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Raising an Australian Shepherd – Alangus Mini Aussies: A Dog Blog
Jan 052016
 

I have had “miniature” Australian Shepherds as pets, travel companions and training partners since the mid 1980’s. At the time my first Aussie came to live with me, the term “miniature” was not prevalent in the vocabulary of the Aussie world, at least not in this part of the country. An Aussie was an Aussie was an Aussie and some were bigger than others.

My first Australian Shepherd was a red merle female registered with National Stock Dog Registry.  She stood 17 inches at the shoulder and weighed about 28 pounds.  Patch was a beautiful girl with bright colors and excellent bone structure, but I had no idea how nice she was at the time because the breed was new to me and we just loved her for who she was. I also had no idea that because of her height of less than 18″ that she fit into the size specifications of a Mini Aussie.

Up until the time Patch came to live with us, we had larger working Border Collies on our farm out of the dogs produced by Harold Miller here in Kentucky.  Mr. Miller, along with his son,  are well known for their herding demonstrations at the Kentucky State Fair each year.  My dad and my young son went to visit a local farmer to pick out a little Aussie puppy and came home with Patch, a bundle of red mottled fur.  My dad brought her to my house for me to do some obedience work with her and to keep her until she was old enough to work the cattle as he had done with his other BC pups.  Well, Patch lived with us for over 16 years…in the house, in our bed, in the motorhome…coddled.  She definitely had the instinct to herd and would have been voracious enough to move those big Angus bulls, but she never had to work that hard nor risk her teeth or life in the barn lot.

Patch’s sire and dam were from an  Indiana breeder and I have searched to determine her pedigree.  Her breeder no longer have papers on the parents so I have not been able to trace her lineage although I have tried through the registry service.

Patch and Jessica

It is dogs of Patch’s size that have been selectively line bred by a few breeders, primarily in the Northwest over the course of several generations, to reduce the size of the Australian Shepherd creating the height categories that are recognized today.

This pattern of breeding small to small does create a bit of a problem when breeders are asked to guarantee the adult size of the Miniature Aussie puppy they are about to purchase. We use the term “throw back” when referring to the Aussie heritage of having larger dogs in the bloodlines in earlier generations.  That occasional size discrepancy in an otherwise standardized litter is reminiscent of great great grandpa or grandma contributing their genetic imprint to the current generation much as one of our children can carry forward a characteristic of one of their ancestors.

The size is basically unimportant other than convenience because the personality and intelligence of an Aussie, Standard, Miniature or Toy are top notch.  They are excellent house pets, wonderful hiking companions, and they love to work when it is time to train obedience, agility, flyball or the activity of your choice.  Aussies, regardless the size, live to please!

 

 

 

 Posted by at 5:43 pm
Oct 072013
 
photo(16)

Front to back: Rosie, Swagger, Phoebe

One of the fun parts of having that occasional litter of puppies is to stay in contact with the new owners and watch them grow into adults.  Yesterday, Kelley and Mike stopped by on their way back to Nashville and let their little Phoebe have a visit with her brother Swagger and friend Rosie, as well as her doggy mom, Izzy.  They had a good run in the yard, even though the rain was pelting down, and then sat pretty for a treat!!

Phoebe is measured at 13.75″  and weighs  in about 17 pounds at 18 months old.  She is a gorgeous little Aussie with a sweet disposition and pretty bright colors like her brother.  I was happy to see how she has developed.

 Posted by at 5:31 pm
May 082013
 
Dogs in Training

Dinner at Selenas

There are so many ways to train our dogs, some formal and some quite informal.  In fact, every moment we spend with them, we are training in some way because we are constantly sending them signals and they are responding.

I train formally at Almost Home Boarding and Training on Dorsey Lane in Louisville.  Since I have five dogs, it’s difficult for me to decide who gets to go to classes, but Izzy, my little blue merle girl is often chosen.  Just because.  Just because she so loves to work.  Just because she needs to work.  Just because she has a fear factor that I am working hard to resolve with her.

Once a week, a group of five owners and five dogs of all sizes and personalities meet for “class” led by Almost Home owner and APDT certified trainer, Katie Peckenpaugh.  It is an ongoing class unlike most that are limited to a number of sessions.  I have been a member of the group for a few months, but others have been meeting  for much longer.  We have worked on a variety of activities to stimulate the dogs to think and be a partner with us.  On some nights, we practice basic obedience like long sits or stays and recall exercises using both verbal and non verbal signals.  Other times, we are greeted with a Rally or Agility course to run through.  The variety is fun for the dogs and for us.

Since the weather is now nicer, the last two meetings have been outdoor adventures with our dogs.  Last week, we all met at a local walking trail and worked on heel exercises, keeping our dogs focused on us while meeting other dogs, people and even children romping and playing.  The treat, however, came last night when one of our members arranged for us to meet at a local restaurant, Selenas, for dinner with our dogs on the patio.  What a pleasure on a nice Spring evening to eat a delicious meal and enjoy visiting with new friends while being accompanied by our fur babies!

Dog training at its best is evaluating our dog and our interactions with our dog and giving them the opportunity to succeed.  Why do I so enjoy this?  Just because.  Just because I love to work with my dog.  Just because I need to work with my dog to build a better relationship.  Just because I also sometimes have factors that I need to resolve which affect how my dog responds and the quality of their life.

Note on picture:  Izzy is in trainer’s lap rather than under the table and one owner is our photographer so not pictured.  The group consists of Izzy, a mini Aussie; Naylan, a Corgi;  Sam, a Collie; Sonny, an Aussie; and Claire, a Doberman.

 

 

 Posted by at 9:28 pm
Mar 152013
 

This is posted with permission of the author. It is the best description of Aussies that I have ever seen and a printed and marked up copy will remind me of my oversights with these intelligent dogs and prompt me to keep working to do better as I bring along puppies to adulthood.

Raising An Australian Shepherd

 Posted by at 11:50 pm