Comprehensive Guide to Toy Australian Shepherd

Comprehensive Guide to Toy Australian Shepherd
Photo Credit: @koda.toy.aussie

A Toy Australian Shepherd, also known as a Toy Aussie, is the smallest version of the Australian Shepherd breed. It is bred to have the same characteristics and qualities as the standard Australian Shepherd but in a more compact size.

Toy Aussies are typically intelligent, energetic, and highly trainable. Despite their small stature, they are known for their agility and herding instincts. These dogs are often described as being loyal, affectionate, and good-natured. They can make excellent family pets and companions for individuals or families who lead an active lifestyle.

Whether you’re considering adding a Toy Australian Shepherd to your family or simply seeking to expand your knowledge about this captivating breed, this article provides a comprehensive guide to help you appreciate and understand these delightful dogs’ unique qualities and charm.

Breed Overview

Breed SummaryQuick Facts
Breed PurposeCompanion dog
OriginCalifornia, United States
Breed SizeToy to Small
Height10 to 14 inches (25 to 36 cm)
Weight12 to 17 lbs (5 to 8 kg)
Coat TypeDouble; Medium; Can be straight or wavy
SheddingModerately; Seasonal
ColorsRed merle, black tricolor, red tricolor, blue merle
Lifespan13 to 15 years
TemperamentIntelligent, Energetic, Affectionate
Suitable forActive Families with children
Price$1800 to $2500

Origin and History

Although the name suggests Australian origins, the breed was actually developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the Western United States. It was created by selectively breeding smaller Australian Shepherds to produce a compact version of the popular herding dog.

Toy Australian Shepherds were bred to maintain their larger counterparts’ intelligence, agility, and herding instincts while reducing their size to make them more suitable for smaller living spaces. The breed quickly gained popularity as a companion dog due to its intelligence, versatility, and charming personality.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) does not recognize Toy Aussie as a separate breed. However, they may be eligible for registration as Australian Shepherds with the AKC. Recognition by the AKC typically requires a breed to have a consistent breed standard and a sufficient population size.

While the Toy Australian Shepherd does not currently have official recognition from the AKC, it has gained recognition in other organizations and registries, such as the American Stock Dog Registry (ASDR), the International English Shepherd Registry (IESR), and the United States Australian Shepherd Association (USASA).

How Does the Toy Australian Shepherd Differ from the Mini and Standard Aussie?

Toy Aussie vs Mini Aussie vs Standard Aussie

The Toy Australian Shepherd is a small and compact dog breed that shares many physical features with its larger counterparts, the Standard Australian Shepherd and the Mini Australian Shepherd. However, there are notable differences in size between the three.

Typically, Toy Australian Shepherds stand between 10 and 14 inches (25 to 36 cm) at the shoulder. In contrast, Mini Aussies range from 15 to 17 inches (38 to 43 cm), and Standard Aussies generally range from 18 to 23 inches (46 to 58 cm) in height.

Regarding weight, Toy Aussies usually weigh between 12 and 17 pounds (5 to 8 kg). In comparison, Mini Australian Shepherds weigh between 18 and 39 pounds (8 to 18 kg), and Standard Australian Shepherds weigh between 40 and 65 pounds (18 to 29 kg).

Types of Aussies Based on Size



Toy Australian Shepherd10 and 14 inches

(25 to 36 cm)

12 and 17 pounds

(5 to 8 kg)

Mini Australian Shepherd15 and 17 inches

(38 to 43 cm)

18 and 39 pounds

(8 to 18 kg)

Standard Australian Shepherd18 to 23 inches

(46 to 58 cm)

40 and 65 pounds

(18 to 29 kg)

The Toy Australian Shepherd has a well-balanced and proportionate body. It retains its larger counterpart’s athletic and agile build, with a muscular chest and a straight back.

The breed is known for its intelligent expression, which is emphasized by its almond-shaped eyes that can come in a range of colors, including blue, amber, and brown.

What coat type do Toy Aussies have?

Generally, Toy Aussies have a medium-length double coat that is weather-resistant and provides some insulation. The coat has a dense undercoat and a long, straight, or slightly wavy outer coat.

The texture and appearance of the coat can vary. Some Toy Aussies have a straight coat that lies close to the body, while others may have a slightly wavy or curly coat. The coat is typically soft and smooth to the touch.

What coat colors and markings do they have?

Toy Australian Shepherds come in a variety of coat colors and markings. These delightful little dogs can have a coat that ranges from solid colors to complex patterns. Common coat colors include black, blue merle, red, and red merle.

In addition to the base coat colors, they can have a range of markings, such as tan points and white markings. Tan points are typically seen on the eyebrows, cheeks, chest, and legs, adding contrast to the coat. White markings can appear on the face, neck, chest, legs, and tail tip, and they can vary in size and shape.

Personality and Temperament

Toy Australian Shepherd Temperament
Photo credit: Ivy aka Toonces

The Toy Australian Shepherd is known for its lively and energetic temperament. Despite its small size, it possesses the same intelligence, agility, and enthusiasm as its larger counterparts. Here are some key characteristics of this breed:

  • Intelligent: Just like Border Collies, Toy Australian Shepherds are highly intelligent dogs. They are quick learners and enjoy mental stimulation. This intelligence makes them responsive to training and capable of mastering various commands and tricks.
  • Energetic: These dogs have a high energy level and require regular exercise and playtime. They enjoy activities that challenge them physically and mentally, such as agility training, obedience trials, and interactive games.
  • Alert and Watchful: Toy Australian Shepherds have the instinct to be watchful and protective. They are typically alert to their surroundings and can be good watchdogs, alerting their owners to any unusual activities or strangers.
  • Playful: These dogs have a playful and sometimes mischievous streak. They enjoy games and toys that challenge their intelligence and physical abilities. Regular play sessions are important to keep them mentally and physically engaged.

Do Toy Australian Shepherds make good family dogs?

Yes, these dogs are known for their affectionate nature and strong bond with their families. They thrive on human companionship and enjoy being involved in family activities.

Toy Aussies are also generally good with children when properly socialized and trained from a young age. They have a gentle and patient nature, which makes them well-suited for families with kids. However, supervision is important to prevent any potential herding or nipping behaviors toward small children.

Training Your Toy Australian Shepherd

Whether you’re teaching basic obedience commands or advanced tricks, consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are key. Here are some tips to help you train your Toy Australian Shepherd effectively.

  1. Establish a routine and stick to it. Set a schedule for feeding, potty breaks, exercise, and training sessions. This will help him understand what is expected of them and when.
  1. Focus on basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, come, and down. Use positive reinforcement techniques like treats, praise, and rewards to motivate and encourage desired behavior. Be consistent with your commands and clear signals to avoid confusion.
  1. Provide mental and physical stimulation. Toy Australian Shepherds are intelligent and energetic dogs that thrive on mental challenges and physical exercise. Engage them in interactive toys, puzzles, and activities that keep their minds sharp and their bodies active. Regular exercise, such as walks or playtime, will also help prevent behavioral issues due to pent-up energy.

Remember, training takes time and patience. Celebrate small victories along the way, and always maintain a positive and encouraging attitude towards your Toy Australian Shepherd.

Health and Common Concerns

Toy Australian Shepherd Health Issues
Photo credit: @zoe_and_cheetah_girl

While Toy Aussies are generally considered a healthy breed, there are several common health issues that potential owners should be aware of. It’s important to note that not all of them will experience these health problems, but they are more prevalent in the breed than others.

  • Eye Problems: Toy Australian Shepherds are prone to various eye problems, including progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), cataracts, and collie eye anomaly (CEA). PRA is a degenerative disease that leads to progressive vision loss, while the clouding of the eye lens characterizes cataracts. CEA is an inherited condition that affects the development of the eye, potentially causing vision impairment or blindness. Regular eye check-ups and early detection are crucial to manage these conditions effectively.
  • Multi-Drug Sensitivity (MDR1): MDR1 is a genetic mutation affecting the dog’s ability to eliminate certain drugs from its system effectively. Toy Australian Shepherds with MDR1 are more sensitive to medications such as ivermectin (found in some heartworm preventives and other medications), loperamide (anti-diarrheal medication), and several other drugs. Testing for the MDR1 gene is recommended before administering medications to ensure their safety.
  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: Dysplasia is the abnormal development of the hip or elbow joints. It is an inherited condition where the joints do not fit together properly, leading to joint instability, inflammation, and, eventually, arthritis. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and avoiding excessive jumping or strenuous activities during the dog’s growth stage can help reduce the risk of developing dysplasia.
  • Epilepsy: Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. While the exact cause of epilepsy in Toy Australian Shepherds is unknown, it is believed to have a genetic basis. Epileptic seizures can vary in severity, and management usually involves medication and close monitoring by a veterinarian.
  • Double Merle Gene: The double merle gene results from breeding two merle-coated dogs together. This genetic combination can lead to serious health issues, including hearing and vision problems. Double Merle Toy Australian Shepherds have a higher risk of deafness, blindness, and other congenital abnormalities. Responsible breeding practices can help minimize the occurrence of this gene and its associated health concerns.

On average, Toy Australian Shepherds have a lifespan of about 13 to 15 years. However, this can vary depending on overall health, genetics, diet, exercise, and the individual dog’s specific care.

Veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and a loving environment can contribute to a longer and healthier life for your Toy Aussie.

Essential Care Tips for Toy Australian Shepherds

Although Toy Aussie’s maintenance requirements are generally moderate, addressing their unique needs is important to ensure their well-being and happiness. From exercise and grooming to food and diet requirements, here are some valuable insights into caring for this breed.

Caring your Toy Aussie
Photo credit: @bubbabear2022

Exercise Requirements

Toy Australian Shepherds are an active and intelligent breed. Although their exercise needs are not as high as the standard Australian Shepherds, they still require regular physical activity for at least 1 hour to 1.5 hours to stay mentally and physically stimulated.

Daily walks, play sessions, and interactive toys are essential to prevent boredom and promote their overall well-being. However, avoiding overexertion is important, especially in extreme weather conditions, as they are sensitive to heat and cold.

Grooming Needs

As mentioned earlier, Toy Australian Shepherds have a medium-length double coat that requires regular maintenance. Brushing their coat at least two to three times a week helps prevent matting and keeps their fur looking neat and healthy.

During shedding seasons, which usually occur twice a year, daily brushing can help manage the excess hair.

Additionally, Toy Aussies may need occasional baths, typically every six to eight weeks, unless they get excessively dirty. Use a mild dog shampoo and ensure thorough rinsing to avoid any skin irritation.

Food and Diet Requirements

The Toy Australian Shepherd has specific food and diet requirements to support its health and well-being. For puppies, it is recommended to feed them 20 grams of food per 1 kilogram of their weight per day, divided into three meals.

As they grow into adults, their food intake changes. An adult Toy Aussie should consume 1 to 1 and ¼ cups of high-quality dog food per day, split into a morning and an evening meal. The exact amount depends on factors like size, age, and activity level.

To ensure optimal nutrition, their diet should primarily consist of high-quality kibble that provides complete and balanced nutrition. Look for dog food that offers a well-balanced combination of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and fats, enriched with essential minerals and vitamins. Lean sources of protein, such as chicken and fish, are beneficial for supporting their active muscles.

Given their active nature, Toy Australian Shepherds require a moderately high-fat content in their diet to fuel their energy needs. Additionally, incorporating nutrient and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables into their diet supports digestion and overall health. These can be added as supplements or included in high-quality dog food options.

Avoid feeding them low-quality commercial dog foods that contain unnatural additives and filler ingredients like grains, as these can be difficult for dogs to digest. Opt for premium, natural dog food options that prioritize quality ingredients.

How Much Does a Toy Australian Shepherd Puppy Cost?

Toy Australian Shepherd Puppy Price
Photo credit: @donnie_and_leeloo_aussiepups

The cost of Toy Australian Shepherds can vary depending on several factors. These factors include the breeder’s reputation and quality, the puppy’s lineage and pedigree, the geographical location, the demand for the breed, and any additional features or characteristics that set the puppy apart.

Generally, Toy Aussies from reputable breeders can range in price from around $1,800 to $2,500 or more.

Reputable breeders invest time, effort, and resources into breeding healthy, well-socialized puppies. They conduct health tests on their breeding dogs to ensure genetic soundness and minimize the risk of inherited diseases.

They also provide proper care, vaccinations, and early socialization for the puppies, which contributes to their higher price. Additionally, reputable breeders often offer the new owners a health guarantee and ongoing support.

It’s important to note that the initial purchase price of a Toy Australian Shepherd puppy is not the only cost involved. Additional expenses include veterinary care, vaccinations, spaying or neutering, microchipping, grooming, training, supplies (such as food, toys, and bedding), and potential unforeseen medical expenses.

Responsible ownership involves being prepared to meet these financial responsibilities to ensure the well-being and happiness of your new furry companion.

Where Can I Get a Toy Australian Shepherd?

Where Can I Get Toy Aussie?
Photo credit: @truffleandfriends

If you’re looking to get a Toy Australian Shepherd, there are a few different places you can consider. Here are some options to help you find this small breed:

  • Reputable Breeders: Start by researching reputable breeders specializing in Toy Australian Shepherds. Look for breeders who have a good reputation, follow ethical breeding practices, and prioritize the health and well-being of their dogs. You can search online directories, visit local dog shows or events, and ask for recommendations from local dog clubs or veterinary clinics.
  • Rescue Organizations: Check with local rescue organizations or shelters that focus on Australian Shepherds or small dog breeds. While it may be less common to find Toy Aussies in rescues, it’s worth checking with them regularly as they might have one available for adoption.
  • Online Platforms: There are various online platforms where breeders and individuals advertise puppies for sale. Websites such as PuppyFind, NextDayPets, and Greenfield Puppies can provide listings of Toy Australian Shepherd puppies. However, exercise caution when using such platforms and thoroughly research the sellers to ensure they are reputable.
  • Breed-specific Clubs and Forums: Join online communities, forums, or social media groups dedicated to Toy Australian Shepherds or Australian Shepherds in general. These communities often have members who are knowledgeable about the breed and may be able to provide recommendations or connect you with reputable breeders.

Remember, it’s important to do your due diligence and research any breeder or individual you’re considering getting a puppy from. Responsible breeders will provide health clearances for their breeding dogs, socialize their puppies, and be willing to answer your questions.

Visiting the breeder’s facility, meeting the puppy’s parents, and observing the overall conditions can also give you a better idea of the puppies’ environment.

Always prioritize the well-being and ethical treatment of the dogs when searching for a Toy Australian Shepherd.

Conclusion: Is Toy Australian Shepherd Right For You?

Toy Australian Shepherd is a delightful and energetic breed that brings joy and companionship to many dog owners. This breed is the smallest version of the Australian Shepherd, possessing the same intelligence, athleticism, and loyalty in a more compact package. They are highly trainable and excel in various dog sports and activities. Toy Australian Shepherds make excellent family pets and are generally good with children and other animals when properly socialized.

However, owning this breed does come with its challenges. These dogs have high energy levels and require regular mental and physical exercise to prevent boredom and destructive behaviors. Their herding instincts may also manifest in nipping at heels or chasing moving objects, which can be managed through proper training and redirection. Additionally, their long and luxurious coat requires regular grooming to prevent matting and keep it in good condition.

If you’re considering adding a Toy Australian Shepherd to your family, it’s important to be prepared for their needs and commit to providing them with the attention, exercise, and mental stimulation they require. With the right care, training, and socialization, owning this breed can be a rewarding experience.

If you have any thoughts, questions, or experiences with this breed, we encourage you to share them in the comments section below.

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