Is Your Aussie a Mini? Here Are 10 Easy Ways to Tell

Since there are different dog breeds, knowing precisely what dog you have can be challenging, especially if you took it from an animal shelter or humane society. The Australian Shepherd, for instance, is a breed of different types – standard, miniature and tiny. So you might want to know, “Is your Aussie a Mini?”

Your Aussie is a Mini if its size and weight at full growth are 13-18 inches (33.02-45.72 cm) tall weighing 20-40 pounds (9.07-18.14 kg). It should also show physical features such as a multi-colored double coat and temperaments such as eagerness to please, high energy and intelligence levels, and herding tendencies. 

In this article, I’ll show you how to determine whether your breed is a Mini Aussie. I’ll highlight the defining factors and discuss the difference between a Mini Aussie and its counterpart, the Standard Australian Shepherd (Aussie). Read on!

How to Tell if an Aussie Is a Mini

Is your Aussie a mini

Before we go into the details, the table below shows the 10 qualities of a Mini Aussie.

Height-14-18 inches (35.56-45.72 cm) (Male)
-13-17 inches (33.02-43.18 cm) (Female)
Weight20-40 pounds (9.07-18.14 kg)
Lifespan 12 to 13 years
Coat TypeMedium-length, double coat
Fur ColorsBlack, red, blue-merle, red-merle
Color PatternsBi-colored or tri-colored with tan, beige, or white patches
TemperamentEnergetic, friendly, intelligent, loyal, affectionate, eager-to-please
Country of OriginUnited States
AncestrySmall Australian Shepherd dogs
Qualities of a Mini Aussie

Now that you know the qualities of a Mini Aussie, here are the different ways to tell if an Aussie is a Mini:

1. Check the Dog’s Physical Characteristics

Mini Australian Shepherds have a distinct and unique appearance. 

Size and Weight

Firstly, they are small in stature, hence the name ‘mini.’ They are smaller than the regular Australian Shepherd but bigger than the Teacup/Toy Australian Shepherd breed. 

According to the American Kennel Club breed standard, an Aussie is a Mini if its adulthood height is above 12 inches (30.48 cm) but below 20 inches (50.8 cm). However, as with any other breed, you’ll find outliers in Mini Aussies.

If your full-grown Aussie is under 12 inches (30.48 cm), it may be a Toy breed. On the other hand, it may be a Standard breed if it’s above 20 inches (50.8 cm) tall.

Adult male Mini Aussies typically stand between 14 and 18 inches (35.56 and 45.72 cm) tall at the shoulders. On the other hand, their female counterparts are shorter, between 13 and 17 inches (33.02 and 43.18 cm) tall. 

These dogs attain their full adult size at around 11 to 13 months old and can live up to 13 years. 

Additionally, Mini Aussies have a sturdy build; they are muscular, have broad chests and shoulders, and weigh between 20 and 40 pounds (9.07 and 18.14 kg) when fully grown. 

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Physical Features

Mini Aussie’s good looks also make them stand out. They have a clear-cut head proportional to their body size. Their muzzles are middle-length, rounded, and protruding, whereas their ears are triangular, folded, and attached high on the head. 

Although it can be unnoticeable, their bodies are slightly longer than tall, like the Dachshunds.

And while some Mini Aussies are born with naturally bobbed backsides, others have long tails. The tail is usually bushy or feathery and arcs upwards when the dog holds it upright. 

However, most breeders prefer docking their puppies’ tails to about 4 cm (1.57 inches) long soon after birth. Tail docking is purely for cosmetic purposes. It has no relationship to the wellness of the dog. 

The eyes of Miniature Australian Shepherds are beautiful and striking too. They can be almost any color – brown, gold, yellow, orange, green, or blue. However, brown eyes are the most common. Some Mini Aussies even exhibit heterochromia, a condition where one eye color is partially or entirely different from the other eye. 

Another identifying characteristic of Miniature Australian Shepherds is their signature coat. 

These dogs are double-coated with a thick undercoat and smooth, middle-length hair

The hair can be straight or wavy, typically shorter at the head, with moderate frills around the neck, and feathery at the back. The double coat is water-resistant, allowing the dogs to work all day outside, rain or shine. 

Because of the double coat, Mini Aussies are moderate to heavy shedders. The shedding increases mainly during the fall and spring seasons when they blow their coat. You, therefore, need to step up the grooming process during these times.

The Mini Aussie’s coat is multi-colored with exciting color combinations. The base coat is typically black or reddish-brown and can be bi- or tri-colored, with mottled beige, tan, or white patches. This type of coloring is called the Merle pattern. It is one of the breed’s trademarks. Blue merle and red merle are the most common. 

Also Read: Why Do Dogs Lick Blankets? 6 Reasons and How to Stop It

2. Asses the Dog’s Personality and Temperament

“Miniature Australian Shepherds are intelligent and good-natured. They pack a similar personality to a full-sized Australian shepherd. However, their exuberant personalities and strong herding instincts can make them too much for small children.” – Melissa Hardwick, President of Save Our Herders Outreach: SOHO Dog Rescue.

Energy Level

Mini Aussie

Despite their size, Mini Australian Shepherds are known to be a high-energy breed. These dogs are workaholics. Their vibrant personality is because they were initially bred to herd livestock in harsh terrain. 

Mini Aussies have high exercise requirements and are only happy when performing tasks or having lots of exercise. Consider involving them in activities that will help release these limitless energy balls. Such activities include:

  • Hikes 
  • Long walks and runs
  • Running errands
  • Off-leash playing
  • Agility training
  • Herding and other dog sports

However, you should note that since Mini Aussies are energetic dogs,  they love rough-and-tumble play with children. This is okay for older and more active children but can be too much for younger kids. Therefore, it is best to supervise them during play.

In addition to physical exercise, these dogs also need lots of mental stimulation. Puzzle toys, enrichment games, competitive obedience training, and interactive dog feeders can do the trick. 

Mini Aussies are not the breed to be left alone to figure out what they want to do. Failure to provide your dog with the physical and mental stimulation they crave will likely result in destructive behavior. 

Herding Behavior

Mini Aussies are also known for their herding tendencies. As mentioned, they are herding dogs. People often call them “Velcro dogs” because they bond quickly with their owners and are loyal and protective.

Because of their strong herding instincts, Mini Aussies make excellent guard dogs. They’ll want to guard other animals in the homestead. If there are no animals, they’ll tend to herd you and your family members. 

This herding behavior can cause them to nip the heels of those they’re herding, making them not a great match with young children since children don’t know how to respond. 

The breed’s protective nature can also make them wary of strangers, making outings or entertaining visitors a problem. Socializing them early in life will help reduce hesitations with strangers, children, or other animals. 

Intelligence Level

Another notable feature of Mini Aussies is their high intelligence making them highly trainable. These dogs are a treat to train since they can quickly pick up cues. You can easily teach them to carry out tasks proficiently beyond basic tricks. 

This, however, calls for the need to be conscious of what you teach your Mini Aussie because they’re likely not to forget anything soon. And because they can be headstrong, it’s advisable to begin training them in basic obedience at an early age.

What Is the Difference Between a Mini and a Standard Australian Shepherd?

The main difference between a Mini and a Standard Australian Shepherd (Aussie) is the size. An Aussie is almost twice the size of a Mini Aussie. 

You should note that Mini Aussies were selectively bred from smaller Standard Australian Shepherds, so they have many similarities in appearance and personality traits even though they are different breeds. 

Breeders in California developed Australian Shepherds in the late 1800s from sheep-herding dogs brought in from Australia and New Zealand. Aussies were bred particularly for herding, but they quickly became companion dogs due to their friendly nature and high intelligence.

And in the 1960s, the breeders began developing Mini Aussies from Aussies. The goal was to have a smaller version of the Aussie but retain their intelligence and herding abilities. They attained the desired size in the mid-70s. 

The table below shows the key differences between a Mini and a Standard Australian Shepherd:

Standard Australian ShepherdMini Australian Shepherd
Date of OriginThe late 1800s1960s
Height -21-23 inches (53.34-58.42 cm) (Male)
-18-21 inches (45.72-53.34 cm) (Female)
-14-18 inches (35.56-45.72 cm) (Male)
-13-17 inches (33.02-43.18 cm)  (Female)
Weight 40-65 pounds (18.14-29.48 kg)20-40 pounds (9.07-18.14 kg)
Life Expectancy12-15 years12-13 years
Barking TendenciesBark a lotOften quiet
Living NeedsIt requires ample space due to its size and high energy levels. It’s not suitable for city and apartment living. Its petite size allows it to live in small spaces and still get the necessary exercise. 
Differences between a Mini and a Standard Australian Shepherd

Another differentiating factor is the cost, although it will depend on where you buy it. Mini Aussies tend to be more expensive than Standard Aussies because they are a ‘designer breed,’ that is, they were developed for specific traits.

So, Is Your Aussie a Mini?

You’ll need to observe the physical appearance to know if your Aussie is a Mini. 

The size and weight are the primary signifiers of this breed. 

You should also assess your dog’s personality to help determine if it has the behavioral attributes of a Mini Aussie. If it exhibits both the physical and behavioral earmarks of Mini Aussies, then you have an answer. 

2 thoughts on “Is Your Aussie a Mini? Here Are 10 Easy Ways to Tell”

  1. How do you find out if you have a Mini Aussie or a Mini American Shepherd? What is the difference? I have a 6mo old Mini Aussie…I think, but would like to know for sure. Also can I register my pup since the breeder didn’t register his parents ?


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