Thanks for enquiring about Australian Shepherds.
From a reputable breeder, the only difference between Australian Shepherds, Miniature Australian Shepherds and Toy Australian
Shepherds should be size and where they are registered.
MINIATURE AMERICAN SHEPHERDS ARE A 100% DIFFERENT BREED AND ARE NOT AUSSIES.
Historical pictures from the 50's 60's and even the 70's show that Australian Shepherds under 18 inches at the shoulders were a
naturally occurring size within the breed as they still are today. The Australian Shepherd Breed Standard was written to "prefer" dogs
that were over 18 inches but with no height disqualification.
In the 60's a select few breeders decided they actually "preferred" their dogs well under 18 inch for working purposes. A smaller Aussie
is more agile when working in close contact with livestock.
A smaller Aussie is compact enough to fit on the saddle of a horse with the cowboy he was working with.
These breeders decided that they would intentionally select the smallest dogs they could find that were of true Aussie quality and they
used those small dogs as the foundation of the Mini Aussie. Some of the foundation dogs used to establish the mini size were not
registered and had no known or recorded pedigree, whether they were 100% aussies or not is the foundation for the hostility between
Aussie breeders and mini breeders today.
The preferred height for each size is as follows....
Toy Australian Shepherds are up to but not including 14 inches at the withers.
Miniature Australian Shepherds are between 14 and 18 inches at the withers.
Australian Shepherds are 18 inches and taller at the withers.
It is possible to breed two large size parents together and get miniature size dogs, just as it is possible to breed two mini size parents
together to get either larger or toy size dogs depending on how genetics fall into play.
Any puppy who has both parents registered with an Australian Shepherd registry such as CKC/AKC/UKC/ASCA, are eligible for registration
with the same registry regardless of the puppies adult height.
These organizations DO NOT recognize size varieties of the Australian Shepherd.
Any litter that has even one parent who is only registered as a Miniature with IMASC or MASCA is only eligible for registration as a
Miniature regardless of their size as an adult.
Please make sure you know your needs when purchasing an aussie or mini aussie. If you want a small aussie but wish to play in
CKC/AKC venues for things such as conformation and agility, make sure you get a dog who is eligible by registration. Please do not
purchase a mini expecting to be able to play in all the same venues with Aussies because that is simply not the way it works.
You will have restrictions.
COLOR AND MARKINGS
Aussies come in a variety of colors. Black, red, blue merle and red merle. All with or without white and copper markings. Some Aussies will have the full white
collar, white blaze, white chest and 4 white feet as in the cartoon graphics below, and others will be minimal white, even to the point of being 100% coloured with
no white or copper markings. This is all very acceptable in Aussies. While their flashy coat colour often make them extremely popular, coat colour should be the
last thing you look for when choosing a puppy. No matter how pretty your puppy is on the outside, if the personality isn't a match, you will not be happy with your
puppy. If you are set on a certain colour or gender, then you should be prepared to wait as long as 2-3 years for that perfect puppy to come around. A good
responsible breeder will match you based on personality first and colour and gender second.
Please take the time to look at the pictures below to see all the differences, no two aussies are 100% alike, they are like fingerprints. So while you may prefer
a certain look, please understand that no breeder has complete control over what will be born.
BLACK RED BLUE MERLE RED MERLE
Aussies are generally a healthy breed of dog. However certain things should be discussed with your breeder prior to your purchase.
PLEASE AS A BUYER INSIST ON WRITTEN PROOF OF ALL TESTING.
ANYONE CAN SAY THEIR DOG IS TESTED, ANYONE CAN PUT IT IN PRINT ON THEIR WEBSITE AND BE LYING ABOUT IT. INSIST ON SEEING THE
ORIGINAL PAPER WORK IN PERSON OR HAVE THEM EMAIL YOU A COPY OF THE ORIGINAL SO YOU CAN SEE THE TESTING IS ACTUALLY BEING
DONE. NEVER FEEL BAD ABOUT ASKING A BREEDER TO PROVE THEIR DOGS ARE WORTHY OF YOUR HARD EARNED DOLLARS.
Many breeders say they test on their websites but don't in reality. BUYER BEWARE
Many breeders also talk a good talk and will try and justify why they choose not to do certain testing. BEWARE!
There is no good reason to skip any of these tests other than to cut corners financially and make the most profit possible as a breeder.
If you choose to willing buy from a breeder who is not testing, then your purchase price should reflect that heavily.
Aussies who are breeding should have their eyes tested yearly by a CERF certified K9 Ophthalmologist.
We test eyes every 12-18 months to make sure that the dog is not prone to developing an eye disorder at a young age. Just because the eyes were fine last year
doesn't mean they will be fine this year.
ALL puppies MUST be tested prior to 8 weeks old. If you are looking at a breeder who is not testing your puppies eyes, then you should find a new breeder.
There are so many small anomalies that can and do crop up that no responsible breeder skips this test. Iris coloboma ( very popular in merle coloured dogs),
small optic nerves, retinal folds etc are all things that can crop up and can not be seen by your breeder or their regular vet. If the breeder you are looking at does not
test adults yearly and puppies of every single litter, save yourself future heart ache and choose a more responsible breeder. These breeders are the breeders who
are breeding strictly for profit, they will cut corners at your expense so their profit is the highest they can make it.
We now have a genetic test available to us for Collie Eye Anomaly. This is a test done by blood or cheek swab, it tells us as a breeder if the dog has this disease or is
a carrier that can pass the gene on to it's puppies. Having one copy of this gene does not make the dog unsuitable for breeding, but responsible breeders are now
testing their adults to know if their puppies could possibly also carry this gene. Insist on a breeder that is doing this test!
We now have a test for hereditary cataracts. This is a form of cataract that is passed from parent to offspring. There is no good reason breeders have not started to
test for this disease in their breeding dogs. Any breeder calling themselves responsible is testing for this. IF your breeder does not care enough to know if your puppy
is at risk, you may want to look for a new breeder.
Progressive retinal atrophy. This disease is running rampant in Aussies. Again, any dog that tests as a carrier is not necessarily a dog who should not be
breeding, but as a buyer you have the right to know if your puppy will possibly be affected by this gene. It is one of the newer test of the past few years and
the majority of aussies are testing positive as carriers. Many of these carriers have been bred together prior to the test being made available, meaning that there
are double positive dogs out there who could loose their vision at an early age. So far our research, which is ongoing, has found that dogs who are considered affected
with 2 copies of the gene are still not guaranteed to loose any vision, they are simply the only dogs who "could" loose vision from this disease. We will NOT be removing
any dogs from our breeding program at this time. We will be testing all of our dogs and trying to breed away from this gene and strive to eliminate it from our gene pool
over the course of a few years. This means if a dog is a carrier, it absolutely can still be used for breeding, ONLY to dogs who do not carry the gene. Dogs who test
positive for 2 copies again should not be removed prematurely from the gene pool, instead they should only be bred to N/N dogs who have no copy of the gene, producing
a litter of carriers who then will only be bred back to normal dogs to eliminate the gene.
Degenerative Myelopathy is an incurable, progressive disease of the canine spinal cord that is similar in many ways to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Onset is typically after the age of 7 years so some people may be misdiagnosing symptoms with old age, hip problems or arthritis. Progressive weakness
and uncoordination of the rear limbs are often the first signs seen in affected dogs, with progression over time to complete paralysis. This disease is not as common
in Aussies as PRA is but it is still showing up in some blood lines. It is important to your dogs long term health that your breeder has both parents tested for this
debilitating disease to prevent you from heartache in the future.
Breeding dogs should also have their hips x-rayed and rated prior to breeding. This is a simple x-ray that your vet can take, but the x-ray MUST be sent away to either
OFA or PennHIP for an official rating. If the dog doesn't pass the hip rating, then it should be altered and never bred. No exceptions. If the parents of the litter you are
looking at do not have their hips tested and officially rated, then you should not even consider getting a puppy from that litter.
Just because their parents have good hips, does NOT mean the dog in question will. Nothing in life is guaranteed but we want to stack the odds in our favor. Insist on
parents who are tested to increase the odds of your puppy having good hips as well.
Aussies have tests for the MDR1 mutated gene. This gene has been around a long time and the test has been around a few years now. The MDR1 gene
( multi drug resistance 1) causes herding breeds to be unable to process "certain" drugs properly. The drugs build up to a toxic level in the dogs brain and it
CAN KILL them. Many dogs have died from having this gene and no one knowing they shouldn't have certain drugs. It's similar to an allergy to medication.
It doesn't mean the dog should be removed from a breeding program, neither does it mean that it will not be a wonderful pet who lives for 15 years. It just means
there are a list of drugs the dogs should never have if he has a copy of this gene.
All responsible breeders are testing their breeding dogs and are providing owners with the information of whether their puppy needs to be tested or not. If both
parents are Normal/Normal, the puppies can not have the gene. If one of the parents have even one copy of the gene, then the puppies could have received a copy
of the gene and should be tested.
This is a growing concern in our breed. There is no test for epilepsy and no way to know 100% if your dog is effected or a carrier. A responsible breeder does many
hours of research on pedigrees to find out if any of the ancestors in a pedigree have ever produced it and if so how far back and with what mate. By doing this we are
at least able to assess the epilepsy risk with each cross. No cross is 100% epilepsy free. A good breeder should know the risks and be able to explain them to you
so you are not in the dark. Epilepsy will pop up unexpectedly even from the best of breeders. A good breeder stands behind you and supports you if this happens.
It should also be noted that not all forms of seizures are from epliepsy. When we think epilepsy we think genetically inherited. Sadly for this breed many things can
cause seizures to happen such as vaccine reaction, reaction to parasite prevention, reaction to medication etc. So it can be a bit of a journey to try and figure out the
cause of seizures in an Aussie.
|GOOD WITH CATS AND OTHER PETS
Australian Shepherds are a herding breed. They were bred to work long hours in the field with farmers
tending herds of cattle, sheep and even fowl. Aussies were not bred to be hyper. A true Aussie is "ready"
to work at a seconds notice, but is also content to sit back and relax when there is no job to do. Farmers
did not move their flock around just to amuse their dogs. Their dog had to be capable of working when
needed and had to be calm enough to have around when he wasn't needed. Due to the nature of the
Aussies job and the need for him to take direction from his owners, Aussies bond quickly to their family
and make good companions and watch dogs. The eager working attitude of an Aussie makes them easy
to work with, but their high level of intelligence also means that obedience classes are a must. As with any
dog, early socialization to people, noises, and surrounding is of the utmost importance. Even more so with
**It is our personal opinion and experience that the Aussie that is more true in herding instinct is a better
As a herding breed it is important to know your dog is not going to let a stranger walk away with your livestock or with your
dog for that matter. When anything out of the ordinary is happening on your property, your Aussie will bark to alert you. This is
what they were bred to do. In the city this can end up being the mail man, the stray cat, the garbage man, the UPS driver, a
squirrel etc. Anyone or anything which the Aussie feels doesn't belong that close to his property and family, will result in the
family being alerted to a possible danger. So some Aussies may be less suited to apartment lifestyles. I find my girls are
more alert barkers than my males, although there are exceptions to that rule. Some of my dogs are also very vocal during
play. So if barking may be an issue for your family, you should let your breeder help you choose a puppy who barks less than
This also means that Aussies are not everyone's best friend. They are bred to be reserved with strangers in order to protect
the farmers livestock and family. They are not golden retrievers who love anyone with a friendly smile and a cookie. Most
Aussies stand back when anyone they do not know approaches. They do not want to walk down the street and have a dozen
strange people pet them. They watch their owners body language, and will often stand in between the stranger and the family.
Often the Aussie will stand beside the family looking very uninterested in the stranger. If the stranger approaches the dog, the
dog may either back away, or crouch down in an unsure posture. People must earn the trust and respect of an Aussie.
Aussies do not give their trust freely. If you are wanting a dog to love everyone you meet. Then an Aussie is not for you.
Aussies can be wonderful with children. This requires both children and dogs to be well trained and supervised at all times. Both kids and dogs have big hearts and may forget to
be as gentle as required. Adult supervision will make their relationship a safer one. Always remember that dogs need their space. When a dog is a herding breed they often have
a strong desire to chase and even nip small moving objects including children. This is not biting and is not aggression. This is a natural herding instinct and should be expected.
If you need advise on this behaviour, please talk to your breeder. When Aussies and Children are raised together they develop a very strong bond and are often best friends.
When they have this type of bond the Aussie is usually a natural guardian to the children in the home. We hear many stories of Aussies babysitting children out on the farm not
letting them wander where they were not supposed to go. Aussies often sleep under the babies crib or beside the childs bed as a natural protector.
That being said children do take some getting used to, so if your dog has not been raised around children they may be frightened of them. It is important to seek out children who
have good manners around dogs and acclimate your puppy from an early age making sure each experience is a positive one.
Being a herding breed, Aussies were never allowed to be rough with other animals. They had to be able to have the power to move a herd of cattle and the gentle finesse to round up
a herd of ducks. An Aussie which was rough or aggressive with other animals was of little use to a farmer and was never included in the original gene pool. This history of gentle
behavior makes them generally safe to live with cats and other animals of all sizes as long as they are supervised early on and taught manners. They may try and entice the cat to
play and as puppies may even chase the cat, but with supervision and training, they can become best of friends. All of our Aussies are raised with a cat. So they have early exposure.
We also operate a small hobby farm so there are always different animals coming and going that they are exposed to.
If you introduce a new pet to an adult dog it will take longer for them to learn how to live with each other. It is always best to start the introduction as young as possible to ensure a safe
and loving bond.
Aussies are typically great with other dogs that they live with, they take time to make friends with dogs they do not live with but if they are regular play mates they can become quick
friends. It requires a great deal of socializing and positive experiences for Your aussie to learn to enjoy the company of strange dogs and some never get to that point.
Socializing very early is key to a more social aussie.
Aussies thrive on being with their family as often as possible. For this reason Aussies do not make good pets for non active families. They also do not make good pets for families who are active
in a lot of areas where the Aussie is not welcome, such as hockey, ballet, church, etc. They do not accept being left out. If you expect to have BBQ's outdoors and lock the Aussie indoors because
some people do not like dogs, the Aussie will likely destroy furniture in protest. Likewise if you plan to have indoor gatherings and lock your Aussie outdoors away from the activity, expect him to
bark, dig and cause a real commotion. Aussies are family dogs who need to be included in what their family does. If you do not have the time to dedicate to your Aussie, you will not have a good
relationship with your dog.
Aussies require a fair bit of exercise, a lot more than your average breed of dog. A walk just isn't going to cut it for an Aussie. Your Aussie, regardless of size, will require a large area where he
or she can run as fast as they want off leash. A full out run off lead to chase a ball or a Frisbee, several times a week is necessary to keep your Aussie physically stimulated. If you are the type
of family who isn't looking forward to walks in the rain, and playing in the snow in our cold Canadian winters, then an Aussie isn't for you. You don't have to be a marathon runner, but you do have
to be willing to get out every day and interact with your dog out of doors. Tossing him in the back yard because your too tired, or you don't like the weather is going to lead to a bored Aussie. A
bored Aussie is often a bad Aussie :) Average for this breed is no less than 1 hour off leash full out running every day and some litters will require more than that. Their energy levels do not slow
down as they age. This energy level is for 12-15 years! So if you want an aussie be prepared for an athlete!
Aussies excel in many activities. Many owners have had much pleasure working with their Aussies in Obedience,
Herding, Agility, Flyball, Frisbee, Tracking and K9 Freestyle. Some Aussies have even gone on to be therapy
dogs, search and rescue dogs or working dogs for the visually or hearing impaired. Being a herding breed that is
supposed to be reserved with strangers, some puppies within a litter will be more suitable to these lifestyles than
others. A good breeder will be able to help you narrow down your selection to only the most suitable puppies.
Flyball is a fast paced, high energy, relay race. There are 6 dogs on each team. 4 of those dogs are allowed to run at each heat. One at a time, the dogs have to run over 4 jumps, hit a pressure
triggered box that projects a tennis ball, the dog must catch the tennis ball, and return OVER all four jumps. When that dog has crossed the start/finish line, the next dog may go. When all four
dogs on your team have run the course with no mistakes, you are finished. If a dog misses a jump, or fails to bring back the ball, he gets a red flag and must go to the back of the line and run as
a 5th dog. The first of the two teams to complete the course with no mistakes wins the heat. The first team to win three heats wins that race. You will not find a more high energy sport for your
dog. Flyball is loud and adrenalin packed. It is a lovely family sport where team members bring the kids and spouses out, you camp and have a great social time all while enjoying your love of
Agility is a one on one sport with just you and your dog. You send your dog away from you to go over many different obstacles in a course. Your dog must learn to listen to you
and you must learn to communicate with your dog in a timely fashion. With your dog running rather fast, it is in his instinct to take the obstacle closest to him, if you do not get your
command out soon enough, he may take the wrong piece of equipment and loose points. It is a game of speed, accuracy, timing and communication. It is a lot of fun and great
exercise for both you and your dog. Dogs of any breed and any level can compete in agility, it is a great bonding experience for you and your dog.
Disc is one of the easiest sports to do with your dog, All you need is a yard and a Frisbee and a dog which is reliable off lead. You can teach your dog to do some amazing catches and
some cool flips. You can do it just for the pure fun of working with your dog, to keep your dog well exercised and mentally stimulated or you can enter competitions. Either way your dog will
love playing Disc with you.
Want a water dog? An Aussie may be that perfect breed. As long as they are introduced to it young and have a good experience with it. Aussies LOVE the water and you'll find
yourself tired out long before your Aussie. What a better way to exercise your tog than to toss a ball, stick or other floating toy out for him to retrieve. Not only do they get the
exercise of swimming, they get the mental stimulation of retrieving. It's a fabulous sport to take up with an Aussie.
Located In Midland, Ontario, Canada
Many people enquire about Aussies as parters for running. Aussies are fabulous running partners. We have
several of our dogs in homes with marathon runners or triathalon competitors who use their aussie as a training
companion. Some things to keep in mind are that you should never run with your aussie as a puppy. He should
be at least a year old so that his joints are well formed and you do not cause damage to his structure while he is
growing. You also need to keep in mind that in warm weather, your dog is wearing a fur coat. If you're hot, he is
probably hotter, specially if he is a black tri in colour. Consider his health in the warmer weather and if you want to
run with him, run in shade instead of direct sun or purchase a cooling vest to help keep his temperature down and
make sure you carry lots of fresh water for both of you.
BLUE MERLE DOGS