Feb 242014

Although a controversial subject in some circles, I’d like to answer the question “What is the difference in a Miniature Australian Shepherd and a Miniature American Shepherd?” in my own words.

Originally, Australian Shepherds were bred as working dogs and used by immigrant shepherds in the northwest US.   Ranchers were looking for their best dogs with strong herding instinct and drive so what we now see as Australian Shepherds most likely looked very different in the early 1800’s, even from place to place.  Utility, not appearance, was the goal for those shepherds and their dogs.  Over time, the breed became more standardized and was accepted by American Kennel Club as a distinct dog breed in 1991.    AKC currently lists their breed standard for an Australian Shepherd at 18″-23″ at the shoulders (withers).  I find it interesting that I have a picture of my grandparents along with my father and his two brothers in a family group standing with their farm dog that looks very similar to a red tri Aussie taken in the late 1930’s in Kentucky.

Between the “then” and “now”, a few motivated breeders whose kennel names are found in the majority of the Mini Aussie foundation bloodlines, started to breed small to small to get a more compact dog.  In the late 1980’s, my father brought me a little red merle female registered Australian Shepherd to “keep” until she was old enough to work his Black Angus cattle.  Patch, as we called her, stood about 16″ and weighed 28 pounds as an adult.  She was undoubtedly an Aussie, but in today’s measurements would be called a Mini.  I can imagine that with time her progeny could have been reduced much further in height over a few generations.  By the way, that pup that I was to babysit and give some basic obedience shared my house for the next 16 1/2 years and didn’t muddy her feet in the barn lot.  Instead, she was our house dog and protector, herding any stray boyfriends back to their cars with a nip on the behind!

Since AKC limited their standard size to the Aussie, those smaller dogs took on a life of their own and folks started to call them Mini Aussies.  As people do, a division line in the sand was drawn and the die hard Aussie folks took a serious dislike to the smaller versions.  National Stock Dog Registry who had previously registered working Border Collies before they were accepted by AKC (another story), Australian Shepherds and also the old breed of English Shepherds begin to register and keep records for pedigrees on the Mini Aussie and listed their size as between 14-18″.  At that point and even now, you find AKC registered Australian Shepherds in the bloodlines of the Minis.

Now back to the question, what is the difference between a Mini Aussie and a Mini Ameri?  Again, this is my words, and please no flaming!  There is not one iota of difference except the verbage. North American Miniature Australian Shepherd Club of USA (NAMASCUSA) became the home club for the Mini Aussie and sought recognition by AKC for them to be an accepted breed for conformation showing in that venue.  Over a period of time and with much debate and deliberation, AKC allowed the Mini Aussie to join the ranks as AKC Foundation Stock Service (new developing breed) with some caveats.  The Australian Shepherd folks still had their line in the sand and wouldn’t back down on the Mini being an offshoot of their breed standard, so to be accepted, the NAMASCUSA Mini Aussie folks agreed to change the name and a few revisions to the breed standard wording including the size range 13″-18″.  A vote of the members chose Miniature American Shepherd as the official breed name.  Within the next year, the Mini Ameri will have passed the “trial by fire” as FSS and be added to the AKC ranks with full rights and privileges.

As humans do, once again, another line was drawn in the sand.  There are many Mini Aussie breeders who are determined to keep the name “Mini Aussie” and others who think the benefits of being AKC recognized was worth a name change.  During this transition time, any Mini Aussie that is registered with National Stock Dog Registry can also be registered with AKC FSS as a Mini Ameri, thus having dual names and dual registration.  Those that drew the line against AKC have mostly moved their registrations to American Stock Dog Registry (ASDR).

At this point and probably forever, the two will continually cross pedigrees.  For example, in the case of my dogs, the pedigrees include dogs registered as AKC Standard Aussies, ones registered NSDR as Mini Aussies and some of the younger ones also ASDR as Mini Aussies.  Because the general public doesn’t know or care about all the background, I still for the most part call my dogs Mini Aussies.  When I talk to other breeders, I more likely use the Miniature American Shepherd name.  What is the difference?  In my house, one day a Mini Aussie..sign a registration form and the next day a Mini Ameri!  The dog is the same, the pedigree is the same, the snuggles are the same….so no difference!


 Posted by at 11:02 pm
Jul 242013
Blue Merle Toy Aussie

Alangus Blue Swagger Groomed for the Conformation Show Ring


Dog Conformation Judging

Dog Conformation Judging–Show One












Brags!!  We returned from the IABCA Show in Atlanta with an Int’l CH title for Swagger!!  This was his first time in the ring and I had no idea how he would perform.  Yes, we had practiced, but practice isn’t the same as the environment of a dog show with dogs, some the size of ponies and some the size of rabbits, milling around and people everywhere surrounded by a cacophony of noises that even made me shutter.  Barking, hair dryers, people cheering…all echoing off the walls. Then, add to that a floor as shiny as a mirror.  Yikes!!

An IABCA dog event spans over two days with four shows, morning and afternoon of each day.  Each show is judged by a different judge and the dogs are rated on their conformation to their breed standard with one chosen as Best of Breed.  An adult dog which receives the necessary points is awarded their title at the end of the two-day event.  Swagger is registered as Miniature, but he is just under the 14″ measurement so he can show as a Toy Australian Shepherd.  He is still young and as a male not totally developed at 18 months old.   As he matures, we will repeat the process to move him up the ranks among his breed competitors.

Admittedly, the first morning I was nervous and so was Swagger and it was not his best performance in the ring.  He hesitated a bit as we made our debut to the conformation show circuit, but thanks to a very kind judge as you see in the picture above, he relaxed and decided he was “just fine”.  On the table, he was a perfect gentleman as he was examined, teeth and private parts included.

By the first afternoon show, it was old hat.  The second morning, I really wondered if he would be anxious in a good way or a bad way as we went back into the building.  Luckily, he was a happy camper and seemed to know exactly what was expected.  By the second afternoon when he circled the ring and then posed himself in the lineup, he had a happy face as our admiring group cheered for him.  Did he understand he was in the spotlight?  He most certainly did!

My dogs love to play and work and conformation showing is just the icing on the cake, but not the end of the story.  It made me very happy that four professional conformation judges gave him accolades for his attitude and structure, but I know under that beauty is my little lapdog when it’s raining and my playmate when it’s sunny!  You just can’t beat that!

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 Posted by at 12:22 am
Dec 222011

Today marked the third day for the Mini Aussie Puppies to be here and we took our trip to my veterinarian to be checked over, dew claws removed and tails to be docked.  Aussies are born with tails of different lengths, from a natural bob to a full length tail.  At three days old, the vet clips their tails and glues and puts a little stitch in the end.  I’ve seen dogs with good tail docks and ones with not so good docks.  My vet does an excellent job and is very particular to not get them so short that pottying is an issue but not so long they stand up like a Cocker Spaniel. She does it just right!

The breed standard calls for a docked tail and I wouldn’t have an Aussie any other way.  That distinctive pantaloon look with back feathers makes the Aussie look like an Aussie.  Love those wiggle butts 🙂

Contrary to what some people construe, tail docking is not particularly traumatic to the puppies at 3 days old.  Their body systems are still very immature and any pain they have at this point is not the same as pain in just a few more days.  My vet and I likened it to getting an ear pierced.  It’s a quick little jab, but then it’s over with minimal soreness for a few hours.  Actually, as soon as they were back with their Mommy and nursing, they seemed to have forgotten that anything had happened at all.

 Posted by at 5:46 pm
Jul 262011

I just returned from a 400 mile trek down to Atlanta for the IABCA dog show.  My adult son and I took his Border Collie, my black tri mini Aussie, Fancy, and Izzy’s two puppies along on the trip.

The show was held at Jim Miller Park just outside Atlanta and was a very nice event with about 160 dogs registered and a variety of breeds.  Fancy earned her points for International Champion as did Gus, my son’s Border Collie.  Both also got awards for Best of Breed.  It was a nice field of dogs and as always, we enjoyed chatting during the day with other dog owners.  There is always something to learn or to share where there are so many knowledgeable dog owners. Since I am a novice in the conformation ring, I especially like it that the judges write their evaluations of both my showing style and the dog’s conformation.

It is a little unusual to take along 7 week old puppies to a dog show that is that far away, but I am determined to give my puppies a good head start on their socialization and what better place than where there are barks and woofs and loud hairdryers and hundreds of hands to play with them, hands that are dog smart.

Traveling was actually quite easy because of their prior playpen training.  I drive a mini-van and removed all the back seats.  Our two adult dogs were in their kennels, but there was room to lay down a vinyl floor covering and the puppies had lots of room to play and since they were used to their peepee pads on the holder, that wasn’t a problem either.  For rest time, I tucked them into their kennel to help train them for their new homes and for them to learn that is their safe and quiet place.

At the dog show, I sat up their soft sided puppy play pen that has a bottom with their toys and pad.  They haven’t had but one round of shots, so I wasn’t comfortable putting them on the ground to play or to potty with so many possibilities of disease. That worked very nicely and they had room to bop around and a place to rest between their bops.

Their fear stage hasn’t set in, so they were happy to greet anyone that wanted to snuggle them and I was especially appreciative of the junior handlers that came around to spend time with them.  Exposure to children and young people at this age is super important in my opinion.

I might add that we had very nice accommodations at the Hilton Convention Center in Marietta and it was very pet friendly.  I had booked at another place, but it turned out to be a little shady and we were not comfortable in that particular area to be outside after dark to walk the dogs.  If I were traveling back to the same show, I’d definitely be on Priceline to book the same rooms.

It was a very nice trip.  IABCA is a relaxed and enjoyable show venue with experienced AKC judges and a nice crowd of people.

 Posted by at 1:30 pm

Show Results June 19-20

 Conformation showing for Dogs  Comments Off on Show Results June 19-20
Jun 212010

I’m so proud to announce that Cattle Call Fancy Don’t Let Me Down of Alangus strutted her stuff in the show ring at the IABCA Kentucky show this past weekend.  We returned home with four Best in Breed Mini Aussie Puppy awards, two Best in Herding Group Puppy awards, and one Reserve Best in Show Puppy.  The icing is that Fancy earned her International Champion Puppy title!!

 Posted by at 4:37 pm

ASDR Event

 Conformation showing for Dogs  Comments Off on ASDR Event
May 172010

My son and I traveled over toward Kansas City for the ASDR dog show this past weekend, taking Fancy, my little Aussie girl, and Gus, his Border Collie puppy.

The show was my first experience in the Conformation ring and Fancy was on her best behavior.  The judge was very congenial and helpful since I was a novice handler and the other breeders friendly, giving me suggestions for showing off her best features.  Since we had some experienced competition and very nice dogs, Fancy did not place in her event but did earn her required points for her Level 1 Championship.  I was proud of her both for her showing and also for her development compared to the other dogs.

Fancy measured in at 14 1/4 so just over the limit from toy to mini.  I wasn’t surprised but I had not had an official measurement.  She’s a stout little dog and is filling out very nicely.  The best part is that she’s very friendly and mingled and mixed with the people and dogs very well.

I have to admit that I caught the show bug so I’m hoping I can work in the IABCA event in Lexington in June.

Thanks to everyone that worked to put on the American Stock Dog show this year!

 Posted by at 3:05 pm

Nice stack

 Conformation showing for Dogs, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Nice stack
Feb 092010

The last two weeks I have been taking Fancy to Conformation Walk-ins at my local training center.  She is happy to meet the other dogs of all breeds and sizes and seems totally at ease when examined on the table.  With a yummy liver treat in my hand, she stacks her little legs and body nicely for review.  I’m super happy with her attitude and even the die-hard standard Aussie folks have commented on her “look”.

At home, my three Aussies are playing hard.  Because of Fancy’s little razor teeth, she occasionally gets in trouble and her buddies have to put her in her place.  No problem, she pops right back up and is ready to romp some more.

Potty training is going great.  The 2-3 mistakes have been mine and she’s quick to communicate that she needs to go out.  That makes me a believer in the breeders methods of using a potty pan for her puppies when they are still in their confined space.

My basement is the dog play area and the tunnel and walk board are Fancy’s favorites.  Watch out agility folks, here she comes!!

 Posted by at 3:43 pm