
Overall the Miniature Australian Shepherd is a wonderful dog with children of all ages. They are very active dogs requiring lots of daily exercise and they will run and play with children as long as the kids are busy. While a smaller dog they are not delicate and can handle romping and average types of play with kids of all ages. Since they are very compliant dogs and love to please the family they will listen to children and respond to commands from even the youngest kids.
The Miniature Australian Shepherd loves to be with the family, and is not recommended for families where it will be left alone for long periods of time. They are very well behaved dogs in the house and will quickly find a quiet out of the way spot to watch the family. They also love to play and be the center of attention when everyone is busy in the house. Training the Miniature Australian Shepherd is very easy and they can learn to do amazingly complex tricks with ease. They also love to be the center of attention and are naturally very playful and almost puppy-like in their behavior right up until they are very senior dogs. They are very affectionate with family members and seem to need to be physically close to the family without being demanding of attention. Since the breed is a working dog they do need to have something to do every day, even if it is just go for a walk and go through a training routine. When not challenged or stimulated mentally they will turn their energy and natural curiosity into more destructive behaviors such as chewing and finding out how to get into cupboards and other areas of the house. With attention, lots of exercise and proper training and stimulation this is very rarely an issue with the breed.
Miniature Australian Shepherds enjoy traveling and going new places. They are somewhat wary of new people and will often skirt around the edges of gatherings until they feel comfortable with the people. Socialization will help minimize this behavior, but it is important to never force the dog to interact as this can lead to distrust and fear of strangers or even of family members.
Typically the Miniature Australian Shepherd is an average shedder however they will shed their coats heavily in the spring and fall. During these times the inner coat will come out in chunks or clumps. Daily brushing will both help speed up the shedding as well as prevent mats from forming.
The Miniature Australian Shepherd should not be clipped or trimmed for show and typically should not require any type of clipping or trimming. Puppies have shorter coats that will not reach their full adult coat length until about a year of age. The Miniature Australian Shepherd has natural oils in the hair to keep the dog dry and warm even in cold or damp conditions so it is not advisable to bathe this breed unless absolutely necessary. Dry dog powder is often used between wet baths just to help remove dirt from the hair.
The Miniature Australian Shepherd is an ideal dog for obedience, agility, frisbee competiton, flyball, and herding trials. Many people train their Miniature Australian Shepherds in one of these events and take them to various events in their local communities or even in larger more national competitions and events. These wonderfully behaved and very social dogs make ideal event dogs.
The breed has an amazing ability for word recognition and therefore can be easily taught a huge number of tricks and training exercises. They excel at agility, obedience and trial type competitions including herding. The breed does need socialization in their training to avoid being somewhat nervous of new people or places. A Miniature Australian Shepherd should never be treated harshly or spoken to in a rough tone of voice.
The Miniature Australian Shepherd is very loyal to their family and will bond very quickly with all people in their house. They often do not do well if re-homed or left with people they don't know. If you do have to leave your Miniature Australian Shepherd with someone else, be sure to introduce the dog and the family first and allow the dog to get to know them to help with the transition.