So many dog enthusiasts are drawn towards small-sized or toy dogs, and one of those breeds that have been gaining popularity is the toy Australian Shepherd.
With the many likable characteristics of the standard Australian Shepherd, imagine these being reflected in a more compact version of the breed.
If you are interested in what the toy Australian Shepherd has to offer, checking this article will guide you through everything you need to know about the breed, including its appearance, behavior, care tips, and more!
|Height:||10 – 14 inches|
|Weight:||12 – 17 pounds|
|Lifespan:||13 – 15 years|
|Coat Colors:||Red merle, blue merle, black, red, black and tan, black tricolor, red bicolor, red tricolor|
|Temperament:||Intelligent, active, hardworking, loyal, affectionate|
|Suitable for:||Families with active lifestyles, inexperienced pet owners, house with a huge space|
What Is a Toy Australian Shepherd?
The toy Australian Shepherd, also known as the toy Aussie, California Shepherd, Spanish Shepherd, and New Mexican Shepherd, is a more compact version of the miniature and standard Australian Shepherd.
Categorized as a companion dog, it carries most of the physical and behavioral traits of the standard Australian Shepherd, except, of course, for its smaller size.
They also display the same skills and abilities as their larger counterparts, such as herding, trainability, and intelligence.
Toy Australian Shepherd Origin and History
Despite its name, Toy Australian Shepherds did not originate from Australia, but from North America, particularly in California.
They were developed in the 19th century through the crossbreeding of imported sheepdogs and Collies from New Zealand and Australia. They were continuously bred until they produced a dog smaller than the mini Aussie.
These dogs were so small that they were not as effective anymore as herding dogs but fit more the function of companion dogs.
Though this size in Australian Shepherds is not accepted, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the standard version of this breed in 1979.
Toy Australian Shepherd Size and Weight
As tinier versions of the standard Australian Shepherd, toy Aussies normally weigh between 12 and 17 pounds and stand only around 10 to 14 inches at the shoulder.
Like with most other breeds, female toy Australian Shepherds are generally smaller than males. Both genders also reach their fully grown state between 18 and 24 months old.
Further, some irresponsible breeders may sometimes breed with runts, creating even much smaller but less healthy versions of the breed. These must not be tolerated due to possible genetic defects they may carry.
Toy Australian Shepherd Appearance
The toy Australian Shepherd carries most of the physical attributes of the mini or standard Aussie, including its slightly longer than tall body, proportionally sized head, and medium-length muzzle with a rounded tip.
Even with its small size, it has a robust body, with a straight and strong topline, deep chest, and well-sprung ribs.
It also has high-set triangular ears, almond-shaped eyes that may be brown, blue, amber, or a bi-eyed combination, and a medium-length water-resistant coat that may be straight or wavy.
In terms of its coat colors, it sports the same colors as its larger counterparts, such as red merle, blue merle, black, red, black and tan, black tricolor, red bicolor, and red tricolor.
Toy Australian Shepherd Temperament and Personality
Bred as companion dogs, toy Australian Shepherds are sweet, affectionate, and loyal. In fact, they thrive so much on the attention of their families and can be a bit clingy at times. This makes them prone to separation anxiety.
Further, they may not be as effective in herding due to their small size, but they still retain the characteristics of one, including being energetic, highly intelligent, reliable, outdoorsy, and extremely playful.
Even with their small frames, these dogs are quite hardy and love to be around children who can match their insatiable energies. However, just watch out as they also have the tendency to herd smaller children.
The toy Aussie is also very protective of its family. This makes them quite reserved around strangers. However, once properly introduced, it becomes more comfortable and friendly with them.
There are also no issues for them getting along with other dogs, and this is especially true when they are socialized at a very young age.
Toy Australian Shepherd Lifespan and Health Issues
Toy Australian Shepherds have a very healthy lifespan, reaching around 13 to 15 years. However, to optimize the chances of them living a long life, ensure that they are given the right nutrition, environment, and health care.
On the other hand, each particular breed of dog has its own susceptibility to certain illnesses, and the toy Australian Shepherd is no exception.
Here are some of the most common health problems of a toy Aussie that you need to watch out for:
- Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA): CEA is an irreversible genetic condition common in collie or sheepdog breeds, including the toy Aussie. This occurs when a gene mutation happens, affecting the development of the dog’s eyes and can eventually lead to blindness. To prevent this, dogs with the said condition must not be bred.
- Elbow and Hip Dysplasia: Elbow and hip dysplasia happens when the dog’s ball and socket joints do not fit properly because they do not grow at equal rates. This is a painful condition that may be treated with medication, supplements, physical therapy, or surgery, depending on the severity of the condition.
- Multi-Drug Sensitivity: Common in shepherd dog breeds, multi-drug sensitivity occurs when there is a mutation of the dog’s MDR1 gene. This may be lethal since it can create toxic effects when the dog takes even common veterinary drugs.
Further, avoid toy Aussies bred out of two merle parents. Double merle puppies are prone to many genetic issues, including deafness and blindness.
Since most of these genetic issues found in the toy Australian Shepherd are genetic in nature, be responsible in doing the background check of the puppy’s health history, including its parents.
It is best to look for breeders who can provide health certificates and DNA test results that guarantee your pup is free of any genetically related illnesses.
Toy Australian Shepherd Shedding
One of the most talked about topics regarding the Australian Shepherd breed is its shedding. It is known for its heavy shedding that may keep you busy all year round, especially during the spring and fall seasons.
What is good about the toy Australian Shepherd is that this task becomes easier since you have a smaller ground to cover. This does not disregard the fact that they still have double coats that shed heavily.
This being said, be ready for some frequent grooming and house cleaning to clear your surroundings of loose fur. Also, if you have family members that are prone to allergies, think twice before getting a toy Australian Shepherd.
How to Take Care of Your Toy Australian Shepherd
As a responsible fur parent, you need to be able to provide for your toy Australian Shepherd’s nutritional, hygienic, physical, and training needs.
You will know you are doing a good job on these aspects if your toy Aussie Shepherd remains healthy and vibrant and if it displays the right behavior most of the time.
Here are some tips to help you effectively take care of your toy Assie Shepherd:
Food and Diet
Feeding a toy Australian Shepherd can be quite tricky since it is small, yet it has a tremendous amount of energy. Hence, it needs a calorie-dense dog food that can provide its energy needs at the recommended amount.
An adult toy Australian Shepherd would need about 1 to 1 ¼ cups of high-quality dog food a day. This must be distributed evenly throughout the day into 2 to 3 meals, which will prevent instances of hypoglycemia.
Additionally, to maintain the beautiful coat of this toy dog, you can provide supplements such as omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that can be found in fish oils.
Cleaning and Grooming
Grooming is one of the biggest tasks in owning a toy Aussie. Brushing the double coat of your pet 2 to 3 times a week should help prevent mats and tangles and remove loose hair and trapped dirt.
This needs to be done more frequently, or on a daily basis, during its coat-blowing seasons, which happens twice a year.
Bathing can be done once a month or only as needed to prevent stripping the dog of its natural oils, which are beneficial to the health of its skin and coat.
Further, to maintain your dog’s overall hygiene, you must regularly keep its nails trimmed, teeth brushed, and ears cleaned.
A friend of mine who owns both a toy and a standard Australian Shepherd has commented that grooming his toy Australian Shepherd only takes half the time he grooms his standard one.
It becomes heavier for him during the coat-blowing seasons since it happens simultaneously for both his dogs. During this time, he recommends having a heavy-duty vacuum to keep your house clean.
Training and Exercise
The inherent intelligence of the toy Australian Shepherd makes it very trainable. However, this same trait gives it a stubborn streak at times.
Hence, early obedience training, along with the use of positive reinforcement, shall make it easier for them to follow commands.
Further, since these dogs tend to form close bonds with their owners and their families, crate training can also help significantly in preventing them from developing separation anxiety.
Additionally, remember that the combination of this dog’s energy and intelligence can make them easily bored, which can lead to destructive behavior.
To manage this, ensure that your toy Aussie is given at least an hour of physical activity and mental stimulation exercises to drive its best behavior and keep it satisfied.
You can check how intelligent a toy Aussie is by watching the training video below:
How Much Does a Toy Australian Shepherd Cost? Puppy Prices & Expenses
The rarity, difficulty, and length of time it takes to produce a toy Australian Shepherd makes this breed variation the most expensive, costing around $1,800 to $4,000.
The price of your toy Aussie may also depend on several factors, such as age, gender, bloodlines, color, location, and the breeder’s reputation.
In addition, if you are the first-time owner of a toy Aussie, there are items that you need to purchase ahead of getting your dog. These are essential to keep your dog healthy and comfortable as you welcome it home.
Here is a list of the initial expenses you need to prepare for as you acquire a toy Australian Shepherd:
|Type of Expense||Cost|
|Food and Treats||$30 – $80|
|Bowls||$10 – $30|
|Toys||$20 – $30|
|Beds||$30 – $200|
|Collars and Leashes||$15 – $50|
|Crates and Carriers||$30 – $200|
|Grooming Essentials||$50 – $150|
|Initial Vet Visits||$100 – $500|
|Initial Vaccine Shots||$50 – $300|
|Deworming, Flea, and Tick Medications||$40 – $300|
|Neutering or Spaying||$50 – $500|
|Microchipping||$40 – $60|
|Dog License||$10 – $20|
|Other Essentials||$20 – $50|
|Total Initial Cost||$495 – $2,470|
If you notice, many of these items are personal belongings of your pet, such as bowls, toys, beds, crates, collars, and leashes. A tip to save on the cost of these items is to go for ones made of high-quality materials.
Although these may cost a bit higher, buying items that will last longer is more economical than consistently repurchasing cheaper ones.
Places to Find Toy Australian Shepherd Puppies for Sale and Adoption
As you prepare to look for your own healthy and high-quality toy Australian Shepherd puppy, only deal with reputable breeders who follow ethical breeding practices.
Conversely, do not be tempted by the lower prices of toy Aussies coming from puppy mills or backyard breeders. They may be cheaper, but they will cost you more in the long run once you discover the illnesses they carry.
To make you more confident, here is a list of some of the most reputable sources to find a toy Australian Shepherd puppy for sale:
- American Kennel Club (AKC) Marketplace – The AKC is the premier (AKC) breeding organization in the United States that regulates the breed standards for purebred dogs. Since the toy Aussie falls below the size standard of the breed, expect breeders in the AKC Marketplace to prioritize standard Aussies. However, it is worthwhile to check with them if they have toy Aussies or at least give referrals to its trusted breeders.
- United States Australian Shepherd Association (USASA) Breeder Directory – As the parent club of the AKC for the Australian Shepherd breed, breeders listed in this group’s directory practice ethical methods in breeding. This ensures that you only get a puppy that is healthy and of excellent quality.
- Good Dog – Good Dog is a reputable online source of high-quality puppies. In fact, they follow a strict standard for breeders who wish to be part of their breeding program and post their puppies online. They also have a filter that categorizes all available toy Aussies, along with their breeder’s details, for you to choose from.
If buying a toy Australian Shepherd from a reputable breeder may be a bit outside of your budget, another option you can consider is adoption.
Once you pass the screening process of animal shelters and rescue organizations, you can conveniently bring home a toy Aussie that is in need of a loving and permanent home.
Here are a few reliable sources where you can find a toy Australian Shepherd for adoption:
- Aussie Rescue & Placement Helpline Inc. (ARPH) – Since 1993, ARPH has been the all-volunteer rescue arm of the Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) and the USASA. They focus on the rescue, rehabilitation, and rehoming of Aussies as well as educating the public about the proper care for the breed.
- Australian Shepherds Furever (ASF) –ASF is a non-profit organization established in 2013 dedicated to saving Aussies in need, including toy Aussies. Their rescues get medical attention, training, rehabilitation, and overall care in their foster homes before being placed for adoption.
- Aussie & Friends Rescue (AFR) – Based in Arizona, the mission of AFR is to rehome and rehabilitate displaced Australian Shepherds, including its smaller variants. Prior to adoption, the Aussies under their care are spayed or neutered, vaccinated, health-tested, and microchipped.
Aside from adoption being a cheaper alternative, adopting lets you choose from adult toy Aussies with established behaviors. This gives you the privilege of selecting a dog whose temperament best suits your lifestyle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Toy Australian Shepherds Good Family Dogs?
The toy Australian Shepherd is one of the best candidates for a family companion. It is well-mannered, gets along well with people, and is naturally friendly with kids and other pets.
Having them socialized early and giving them the appropriate obedience and house-breaking training makes them even more effective household members.
Do Toy Australian Shepherds Bark a Lot?
As a working and herding breed, toy Australian Shepherds have a tendency to be vocal when they need to communicate something or when they need to express their happiness. These are not exactly bad behaviors.
However, they also tend to bark a lot when they are bored or if they need attention. Giving them the right amount of physical and mental exercises should help manage this.
Are Toy Australian Shepherds Easy to Potty Train?
With the intelligence of toy Aussies, they are quite easy to potty train or to housebreak. You can even use positive reinforcement strategies to make this task faster and easier.
On the other hand, they are relatively more challenging to train compared to their larger counterparts due to their smaller bladders. This means that they have to pee more often.
Do Toy Aussies Like to Cuddle?
Toy Aussies are sweet, affectionate, and clingy dogs. They love spending time with their owners, whether outside enjoying physical activities or lounging on the sofa, being cuddled by their favorite humans.
Are Toy Aussies Hyperactive?
Yes, toy Aussies are abundant balls of energy. They can go on playing all day, so they need an owner who can take care of their physical needs.
An hour a day broken down into two thirty-minute sessions should be enough to satisfy their energy needs and prevent them from translating unused energy into unwanted behavior.
The good thing about the toy Aussie is that because of its small size, you can provide its energy requirements even in the comfort of your home.
Owning a toy Aussie requires the same responsibilities as taking care of the mini or the standard Australian Shepherd.
They need proper nutrition, grooming, training, and physical and mental care to stay beautiful, healthy, active, and thriving. Expect them to return all this care to their families with their loving behavior and protective nature.
Further, with the high cost of the toy Australian Shepherd, ensure you select one that will be worth it. The only way to do this is to deal with a reputable breeder who can provide healthy and high-quality puppies.
Do you have experience in owning a toy Australian Shepherd? Share your best practices in caring for one through the comments section below!