What is a Toy Australian Shepherd?
Courtesy of TASAA (Toy Australian Shepherd Association of America)
The Toy Australian Shepherd is a smaller version of the Standard ranging from 10"-14" in height. The Australian Shepherd (affectionately called an ‘Aussie’) does not actually originate in Australia. It is believed that some Basque farmers brought ancestors of these dogs with them when they emigrated to Australia, then subsequently to the United States during the 1849 California gold rush. However, the breed as it is known today was developed in the American Southwest over the next few decades. The Australian dog was crossed with several breeds in an effort to produce an animal able to deal with the harsh temperatures and demands of the American West. Breeding during this period was mainly focused on ability—speed, agility, and endurance--rather than appearance, which delayed the Australian Shepherd’s recognition as a breed. Australian Shepherds became popular pets after they were featured as rodeos performers in the 1950’s, and later in Disney films such as ‘Run Appaloosa Run’. The Miniature Australian Shepherd was created by selectively breeding small Australian Shepherds. It has increased in popularity in the last few years due to its combination of small size with high energy level and endurance.
The Toy Australian Shepherd is intelligent and eager to learn. It is relaxed, loyal, and devoted, bonding closely with family, even to the point of developing separation anxiety. Aussies are confident and lively; they are known to behave like puppies.
They are a great companion for children and other pets, especially if socialized as a puppy. It can be shy around strangers, as it is territorial by nature. Toy Australian Shepherds are affectionate and kindhearted. They are easily bored. The character and temperament of the Toy & Miniature Australian Shepherd, regardless of the size variation, is that of a herding dog. Most Aussies do not adapt well to a sedentary lifestyle. If you like to come home from work and just plop on the couch with the remote, this is not your breed. If you are looking for a dog that has a high intelligence level to be a major "partner" in your life that you can truly interact with, that is the Aussie. Many Aussies live on farms or ranches and thrive on the mental and physical stimulation of helping with morning chores However, there are many, many that live in cities. No matter where you live; your Aussie will be happiest to live with you. Australian Shepherds do not do well living a sedentary lifestyle. They thrive on mental stimulation and most will not be happy as a kennel dog. They need social interaction with their owners. Toy and Mini Aussies make excellent house dogs with appropriate exercise. The background of the energy level of the dogs in the puppies pedigree will be a good clue as to the energy level your puppy will have. This varies from bloodlines to bloodlines. Be sure you discuss the energy level of the dogs the breeder has that you are purchasing your puppy from.
The Toy Australian Shepherd requires relatively little grooming, but a thorough combing is required when shedding. Bathe only when necessary. Miniature Australian Shepherds can tolerate warm or cool climates, but must live indoors as they require constant socialization. Aussies have a life span of 12-13 years and litters of 4-7 puppies.
The Toy Australian Shepherd is fun to train because it learns quickly and easily. Aussies are unusually eager to please and adept at a wide variety of sports and games, such as herding, Flyball, and agility competitions.
Not only does the Miniature Australian Shepherd need a lot of exercise, it needs to be kept occupied. The Miniature Australian Shepherd is an excellent companion for people that are active, particularly those who recreate outdoors. Miniature Australian Shepherds are especially popular in dog agility competitions and other dog sports. Aussies will do okay in an apartment if sufficiently exercised.