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Miniature American Shepherd: Breed Info, Pictures, Facts & History

Written by: Chantelle Fowler

Last Updated on May 24, 2024 by Dogster Team

two miniature american shepherd dogs lying on the ground during autumn

Miniature American Shepherd: Breed Info, Pictures, Facts & History

The Miniature American Shepherd (MAS) is a relatively new dog breed that began development in the 1960s. The goal was to create an Australian Shepherd-like dog with the same high intelligence and activity level but in a smaller package, and that’s exactly what you get with an MAS. Whether you’re curious about the interesting history of this breed or are considering adopting one soon, you’re going to want to keep reading.

Come along with us as we learn more about the beautiful Miniature American Shepherd.

Breed Overview


13–18 inches


20–40 pounds


13–15 years


Black, red, red merle, blue merle

Suitable for:

Active, outdoorsy families that have owned dogs in the past


Playful, high energy, loyal, active

The Miniature American Shepherd is a small herding dog originating in the United States. They were originally known as Miniature Australian Shepherds, as they are similar in many ways and are often considered cousins. However, Australian Shepherd fanciers objected to the association the name had to their breed, so the name had to be changed to avoid confusion.

Miniature American Shepherd Breed Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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The Earliest Records of Miniature American Shepherd in History

As far as dog breeds go, the Miniature American Shepherd is a relatively new one. They first began development in the United States of America during the 1960s when small Australian Shepherds working in the rodeo circuit in America were chosen selectively to breed with other dogs to reduce their size. By the mid-70s, there was a consistent version of what would become the MAS, and they had finally reached their desired size.

Miniature American Shepherd puppy sitting on the grass
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

How the Miniature American Shepherd Gained Popularity

The Miniature American Shepherd was bred to be a small herding dog. They’re intelligent and biddable, making them highly sought after for herding small stock like sheep and goats, though they were useful for larger stock, too. Though they’re small, their size never held them back and allowed them to transition nicely into being household pets as well as working dogs. The MAS is an extremely popular breed with equestrians traveling to horse shows, as their loyalty, intelligence, and small size make them fantastic travel companions.

Formal Recognition of Miniature American Shepherd

The Miniature American Shepherd was first registered in 1980 with the National Stock Dog Registry, the parent registry for the Australian Shepherd, under its old title, the Miniature Australian Shepherd.

The MAS was recognized by the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club in 2015. It wasn’t until 2019 that the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), the largest international federation of national kennel clubs, accepted the MAS as a breed.

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Top 4 Unique Facts About Miniature American Shepherd

1. Miniature American Shepherds may be prone to developing collie eye anomalies.

Collie eye anomaly (CEA) is an inherited disease typically present at birth. It occurs due to a DNA mutation and will usually affect both eyes, though one can be more affected than the other. CEA develops when the blood vessels in the layer of tissue at the back of the eyeball that should carry nutrients to the retina fail to develop properly in the womb. This condition is not reversible; however, veterinarians can offer treatments to preserve an affected puppy’s vision if complications develop.

adult and puppy Miniature American shepherd dogs
Image Credit: Sarune Kairyte, Shutterstock

2. Miniature American Shepherds have a long lifespan.

Miniature American Shepherds typically live between 13 and 15 years and are a fairly hardy breed. However, as with all dogs, the MAS may be prone to health issues. As mentioned above, they can develop CEA but are also at risk of developing other eye conditions like progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, and iris coloboma.

3. Miniature American Shepherds can be born with a docked tail.

The Miniature American Shepherd can be born with a docked or natural bobtail. A natural bobtail grows unusually short or is missing completely and occurs due to a mutated gene.

Miniature American Shepherd dog doing agility training
Image Credit: Mark Herreid, Shutterstock

4. Miniature American Shepherds are designated to the Herding Group in the AKC.

Herding Group dog breeds all share an instinctual skill to control the movement of other animals. They were bred and developed to herd, gather, and protect farmer’s livestock. The impulse to herd is so strong in these breeds that they often herd their family members, especially if there are young kids.

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Does the Miniature American Shepherd Make a Good Pet?

The Miniature American Shepherd makes a fantastic family dog due to their affectionate nature and good temperament around other pets and children. These athletic pups have a ton of energy and are happiest in homes where they’re given jobs to stay active and stave off boredom. They’ll need, at minimum, one hour of exercise daily, though two is best if possible. Their high intelligence and eagerness to please means they’re trainable and pick up on cues and training quickly. Fun activities to do with an MAS include dock diving, herding, frisbee, tracking, and agility.

miniature american shepherd dog in the garden
Image Credit: Didkovska Ilona, Shutterstock

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Miniature American Shepherds are beautiful dogs with fantastic temperaments. They’re extremely high-energy, gentle with children, and very hardworking. The MAS thrives when given a job and will do anything to please their humans. Though the MAS looks like their Australian Shepherd ancestors, they are two separate breeds.

Featured Image Credit: Didkovska Ilona, Shutterstock

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