Imagine a smaller version of the Australian shepherd, with the same intelligence, loyalty, and energy but with a different name and origin. That’s the miniature American shepherd or MAS for short. This adorable breed is a descendant of the Aussie, but they were developed in the US by ranchers and rodeo performers who wanted a more compact herding dog. The MAS is a versatile, smart, and playful dog that can do anything from herding to agility to cuddling. This article will explore everything you need to know about this amazing breed, including its history, features, care, and health issues.
The Origins of the Miniature American Shepherd
The MAS is a fairly new breed that was created in California in the late 1960s. Some people wanted a smaller version of the Australian shepherd that could travel easily and work in smaller spaces. They started breeding small, unregistered dogs that looked like Aussies but were more compact. By the mid-1970s, they had a consistent type of mini Aussie, as they called them back then. The name was later changed to avoid confusion with the Australian shepherd and to honor the breed’s American origin. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed as the miniature American shepherd in 2015. The Miniature American Shepherd Club of the USA (MASCUSA) is the official parent club for the breed.
What Makes the Miniature American Shepherd Special?
The MAS looks like a small Australian shepherd in appearance and personality. They have a medium-length double coat that comes in four colors: black, blue merle, red, and red merle. The coat may have white markings and/or tan points. The eyes are almond-shaped and may be brown, blue, or heterochromatic (one blue and one brown). The ears are triangular and flop forward. The tail may be a natural bobtail, docked, or undocked.
The MAS is a medium-sized dog that stands between 13 and 18 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 20 and 40 pounds. Their muscular but nimble body allows them to move with agility and speed. They have a level topline and a deep chest. The legs are straight and strong. The feet are oval and compact.
The MAS is a highly intelligent and trainable dog who loves learning and working. They have a strong work ethic and a keen sense of the environment. They are loyal, devoted, and protective of their family. They are also playful, friendly, and good-natured with people and other dogs they know well. However, they may be reserved or wary of strangers and unfamiliar animals. They have a strong herding instinct and may try to herd children or other pets. They also have a moderate tendency to bark.
How to Take Care of Your Miniature American Shepherd
The MAS is not a low-maintenance dog. They need regular grooming, exercise, training, and socialization to stay healthy and happy.
The MAS has a double coat that sheds moderately year-round and heavily twice a year. They need weekly brushing to remove loose hair and prevent mats and tangles. They also need occasional bathing, nail trimming, ear cleaning, and teeth brushing. The coat should not be clipped or shaved as it protects them from heat and cold.
The MAS is an active dog that needs at least an hour of exercise every day. This can include walks, hikes, runs, games, or dog sports. The MAS loves learning new tricks and skills and enjoys participating in herding, agility, obedience, rally, flyball, tracking, disc dogging, and more. The MAS also needs mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior. This can include puzzle toys, interactive toys, or training sessions.
The MAS is a very trainable dog that responds well to positive reinforcement, consistency, and patience. They can easily learn basic commands, advanced tricks, and various skills. They can also be trained to perform herding, service, therapy, or search and rescue tasks. However, the MAS can sometimes be stubborn, independent, or sensitive. They may need a firm but gentle leader who can provide clear guidance and boundaries. They may also need early and frequent socialization to overcome their shyness or wariness of new people and situations.
What Are the Common Health Issues of the Miniature American Shepherd?
The MAS is generally a healthy dog that can live up to 15 years or more. However, like any breed, they may be prone to certain health conditions that can affect their quality of life. Some of the common health issues of the MAS are:
This genetic condition causes the hip joint to develop abnormally, leading to pain, inflammation, and arthritis. It can affect the mobility and activity level of the dog. It can be diagnosed by X-rays and treated by medication, surgery, or weight management.
This is a hereditary eye disorder that causes the degeneration of the cone cells in the retina, resulting in night blindness and progressive vision loss. It usually affects dogs between 4 and 6 years of age. This condition has no cure or treatment but affected dogs can still live happy lives with proper care and adaptation.
Collie Eye Anomaly
This is another inherited eye disorder that affects the development of the eye tissues, causing defects such as choroidal hypoplasia, coloboma, retinal detachment, or hemorrhage. It can lead to partial or complete blindness in one or both eyes. An eye exam and DNA test can detect it. This condition has no cure or treatment but affected dogs can still live normal lives with proper care and supervision.
Mini American Shepherd Vs. Mini Australian Shepherd
The MAS and the mini Aussie look very similar in appearance, as they both resemble a small Australian shepherd. Both have medium-length double coats that come in four colors: black, blue merle, red, and red merle. The coat may have white markings and/or tan points. The eyes are almond-shaped and may be brown, blue, or heterochromatic (one blue and one brown). The ears are triangular and flop forward. The tail may be a natural bobtail, docked, or undocked.
The main difference between the MAS and the mini Aussie is their size. The MAS is a medium-sized dog that stands between 13 and 18 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 15 and 35 pounds. The mini Aussie is a small dog that stands between 13 and 18 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 20 and 40 pounds. The MAS has a more balanced and proportional body than the mini Aussie, which may have longer legs or a longer body than the MAS.
Is the Miniature American Shepherd Right for You?
The miniature American shepherd is a wonderful dog breed that combines the best qualities of the Australian shepherd and the border collie in a smaller package. They are smart, loyal, energetic, and versatile dogs that can adapt to various lifestyles and environments. They are also loving, playful, and friendly companions who can bond with their families. However, they are not dogs for everyone. They require regular grooming, exercise, training, and socialization to stay healthy and happy. They may also have some health issues that need attention and care.
If you’re looking for a small herding dog that can keep up with your active lifestyle and bring joy to your home, the miniature American shepherd may be the perfect dog breed for you. But before you decide to get one, make sure you do your research and find a reputable breeder who can provide you with a healthy and well-socialized puppy. You should also be prepared to provide your MAS with the care and attention they deserve for their whole life.
We hope this article has given you some useful information about the miniature American shepherd breed. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. Thank you for reading!
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