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Hi everyone!

So about three years ago I got a puggle. He's potty trained, can do some basic tricks and is a big 'lovepug', as we call him. We have about a year left in our apartment before we start looking to buy our first home and I'm debating whether it's time to add another (I'd rather train the dog in an apartment than deal with the repairs on a first home :thumbsup:)

I've always loved Australian Shepherds and went to school with someone who had miniature Aussie Shepherds. The other day, I came across a beautiful female mini aussie shep and have been hooked ever since.

I'm wondering if it's time to add another and what I should look out for. I know that they're going to be a bit more work than the puggleman, but I'm ready to take that on.

I've been doing (and will continue to do) a lot of reading but I'd like some feedback from all of you.
 

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Well Aussies are a very different time of dog, than a pug.
It's like having experience in driving a trusty old Opel Corsa and now wanting to drive a new Harley on the Autobahn. It can work, depending on you as a person, but it will be a change. :)
Aussies can be pretty intense.
I think I'd try to have contact with as much Aussie owners and their dogs as possible, would look at how they act, and what typical problems with the breed are and then make my decision.
 
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Yes, Aussies are beautiful dogs, but they are not just a pet, they are a lifestyle!

Whenever someone says they want an Aussie I always have to ask what they can give to the dog, rather than what they want from the dog. Puggles and Aussies are so far apart that they're not even on the same spectrum.

Do you do agility with your lovepug? Heavy obedience training? Do you spend much of your day socializing your pug to avoid fear aggression towards strangers? How long are your walks? Are you prepared to set aside a large chunk of your day for a dog? Do you enjoy bike riding, hiking, swimming, running, or camping? Are you willing to create games for your Aussie while you're away to keep him busy?

Australian shepherds are excellent dogs - for the right person. You have to be dedicated to changing your life for a dog. While Aussies aren't prone to a long list of health issues (bred properly) they are prone to many behavioral issues.

Cosmo comes from a working line. There is, IME, a huge difference between working line and show line. I see many show line dogs bred for striking color as opposed to striking work ethic and solid temperament. I've seen many neurotic show Aussies, so it's important to choose a breeder wisely. While show Aussies have fluffier, brighter, striking appearance, they can be a train wreck to raise.

Cosmos coat is similar to a border collie being that it's a little tougher and not poofy and soft as is generally desireable. His tan points aren't as strong as show Aussies, and they're a little muddied, especially on his eyebrows. Despite this, he is an extremely well bred dog in the face of temperament.

Cosmo has a high drive to learn and please, and with that a high drive to be with me. Constantly. I get up at 3am to go to the bathroom, I'll open the door and he will be lying right outside. That is, if he hasn't already nosed his way in.

Be careful what you wish for. This can get incredibly frustrating.

Cosmo learns quick, and learns a lot. He loves training. He loves doing the right thing. I am constantly having to come up with new things for him to learn. He knows sit, down, close, come, side, heel, stop, stand, this way, walk with me, run ahead, sit pretty, roll over, dead, high fave, shake, shake with other paw, wave, hide, wait, leave it, spin, speak, kennel up, crawl, under, back up, and go lay down.

we are currently working on a multitude of things, like paw placement with back feet and front feet, preparing for a handstand when his plates are set, limp, cross both paws, small agility practice for when his plates are set, jump over me, jump through my arms and over my legs, and beginning steps of a backflip (just jumping on and off something quickly - again waiting for plates to set). We have practiced short bike riding sessions (plates) so he is comfortable with bikes, and a ton of other stuff.

He is 10 months old.

He definitely enjoys learning!

Aussies are sensitive to strangers. He won't let 9 out of 10 strangers pet him. He barks at 6 out of 10 when they approach us, which is something we are working on heavily and this stems from some nervousness he gained from a couple idiots! They can develop nervous behavior quickly and easily over small things, so socialization is very important.

Cosmo is protective. I hate it. He will literally run at strangers with a terrifying howly bark that has made children cry, jumping in place at them (not on them, just short hops towards them) it looks scary and I hate it. We are working very hard on this but this is a trait that comes rather naturally to the breed.

He is standard, and I have limited experience with mini but I would LOVE to answer any question you have regarding Aussies. Just really make sure if you want an Aussie, you're prepared to change your life!
 

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I'm open to discussing Aussies as well, I'm on my phone so I can't type out anything huge, but did just want to mention that every Aussie is going to be different. It sounds like Cosmo doesn't like strangers, whereas my Aussie doesn't even know the word Stranger. He allows everyone in the world to run at him and love and hug him. :)
 
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I'm open to discussing Aussies as well, I'm on my phone so I can't type out anything huge, but did just want to mention that every Aussie is going to be different. It sounds like Cosmo doesn't like strangers, whereas my Aussie doesn't even know the word Stranger. He allows everyone in the world to run at him and love and hug him. :)
But it seems to be not uncommon for the breed that they're more aloof with strangers, so it seems to me. I actually like that. :eek:
 
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But it seems to be not uncommon for the breed that they're more aloof with strangers, so it seems to me. I actually like that. :eek:
Yeah that's actually strange, I've never really met an Aussie that wants strangers to handle much less HUG them. I know a bit of Cosmos reservance comes from people who have made meeting strangers a bad experience (one particular petco employee and many many children) but still I've met lots of Aussies and I'm part of a group on Facebook and we all get together sometimes because their play style is similar, and none of them are super stranger friendly.

I also prefer dogs who aren't obsessed or into strangers. I would have a hard time with a dog who thought everyone wants to pet them, personally I'd hate that haha. I've gotten muddied pants by plenty of excited doodles and labs who think I want them all over me.
 

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I'm home now, so I can elaborate a little more. :D

Levi doesn't interact with people, people interact with Levi :p. He has his favourite people don't get me wrong, but he is polite with strangers and friendly, but not exuberant. He is much more interested in playing with dogs, than hanging out with the people at dog and people hangouts. He is definitely not like a lab, but I would hate to have a dog that couldn't be pet, it would be so annoying to take them anywhere.

He will give one loud booming bark when someone knocks on the door or he sees someone from the deck. He's good for giving one, and then I tell him it's okay and he takes my word for it. I did not want a protective dog, and thankfully he is not.

I think in general people tend to think Aussies need an insane amount of exercise, and truthfully I think people over-do it. Levi is quite happy with an hour walk in the morning, and an hour of off-leash running time. (I can already tell my BC will need more than this, so Levi might be getting more). He could probably do with less than that now, as he and the puppy wrestle and sleep all day. That doesn't mean he couldn't keep going, but he is quite happy to snuggle up in the evenings with me while we watch t.v. Sometimes people think their dogs require insane amounts and end up with a dog that then absolutely HAS to have that much exercise.

Mental exercise on the other hand, is an absolute must. He gets lots (at least 5) 10-15 minute training sessions a day. These range from simple obedience to fun tricks and body awareness exercises (like walking on my feet or targeting with rear paws).

If you're really interested in Aussies, I would go for the standard, and a good breeder. There are some fairly serious problems in the breed (deafness, blindness, and hip dysplasia) and a good breeder will be doing all the appropriate health checks, and breeding for good temperament (especially because Aussies can be overly reserved, and end up being fear biters). If you're going to go for a Miniature American Shepherd (I refuse to call them Mini Aussies) really check out your breeder carefully, as there are lots of problems that creep up in the Minis. I've also noticed the Minis are way more high strung and neurotic than the Standards.

Thoughts @jclark343?
 
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I'm home now, so I can elaborate a little more. :D

Levi doesn't interact with people, people interact with Levi :p. He has his favourite people don't get me wrong, but he is polite with strangers and friendly, but not exuberant. He is much more interested in playing with dogs, than hanging out with the people at dog and people hangouts. He is definitely not like a lab, but I would hate to have a dog that couldn't be pet, it would be so annoying to take them anywhere.

He will give one loud booming bark when someone knocks on the door or he sees someone from the deck. He's good for giving one, and then I tell him it's okay and he takes my word for it. I did not want a protective dog, and thankfully he is not.

I think in general people tend to think Aussies need an insane amount of exercise, and truthfully I think people over-do it. Levi is quite happy with an hour walk in the morning, and an hour of off-leash running time. (I can already tell my BC will need more than this, so Levi might be getting more). He could probably do with less than that now, as he and the puppy wrestle and sleep all day. That doesn't mean he couldn't keep going, but he is quite happy to snuggle up in the evenings with me while we watch t.v. Sometimes people think their dogs require insane amounts and end up with a dog that then absolutely HAS to have that much exercise.

Mental exercise on the other hand, is an absolute must. He gets lots (at least 5) 10-15 minute training sessions a day. These range from simple obedience to fun tricks and body awareness exercises (like walking on my feet or targeting with rear paws).

If you're really interested in Aussies, I would go for the standard, and a good breeder. There are some fairly serious problems in the breed (deafness, blindness, and hip dysplasia) and a good breeder will be doing all the appropriate health checks, and breeding for good temperament (especially because Aussies can be overly reserved, and end up being fear biters). If you're going to go for a Miniature American Shepherd (I refuse to call them Mini Aussies) really check out your breeder carefully, as there are lots of problems that creep up in the Minis. I've also noticed the Minis are way more high strung and neurotic than the Standards.

Thoughts @jclark343?
See I'm completely different in that I love having a dog that is polite with strangers (not saying yours isn't at all! I know Levi is a very polite charming boy) and will back away from them when they touch him.

I'm curious - is Levi from a working line or a show line? I know show lines are generally more "friendly" with strangers and less driven for constant work than working. Cosmo does need a lot of exercise, but I agree with you that he definitely needs equal if not more mental stimulation.
 

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I agree with whats been said so far. (Excuse my spelling, as im on my phone)
My aussie Sawyer is also the kind of dog that would rather hang out with dogs then people. He's also warry of strangers and children but a large part of that has to do with lack of socialization and not the best breeding, before we got him at 5 months (i leanred my leson about finding good breeders). Hes gotten better but we still have a long way to go. Which is why becuase they tend to be more aloof with stragers if you go the breeder rout you really want to make sure you find a good responsible breeder.
And you do need to nake sure your able to give a aussie the exercse and metal stimulation they need. Sawyers on the lower end of the aussie energy spectrum but he still needs plenty of exercise.
They are also tons of fun to train, and tend to pick up things quickly. They are a intelagent breed and can be destructive if not given enough/the right mental and phsycal stimulation.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hi everyone,
Thanks for all of the detailed responses! I'm not too concerned with the exercise. We take the pug to the beach, to the park, to visit doggie friends, etc. Both my girlfriend and I have spoken about it a lot and we feel we have the time and the discipline to make it work. Is there any difference in energy between the full size and mini? My mother has two minis (not aussies) and their energy level is quite low.

However, I'm a little concerned about the health risks. I see a lot of people mentioning these things but I'm not sure if this is hyped up or there really are that many aussies that suffer from blindness, deafness, or hip/knee problems.

If you're really interested in Aussies, I would go for the standard, and a good breeder. There are some fairly serious problems in the breed (deafness, blindness, and hip dysplasia) and a good breeder will be doing all the appropriate health checks, and breeding for good temperament (especially because Aussies can be overly reserved, and end up being fear biters). If you're going to go for a Miniature American Shepherd (I refuse to call them Mini Aussies) really check out your breeder carefully, as there are lots of problems that creep up in the Minis. I've also noticed the Minis are way more high strung and neurotic than the Standards.@jclark343?
Shandula, your response stuck out to me because I've really wanted a full sized Aussie, lab or golden but because I live in an apartment and I'm not sure where I'll be when we leave, I'd rather not have a bigger dog :-/.

I've been reading more and more and I've seen a few people mention knee/leg problems and then the blind/deaf problems that come more so with merle coats (?). While I understand that there are problems with the breed, can't this be said for all breeds? Additionally, I feel like people are more prone to post the negatives than the positives. I guess I'm wondering if all minis are much more prone to these problems in the same way most puggles reverse sneeze. I've met and spoken to in depth with 3 owners of mini aussies and they have nothing but great things to say.

Does anyone have any experience with miniature aussie sheps?
 

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I apologize if it seemed I was responding negatively, as I just want you to know that having an Aussie can be a nightmare if you're not prepared. They can also be wonderful if you know what you're doing and can give them what they need.

Deafness and blindness in merle coats appears in any size Aussie. It's due to lack of pigment you see in the Merle color, and breeding two merles together can create a lethal Merle, meaning blind and/or deaf and most of the puppies or at least some will show up like that in two merles bred together which is why it should NEVER be done. Breeders (not good ones) will do that to create a "perfect Merle"

Aside from the occasional beach trip, what are you able to provide daily? What kind of time, realistically, do you have?

I also want to add I honestly see more HD in GSDs and Goldens than Aussies but that's just my experience.
 

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I'm not a pro when it comes to Aussies, but is the difference between Mini Aussies and standart Aussies similiar to the difference between Show Line and Working Line in other breeds?
You know the dog being breed for mainly looks and because of that they don't have so much in common anymore with the original breed?

Additionally, I feel like people are more prone to post the negatives than the positives.
I think people having breeds that have more special needs than some companion breeds (which I love too, "companion dog" is a very great job for a dog) may have, hate the thought of people rushing into the ownership of such a dog.

it's not that they don't love the breed, that they want the breed to look bad or that they don't want other people to own the breed in general...but they don't want people to choose the breed thinking that the only difference between dogs of different breeds is their external appearance.
they don't want to hear horror stories about their breed in the hands of an unprepared person anymore. they want the dogs that belong to this breed to be with a person that actually likes the way the breed is and has a lifestyle that fits the breed and the individual dog.

I don't think anyone would want to stop you from getting a dog you really want and you're willing to meet it's needs.
But people get cautious,so they will also tell you want could go wrong when you are not the right person for such a dog.
In another Forum I am semi-active in, there's like every day a new thread about "I want to get a German Shepherd/Border Collie/Malinois/Dobermann/insertbreedname for my family because we're so super active!" but a lot of these people overestimate their activeness, so forum regulars often from the very beginning just say "nope" when ever these breedname pop up.
i think this forum is actually pretty open to "insertbreedname-newbies" starting out with a more care intense breed. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
I apologize if it seemed I was responding negatively, as I just want you to know that having an Aussie can be a nightmare if you're not prepared. They can also be wonderful if you know what you're doing and can give them what they need.

Deafness and blindness in merle coats appears in any size Aussie. It's due to lack of pigment you see in the Merle color, and breeding two merles together can create a lethal Merle, meaning blind and/or deaf and most of the puppies or at least some will show up like that in two merles bred together which is why it should NEVER be done. Breeders (not good ones) will do that to create a "perfect Merle"

Aside from the occasional beach trip, what are you able to provide daily? What kind of time, realistically, do you have?

I also want to add I honestly see more HD in GSDs and Goldens than Aussies but that's just my experience.
Let me first say that the negatives I was referring to was not at all from this site. You all have been very informative! I was more so trying to say that in searching health problems for aussies, I saw much more negative opinions and experiences than positives, although I understand this is what I searched for... It seems to me that a person would be more inclined to post the negatives than the positives, so I just wanted to make sure that there wasn't an overwhelming number of deaf, blind, etc aussies or that 60% of minis have knee problems for example.

I'm home a lot of the time. At least 5 hours a day could be devoted to attention and training. We usually walk a nearby neighborhood island on the bay that is around 2 miles long with lots of sand 3-4 times a week. We also like to go to the dog beach and ride bikes down there at least once a week. At least 3 30min walks a day during the week right now. I understand that walks will increase and there will need to be much more time devoted to training and 'games', as I've read. I'd like to take advantage of the time I have available now as well as the fact that the apartment is puppy proof (and my security deposit is already gone :thumbsup:).

My main concern is: are minis more prone to health problems than fulls? If they are, I'd rather wait until I'm in a good place and then go with a full grown Aussie.

Sorry for sounding so indecisive, I just know what it was like raising my little Puggle on my own in college and don't want to bite off more than I can chew.
 

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Hi everyone,
Thanks for all of the detailed responses! I'm not too concerned with the exercise. We take the pug to the beach, to the park, to visit doggie friends, etc. Both my girlfriend and I have spoken about it a lot and we feel we have the time and the discipline to make it work. Is there any difference in energy between the full size and mini? My mother has two minis (not aussies) and their energy level is quite low.

However, I'm a little concerned about the health risks. I see a lot of people mentioning these things but I'm not sure if this is hyped up or there really are that many aussies that suffer from blindness, deafness, or hip/knee problems.



Shandula, your response stuck out to me because I've really wanted a full sized Aussie, lab or golden but because I live in an apartment and I'm not sure where I'll be when we leave, I'd rather not have a bigger dog :-/.

I've been reading more and more and I've seen a few people mention knee/leg problems and then the blind/deaf problems that come more so with merle coats (?). While I understand that there are problems with the breed, can't this be said for all breeds? Additionally, I feel like people are more prone to post the negatives than the positives. I guess I'm wondering if all minis are much more prone to these problems in the same way most puggles reverse sneeze. I've met and spoken to in depth with 3 owners of mini aussies and they have nothing but great things to say.

Does anyone have any experience with miniature aussie sheps?


As @cos mentioned, deafness/blindness only occurs in the Merle coats if you breed a double merle (and even then not all dogs have problems, but a good percentage of them do). I think the issue with the Minis is that there are more backyard breeders of Minis out there, because they are currently quite popular, and they are not a recognized breed, which consequently means lots of people are breeding their mini's without running health checks. (Although the AKC has just recognized them as the Miniature American Shepherd, so that might help). It is also worth noting that standards should be: Males 20 -23 inches and Females 18-21 inches. The Mini's should be between 13 and 18, although sometimes they do get up to 19 or 20, meaning you'll basically have a full-size. I think my big issue with the Mini's (It doesn't sound like you're one of these people) is that people get them because they think they are a less-intense version of an Aussie, with less energy, and that is just not true. They also tend to be pretty intense barkers, which I hate.

Aussies do not need a huge living space, since they are not "big" dogs. Levi is about mid-thigh height on me (I'm 5'3) and weighs just about 50 pounds at 13 months old. When I first got Levi I was in an apartment with a decent yard space. We went for walks, played, did training classes, and he was a happy sleepy puppy. He is pretty silent, except for when my husband comes home from work, and he lets out some happy howls.
@cos - Levi is kind of from a combination I guess? :p Both of his parents are "show dogs" (his mom might have her Ch, I think) but both parents also "work" on the farm with the cattle. So...both? :p I'm pretty sure my husband would prefer if he was more aloof with strangers, he hates talking to people. :p
 
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I don't own a mini but know a lot of minis and 'regular' aussies through sports. Personally, I prefer the minis but they vary a lot from dog to dog as they are a newer breed. I find regular aussies to be too big and too bulky/heavy and most around here have very little drive (mostly show line dogs)

There's a bit of controversy but a lot of the breeders have changed the breed name and gone with the AKC as Miniature American Shepherds. You may want to check those breeders out. In my experience a lot of the better ones have made the switch but there are two mini registries (three if you count toys).

The dogs vary a lot. I see equal amounts of very soft, very shy, very low energy dogs as I do really high energy, boisterous dogs. I see more high energy minis but that's partially just due to most the 'regular' aussies here being show line dogs I think. There's a nearby mini breeder that has bred in a lot of working lines and hers are really really cool dogs. The 'standards' are generally 45-65 lbs, very fluffy, very pretty colors. The minis vary from 15-35 lbs and generally have less coat and less 'pretty' colors. Some minis look very aussie and some look very... not so much. A couple look like poms or chis. (Note: not from the good breeders)

Honestly I almost got one before Hank but they just vary too much and I wanted a bigger, louder type dog. You see them a lot in agility and it's really 50/50 on whether they had any drive or not. There's two in my class right now though and I adore them! I've also found a good number of dogs from a breeder I really like (they're soft but still fun)

If you don't get a double merle you'll be fine as far as sight and hearing goes. Knee problems are more common in all small breeds but hip problems are less in small breeds. It's a give and take.

I really like Wigglebutt, Timeless, and Flagtree dogs (I've met a lot of these and adored each one. Almost all the minis I'd like to own are from these guys. They look very aussie, have nice temperaments, and working drive).
 

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Also having had 'companion' breeds and pure herding breeds (including a sport bred dog) and now Hank...

It's really not that different. My most challenging dog as far as excitable energy and brilliant intelligence and problem solving has been one of my papillons.

I went from herder to papillon to herder/terrier. Was worried the paps would be 'less'. They're not. They need just as much. The herder/terrier wins for jerkishness and pure strength and intensity but he's honestly a lot less trouble in many ways.

The minis I know (the good ones) I like because they remind me a lot of the papillons only a bit bigger, which is a plus.

I've also lived with a beagle and I know I'd find a mini aussie way easier than another beagle or beagle mix. It really depends on your temperament and what fits you!

EDIT: And I'm not saying all dogs are the same, obviously not. But just saying I have seen so much variation in a lot of breeds that it's hard to pin down . And there's a lot of low to moderate energy MAS. And a lot of very high energy ones too. I think a good breeder could set you up with a good match. IMO it will come down to match more than breed.
 

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Oh I love talking about Aussies!

First thing first, I would recommend you go to a club and meet a few aussies. Puggles and Aussies are about as far apart as you can possibly get. I agree with many in their personalities. Mine if very attached to me and my husband, and will tolerate strangers (Better if he's met them more then once). I think I notice it more with him because everyone wants to pet him (I don't blame them, he's beautiful, But I'm biased).

I wouldn't say they make good apartment dogs. Those 30 minute walks may have to be bumped up to an hour. They need to be able to stretch their legs. Also just as much physical exercise, they need mental exercise. Lots of games, lots of obedience. Lots of tricks. They are so smart, it's a shame not to teach them everything.

As far as American Shepherds go, the hardest trouble you are going to have is finding a responsible breeder. At this point, it is still such a new breed, there are a lot of people who are not putting in the leg work just to turn a profit. A lot of them aren't doing he proper genetic testing, and therefore aren't turning out the best quality puppy.

As far as size in an apartment, honestly it's not in the size of place they live in, versus how often are you going to be getting the dog out. If you're going to be sticking to the 30 min walks and basic training, I really would reconsider an aussie as the best fit. They are a lot more then a pretty face.
 
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