The aussie comes in either tri/bi’s or merles. The tri has a solid colored body -red or black-with copper & white points. The Bi has either a body color of red or black with white points-no copper. The merle has a pattered coat with white & copper points. The merle can either be red or blue. When breeding the aussie you should never breed a merle to a merle as you have a chance of producing pups that are white around the eyes &/or have white inner ears. These problems lead to eye problems & hearing loss .
The reason that some breeders still will breed a merle to a merle is in order to get more merle patterned pups. You can also have a 50% chance of a merle pup being homogeneous for the merle gene- meaning when bred this merle pup will only have merle pups. I guess you have to ask yourself what you would do - take the chance for more color & possibly have flawed pups that someone will eventually have to deal with or be a responsible breeder & breed responsibly.
The following are links to sites that really go into depth on aussie colors & genetics. They have answered a lot of my questions & will hopefully answer any that you may have. The bottom link-showhorsepromotions I have found very useful when picking out my future breeding stock when it comes to figuring out if they are red factored or not.
http://color.ashgi.org/color/index.com (fixed this link-July 8/14 as it had been moved!)
The mini aussie varies is size from 14”-18” at the shoulder. Some registries allow 13”-17”. Because the mini actually is bred using the same bloodlines as the standard size aussie we sometimes will have a pup that grows bigger than the mini allowed size. The toy aussie matures from 10” -14” , with the teacup being smaller yet. All of these dogs come from herding ancestors & act a lot alike --- they just come in different sizes. We decided to concentrate on the mini size as they are a good size for in the house, traveling in the truck & yet are big enough to work cattle with us. We find them to be our perfect breed & the best part is that they come loaded with tons of personality!
The Miniature Australian Shepherd is an active dog that is truly people focused-- they are happiest when they are with their family & participating whether it be jogging, herding cattle/sheep, disc/ball throwing, obedience training, agility or just plain playing or hanging out in front of the t.v. they want to be there. I find that as active as the mini aussie is , they do have an awesome off switch when I bring them into the house. Just happy to lay there & keep an eye on where you are or be your shadow as you move around .
The aussie is a very smart dog & the great thing is he is a born people pleaser so that they learn very quickly. I have had customers say that within the first week their puppy was already doing tricks. It is just like everything else we do -------- the more time & effort you put into training your puppy the better dog you will end up with. I really do recommend that you spend sometime training your pup in basic obedience as they are an active breed . You need to maintain some balance ---- for you & your families sake as well as the dog. On the positive side you will reap the rewards as these pups are quick learners & as I’ve said before ---- they are people pleasers.
I’ve had a few people ask me as to whether these dogs do good in the city. We have had quite a few pups go to city dwellers & they have really enjoyed them. If you are an active family that likes to participate in the great outdoors you will absolutely love these dogs. They make great jogging companions, love to go on hikes, mine absolutely love going out when I am on the quad checking cows. Talk about water dogs- them pups love to swim- mine are always jumping into the dug outs to cool off in the summer- Hip even will lay down in my pond that I have in the garden!! I also had someone comment that they sure were glad that their tails were docked--- saved having to rescue flying objects from off of the coffee table.
As to shedding/coat care- the aussie does grow a longer outer coat twice a year. I haven’t really had a problem with shedding except with my older male Jack who has an extremely heavy coat. In the late spring I usually have to brush him out- I have seen some breeders clip their dogs if they are living in extreme heat. But Jack is the only dog out of my crew that needs to be groomed , the rest are fine. Generally speaking the male aussie is supposed to have a heavier coat than the females, but so far I have found Wil to be pretty much on par with the girls--- just does lose his coat as much as they do due to heat cycles. If you are worried about having them in your home I would say a quick brush once a week should take care of shedding for you.
( We used to have a Dalmatian when the kids were little & talk about shed--- You could find fine white hairs off of that dog weaved right into the couch cushion!!! Reminds me of one of our neighbors who once told his wife that she had a cat stuck to her butt after she stood up off of a couch that a friends cat usually occupied. Talk about gross! Needless to say , you will hardly notice the little amount that the mini aussie may shed..)
We use out adult dogs on cattle & they have an amazing amount of herding ability. If anything , it is my lack of knowledge that is holding them back. They are quick to learn & really want to work. Once you have them in the corral with you, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without them before. I use them a lot to move a group out of one pen & into another, same as in the pasture. I find them to be really good motivation when it comes to getting the bulls to move out in the pasture- we all know how hard it can be to get those stubborn guys in action. I am going to be taking the girls out for herding training this fall on sheep. That will probably be interesting as we have only worked cattle so far. Hoping to take them out for trials eventually. Will try to get some videos of them as our training progresses to put on our web site. So stay tuned for that!!
The following are links to various Miniature Australian Shepherd breed sites.
HEALTH - DNA TESTS EXPLAINED
I’ve been meaning to add this info to my site ever since we got our DNA tests back from the Genomia lab in the Czech Republic. It’s been a bit of a learning curve for me, but hopefully the following should clear up any confusion or question that you should have. I have also included links to various medical sites that will have a more in depth explanation for those that really like to know all of the ins & outs!
MDR1 - Multiple Drug Resistance 1
MDR1 is a mutation of a gene which causes sensitivity to a variety of drugs. Dogs who test positive or that are n/p -carriers - could react to these drugs. They have a problem absorbing the drugs- the drug goes into their brains- fails to be transported out & builds up to toxic levels which can cause serious neurological problems including seizures & sometimes death.
This gene shows up in the Shetland Sheepdogs (Shelties), Australian Shepherds, Old English Sheepdogs, English Shepherds, German Shepherds, Long-haired Whippets, Silken Windhounds, and a variety of mixed breed dogs& herding bred dogs. We have tested our breeding dogs, so if one or both of the parents of your pup should have the following result MDR1 - n/p or p/p -please take the precaution of copying the following drugs & giving the list to your vet to NOT use on your dog. As long as you take the precaution, your dog should not have any problems. If both parents are n/n - then your pup will also be negative & free of this mutated gene.
Ivermectin (antiparasitic agent).
Acepromazine (tranquilizer and pre-anesthetic agent)
Butorphanol (analgesic and pre-anesthetic agent)
Loperamide (ImodiumTM; antidiarrheal agent)
Selamectin, milbemycin, and moxidectin (antaparasitic agents)
Vincristine, Vinblastine, Doxorubicin (chemotherapy agents)
The following link really breaks down the different drugs & I really recommend going to it. They also list a couple of other drugs that they suggest that should be monitored if administrated to your dog.
To test or not to test for MDR1 ???
Personally, if I had a pet pup & I know the results of the parents tests, & if one or both of the parents tested either n/p or p/p, I would not bother doing the test BUT would take all precautions & make sure that my vet(s) have a copy of the drugs in question. If I did not know the results of the parents or the parents of my pup had NOT been tested I would again - TAKE THE PRECAUTION- DON’T USE THE LISTED DRUGS!!!
If you are a breeder- take the time to get them tested. Eventually, with educated breeding, we will hopefully eventually end up free of this mutated gene.
Of course, if it will make you feel better, you can perform the cheek swab test yourself & send it into a certified lab. The following is a link to the website for Genomia Labs, which is the lab that performed the tests on my dogs http://www.genomia.cz/en/ .
PRCD -Progressive Rod-Cone Degeneration
The genetic disorder Progressive Rod-Cone Degeneration-Progressive Retinal Atrophy, causes cells in the retina at the back of the eye to degenerate and die, even though the cells seem to develop normally early in life. The result is declining vision and eventual blindness. The “rod” cells operate in low light levels and are the first to lose normal function. Night blindness results. Then the “cone” cells gradually lose their normal function in full light situations. Most affected dogs will eventually go blind. It’s important to remember that not all retinal disease is PRA and not all PRA is the prcd form of PRA. DNA testing will make the diagnosis, prior to the onset of disease.
Prcd-PRA is inherited as a recessive trait in most cases. This means a disease gene must be inherited from each parent in order to cause disease in an offspring. A dog that has tested positive (p/p) or is a carrier (n/p) should ONLY be bred to a negative n/n dog. If bred to another dog that has tested positive/carrier- the resulting offspring could also end up being positive & could loose their sight to PRCD - PRA. A dog that is a carrier will not be affected by the disease, but can pass it on to their offspring, which is why it should only be bred to a neg. tested dog.
Our dogs have been DNA tested for PRCD & are either negative or carriers. If they are carriers- they will only be bred to negative tested dogs. Ensuring that we will eventually be eliminating it from the breed. Some of you may question why we would even consider breeding a carrier- you have to factor in the whole dog into the equation. If you were to limit your program to only negative tested dogs, you would possibly be eliminating a lot of good qualities that you are trying to add to your dogs. If you do your breeding selectively for positive traits, while taking your test results into consideration it will be to the betterment of the breed.
You can check out a bit more info on PRCD at the following link
HSF4 - Hereditary Cataracts
Cataracts are the most common eye disease in Australian Shepherds. Hereditary cataracts occur in both eyes, but may not appear at the same time. If a cataract is spotted on one eye, you should recheck 6 months- 1 year later to see if one is developing in the other eye. They begin as small opacities & advance-sometimes to the point of clouding the entire lens. Dogs will be unable to distinguish anything but extremes of light & dark. Cataract do not cause the dog any pain & usually progress slowly so that the dog adjusts to its loss of vision. In Aussies, cataracts almost never occur in young puppies. Affected dogs most commonly present signs as mature adults, although cataracts may start in early adulthood or not until old age.
Cataracts can occur for reasons other than heredity-other diseases, injury or nutritional imbalance- but these other causes are not common & should not be assumed to be the reason. If in doubt, consult a veterinary ophthalmologist.
The HSF4 gene can be tested thru a cheek swab DNA test. Our dogs have been tested for this & all came back N/N- clear. The following gives you a break down of the different results possible when testing your dog for HSF4-HC. If you breed a dog that is a carrier or positive -even to a negative dog- you will be passing on the mutated HSF4 gene. Please be smart & go for a n/n pup- it can save you a lot of heart ache in the future!
N/N-CLEAR.....Dog tested negative for the Hereditary Cataract gene mutation, and will not pass on the defective gene to its offspring.