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Frequently Asked Questions.

What's the difference between a Miniature Australian Shepherd or North American Shepherd or a Royal Basque Shepherd ?

Good question and actually they are the same breed. the North American Shepherd Club doesn't exist anymore. They are now the North American Miniature Australian Shepherd Club of the United States. Many Registries and Clubs register Miniature Aussie. MASCA, NSDR and NAMASCUSA are the most prominent and reputable.font color="red">

Do Aussies shed ?

Yes. They blow their coats spring and fall but a vigorous brushing can take care of alot of it. Shedding can also be reduced dramatically by giving your dog one (1) tablespoon of cod liver oil or halibut liver oil once a day.

How much grooming is required ?

Minis require little grooming compared to other breeds. A good brisk brush once a week is sufficient. After bathing them, make sure to rinse them well as a soapy residue will irritate their skin. Nails should be trimmed regularly.

How much exercise is required ?

I'd say they fall into the med/high level as far as exercise go. I find that Aussies are love to walk, run, jump and play. Another canine playmate does wonders too. And do keep in mind, MOST Aussies that are labelled *hyper* can usually be traced back to inadequate exercise.

What kind of food should I feed my Mini Aussie ?

There are as many brand preferences as there are Mini Aussie breeders, but there are some generalizations that can be made. Many breeders I know have had good success with premium dry type foods (Purina, Pro Plan, Nutro, Eagle, Natures Recipe, etc.) because they contain high quality ingredients like real meats instead of meat meal and because they minimize the amount of purines, corn meal, soy meal, meat by-products and preservatives. The dog seems to make better use of the premium brand foods, therefore generating less fecal waste. I personally recommend Nutro Maintenance Formula. It promotes slower growth yet adequate protein. Aussies do not generally require canned dog food, however, it is sometimes useful in encouraging the finicky eater. As a Breeder I do not feed my pups any kind of Puppy Food. They are on Adult Dry from the age of three weeks on mixed with hot water initially to make a mash of course.

What is the average life span ?

With proper care, your Aussie could live as long as 16 years. The average life span is between 11 and 13 years.

Are Minis good with children and other pets ?

Normally yes, but children must be taught to treat a dog with respect and kindness at all times. The average Mini Aussie is very tolerant of and affectionate with young chidren. If you have young chidren I would highly recommend you get a puppy as opposed to an adult. Most Minis are good with other dogs but I have found over the years that some of them are not very tolerant of cats.

Do Mini Aussies make good apartment dogs ?

Don't be put off, you can still have a Mini Aussie in your life if you're willing (and able) to walk your dog during the week and have access to an open area where he can be set loose (provided he is off-lead trained) to let off steam on weekends. Make friends with dog owners who have fenced yards. A Mini Aussie looks great trotting alongside a bicycle and just think of the attention you'll attract while you both stay fit. Your dog will enjoy and benefit from long daily walks.

Are Aussies hyper ?

Most Mini Aussies are very active and if they are ignored or not excercised enough they can become high strung and *hyper*. Obedience training is extremely important in order that your dog to learn boundaries and do what is expected of him/her. Poorly bred Aussies may be genetically predisposed to having excessive hyperactive or even neurotic behavrior ( one more reason to buy your pup from a reputable breeder).

Should my Aussie be crate trained ?

Many people think it is cruel to keep a dog in a crate even for reasonable amounts of time. However, when properly trained, a pup sees his crate as his space, his own room. Due to the highly active and easily bored nature of the typical Aussie, it is not a good idea to give him/her free run of the house in your absence until he/she is an adult. Most breeders recommend that your dog be crate trained in order to protect your valuables and to protect your dog. Crate training is also an excellent beginning to house training. Fresh water should be supplied to pups at all times, even when they are crated. They should not be crated over too long a period of time, since concentration of the urine could lead to stone formation. For more information on crate training rad my crate training link.

Should I consider breeding my Mini Aussie ?

In addition to the information found within there is the unique Mini Aussie problems of deafness, eye problems and hip dysplasia. Breeding Aussies brings the added responsibility of dealing with these issues. Most breeders agree that all deaf pups be humanely euthanized, not placed in homes. In all my years of breeding Dalmatians I have had six deaf pups and placed five of them. The one I had to euthanize showed signs of aggression at an early age. All responded well to training except one and she was eventually put down. If you decide to tackle the task of breeding your Mini Aussie , you must be prepared and able to deal with the consequences of whelping a deaf or blind puppy and having it euthanized or finding a responsible home for it. In addition, should you decide to breed, make sure that you understand Aussie genetic. Since genetic defects are passed on to the offspring, both parents should be excellent breed specimens, reasonably free of genetic defects . If you’re considering breeding, makes sure your dogs are of good enough quality, physically and mentally. And last but not least discuss the prospect of breeding with the breeder when you initially purchase your pup. Many breeders will not give breeding rights with their pups unless certain standards are met and be prepared to pay a higher price.

Do Mini Aussies like to swim ?

Some like the water and some don't. . If yours swims a lot, pay attention to his ears. Wet ears can trigger a painful ear infection.

Should I buy a male or female ?

Which sex to buy is a matter of personal preference and circumstance. If you are interested in breeding, you would have to buy a female. However, if you are not interested in having a litter, you either have to put up with the inconvenience of your female coming into season every six months or the expense of having her spayed (which is usually more expensive than having a male neutered). Any female not designated by the breeder as suitable for breeding should be spayed. Male dogs lift their legs to urinate and if you have prize-winning flowers in your yard, you may not appreciate that. An un-neutered male will also become a screaming lunatic when neighborhood females are in season. However, as with females, if your male is not to be used for breeding, he should be neutered and that will solve that problem. As far as personality differences between the sexes, different dogs have different personalities and kinds of temperament, and each dog is an individual. There are no hard and fast correlations between one sex or the other as regards affection, aggression or docility. Contrary to popular myth, many breeders find that males are more affectionate than females and females are more aloof, as well as more protective and territorial than males. Much of your dog's personality will depend upon how you raise him or her, what you expect, encourage or discourage in terms of behavior, and the kind of environment the dog experiences.

So, in many ways, it is a toss-up. You should purchase whichever sex you want, as both have advantages and disadvantages. Again, if you purchase a pet quality dog, please have it spayed or neutered. It will not make the dog fat and it will not change its personality. It will simply save you a lot of worry about the possibility of an unwanted litter, as well as the whining and carrying-on that goes with seasonal behavior.

Is there a difference between blue merle, red merle, black tri, red tri ?

From the standpoint of pet ownership or showing, there is no difference; it is all a matter of your own color preference. Many people who think they have their hearts set on buying a blue merle fall in love with a black tri one when they see it.

For breeding purposes, all colors are interbreedable but it is not a wise idea to breed merle to merle.

What eye color is preferred ?

Aussies eyes are quite varied. They can be black, brown, hazel, blue or a combination of any of the above. One blue eye is quite common. Blue eyes are not a sign of weakness as many think. It is just a color and nothing more. I have found over the years that the blue eyed pups are usually the first to sell. They are quite attractive.

At what age can I begin training my pup ?

Most breeders start with training almost as soon as the puppy can stand up. The puppy is handled a lot and taught to stand right from the start. He is given lots of praise for holding still. At this early age, of course, training is kept very short and undemanding but it does teach the puppy to stand still and allow itself to be handled. More rigorous training can begin in a handling class when the pup is 4 or 5 months old.

Formal obedience training normally does not begin in earnest until the youngster is 5 or 6 months old. At that age, the puppy can start learning and retaining basic lessons. Some organizations have "kindergarten" classes for very young (2-4 months old) puppies, which make use of the puppy's natural curiosity and retrieving instinct to prepare for more advanced obedience work. These classes are informal, fun, and kept short so the puppies do not become bored or frustrated. They are wonderful for socializing your puppy, too. Any kind of training should be geared to the individual dog's ability and attention span.

Bring your Mini Aussie along slowly and gently and never ask him to do something of which he is incapable, or which he does not understand. Do not lose your temper ! Be firm and consistent in your training methods and lavish praise on your dog when he does it right. The result will be an eager, happy dog who looks forward to his work and wants to please you.