The Miniature Australian Shepherd (a.k.a. North American Shepherd) is the result of a breeding program that was started in 1968 to produce a scaled-down version of the Australian Shepherd. The aim was to develop a small herder and guardian of the home, maintaining all of the qualities of the larger version except for size.
The mini aussie typically stands from 13 inches to 18 inches at the shoulder and weighs 20 to 35 pounds. They are compact, well balanced, very athletic, and alert without being hyperactive or "yappy". The coat is moderate in length, and straight or slightly wavy with undercoat. The coat color is blue merle or red, with or without markings and tan (copper) points. Mini aussies require minimal grooming (brushing once a week or as required depending on their activities) and only occasional bathing. Some may experience a dramatic seasonal shed. They tend to have little "doggy odor". The eyes may be brown, blue, amber, green, or any other combination. Combinations could include flecked, marbled, or one eye being a different color than the other. In general, the tail of mini aussies is either naturally bobbed or docked at an early age. Though there is a standard for these dogs, the variety in appearance and love-ability coaxes many people to want more than one!
This breed needs regular exercise and is versatile, hardy and enthusiastic. They are easily trained but sensitive, and should be handled gently as a result of this. Mini aussies are good guardians of the home, possessing varying degrees of herding instincts, and are entirely devoted to their masters. They need affection from their families but are not overbearing. They typically get along well with other pets as well as people, including children (though they may be reserved at first). The mini aussie is a fun-loving dog, often excelling in agility, obedience, flyball, frisbee, and other sports. The Miniature Australian Shepherd is not currently recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), but may earn titles through other dog clubs in the U.S., such as the American Rare Breed Association (ARBA), Canine Kennel Club (CKC), International All Breed Canine Association (IABCA), and National Stock Dog Registry (NSDR).