Australian Shepherd Breed Standard
The Aussie and Mini Aussie Dog Breed
Standards Have a (Small)
Aussie vs. Mini Aussie Breed Standard
Although Aussies and Mini Aussies
are considered to be separate breeds the
Breed Standard is effectively the same for both except,
of course, for the size requirements.
This information should be read as applying to both
except where specifically noted otherwise.
The Australian Shepherd is a medium sized dog (Minis, small to medium), slightly longer
than tall. He exhibits the characteristics of an exceptional herding
dog: strength, stamina, alertness, quick reflexes and remarkable
agility. The Aussie should not appear cumbersome or fragile but
of medium bone. Masculinity or femininity should be apparent in
either sex. Another identifying feature of Aussies is their natural
or docked bobtail. The coat is moderate in length and coarseness
and there is a range of acceptable colors and patterns allowing
for great variety and individuality.
Bred as a working stock dog Aussies have strong herding and guarding
instincts. They are exceptionally intelligent and loyal making
great companions. Australian Shepherds are tireless and enthusiastic
workers. Due to their protective nature they can be reserved with
strangers but should not present as shy. Although they dominate
their herds assertively, aggression or viciousness is not acceptable
in the breed standard.
The head is clean cut, strong and dry. The size should be proportionate
to the size of the body. The top line of the skull should be parallel
to the line of the muzzle when viewed from the side. According
to the breed standard the muzzle should be equal to or slightly
shorter than the back scull in length with well defined stop,
minimal tapering and rounded at the tip of the nose.
Expression: The expression should convey intelligence,
eagerness and a friendly demeanor in its keen gaze.
Eyes: The almond shaped eyes can be brown, blue
or amber with combinations. Flecks and marbling of colors are
acceptable. Eyes should not be either prominent or sunken. Pupils
should be dark, clearly defined and well positioned. Eyes should
express intelligence and attentiveness.
with beautiful blue/brown
marbling in eyes.
We adopted Jessie (3
years old) from Forgotten Friends Mixed Breed Rescue. He
is a pure bred Red Merle with exotic blue/brown eyes. He
had hip surgery early in life (2.5 years) and is a great
addition to our family. Yes he guards me, (mom) and was
a bit protective of me from my own family, but we've remedied
that with everyone taking part in his care. ~ Carol Killgore,
Austin, TX, USA
Send In Pics of
Blue merles and blacks have black pigmentation around eye rims
with black noses and lips while red merles and reds have liver
or brown coloring in these areas. In red merles and reds it is
permissible to have pink spots on the nose but they should not
cover more than 25% of the area in dogs over one year old.
Ears: The triangular ears are set high on the
head and should not be prick or hanging. When at attention the
ears fall forward or to the side. For acceptable length the rounded
tip of the moderatedly sized ear should reach around to the inside
corner of the eye.
Teeth: A full compliment of strong white teeth
should meet in a scissor or level bite and may not be undershot
or overshot by more than 1/8 inch. More than this would be a disqualification.
Teeth that are broken or missing as a result of accident are not
penalized under the breed standard.
Neck and Body
The medium length neck is strong and firm and is in proportion
to the rest of the body. It is slightly arched at the crest and
fits well into the shoulders. The Aussie has a firm body with
a level topline from withers to hip joints and a moderately sloping
The deep chest and well sprung ribs appear well balanced and
strong without being barrel chested or slab-sided. There is a
moderate tuck-up in the bottom line.
As per breed standard the straight tail is not to be longer than
four inches whether it is a natural bobtail or docked.
Shoulder blades are long, flat and close set at the withers.
They are well laid back at about 45 degrees. The upper arm is
at approximately 90 degrees to the shoulder line with legs dropping
straight down perpendicular to the ground.
The elbow is about the same distance from the ground as it is
to the withers. Legs are straight and strong with oval bones.
Pasterns are of medium length, thick and strong with a slight
Feet are oval in shape with close-knit and well-arched toes.
Pads are thick and durable with strong nails. Dewclaws may be
Hindquarters and forequarters at the shoulders are about the
same width. The angulation of the pelvis and upper thigh corresponds
to the angulation of the shoulder blade and upper arm forming
an approximate right angle. Stifles are clearly defined and hock
joints are moderately bent.
Metatarsi are short and perpendicular to the ground. They should
be parallel when viewed from the rear. Feet are oval in shape
with close-knit and well-arched toes. Pads are thick and durable
with strong nails. Dewclaws must be removed.
The coat has a medium texture and has straight to slightly wavy
hair. The quantity of the undercoat varies with climate. The hair
on the head, outside of ears, front of forelegs and below the
hocks is short and smooth.
The backs of the forelegs are moderately feathered and the britches
are moderately full. Moderate mane and frill that is more pronounced
in dogs than in bitches. Non-typical coats are considered severe
faults in the breed standard.
Acceptable colors are solid black, solid red (liver), blue merle
and red merle. These may all include white markings and/or tan
(copper) points. There is no order of preference for colors. The
blue merle and black have black pigmentation on the nose, lips
and eye-rims while red merle and red have liver pigmentation in
A butterfly nose is not considered a fault under one year of
age. No matter which color the areas surrounding the ears and
eyes must be predominantly colored and cannot be white.
White coloring between the withers and tail and between the elbows
and hindquarters on the sides (white body splashes), other than
recognized colors and Dudley nose (pink coloration of nose leather)
are disqualifications under the breed standard.
(For more information on white coloration in merle patterned
Aussies read the article Homozygous
"Lethal White" Merles.)
The gait is smooth, free and easy. It is very agile, well-balanced
with a ground covering stride. The fore and hind legs move straight
and parallel to the center line of the body. As speed increases
both the front and rear feet converge toward the center line of
gravity while the topline stays firm and level. The agility of
the the Aussie allows them to change speed, direction and gait
Australian Shepherd: Breed standard referred
height at the withers for males is 20 to 23 inches, for females
18 to 21 inches. However quality should not be compromised in
favor of size.
North American Miniature Australian Shepherd: Breed standard preferred height at the withers for males is 14
to 18 inches, for females 14 to under 18 inches. However quality
should not be compromised in favor of size. Under 14 inches at
the withers is considered a disqualification.
Other Breed Standard Disqualifications
Australian Shepherd: Monorchidism and cryptorchidism.
North American Miniature Australian Shepherd: Toy-like characteristics (i.e. domed head, bulging eyes, fine
bone), monorchidism or cryptorchidism.
For further reading:
Homozygous "Lethal White"
Kennel Club: Australian Shepherd Breed Standard > (AKC)
Club of America > (ASCA)
States Australian Shepherd Association > (USASA)
North American Miniature Australian Shepherd:
Australian Shepherd Club of America > (MASCA)
Miniature Australian Shepherd Club of the USA > (NAMASCUSA)
American Rare Breeds
Association > (ARBA)
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