All You Need to Know About the Toy Aussie Breed
Origin & History of Toy Aussies
Toy Aussies have been bred to be even smaller than Mini Aussies but share the same interesting lineage and history.
The Australian Shepherd, despite its name, is not actually from Australia. The breed was developed in California in the 19th century as a sheep herding dog for shepherds in the state. They were created from a mix of different sheepdogs with different working qualities that were imported to California at the time, including Collie dogs from New Zealand and Australia, hence the name.
Their closest relatives are thought to be the Border Collie, with whom they share many similar traits. The Aussie Shepherd was virtually unknown outside of the farming industry until the mid 20th century, when the breed was made popular by a famous rodeo performer called Jay Lister, whose beloved Aussie entertained crowds with his impressive array of tricks around the country.
They soon became popular companion dogs. Around this time, Miniature Aussies were also being developed. In the 1960s, a woman named Doris Cordova, also from California, began breeding Aussies with the goal of making them smaller for easier housing and travel.
One of her Mini Aussies, Spike, was placed with Aussie lovers Bill and Sally Kennedy. They instantly fell in love with the dog and continued to breed Minis. A horseman and fellow dog breeder called Chas Lasater of Valhalla Kennels also began to breed Mini Aussies. Lasater, Cordova, and the Kennedys are considered instrumental in the Mini Aussie’s creation. As they were still relatively rare, several clubs promoted them, and they gradually became popular in their own right.
Australian Shepherds were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1979, and Mini Australian Shepherds were recognized separately by the AKC in 2015. Both remain incredibly popular dogs today, with Aussies ranking 17th out of 193 breeds according to the AKC, and Mini Aussies ranking 34th.
Although they are most commonly kept as beloved pets, both breeds also still work as herding dogs and commonly compete in dog shows and dog sports because of their striking beauty, high intelligence, and innate herding talents.
Breeding & Puppies
Pregnancy can be difficult for Toy-sized Aussie mothers because of the pressure it puts on their little bodies.
For the same reason, dystocia or difficult birth is not uncommon in Toy dogs, and many end up needing cesarean sections. So, breeders should familiarize themselves with the signs of dystocia in dogs and be aware of the nearest vet hospital just in case of an emergency. Breeders should also never breed two merle Aussies together as it can have bad consequences on the health of their puppies, in particular their sight and hearing. Similarly, the buyer should always inquire about the lineage of any merle puppies that they are interested in buying. This is why it is so important to find a professional breeder that is very careful with breeding practices and who truly understands the breed. We see too many puppy mills just trying to make a buck, and we guarantee that will never happen under our name. Having a veterinarian as a breeder is what makes our business top notch!
Toy Aussies tend to be born into litters of 3-5 puppies and weigh 1-2 ounces at birth. They are considered fully grown between 18 months-2 years old. Despite their intelligence, shepherd dogs can take a little longer to mature emotionally than other breeds, but naughty behaviors can be curbed with early training and socialization.
Appearance of Toy Aussies
The average Toy Aussie is around 10-14 inches tall and weighs between 12-17 lbs depending on the gender of the dog.
They are athletically built with beautiful collie-like faces and triangular ears.
They also have Collie-like coats with neck roughs and feathery back ends, legs, and tails.
Aussie coats are medium in length and their fur can be straight or wavy. There are four main coat colors:
However, we do see other uncommon coat colors occasionally- Harlequin (a form of merle), Rainbow (all colors), Sable, & Brown. These uncommon coat colors are due to a genetic disposition while in utero.
Common markings include facial blazes, defined eyebrows, and white patches on the chest, tummy, legs, feet, and tail-tips.
Merle coats have mesmerizing silver-colored speckles and many dogs with merle coats also have bright blue eyes.
Sometimes we see tri coats with blue eyes, and that is rare, making them a bit pricier.
Personality of Toy Aussies
Like all shepherd dogs, Toy Australian Shepherds are hyperactive, playful, sociable, and very intelligent.
They’re faithful, affectionate, and protective of their loved ones, and have an affinity with children and older people.
Aussie dogs are also very friendly with strangers and get on well with other dogs and pets.
They’re enthusiastic, good-natured dogs and not known to be aggressive, although they can be vocal because of their working background. Aussies are also happiest when they have a job to do. Their high energy and high intelligence mean that they get bored and lonely very easily. This can result in destructive behaviors, so mental stimulation and social interaction are just as important as daily walks for this breed!
Training Your Toy Aussie
Toy Aussies are clever and highly trainable, but that doesn’t mean that training is always easy,
as they have a stubborn streak and a low tolerance for boredom. Owners should start training as early as possible and build a bond to make them eager to please you. To avoid boredom, you should keep training sessions short and fun. They should also be clear and consistent to avoid confusion and stubborn behavior. Positive reinforcement should always be the dominant force. The use of a behavioral marker before praise such as a clicker will speed up the learning process and any negative signals such as the word “no” will have to be used consistently with a bad association, like being ignored, to be effective. Bad behaviors in Aussie pups should be tackled quickly as habits die hard in this breed. Things that Aussie owners may have to particularly focus on include instinctive nipping, excessive woofing, and separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can be tackled by occupying the mind, leaving your dog for short periods of time that get gradually longer and creating lots of positive associations with being apart. As with all breeds, socialization should also be a priority, and it should happen and early and as often as possible. Socialization can be done at home by inviting close friends and family over, dogs included, to meet your pup. You should also try to interact with as many friendly people and dogs as possible on walks.
Are Toy Aussies Good Family Dogs?
Toy Aussies love family life and make brilliant family dogs. They like to be involved in all aspects of family life and make great playmates for children. Aussies should also get on well with other family dogs and pets.
That being said, they are a little snappy during puppyhood, more so than other breeds because of their herding instincts. All children should be taught the importance of gentleness and kindness towards animals; no shouting, teasing or pulling on whiskers and fur. Thankfully, all of our puppies are well socialized from the time they are born until the time that they go home to their new families. Two of our team members have children that love and play with our puppies regularly.
More Info About Toy Aussies
Toy Aussies bark. A LOT. It is in their genetic makeup to bark. If you can't handle a dog barking, this is not the breed for you. They can be trained to not bark "as much", but they are still going to bark. We see too many dogs going to new homes, shelters, or even euthanized because their owner thought they were "bad" because they chewed the chair leg, or barked at every movement, or nipped at the heels of family members. If at ANYTIME you are unhappy with a toy aussie that you adopt from us, we will 100% take the dog back - NO QUESTIONS!
Toy Aussies are known to be medium to high energy dogs. However, we typically breed for low-mid energy dogs.
They are extremely smart and want a purpose. They need plenty of exercise. They remain active throughout adulthood, so be prepared to go on plenty of walks or throw the ball for many many years!
Toy Aussies shed. They have a very generous coat. With that being said, they need to be brushed and groomed regularly.
Toy Aussies average life span is 13-16 years, but can live longer depending on the health of the dog in adulthood.
IF YOU HAVE ANY OTHER QUESTIONS ABOUT TOY AUSSIES, PLEASE DON'T HESITATE TO ASK US!