Solved! The Miniature Australian Shepherd vs. Australian Shepherd Dog Trait Deshebate

🦴 Updated on July 8th, 2023

mini aussie and normal size aussie

Australian Shepherds are some of the most popular family dogs. They are high-energy, loyal, and intelligent dogs that work well with kids and other animals. However, the last thirty years have seen an emergence of an even more popular option in the mini Australian Shepherd

If you are deciding between a miniature Australian Shepherd vs. Australian Shepherd, you may have some questions. Is the size the only difference, or are there personality and care differences between mini Aussies and regular Aussies? Are they technically different breeds? 

Although we can’t tell you which breed is better for your family, we can give you all the information you need on mini Aussies vs. standard Aussies. You’ll be able to decide after seeing the differences in size, appearance, and care for these intelligent and loyal dogs. 

Miniature Australian Shepherd vs. Australian Shepherd

When comparing a mini Australian Shepherd vs. Australian Shepherd, the two are very similar. However, they have been listed as different breeds in official records since 1991. 

The two species have very similar shedding and behavioral habits, with minor differences in common health issues and personality traits. 

Of course, the biggest difference between the two breeds is size. The mini Australian Shepherd is a smaller version of the Australian Shepherd. While they are extremely similar breeds, they aren’t the same. 

A History of the Miniature Australian Shepherd 

Although they are separate breeds, the Australian Shepherd has been around for much longer than the mini Aussie. 

The Australian Shepherd was cross-bred from Australian and New Zealand Collies in the 1800s, resulting in the perfect sheepdog for workers in Western America. Known as “the cowboy’s herd dog,” Australian Shepherds are intelligent, loyal, and hardworking. 

However, in the mid-1900s, a group in California began selectively breeding miniature Aussies together. This process started in the 1960s, but it took until 1991 to officially mark mini Australian Shepherds as their own breed. 

Mini Aussies are now officially known as mini American Shepherds. However, most people still call them miniature Australian Shepherds, and they look like smaller versions of their larger cousins. 

The breeds are similar other than size, and mini Aussies have the same herding tendencies as Australian Shepherds. 

Mini Aussie vs. Aussie: A Complete Guide

When comparing an Aussie vs. mini Aussie, there are a lot of similarities. However, there are also some key differences. Knowing all you can about a breed is crucial before deciding whether it’s best for your family. Here is a complete guide to the differences and similarities between Aussie and mini Aussie pups. 

Size and Appearance

Of course, size is where the Australian Shepherd vs. mini Australian Shepherd comparison differs the most. Australian Shepherds average about 20-23 inches (male) and 18-21 inches (female). Males usually weigh between 50 and 65 pounds, and females between 40 and 55 pounds. Mini Aussies are much smaller. 

Mini Aussies, on average, only stand 13-18 inches high. They weigh between 20 and 40 pounds, whether male or female. Because they were intentionally bred from larger Australian Shepherds, mini Aussies have many of the same characteristics as the larger breed. 


However, mini vs. standard Australian Shepherds have similar appearances other than size. They both have long coats that can vary from mottled to merle in appearance. Most Aussies are multicolored and have large patches of colored fur all over their body. 

Characteristics and Needs

While a dog’s breed is only partially indicative of its temperament, it’s often a good place to start. Mini Australian Shepherds and Australian Shepherds are both loyal and playful dogs with a lot of energy and love for their owners. These dogs need a good training and exercise regiment and solid discipline. 

Aussies can become destructive and difficult to care for without a schedule or adequate exercise. However, when properly trained and exercised daily, these dogs are excellent family dogs and can be some of the best companion dogs. Temperament and characteristics vary based on the specific dog, but there isn’t much difference between a mini and a regular Aussie. 

Training & Exercise

Training a dog is crucial to its behavior. A well-trained dog of any breed will outperform a poorly trained dog. However, Australian Shepherds and miniature Australian Shepherds are easily trainable and susceptible to high levels of training. 

Because of their intelligence, Australian Shepherds train well to become working dogs. Mini Australian Shepherds have done well as show dogs. Positive reinforcement and love are key when training Australian Shepherds, as they grow very attached to their owners and are eager to please them. 

Training an Australian Shepherd involves exercise and mental stimulation. This naturally high-energy, intelligent dog will thrive in a learning environment that rewards him for using his brain and body to complete tasks. The mental and physical stimulation should not stop once the dogs are trained! 

Intelligence and Mental Stimulation

Although both Aussies and miniature Aussies are easy to train and listen well, their high levels of intelligence require much exercise and mental stimulation. 

These dogs were bred to work and are predisposed to daily psychological and physical stimulation. Although Aussies make great companion dogs, exercise and stimulation are crucial. 

Without the proper mental and physical stimulation, an Aussie will feel cooped up. In addition, these dogs can become disobedient, destructive, and hard to handle if they aren’t appropriately exercised. 

However, an Australian Shepherd with proper mental stimulation is an incredible companion dog, mini or otherwise. 

Health Problems

Like any dog, Aussies and mini Aussies have tendencies for certain health problems. Aussies are larger animals and are usually tested for hip or elbow dysplasia. Miniature Aussies have a slight tendency towards hip dysplasia as well. These standard tests should apply to all dogs. 

However, the main concern for Aussies is eye problems. Aussies, like collies, might have hereditary cataracts, the Collie eye anomaly, or progressive retinal atrophy. 

Eye issues and multidrug sensitivity are the most common issues among Aussies. Both Aussies and miniature Aussies have these common eye issues. 

Shedding and Grooming

Both mini Aussies and regular Aussies have the same style of coat and require the same level of grooming. Throughout the normal year, these dogs will need to e brushed by hand once a week or so. 


Although they don’t need to go to the groomer, Australian Shepherds have thick coats, which can get matted if not cared for adequately. 

However, Aussies are double-coated. This means that twice a year (in spring and fall), both mini Aussies and regular Aussies shed an entire coat of fur. During these periods, owners will have to brush their pup’s fur once a day or more. 

You’ll likely find tufts of fur around the house during shedding season, but Aussies are only moderate shedders during the rest of the year. 

Affection and Bonding

Both Aussies and mini Aussies are highly affectionate. Like most dogs, they will bond strongly with one family member (usually the caretaker or trainer). However, these dogs readily show affection and bond with all other family members. 

When it comes to strangers, Aussies aren’t particularly wary. They will show a little hesitation but will mostly take cues from their masters. 

These dogs won’t be upset at guests or hide from them and are mostly friendly to any non-threatening humans. However, Aussies are herding dogs and tend to herd small children if given a chance. 

Behavior and Temperament Characteristics

Australian Shepherd dogs are playful and willing to work. It will be easy to see an Aussie’s charm and love if appropriately trained. Aussies are high-energy, and their behavior reflects that. However, with a yard or regular exercise, Aussies and mini Aussies alike are loving, loyal, and obedient. 

Because of their high intelligence and exercise needs, Australian Shepherd dogs aren’t as adaptable to apartment or city life. However, mini Aussies have stronger adaptability and can live well in an apartment. In addition, the mini Aussie’s smaller size helps it get the exercise it needs in a smaller space. 

Barking Tendency

Australian Shepherds tend to bark a lot. While they can be trained to be quiet on command, the natural energy levels of an Aussie lead to high levels of barking at strangers, passersby, loud noises, or animals in the yard. 

A mini Australian Shepherd, compared to a standard, also barks a lot but doesn’t bark much more or less. 

Because of their high energy and barking habits, Australian Shepherds do well in an environment where they can explore. For example, an Aussie trapped inside an apartment or house all day will likely bark much more than a dog that can investigate the squirrels or noises in the backyard. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about the mini Australian Shepherd vs. standard Australian Shepherd. We hope they answer your questions and help you find the perfect dog for you and your family. 

Are mini Aussies a different breed from regular Aussies?

Mini Australian Shepherds are a different breed from regular Australian Shepherds. They have been listed as a different breed since 1991. However, mini Aussies are bred from smaller Australian Shepherds, so the breeds are very similar in many ways. 

Are mini Aussies good with kids?

Both mini and standard Australian Shepherds are great with kids. They make excellent family dogs and love to play, herd, and be part of a pack with your children. Once trained correctly, these dogs can complete your family. 

Are Aussies smart?

Australian Shepherds, mini and regular, are very smart dogs. They were bred for work on ranches and herding out west and are intelligent and hardworking animals. These dogs work well in a family or in a working situation because of their intelligence and willingness to complete tasks. 

Final Thoughts

Although there aren’t many differences between miniature Australian Shepherds vs. Australian Shepherds (other than size), both of these dog breeds offer a unique set of characteristics to a family. 

Mini Aussies and Aussies are loyal and intelligent, and their energy levels make them excellent for a family. 

Now that you know the differences and similarities between these breeds, you can confidently choose the right dog for your family. Will it be the more adaptable, smaller mini Aussie or the energetic, loyal Australian Shepherd? Whichever choice you make, you’ll have an ideal family dog. 

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Picture of Jennifer Grucci | Dog Breeds Expert
Jennifer Grucci | Dog Breeds Expert
Our talented copy editor Jennifer ensures all doggie info published on our site is accurate, clear, and perfectly suited for pet parents of all experience levels. When not reading and writing about dogs, Jennifer enjoys playing with her own pets at home.