There is technically only one size of Australian Shepherd: Standard. That’s it. There’s just one Aussie. However, with the rise in designer dogs, there is a rise in “Mini Aussies” and even “Toy Aussies.” So what are the differences? Are Mini Aussies still Aussies?
The standard Aussie you know and love is typically between 18-23 inches tall at the withers (shoulder blades). This equals about knee-high. Most Aussies weigh around 50 pounds, with some as little as 40 pounds and some as high as 65 pounds. Many show and agility dogs today have been bred on the smaller end of the spectrum while many farm dogs are still larger sized.
The Mini Aussie, also known today as the North American Shepherd or the Miniature American Shepherd, had a breed club formed in 1990. Many minis are actually purebred Aussies, but selective breeding for the smallest of each litter has made them “travel sized.” Some minis are actually mixes with shelties and other smaller breeds to keep the general Aussie look in a smaller package. Minis range from 13-18 inches at the withers (shoulders), and typically weight 20-35 pounds. Purist Aussie enthusiasts point out the smaller muzzle/head shapes and overall dainty bone structure.
While Toy Aussies are cute, they usually have little-to-no Australian Shepherd in them. Instead, they are often a mix of Papillion, Chihuahua, Sheltie, and other small breeds to give them the Aussie coloring and longer-haired look in a tiny body. They usually have toy-breed characteristics, including domed heads and dainty bodies. Toys would never be a working dog and also often have personalities closer to their toy-breed counterparts than true Aussies. Toy Aussies can be as small as 8-15 pounds.