What Is the Difference Between Toy & Miniature Australian Shepherds?

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Australian shepherds are vigilant and affectionate dogs that excel in herding animals. Although the standard for the breed is mid-sized, smaller varieties are commonly bred, as well. These varieties are referred to as miniature and toy Australian shepherds. Miniature and toy specimens are not the exact same size.

Standard Specimens

Standard Australian shepherds are nimble and sporty creatures. The males are generally bigger than the females. Mature male Australian shepherds typically weigh between 50 and 65 pounds, with heights of between 20 and 23 inches. Mature female Australian shepherds, on the other hand, typically weigh between 40 and 55 pounds. Adult females usually grow to between 18 and 21 inches. Standard Australian shepherds were the only size group for the breed until the 1960s and 1970s. During this time period, breeders started producing tinier specimens of Australian shepherds.

Miniature Specimens

Miniature Australian shepherds are markedly smaller than their standard counterparts. When mature, these dogs typically reach between 14 and 18 inches in height. Earlier in their history, many breed enthusiasts attempted to change their name to "North American shepherd" as a means of distinguishing them from the "originals." Despite their efforts, the idea never actually came to fruition.

Toy Specimens

Although miniature and toy Australian shepherds share being smaller than standards, they're not exactly the same. Toy Australian shepherds are even smaller than the miniatures. Mature toy Australian shepherds usually reach heights of between 10 and 14 inches. The breed size categorization doesn't just end there, either. Australian shepherds smaller than the toys are sometimes referred to as "teacups."

All Australian Shepherds at Heart

Although Australian shepherds exist in several size categories, size is the sole component that sets these groups apart from each other. Miniature Australian shepherds, for example, are just as diligent and sharp-witted as the standard specimens, according to author and canine expert Liz Palika. It's also important to remember that all Australian shepherds, no matter their size, are still natural herding dogs. A smaller Australian shepherd isn't going to act like a smaller dog from a breed that was bred for human companionship. Australian shepherds across the board are generally spirited and lively in temperament. These dogs are their happiest when they get a lot of exercise, whether through hiking, brisk walking, jogging or herding. They also enjoy playing vigorous games such as flyball. Because of these things, sporty and outdoorsy people who are perpetually on the move often do well with Australian shepherds as pets.