|Shepherds, Miniature Aussie
Shepherd, Miniature Aussie,
Mini Aussie, Miniature
Shepherd puppies, Miniature
Aussie for sale,
natural-rearing, natural diet
for dogs, SARF diet, Miniature
raw food Miniature Australian
Shepherd; Miniature Aussie;
Mini Aussie; North
|The Miniature Australian
Shepherd goes by many
names: Miniature Aussie,
Mini Aussie, and North
American Shepherd. It will
soon be recognized by AKC
as the Miniature American
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:: AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD VERSUS THE MINIATURE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD ::
In recent years, Australian Shepherd clubs such as the Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) and the
United States Australian Shepherd Association (USASA) have pushed, strongly, to discredit the validity of
"Miniature Aussie" lineage and have formally refused to recognize the smaller Australian Shepherds as a
legitimate size variety; in heated debates, it has been inferred, genetically, the Miniature Aussie is not a purebred
Australian Shepherd. In stark contrast, Miniature Australian Shepherd breeders have fiercely defended their
animals’ ancestry, touting their "right" to breed animals which significantly deviate from the Australian Shepherd
Views are passionately defended in both camps - bewildering to those simply looking for a smaller, devoted family
companion or compact ranch dog. The truth is, both stances express valid arguments, but unfortunately some
members in both camps have become increasingly offensive in the propaganda bandied about. To be clear, all
Australian Shepherd clubs do agree, albeit begrudgingly, to a common ancestry, but that is where they draw the
proverbial line in the sand. We believe historical facts show the Australian Shepherd and its miniature
counterpart to be undeniably, closely intertwined.
The moderately-sized, colorful herding dog, which would one day be known as the Australian Shepherd, arrived in
the United States in the early 1800’s – likely brought in by the Basque shepherds. These animals quickly became
well-known for their herding ability, intelligence, and unusual coloring - making them highly sought after by
ranchers as well families on small homesteads.
Through the early 1940’s, this hardworking, athletic dog was known by many names including the Spanish
Shepherd, New Mexican Shepherd, California Shepherd, Bob-Tail, Little Blue Dog, and Pastor Dog. *Well before
these wonderful ranch dogs had a formal name, my Aunt began raising them; as their popularity grew, she helped
organize the first Australian Shepherd show in California and donated some of the awards for the winning dogs, so
our family has a long-term, affectionate history with the Aussie.
We will be covering, in some detail, the basic breed history, however, we will not address every registry or breed
club to have recognized or hosted these breeds, nor will we cover the history of the “Toy Australian Shepherd”
here; we merely wish to show an accurate timeline regarding the development of the Australian Shepherd.
INTERNATIONAL ENGLISH SHEPHERD REGISTRY (IESR & NSDR)
In 1956, the International English Shepherd Registry* (IESR) formed the first, official Australian Shepherd
database, thus establishing the Aussie as a legitimate breed. A mere 12 years later, in 1968, a pair of smaller
Australian Shepherds were added to the existing registry – marked by prefix “MAS”, denoting the “Miniature
Australian Shepherd” as a sanctioned size variation of the Australian Shepherd – this, by the founding Australian
Shepherd registry. *Note: The National Stock Dog Registry (NSDR) is a division of the International English
Shepherd Registry, Inc. and is the longest running Australian Shepherd and Miniature Australian Shepherd
registry in existence, registering both size-variations to present day.
Entry into one classification or the other was determined by individual, adult size; animals 17” and under at 1 year
of age could be entered as “Miniature”. For breeding purposes, as these animals shared the same lineage, animals
from either category could be utilized interchangeably between the AS and MAS registries.
AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD CLUB OF AMERICA (ASCA)
Formed in 1957, ASCA is considered the “parent club” of the Australian Shepherd, though the club relied upon the
IESR registry for record-keeping services until 1971; it was not until 1977 that a formal breed standard was finally
adopted. Interestingly enough, the ASCA breed standard states “Preferred height at the withers for males is 20
to 23 inches; that for females is 18 to 21 inches, however, quality is not to be sacrificed in favor of size.”
Revisions to the current ASCA breed standard have been proposed; it is expected their membership will vote
regarding the matter sometime this year (2012). Surprisingly enough, in spite of the uproar regarding the smaller
Australian Shepherds, the proposed revisions do not include additional specifications or disqualifications for
deviations in size. It appears size alone will not be a disqualifying factor for the ASCA-registered Australian
UNITED KENNEL CLUB (UKC)
The UKC recognized the Australian Shepherd as a herding breed in 1979. The original breed standard states,
“Preferred height at the withers for males is 20 to 23 inches; that for females is 18 to 21 inches. However, quality
is not to be sacrificed in favor of size.”
It should be noted that, while the current breed standard retains the phrase, “However, quality is not to be
sacrificed in favor of size”, a 2008 revision to the said standard deems significant variations in size to be
“(An Eliminating Fault is a Fault serious enough that it eliminates the dog from obtaining any awards in a
Any Australian Shepherd female over six months of age that measures under 17 inches or over 22 inches at the
withers must be considered so faulty that it should not receive a placement, regardless of competition. Any
Australian Shepherd male over six months of age that measures under 19 inches or over 24 inches at the withers
must be considered so faulty that it should not receive a placement, regardless of competition.”
RARE BREED KENNEL CLUB (RBKC)
In 1989 – 1990, the RBKC recognized the Miniature Australian Shepherd - allowing the animals the opportunity
to compete in, what was at that time, a recognized show venue.
MINIATURE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD CLUB OF THE USA (MASCUSA)
The need for a club, specific to the advancement of the smaller Aussie Shepherd, was becoming apparent; in 1990,
MASCUSA was formed. The original “parent club” to the Miniature Australian Shepherd, their purpose has
always been to maintain the Australian Shepherd history and lineage, albeit in a smaller Australian Shepherd
form. To preserve the integrity of their smaller Aussies, MASCUSA breeders have continuously intermingled
their animals lines with that of other, small Australian Shepherds.
UNITED STATES AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD ASSOCIATION (USASA)
In a bid for recognition by the American Kennel Club, factions of the original Australian Shepherd registries
branched off, establishing a new Australian Shepherd club in 1990. Their goal was AKC recognition, and they
worked almost exclusively toward that purpose.
AMERICAN KENNEL CLUB (AKC)
Due to the efforts of the USASA, the AKC formally recognized the Australian Shepherd as a breed in September of
1990; at that time, the USASA became the Australian Shepherd parent club for the AKC. This decision was
followed in 1991 by AKC’s adoption into the herding group; in 1993, the Australian Shepherd was granted full
privileges for AKC events.
The breed standard adopted by the AKC states for size: “The preferred height for males is 20-23 inches, females
18-21 inches. Quality is not to be sacrificed in favor of size.” Interesting to note, yet again, deviation in size is not a
AMERICAN RARE BREED ASSOCIATION (ARBA)
Established in 1991, ARBA is a nationally-recognized conformation show venue, founded for the purpose of
allowing unrecognized or otherwise rare breeds the opportunity to compete in a show venue. Anxious to have
their smaller Aussies participate, MASCUSA worked diligently toward ARBA acceptance.
Beginning in the early ‘90’s, the Miniature Australian Shepherd was accepted and allowed to actively compete. In
1993, a blow to the MAS – ARBA informed MASCUSA, per ARBA policy, the Miniature Australian Shepherd could
no longer participate under their chosen name as it was too similar to that of an AKC affiliated breed (AKC had just
officially recognized the Australian Shepherd); a name change was suggested, and after much debate, the
“Miniature Australian Shepherd” was changed to the “North American Shepherd”.
NORTH AMERICAN SHEPHERD CLUB OF AMERICA (NASCUSA) *Formerly MASCUSA
The 1993 name change brought with it a change of name for the club as well - though it should be noted the club
also retained their original moniker “Miniature Australian Shepherd Club, USA”. The breed standard remained as
MINIATURE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD CLUB OF AMERICA (MASCA)
Unhappy with the name change and the potential for a loss of identity, a new registry was formed in 1996,
specifically dedicated to the preservation of the “Miniature Australian Shepherd”. The original structure, purpose
and function of the Australian Shepherd was to be the forefront focus of the breeders – aiming to perfect,
structurally and mentally, the smaller variation of the Australian Shepherd.
The breed standard states: “Preferred height at the withers for males is fourteen (14) to eighteen (18) inches;
that for females is fourteen (14) up to but not including eighteen (18) inches. Dogs or bitches above these
measurements should be faulted to the degree of variance; however, quality is not to be sacrificed in favor of size.
Disqualification: Below 14” at the withers.”
NORTH AMERICAN MINIATURE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD CLUB OF THE USA, INC. (NAMASCA)
In 1998, an ARBA policy change again prompted a breed name change; getting back to their roots, the club
combined names, and the “North American Miniature Australian Shepherd” was born.
In May, 2002, membership voted in a specific breed standard, which states the NAMAS size to be as follows:
SIZE: Height for dogs and bitches is 14 inches up to 18 inches at the top of withers. “Quality not to be sacrificed in
favor of size within the guidelines of this breed standard. Severe fault under 14 inches and over 18 inches.”
POLITICS BETWEEN THE MAS BREED CLUBS
While there were significant differences between the MAS clubs, the members have attempted to work toward
mutual goals; dual registries have been commonplace, and both clubs combined “National” show events to the
same location and time - allowing for qualified animals to be utilized interchangeably.
At one point, it seemed combining the clubs would be beneficial; club officials on both sides worked persistently for
several years, only to find the differences between each clubs’ politics and goals too vast to bring together. A
strong desire by many members to be recognized by nationally-known registries was the deciding factor in the
failure to unite the clubs.
It had become clear that ASCA and USASA would never officially accept the “Miniature Aussie” as a size variation
of the Australian Shepherd - thus ensuring neither the AKC nor the UKC would ever grant admittance into their
respective registries. A relatively large number of NAMASCUSA members wished for breed status, whereas most
MASCA members desired to continue working toward recognition as a size variation of the Australian Shepherd.
With a vote put to both clubs, it became clear there was a definite, irreversible separation between the registries.
After the numbers were tallied, it was easy to conclude there were, in fact, enough members interested in
obtaining separate recognition, thus prompting members of NAMASCUSA to approach the AKC with the idea of
creating a new “breed”, one not flying under the Australian Shepherd title.
In May 2011, MASCUSA (formerly NAMASCUSA) was chosen by AKC as the parent club of the newly named
“Miniature American Shepherd” breed (FSS). The club is currently working toward full, AKC recognition and
At this time (2012), MASCA members have chosen to continue forward with their goal to maintain the Miniature
Australian Shepherd, with or without the recognition of the Australian Shepherd parent clubs.
THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS…
The truth is, “Miniature” Australian Shepherds have resulted from natural pairings between AS parents; they
have been bred intentionally, as well as unintentionally, within every Australian Shepherd registry. These
animals’ genetics and history have been, undeniably, intertwined.
With the formation of the “Miniature American Shepherd”, there comes a new breed. Over the next few
generations, there will be a gradual shift, as the Miniature American Shepherd will become, truly, a separate
entity - no longer an Australian Shepherd, no longer a Miniature Australian Shepherd; the new generations will
become a subculture of their origins, and eventually, genetically, without continued intermingling with the
Australian Shepherd, will develop into an entirely new breed.
The proposed Miniature American Shepherd breed standard calls for a greater size separation between the breeds
- thus there will no longer be an "overlap" in size. These animals will share the same, common ancestry of the
Australian Shepherd, but over time, will lose the DNA sequences which make them Aussies today. It should be
noted that the Miniature Australian Shepherd through MASCA will remain the same as it has in years past.
WHERE DOES RUNAMOK FARM STAND?
The time has come to issue a formal statement regarding RunAmok Farm’s Aussie breeding program, and where
we, personally, stand regarding the “Miniature Australian Shepherd”.
From a working standpoint, it is our experience that larger dogs, generally, tend to wear out more quickly - both
in their daily work as well as in the number of years they are able to do their respective jobs. From a companion
standpoint, we have a smallish “hobby farm”, four children and we enjoy traveling; frankly, larger dogs would not
fit in well with our lifestyle… yet, moderately-sized Aussies fill our needs perfectly!
Neither a tiny, fragile animal, nor a large, bulky one – it is this size where the Australian Shepherd originated, and
it is this size we have purposed to produce here at RunAmok Farm. RunAmok Aussies are true Australian
Shepherds of moderate stature; the majority of our mature animals mature between 30 - 45 pounds; smaller, yes,
yet by most standards, still within reasonable ranges. A true, moderately-sized Australian Shepherd.
In order to maintain our preferred range, it is clear some variation must naturally occur. A percentage of our
resulting puppies will, inevitably, overlap the upper ranges of the "Miniature" Australian Shepherd – meaning that
we, technically, have produced and will continue to produce “Miniature” Australian Shepherds...
Regardless of name, RunAmok Farm breeds Australian Shepherds. Our goal is to produce beautiful animals while
maintaining the working integrity of our chosen breed. It is our opinion that bloodlines trump "Registries" or
"breed clubs", as the focus has shifted, in many cases, to looks (eye-candy) versus fitness for purpose and function.
We are not members of MASCA, NAMASCUSA, TASCA or any other "miniature" or “toy” club, though in the past
we owned Australian Shepherds which were dual registered, during a time when this was allowed. While we
appreciate the efforts of all sincered Australian Shepherd breeders, we disagree with blatant disregard for the
original Aussie’s breed standard and purpose.
The focus of many of the resultant "Miniature" breeding programs has become ridiculous in quests for
exceptionally tiny dogs, particular eye color, and (in many programs) clear, even intentional loss of herding
instinct. Our view is that we, at RunAmok Farm, wish to maintain the original size variations of the Australian
Shepherd, not to create so-called “tiny” variations which cannot hold true to the original intent and purpose of the
We love Aussies of all sizes, but believe one cannot intentionally breed animals which are vastly different from the
original standards and still maintain the integrity of the breed. It is with this line of thinking that we are very
pleased with NAMASCA’s quest to establish the Miniature American Shepherd – and wish the breeders much
success in their endeavors, and many healthy, happy puppies!
To be very clear, we have friends and associates which raise Australian Shepherds of all sizes – We adore the
Aussie, whether small or large! As for RunAmok Farm, our intent is to produce attractive, family-oriented,
intuitive, naturally-reared, moderately-sized Aussies with appropriate work ethic… and that, my friends, is what
we do best.
Wishing those who have struggled through this dreary article a truly beautiful day!
Jaque (and the RunAmok tribe of Dan!)
Praise be to God!
Photos & information:
|"Everything has been
amazing! She has yet to
have an accident, slept
through the night, has
been eating up all her
food and is fitting in
perfectly with our
family. She is such a
lover and we are
enjoying every moment
Thanks for raising such
a great dog! She will be
very loved! Gina"
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