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Miniature American Shepherd

Herding Dog Group

The goals and purposes of this breed standard include: to furnish guidelines for breeders who wish to maintain the quality of their breed and to improve it; to advance this breed to a state of similarity throughout the world; and to act as a guide for judges.

Breeders and judges have the responsibility to avoid any conditions or exaggerations that are detrimental to the health, welfare, essence and soundness of this breed, and must take the responsibility to see that these are not perpetuated.

Any departure from the following should be considered a fault, and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.

The Miniature American Shepherd was recognized by the United Kennel Club on January 1, 2015.


The Miniature American Shepherd is a small to medium size herding dog that originated in the United States with the Australian Shepherd. They are a versatile herding dog that became especially popular for their smaller size, intelligence and loyalty.

The Miniature American Shepherd was recognized by the United Kennel Club on January 1, 2015.

General Appearance

This highly versatile breed makes an excellent athlete, with superior intelligence and a willingness to please. They are a loyal companion and a biddable worker, which is evident in their alert, attentive and intelligent expression. They may be reserved and watchful of strangers.

Measuring from the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttocks, and from the highest point of the shoulder blade to the ground, they are slightly longer than tall.

Solidly built, with moderate bone in proportion to body height and size. Structure in the dog reflects masculinity without coarseness. Bitches appear feminine without being slight of bone.

Movement is smooth, easy and balanced. The breed’s exceptional agility, combined with strength and stamina, allows for working on a variety of terrain. The double coat is of moderate length and coarseness. It may be merle or solid in color, with or without white and/or tan (copper) markings. The tail is traditionally docked, or a natural bob tail.


The Miniature American Shepherd is intelligent, primarily a working dog of strong herding and guardian instincts. It is an excellent companion that is versatile and easily trained, performing its assigned tasks with style and enthusiasm. Although reserved with strangers, they do not exhibit shyness. The breed is protective, good natured, devoted and loyal to their family.


The head is clean-cut, dry and in proportion to the body.


The crown is flat to slightly round, and may show a slight occipital protuberance. Width and length of the crown are equal. The stop is moderate but defined. The muzzle is of medium width and depth, and tapers gradually to a rounded tip without appearing heavy, square, snipy or loose. Length is equal to the length of the crown. When viewed from the side, the muzzle and topline of the crown are slightly oblique to each other, with the front of the crown on a slight angle downward toward the nose.


Blacks and blue merles have black nose leather pigmentation. Reds and red merles have red (liver) nose leather pigmentation. Fully pigmented noses are preferred. Noses that are less than fully pigmented are faulted in adult dogs over one year of age.

Serious Fault: Butterfly nose in dogs over one year of age.
Disqualification: Dudley nose in dogs over one year of age.


A full complement of strong, white teeth meet in a scissors bite. Teeth broken, missing or discolored by accident are not penalized.

Disqualifications: Undershot or overshot bites. Wry mouth.


The eyes are set obliquely, are almond shaped and in proportion to the head. They are neither protruding or sunken. In all coat colors, one or both eyes may be brown, blue, hazel, amber, or any color combination thereof, including flecks and marbling.

Eye rims of blacks and blue merles have full black pigmentation. Eye rims of red and red merles have full red (liver) pigmentation.


Triangular in shape, of moderate size, set high on the head. At full attention they break forward and over, or to the side as with a rose ear.

Serious Fault: Prick ears. Ears set low that hang with no lift.

Neck, Topline and Body

The overall structure gives an impression of depth and strength, without bulkiness.

The neck is firm, clean, and in proportion to the body. It is of medium length and slightly arched at the crest, setting well into the shoulders.

The back is firm and level from the withers to the hip joint when standing or moving. The loin is strong and broad when viewed from the top. The croup is moderately sloped.

The body is firm and well-conditioned. The chest is full and deep, reaching to the elbow, with well-sprung ribs. The underline shows a moderate tuck-up.


The forequarters are well-conditioned, and balanced with the hindquarters. The shoulder blades (scapula) are long and flat, fairly close set at the withers, and well laid back. The upper arm (humerus) is equal in length to the shoulder blade and meets the shoulder blade at an approximate right angle.

The forelegs drop straight and perpendicular to the ground. The elbow joint is equidistant from the ground to the withers. Viewed from the side, the elbow should be directly under the withers. The elbows should be close to the ribs without looseness.

The legs are straight and strong, with moderate bone. Bone is oval rather than round. Pasterns are short, thick and strong, but still flexible, showing a slight angle when viewed from the side.

Feet are oval shaped and compact, with close-knit, well-arched toes. Pads are thick and resilient; nails are short and strong. The nails may be any color combination. Removal of dewclaws is preferred but not mandatory.


The width of hindquarters is approximately equal to the width of the forequarters at the shoulders. The angulation of the pelvis and upper thigh (femur) mirrors the angulation of the shoulder blade and upper arm, forming an approximate right angle.

Stifles are clearly defined. The hocks are short, perpendicular to the ground, and parallel to each other when viewed from the rear.

Feet are oval and compact, with close-knit, well-arched toes. Pads are thick and resilient; nails short and strong. The nails may be any color combination. Removal of rear dewclaws is preferred but not mandatory.


A docked or natural bob tail is preferred. A docked tail is straight, not to exceed three (3) inches. The undocked tail, when at rest, may hang in a slight curve. When excited, or in motion, the tail may be carried raised, with the curve accentuated.


Moderation is the overall impression of the coat. Hair is of medium texture, straight to wavy, weather resistant, and of moderate length. Undercoat varies in quantity with variations in climate.
Hair is short and smooth on the head and front of the legs. The backs of the forelegs and breeches are moderately feathered. There is a moderate mane and frill, more pronounced in dogs than bitches. Hair may be trimmed on the ears, feet, back of hocks, pasterns and tail; otherwise, they are to be shown in a natural coat. Untrimmed whiskers are preferred.

Serious Faults: Non-typical coats.


Coloring offers variety and individuality. With no order of preference, the recognized colors are black, blue merle, red (liver), and red merle. The merle will exhibit in any amount, marbling, flecks or blotches. The undercoat may be somewhat lighter in color than the topcoat. Asymmetrical markings are not to be faulted.

Tan markings are not required, but when present are acceptable in any or all of the following areas: around the eyes, on the feet, legs, chest, muzzle, underside of neck, face, underside of ear, underline of body, under the base of the trail and the breeches. Tan markings vary in shade from creamy beige to dark rust, with no preference. Blending with the base color or merle pattern may be present on the face, legs, feet and breeches.

White markings are not required, but when present do not dominate. White markings may be in any combination and are restricted to the muzzle, cheeks, crown, blaze on the head, the neck in a partial or full collar, chest, belly, front legs, hind legs up the hock and may extend in a thin outline of the stifle. A small amount of white extending from the underline may be visible from the side, not to exceed the withers at the skin. If a natural, undocked tail is present, the tip of the tail may have white. Ticking may be present in the white markings. White on the head does not predominate, and the eyes are fully surrounded by color and pigment.

Red merles and reds have red (liver) pigmentation on the eye rims. Blue merles and blacks have black pigmentation on the eye rims.

Ears fully covered by color are preferred.

Serious Fault: White markings covering 25% of an ear.
Disqualifications: Other than recognized colors. White body splashes, which means any conspicuous, isolated spot or patch of white on the area between the withers and tail, on back, or sides between elbows and back of hindquarters.


Smooth, free and easy; exhibiting agility of movement with a well-balanced, ground-covering stride. Fore and hind legs move straight and parallel with the center line of the body; as speed increases, the feet, both front and rear, converge toward the center line of gravity of the dog, while the topline remains firm and level.

When traveling at a trot, the head is carried in a natural position, with the neck extended forward, and the head nearly level with, or slightly above, the topline. When viewed from the side, the gait is effortless. The Miniature American Shepherd must be agile and able to turn direction or alter gait instantly.

Height & Weight

Preferred height, at the withers, for males is 14 up to, and including, 18 inches; for females it is 13 up to, and including, 17 inches. Minimum heights do not apply to individuals under six months of age.
Eliminating Faults: Males under 14 inches and over 18 inches. Females under 13 inches and over 17 inches.

Eliminating Faults

(An Eliminating Fault is a Fault serious enough that it eliminates the dog from obtaining any awards in a conformation event.)
Males under 14 inches and over 18 inches.
Females under 13 inches and over 17 inches.


(A dog with a Disqualification must not be considered for placement in a conformation event, and must be reported to UKC.)
Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid.
Viciousness or extreme shyness.
Dudley nose.
Undershot or overshot bites.
Wry mouth.
Other than recognized colors.
White body splashes, which means any conspicuous, isolated spot or patch of white on the area between the withers and tail, on back, or sides between elbows and back of hindquarters.

The docking of tails and cropping of ears in America is legal and remains a personal choice. However, as an international registry, the United Kennel Club is aware that the practices of cropping and docking have been forbidden in some countries. In light of these developments, the United Kennel Club feels that no dog in any UKC event, including conformation, shall be penalized for a full tail or natural ears.

UKC Breed Standards: Miniature American Shepherd

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