Miniature Australian Shepherd vs Australian Shepherd: The Differences (With Pictures) – Dogster (2024)

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Visual Differences
At a Glance
Miniature Australian Shepherd Pet Breed Overview
Australian Shepherd Pet Breed Overview

Australian Shepherds and Miniature Australian Shepherds are undeniably similar, but a few key differences set them apart, despite their shared history. The Australian Shepherd is smart, agile, and full of energy. The Mini Australian Shepherd is all of the above but in a pint-sized body (which makes a big difference when owning one).

We will compare these two popular breeds to show which is most suitable for your family, which one can incorporate seamlessly into your home and any other must-know information about the two stunning breeds.

Miniature Australian Shepherd vs Australian Shepherd: The Differences (With Pictures) – Dogster (1)

Visual Differences

Miniature Australian Shepherd vs Australian Shepherd: The Differences (With Pictures) – Dogster (2)

At a Glance

Miniature Australian Shepherd

  • Average height (adult): 14–18 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 20–40 pounds
  • Lifespan: 14–16 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Sometimes
  • Trainability: Intelligent, loyal, doesn’t easily forget

Australian Shepherd

  • Average height (adult): 18–23 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 40–65 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12–15 years
  • Exercise: 5+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Sometimes
  • Trainability: Smart, work-focused

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Miniature Australian Shepherd Pet Breed Overview

The miniature Australian Shepherd is one of a kind when it comes to scaled-down dog breeds. Its beautiful, swirled-merle coatis one of its most distinctive features, as are its piercing blue eyes, but looks aren’t all that this plucky little puppy has to offer. Despite being smaller, this intelligent herder still loves nothing more than a job well done.

Personality / Character

The mini-Aussie has a strong, intelligent, and quick-witted character that’s always high-energy and ready for any challenge they have to face. This is only one of the incredible traits they inherit from the (full-size) Australian Shepherd, as these mini versions retain the herding instinct and drive to work.

They are good with children and families and are often gentle and not as intimidating as their bigger counterparts, but they are still known to herd children and other pets on occasion.

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The miniature Australian Shepherd needs regular exercise to remain happy and healthy, which is something to consider before adopting one. They require less exercise than their larger cousins, but it must be of the same quality. These dogs need the chance to stretch their legs and run around, or they may give in to destructive behavior to burn some excess energy off.


Intelligence is the name of the game with mini-Aussies. They love to engage with their owners and learn new tricks: they excel in agility and obedience competitions for this reason. In addition, they are still working dogs, so they can be trained quickly and follow instructions closely and accurately.

Early obedience training is incredibly beneficial for these dogs; because they’re smaller, they’re more likely to be kept in places that don’t offer as much stimulation as large spaces would, e.g., in an apartment.

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Health & Care

The mini–Australian Shepherd is by no means a toy breed, and they don’t suffer from some of the common problems plaguing the tiny dogs. They sometimes have dwarfism, however, which is how some of them are bred to be much smaller than the original Aussies.

Because many mini-Aussies are merle-colored, being mindful of the deafness and blindness that can occur with this color is essential. They also share the possibility of carrying the MDR1 gene (that causes sensitivity to some drugs) with their larger namesakes, the Australian Shepherds.


Mini Australian Shepherds have a beautiful double coat that’s coarse on the outside and has a fluffy and thick underlayer beneath. They are also known to shed a lot throughout the year, so regular grooming (with a thorough brushing out at least twice a week) will help to reduce any tangling and prevent painful matting of the coat. Nail clipping and ear cleaning are also recommended; however, because the mini Aussie is such an active breed, their nails are often worn down on their own, so a check every now and again may be all that’s needed.

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Suitable for:

The miniature Australian Shepherd is suitable for families wishing for an Australian shepherd’s intelligence, friendliness, and energy without worrying about the size. This pint-sized pup delivers, with its need for exercise slightly reduced due to its smaller size.

This makes them suitable for families or singles living in smaller accommodations such as apartments. However, ensuring they get the exercise outside they need is important, as destructive behavior and separation anxiety can occur if they’re not stimulated enough.


  • Friendly
  • Very intelligent
  • Full of energy
  • Smaller, so suitable for larger apartments


  • Needs plenty of attention
  • Can sometimes suffer from health problems due to coat color
  • Requires a lot of exercise

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Australian Shepherd Pet Breed Overview

The Australian Shepherd is one of America’s most beloved dog breeds for a good reason. They’re loyal and intelligent and skilled at agility and obedience trials. These dogs were bred in America, with their name hailing from the shepherd dog stock used to form the breed.

Personality / Character

Aussies are protective and no-nonsense and have penetrating stares that are used in their working lives as cattle dogs. These are the favorites of ranchers across the country, partly due to their intellect. Australian Shepherds are bright and full of boundless energy, which is amazing when channeled correctly, but it can become destructive if given to boredom.

This breed also has a strong herding instinct and will often herd people, other pets, and children. Socialization is vital for Aussies, as they can sometimes be wary of strangers.


The Aussie shepherd is a very active canine that needs 2 hours of daily exercise. This will ideally be spread into several good walks and running sessions in a large yard. For this reason, the Aussie Shepherd won’t fare well in an apartment or home without a backyard.

However, they do well in agility classes and competitions and are talented at flyball, so consider this if you need extra exercise for your bounding shepherd.


Aussies are ranked as one of the most intelligent breeds in the world, and training comes easily to them. Aussie shepherds are highly focused dogs that learn tasks and commands quickly and will remember them. This serves them well in obedience classes.

Finding your Aussie’s motivator (food, for example) can make training this breed a breeze, and it’ll undoubtedly be enjoyable for you and your pet.

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Health & Care

The Australian Shepherd has relatively few health problems they’re genetically predisposed to. As they’re very active, problems such as obesity shouldn’t be an issue if they are fed an adequate amount.

Aussie shepherds share the same tendency to inherit the MDR1 gene, which can cause sensitivity to certain medications (like the common anti-parasite medication Ivermectin), which they share with other Shepherd breeds.

They have beautiful coat combinations which often express the merle coloring, but Aussie Shepherds that show merle coloring may be either totally or partially blind or deaf due to genetic defects.


The Australian Shepherd has an insulating double coat consisting of a soft, downy undercoat topped with a harsh, protective overlayer. Owners should brush out this coat twice weekly to prevent matting, and because these layers shed, thorough grooming once a month can ensure no excess hair causes problems for your Aussie (or a mess on your floor). Nail clips and ear cleaning are also essential for the active breed.

Suitable for:

The Australian Shepherd is suitable for active families with the time and space to give to a loyal, hard-working, and family-oriented dog. People living in apartments may struggle to provide the exercise they need to stay happy and healthy, so it’s recommended that they have a home with outdoor space that they can explore, such as a yard.


  • Active and energetic
  • Loyal
  • Friendly and great with children


  • Needs large amounts of exercise
  • Can be wary of strangers
  • Can be disruptive if not exercised enough

Miniature Australian Shepherd vs Australian Shepherd: The Differences (With Pictures) – Dogster (9)

Which Breed Is Right For You?

These two breeds answer the question many potential Aussie Shepherd owners ask: do I have room for an Australian Shepherd? The Miniature breed is everything the standard size is, just in a smaller package, so it is ideal for families with more limited space. Full-size Aussies are more suitable for owners with large backyards. Both varieties need the same levels of mental stimulation, as both have a high herding instinct and high intelligence that can become destructive if not channeled correctly.

Featured Image Credit: Miniature Australian Shepherd (Danielle W Press, Shutterstock) | Australian Shepherd (VKarlov, Shutterstock)

Miniature Australian Shepherd vs Australian Shepherd: The Differences (With Pictures) – Dogster (2024)


What is the difference between a Mini Aussie and an Australian Shepherd? ›

The mini Australian Shepherd, often affectionately known as the "Mini Aussie," is a pint-sized version of its larger counterpart, but don't let their small stature fool you—these dogs pack a whole lot of personality into a compact frame.

How do I tell if my Aussie is a mini? ›

Height and Weight Differences

Females range from 18 to 21 inches. The average weight is 50 to 65 pounds for males and 40 to 55 pounds for females. Miniature Australian Shepherd males are between 14 to 18 inches tall and females are from 13 to 17 inches tall. The weight range is from 20 to 40 pounds.

What are the cons of Miniature Australian Shepherds? ›

Cons of the Miniature Australian Shepherd:

Energy Level: Their high energy levels require regular exercise and mental stimulation, or they can become bored and destructive.

Are Miniature Australian Shepherds as smart as Australian Shepherds? ›

The Miniature Australian Shepherd, a diminutive version of the full-sized Australian Shepherd, has garnered significant attention for its intelligence and adaptability. This breed, often affectionately referred to as the "Mini Aussie," possesses a keen intellect that belies its smaller stature.

Are Mini Aussies good house dogs? ›

If you are familiar with the breed, you probably know that they are famous for their abundant energy levels, and you may be wondering – are they good indoor dogs? Yes! Like most dogs, Aussies (and Mini Aussies) are active and outdoorsy, but still best suited to indoor living.

Do mini Australian shepherds like to be held? ›

The truth is, most Aussies do enjoy a cuddle with their owner or close family member, but you will find some dogs of this breed that aren't that big of fans. It all depends on the dog itself, its individual personality, and its temperament.

What does a Mini Australian Shepherd look like? ›

Miniature Australian Shepherd Appearance

You'll most often find their fluffy double-coats in shades of black, blue merle, red, and red merle. Miniature Australian Shepherds are medium-sized, though males almost always are larger than females, and some even have blue eyes (which only add to the dramatic good looks).

What does a full grown Mini Aussie look like? ›

How big do mini Australian Shepherds get? They're called Miniature American Shepherds. Their standard is slightly different but the appearance is the same. Their height is 14 to 18 inches and their weight is 20 to 31 pounds vs the Australian shepherd which is 18 to 23 inches and weight is 40 to 60 pounds.

What color eyes do Mini Aussies have? ›

Aussies might have any combination of brown, blue, hazel, amber, or green eyes. Some Aussies even display more than one color within the same eye.

Do mini Australian shepherds bark a lot? ›

Compared to most other dog breeds, most Mini Australian Shepherds don't bark that much. They have a quieter and calmer demeanor than many other small dogs, which is another perk of getting one of these adorable pups!

Do Mini Aussies ever calm down? ›

Their puppyhood will be extremely hyperactive until they are around two years old. At two years old, Mini Aussies are considered fully grown and mentally developed and will be better at regulating their energy levels. This is a little older than most other breeds, as most dogs begin to calm down around the age of one.

What to know before getting a Mini Aussie? ›

Here are some key points to consider before getting a miniature Australian Shepherd:
  • Size and Exercise Needs: Despite being "miniature," Australian Shepherds are an energetic and active breed. ...
  • Space Requirements: While they are smaller than the standard Australian Shepherd, they still need ample space to move around.
Oct 13, 2021

Are male or female mini Australian shepherds better? ›

If you're looking for a fun-loving, goofy dog that yearns for affection and attention, a male Australian Shepherd is a good fit. If you are more interested in a loving yet independent dog that does not mind spending time alone, a female might be a better fit.

Are Mini Aussies cuddly? ›

While Australian Shepherds can be very affectionate, loving, and cuddly dogs with their family members, they may not act the same way at all with someone they don't know. This dog will enjoy snuggling with the people he trusts.

How big will my Mini Aussie get? ›

Miniature Australian Shepherds are considered small-to-medium dogs. Some are much smaller at around 20 pounds or so, while others can grow to around 60 pounds.

What makes a Mini Aussie? ›

The Miniature Australian Shepherd is essentially a small version of the Australian Shepherd. The coat is medium length and comes in the same colors as the Aussie: black, blue merle, red, and red merle. These dogs are small but mighty!

Is an Aussie the same as an Australian Shepherd? ›

The Australian Shepherd, or Aussie for short, is one of the most popular breeds in the United States. Their boundless energy and high intelligence make them fun, entertaining, hardworking pets and assistance dogs.

How big is a Mini Australian Shepherd? ›

Height: Ideally, males should be 14 to 18 inches tall at the withers; females, 14 to 17 inches. Weight: Approximately 20 to 40 pounds.

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