Below are exterts taken from the Miniature Australian Shepherd Club of America (MASCA) as well as the Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) breed standard guideline.
The Miniature Australian Shepherd should be judged as if it were an Australian Shepherd in all respects other than size. The Miniature Australian Shepherd’s conformation, moderate coat, efficient yet driving movement and stable temperament should all imply a herding dog capable of working long hours in a variety of conditions. Shown in near to natural state.
The Australian Shepherd is a well-balanced dog, no matter whether Standard, Miniature or toy. He is attentive and animated, showing strength and stamina combined with unusual agility. Slightly longer than tall, he has a coat of moderate length and coarseness with coloring that offers variety and individuality in each specimen. An identifying characteristic is his natural or docked bobtail. In each sex, masculinity or feminity is well-defined. Bone is moderate and clean with coarseness, heaviness or lightness being undesirable. Overall type, balance of conformation and movement are valued more highly than individual structural perfections because it is balance which enables him to fulfill his purpose.
The Australian Shepherd is intelligent, primarily a working dog of strong herding and guardian instincts, he is an exceptional companion. He is versatile and easily trained, performing his assigned tasks with great style and enthusiasm. He is reserved with strangers but does not exhibit shyness. Although an aggressive, authoritative worker, viciousness toward people or animals is intolerable. Fault: Undue shyness.
Clean-cut, strong, dry and in proportion to the body. The top skull is flat to slightly rounded, its length and width each equal to the length of the muzzle, which is in balance and proportioned to the rest of the head. The muzzle tapers slightly to a rounded tip. The stop is moderate but well-defined.
LIPS: Giving a dry appearance. Disqualification: Wet flews.
TEETH: A full complement of strong, white teeth meet in a scissors bite. An even bite is a fault. Teeth broken or missing by accident are not penalized.
Disqualifications: Undershot bites; overshot bites exceeding one-eighth inch.
EYES: Very expressive, showing attentiveness and intelligence. Clear, almond-shaped, and of moderate size, set a little obliquely, neither prominent nor sunken, with pupils dark, well-defined and perfectly positioned. Color is brown, blue, amber or any variation or combination thereof including flecks and marbling, with no preference.
Disqualifications: Offset pupil.
EARS: Set on high at the side of the head, triangular and slightly rounded at the tip, of moderate size with length measured by bringing the tip of the ear around to the inside corner of the eye. The ears, at full attention, break slightly forward and over from one-quarter (1/4) to one-half (1/2) above the base. Prick and hound-type ears are severe faults.
Neck and Body
The neck is firm, clean and in proportion to the body. It is of medium length and slightly arched at the crest, settling well into the shoulders. The body is firm and muscular. The topline appears level at a natural four-square stance. The chest is deep and strong with ribs well-sprung. The loin is strong and broad when viewed from the top. The bottom line carries well back with a moderate tuck-up. The croup is moderately sloping, the ideal being thirty (30) degrees from the horizontal. Tail is straight, not to exceed three (3) inches, natural bobbed or docked.
The shoulder blades (scapulae) are long and flat, close set at the withers, approximately two fingers width at a natural stance, and are well laid back at an angle approximating forty-five (45) degrees to the ground. The upper arm (humerus) is attached at an approximate right angle to the shoulder line with forelegs dropping straight, perpendicular to the ground. The elbow joint is equidistant from the ground to the withers. The legs are straight and powerful. Pasterns are short, thick and strong, but still flexible, showing a slight angle when viewed from the side. Feet are oval shaped, compact, with close-knit, well-arched toes. Pads are thick and resilient; nails short and strong. Dewclaws may be removed.
Strong and muscular. Width of hindquarters approximately equal to the width of the forequarters at the shoulders. The angulation of the pelvis and the upper thigh (femur) corresponds to the angulation of the shoulder blade and upper arm forming an approximate right angle. Stifles are clearly defined, hock joints moderately bent. The metatarsi are short, perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other when viewed from the rear. Feet are oval shaped, compact, with close-knit, well-arched toes. Pads are thick and resilient; nails short and strong. Rear dewclaws are removed.
Of medium texture, straight to slightly wavy, weather resistant, of moderate length with an undercoat. The quantity of undercoat varies with climate. Hair is short and smooth on the head, outside of ears, front of forelegs and below the hocks. Backs of forelegs are moderately feathered; breeches are moderately full. There is a moderate mane and frill, more pronounced in dogs than bitches. Non-typical coats are severe faults.
All colors are strong, clear and rich. The recognized colors are blue merle, red (liver) merle, solid black and solid red (liver) and with or without white markings and/or tan (copper) points with no preference. The blue merle and black have black pigmentation on nose, lips and eye-rims; the red (liver) merle and red (liver) have liver pigmentation on nose, lips and eye-rims. Butterfly nose should not be faulted under one year of age. On all colors, the areas surrounding the ears and eyes are dominated by color other than white. The hairline of a white collar does not exceed the point of the withers.
Disqualifications: Other than recognized colors, white body splashes, Dudley nose.
**Here is an extremely informative explanation of color and coat patters**
Smooth, free and easy; exhibiting agility of movement with a well-balanced, ground-covering stride. Fore and hind legs move straight and parallel with the center line of the body; as speed increases, the feet, both front and rear, converge toward the center line of gravity of the dog, while the topline remains firm and level. Joints to not bend or twist when in motion.
STANDARD: Preferred height for both male and female is above 18 inches up to 23 inches at the top of the withers.
MINIATURE: Preferred height for both male and female is 14 inches up to 18 inches at the top of withers.
TOY: Preferred height for both male and female is below 14 inches at the top of the withers.
It should be mentioned that in all classifications of Australian Shepherd quality is not to be sacrificed in favor of size.
Toy-like characteristics (i.e. domed head, bulging eyes, fine bone), monorchidism or cryptorchidism
THE WORKING DESCRIPTION OF THE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD
The Australian Shepherd was developed in the 19th and 20th centuries as a general purpose ranch and farm dog in the American West, where a tough, enduring, versatile stockdog with an honest work ethic was required. His usual work included moving very large herds of sheep and cattle from summer to winter grazing grounds and back, flushing range cattle out of heavy brush, and moving livestock in tight quarters such as chutes and alleys. These kinds of jobs are still where Australian Shepherds excel and are most valued.
The Australian Shepherd is categorized as one of the Loose-Eyed breeds of stockdogs. He is a confident, authoritative worker with a unique style that differs from Strong-Eyed breeds. He is agile, upright and close-working, and exhibits these distinctive traits while maintaining the ability and versatility to control all types of livestock in an efficient and deliberate manner. The Australian Shepherd excels at controlling large and/or slow-moving flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, and is highly regarded for his superior ability to effectively manage livestock in tightly confined spaces. The Australian Shepherd is powerful and intense by nature, easily learning the appropriate force and distance needed for the type of livestock being worked. Using a loose-eyed approach to stock, a working Australian Shepherd will often display wear, grip, and/or an authoritative bark, as well as eye when necessary, to handle his stock.
The Australian Shepherds wear in smooth, balanced, and ground-covering as the dog moves easily from side to side at the back of the stock, keeping his herd or flock together and moving forward. This is a very natural movement for an Australian Shepherd, and one that he can continue doing for hours at a time.
The Australian Shepherd will only use grip to move reluctant or challenging stock. The ideal Australian Shepherd naturally grips at both the head and heel, coming in low and hard on the heels to move cattle, or going to the head and gripping the nose or poll to turn an animal back to the herd.
The Australian Shepherd may bark to move stock or to face a challenge. His bark is conservative and should be authoritative when used. While the Australian Shepherds grip typically affects a single animal, his bark can influence a whole herd, and is most effective when stock has come to a standstill such as in crowded alleyways. The Australian Shepherds bark is particularly useful when gathering cattle from thick brush.
Since the Australian Shepherd is a loose-eyed working dog, he prefers to use his authority and presence to move livestock. However, if challenged, he may use eye in a direct and deliberate way until the challenge is over.
**I found this ENTIRE site very informative about REAL working aussies.**
..What we at Lazy D Ranch are dedicated to preserving in a smaller form..
Below we have listed general information about the Australian Shepherds (Standard, Mini, and Toy) along with a few links to help better understand the specifics of the breed.
As with anyone or any breeder, we have our owns thoughts and opinions on this breed and you may find a few of ours throughout the reading.
Country of Origin
History and Registries
The following paragraph is taken from the AKC history of the australian shepherd.
Although there are many theories about the origin of the Australian Shepherd, the breed as we know it today developed exclusively in the United States. It probably originated in the Basque region of the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France, but was dubbed the Australian Shepherd because of its association with Basque shepherds who came to the United States from Australia in the 1800's.
As with most working breeds, the Australian Shepherd was initially called by many names, including Spanish Shepherd, Pastor Dog, Bob-Tail, Blue Heeler, New Mexican Shepherd, and California Shepherd.
The Australian Shepherd's popularity rose rapidly with the boom in Western-style horse riding after World War II. The breed became known to the general public via appearances in rodeos, horse shows, movies, and television programs. Its inherent versatility and trainability made it a useful asset on farms and ranches.
Ranchers continued to develop the breed, maintaining the adaptability, keen intelligence, strong herding instincts, and eye-catching appearance that originally won its admirers. As a herder, the Australian Shepherd is a loose- to medium-eyed dog. ("Eye" is a general term used to describe the way a dog controls stock with its gaze.) It will watch an entire group of animals, but not with an intense gaze. Some dogs use more eye in situations where added power is required to move stubborn or balky animals, while holding off on single animals, as in the shed."
Miniature Australian Shepherds can be registered with the National Stock Dog Registry (NSDR), Miniature Australian Shepherd Club of America (MASCA), International Miniature Australian Shepherd Club (IMASC), American Stock Dog Registry (ASDR), Toy Australian Shepherds can also be registered with Toy Australian Shepherd Club of America (TASCA).
In recent past, the AKC registy has agreed to allow miniature australian shepherds into their registry, not as a size variety but as a whole new breed named the American Shepherd. WE DO NOT OWN OR BREED ANY MINIATURE AMERICAN SHEPHERDS.
Australian Shepherds are easy going, perpetual puppies that love to play. Courageous, loyal and affectionate, they are excellent children's companions that are great with active children. A devoted friend and guardian. Very lively, agile, and attentive, they are eager to please with a sixth sense about what the owner wants. Australian Shepherds are highly intelligent and easy to train. They can become nervous and destructive if left alone too much without enough mental and physical exercise. They need a job to do, as the breed is very intelligent, active and easily bored. Socialize them well when they are a puppy to avoid them becoming suspicious of strangers. Some like to nip peoples heels in an attempt to herd them. They need to be taught herding humans is not acceptable. A fine companion, it also enjoys working small stock. They are quiet workers, unlike some breeds, which are bred to bark constantly at livestock. This breed is not usually dog aggressive. Make sure you are this dog's firm, confident, consistent pack leader to avoid Small Dog Syndrome, human induced behavior problems. Always remember, dogs are canines, not humans. Be sure to meet their natural instincts as animals. They will do okay in an apartment if they are sufficiently exercised. Aussies are moderately active indoors and will do okay with a small yard. They should be taken on daily, long walks. This energetic little dog needs plenty of vigorous exercise to stay in shape, or better yet, some real work to do. This breed does well in cold climates.
The gene for the beautiful merle coloration also carries a blind/deaf factor. This may be expressed only in merle/merle crosses. The vast majority of merled aussies are heterozygous merles (one parent is merle the other is solid) and these merles are not at risk for any special health problems due to their coloration. Blue eyed dogs are NOT blind and do not suffer from any more or different problems than brown/green/amber eyed dogs do. Keeping your aussie healthy throughout their life is important and if cared for properly can live for 10-15 yrs.
Coat and Grooming
The coat of the Australian Shepherd is easy to groom and needs little attention. They are a double coated breed, meaning they have an inner (soft) and outter (coarse) coat. Brush occasionally with a firm bristle brush and bathe only when necessary, not to exceed more than once a week. This breed is an average shedder. They will shed their undercoat typically twice a year. Shedding due to stress is not uncommon. An aussie should NEVER be shaved as their outter coat is permanent and will not grow back.