In recent times, smaller dog breeds have become very popular in families all over the world, and the same can be said of Toy Australian Shepherds.
This dog breed is known explicitly for its cuteness, high intelligence, and great family-oriented nature.
If you’re looking for a lively, loyal, and great companion dog, then you should get to know more about the Toy Aussie.
This guide is carefully prepared to help you with the essential facts, unique features, and personality of this smaller version of the Australian Shepherd and hopefully make an informed decision at the end.
What Is a Toy Australian Shepherd?
Toy Australian Shepherds are adorable, energetic, and intelligent dogs that possess most of the standard Australian Shepherd qualities in a smaller package. They originate from breeding mini and standard Australian Shepherds to achieve a smaller size and are mostly bred in the United States.
The term “Toy” that typically describes this dog is used by professional dog breeders to distinguish them from other sizes in the same breed.
Because of the increasing popularity of small dogs, breeders painstakingly work to create smaller versions of the standard Australian Shepherd. Their hard work led to the breeding of mini Aussies and, eventually, toy Aussies, which are relatively smaller.
In fact, they’ve managed to keep the best traits of herding, enthusiasm, and intelligence exhibited by the standard Australian Shepherd in the breeding process.
Are Toy, Teacup, and Mini Australian Shepherds the Same?
Although the toy, teacup, and mini Australian Shepherds all come from the standard Australian Shepherd, they still have distinct differences. The most observable difference between them is size.
The mini Aussie was first bred from smaller versions of the standard Australian Shepherd and is similar in nearly all aspects except the size. The size of the mini Aussie falls between 13 and 18 inches and weighs around 30 to 40 pounds.
Steps were then taken to go even smaller and produce a toy version of the breed.
Apart from the size of the toy Aussies, they are also different from their mini counterparts in the sense that they cannot function as full-working dogs.
However, they still retain the instinct to herd and are very active dogs. They weigh around 12 to 17 pounds and are about 10 to 14 inches.
The Toy Aussie also tends to be a little more yappy and high-strung than the other Australian Shepherd varieties. It is also more susceptible to fear-biting during a high-threat situation.
The teacup Australian Shepherd is the smallest of the Australian Shepherd breed and is more of a lap dog than a working dog.
It weighs between 4 and 8 pounds and is bred by breeding two mini Aussies of smaller sizes consistently until a smaller dog size is produced.
In summary, the Mini Aussie is bigger than the Toy Aussie, while the Toy Aussie is larger than the Teacup Aussie.
How Do Breeders Produce Toy Australian Shepherds?
Breeders originally produced the toy Australian Shepherd by mating several small-sized mini Australian Shepherds until they achieved the size they wanted. With the larger population of toy Aussies recently, it is now easier to breed by simply matching two toy Aussies together.
Another common method that breeders employ in breeding these toy dogs is crossing a standard or mini Australian Shepherd with another smaller breed like a Corgi, Pomeranian, or Sheltie. If the breeding takes place under healthy conditions for both parents, the litter produced will be impressive.
Why Is Breeding Toy Australian Shepherd Considered Controversial?
After breeding the mini Australian Shepherd succeeded, breeders proceeded to produce even smaller dogs – the toy Aussie. It was at this point that things started to become confusing.
To start, the toy Australian Shepherd is supposed to be smaller than the mini Aussie. Although this is true in most cases, it’s not true in all cases.
These pooches are not all identical in terms of their builds. Some toy Aussies are slimmer, and others have a slightly heavier build.
What that actually means is that some toy Aussies may still be tagged under the “toy” category but be quite larger than their mini counterparts such that when you see them together, they would seem to fall under the same category.
Furthermore, the fact that the toy Aussie could no longer function effectively as a working dog has become a subject of concern. Unlike the toy Aussie, most mini Aussies can also be used as herding dogs, just like how standard Australian dogs are.
This loss in the toy Aussie’s ability to function adequately as a working dog can be attributed to excessive inbreeding techniques used by some breeders. In spite of this, toy Aussies are still generally considered active dogs.
Another controversial subject about toy Aussies is their susceptibility to certain health issues, which are rarely found in their larger cousins. Veterinarians believe this is also due to improper inbreeding techniques, as well.
As a result of these issues, the Toy Aussie breed is not generally accepted by all. Some purists of the breed argue that breeders should stop producing them since they can’t retain all the standard Aussies’ traits.
Others believe that if they are well trained and given frequent healthcare, they would be just as fine as the standard ones.
Toy Australian Shepherd Appearance
A toy Aussie looks very similar to a mini or standard Australian Shepherd, especially with its medium-length coat that is slightly wavy or straight.
Its coat colors can be red or blue merle, red or black tricolor, and white or tan markings. You’ll never see a Toy Aussie with white hair around their ears or eyes.
Thanks to their fur, they survive so well in cold climates. The dog’s body is longer than its height at the shoulders, and the chest and ribcage are fairly developed.
The toy Aussie’s legs are straight, and the feet are a little arched, with the back legs having a well-defined posture that gives the dog a ready-for-action look. The lower body and the legs are coated with slightly longer hair, known as furnishings.
The neck is proportionate to the body, flowing naturally into the strong shoulders of the toy Aussie. The head is held high while walking but often held lower when working livestock.
The eyes can have various colors, including amber, brown, blue, and flecked, but they still look slightly almond-shaped, very sharp, and alert.
The ears of this breed are held high, and they form full triangles with slightly rounded tips. Also, a small portion of their ear should fold forward.
Ears that do not remain upright or with no fold are often considered disadvantageous in show dogs.
Toy Australian Shepherds can be born with a very short, natural bobtail, or the tail is docked when they’re just a few days old.
You can check this video to appreciate better what a toy Aussie looks like:
Toy Australian Shepherd Size & Weight
Toy Australian Shepherds do not get taller than 14 inches at the shoulder. Their height typically ranges between 10 and 14 inches.
The typical Toy Aussie weighs around 12 to 17 pounds.
How Many Colors Are Available for the Toy Australian Shepherd?
Toy Australian Shepherds have similar coat colors to the standard Australian Shepherds.
They officially come in four recognized coat colors, which include black, red, blue merle, and red merle. Any other colors than these four are most probably mixed with other breeds.
Although these colors are the major color groups, each has many variations.
Black Toy Australian Shepherds
Black-colored toy Aussies can come in four variations, each with different markings. The four variations include black bicolor, solid black, black and tan, and tricolor.
This stands for black bicolor, including many dogs with just black and white color. Most time, a toy Aussie will have white markings on the face, chest, belly, and legs. The white marks will appear in points but without copper marks.
This version of the toy Aussie has no white or copper marks around its body. Sometimes you’ll see a hint of white on the chest of this dog. It is the least common among black Aussies.
Black and Tan
These pooches mainly have black coats with tan or copper highlights around the face, chest, and legs.
This version is one of the most popular among black Toy Aussies. Most of the time, the black coat is highlighted with white markings on the face, belly, chest, and legs.
Also, tan or copper highlights can sometimes be seen on the face and legs. When this occurs, you have a black tri toy Aussie.
Red Toy Australian Shepherds
Red-colored Toy Aussies come in three variations. The variations in this color group are red bicolor, red tricolor, and solid red.
Only a few toy Aussies come in red and white colors. These canines have a red base coat with white face, chest, and legs highlights.
Most of the time, you’ll find red toy Aussies with a hint of copper or tan. Notwithstanding, they may be classified as red and white dogs.
This version has a red base, which may range from light cinnamon to a dark liver color. They also have white markings on the face, chest, belly, and legs. You’ll also see copper highlights on their face and legs.
This color is the rarest of all red toy Aussies. Red is a recessive gene for Australian Shepherds, and a pure red Aussie is said to be bred usually out of accident rather than intentionally.
Blue Merle Toy Australian Shepherds
The Blue Merle Toy Aussie also comes in four versions: blue merle tricolor, blue merle bicolor, blue merle and tan, and solid blue merle.
Blue Merle Tricolor
These Toy Aussies have a base coat of the blue merle color, which is basically black spots on a grey coat. The blue merle is highlighted with copper and white markings around the chest, face, belly, and legs.
Blue Merle Bicolor
This version has a blue merle base coat and only white markings, especially on the chest, legs, and face.
Blue Merle and Tan
These dogs have a base coat of the blue merle color with only copper or tan.
Solid Blue Merle
It’s also rare to run into a solid blue merle. The color features a gray coat with black spots in random locations.
Red Merle Toy Australian Shepherds
The red merle Aussie color group comes in three different variants, including red merle tricolor, red merle and white, and solid red merle.
Red Merle Tricolor
This version has red spots on top of a buff to the silver base color. They also have white markings on the chest, belly, legs, and face. You’ll also frequently see copper highlights on the legs and face.
Red Merle and White
This color comes in just red merle and white but is quite similar to the red merle tricolor in terms of appearance.
Solid Red Merle
These dogs have spots that can either come in tiny speckles or large patches.
Toy Australian Shepherd Temperament and Personality
Toy Australian Shepherds are adorably beautiful, energetic, intelligent, and affectionate towards their family, thereby making them excellent and great companion family dogs.
These pooches want so much attention from their families and thrive on lots of it. They are pretty attached to their family and always want to be around them. They are also easygoing puppies that love to play a lot, especially with children.
Toy Australian Shepherds are not fragile like many small dogs so that they can handle romping and moderate kinds of play with kids of all ages. Since they are eager to please their family, they will listen and respond to commands, even from kids.
Even though they are loyal to their loved ones, they can develop separation anxiety if not given enough attention. They tend to become nervous and destructive if left alone for too long without enough mental and physical stimulation.
Toy Aussies do not like living a sedentary lifestyle. They are very active dogs and wouldn’t mind being brought along for outdoor activities.
On the other hand, they tend to be wary of strangers and usually skirt around the edges of gatherings until they feel cozy.
You can minimize this behavior only if you socialize them at an early age. You should also avoid forcing the puppy to interact, as this can lead to fear and distrust of strangers or even family members. Socialization also helps them be at ease with other dogs and pets.
As a dog handler, I have personally experienced taking care of toy Aussies and they are absolutely no different from Standard Aussies.
They are as smart, affectionate, loyal, and reliable as their larger cousins. They are also as efficient in herding, too.
Toy Australian Shepherds are also territorial dogs. They are natural guardians and are always eager to protect their family and home from any threat.
Toy Australian Shepherd Lifespan and Health Issues
The life expectancy of a toy Australian Shepherd is 12 to 13 years. Standard Australian Shepherds tend to live slightly longer than their toy versions, with a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years.
Toy Australian Shepherds are not just one of the smartest dogs but also one of the healthiest dog breeds. However, they have specific health issues, which are often the result of inappropriate inbreeding.
Toy Australian Shepherds are prone to the following health issues:
- Elbow and Hip Dysplasia: Elbow and hip dysplasia happens when the ball and socket joints of the hips and elbows do not grow at the same rate, making them loose and unstable. This causes pain to your toy Aussie, especially when it walks. This condition can be treated with anti-inflammatory medicines or surgery.
- Epilepsy: The cause of epilepsy in dogs is difficult to determine, but it can also be due to an abnormal brain lesion. This leads to seizures, characterized by twitching, shaking, tremors, and convulsion.
- Collie eye anomaly (CEA): Also called Collie eye defect, the gene that is responsible for the development of the eye becomes mutated, resulting in defects in the eye’s layers. This can also lead to blindness. As a hereditary condition, this can be prevented by not breeding dogs affected by CEA.
Aside from the ones listed above, toy Aussies are also prone to other eye problems, such as cataracts, distichiasis, and corneal dystrophy, MDR1 gene mutation, hypothyroidism, and nasal solar dermatitis.
How to Take Care of Your Toy Australian Shepherd
It’s essential to care for your Toy Aussie to ensure it becomes a healthy adult dog. The following are the factors you need to consider when caring for your pooch:
Food and Diet
Feeding a Toy Australian Shepherd in the right manner plays a crucial role in its development. It grows rapidly in the first few months of its life. So a growing puppy actually needs more calories than older dogs of the same size.
High quality and nutrient-filled diet typically formulated for puppies will help them through their accelerated development phase.
Since toy Aussies are very active dogs, they should be given the right amount of calories, along with a balanced and nutritious diet.
Toy Australian Shepherds also need to be fed premium-quality food that is good for small breeds. These types of kibble are formulated to cover small dogs’ nutritional needs and be easily chewable.
It is recommended that you feed a toy Aussie puppy about 20g per 1kg of body weight per day. Meanwhile, an adult toy Aussie may be given 1 to 1 1/4 cups of dry kibble a day.
You should feed your toy Australian Shepherd puppy 3 to 4 times a day. However, by the time the puppy is a year old, you can feed it twice — once in the morning and in the evening.
You can also give them foods that are good for bones and joints to support their active lifestyle.
Cleaning and Grooming
Toy Australian Shepherds need constant grooming to look even more beautiful. They are average shedders, and they shed more heavily, mostly during the spring and fall.
These adorable pooches should be brushed daily using a pin brush or stiff bristle brush. Some areas, such as the hair around the neck, hair on the rump, and the legs’ furnishings, can be subject to matting and tangling. So you should pay close attention to them during brushing.
Daily brushing should be prioritized to help manage shedding and prevent mats from forming. Further, the Toy Aussie should be bathed only when necessary and blow-dried after each bath.
Your puppy’s teeth should be brushed every day to keep them clean and white, which will help to reduce the risk of oral disease.
You also need to trim your pooch’s nails regularly to avoid injuries when it scratches or when you carry it. Ear cleaning must be done regularly, as well.
Training and Exercise
The Toy Aussie is a very active, energetic, and intelligent dog, thereby needing physical and mental stimulation.
A family that loves to walk, run, hike, and play a lot is the perfect fit for this dog. It loves the outdoors, so taking it along in your adventures will make it happy.
It will also be great to take them to dog competitions and events in your local community or even national competitions. These activities will provide them with the right balance of physical and mental work.
In terms of training, the best way to train these dogs is to reward them through verbal praise and petting. With this method, they will work as hard as they can to perform every task and command given to them.
You should never train a Toy Aussie harshly or speak to it in a rough tone of voice. This is because it tends to become timid and cowardly if treated poorly.
Because of their smart and obedient nature, they easily pick up obedience training and even go on to compete in various activities like herding, agility, and flyball.
This breed has an excellent and fast ability for word recognition, so they can be easily taught different tricks and training activities.
Further, the Toy Aussie needs early socialization as part of their training. It helps them overcome any shy or territorial behavior.
How Much Does a Toy Australian Shepherd Cost? Puppy Prices & Expenses
The average price of the toy Australian Shepherd ranges from $650 to $850. However, it can cost anywhere between $450 to $1,800, depending on the breeder’s reputation, pedigree, coat colors, and location.
Apart from the puppy’s price, you will need to buy your new puppy essential items such as toys, food, grooming tools, a harness, collar, food and water bowls, and more.
You also need to consider some expenses such as veterinary expenses, vaccinations, health checks, deworming, housing, etc.
See the table below for a summary of the initial expenses of owning a toy Aussie.
|Type of Expense||Cost|
|Food and Treats||$30 – $80|
|Bowls||$10 – $30|
|Toys||$20 – $30|
|Beds||$30 – $200|
|Collars and Leashes||$15 – $50|
|Crates and Carriers||$30 – $200|
|Grooming Essentials||$50 – $150|
|Initial Vet Visits||$100 – $500|
|Initial Vaccine Shots||$50 – $300|
|Deworming, Flea, and Tick Medications||$40 – $300|
|Neutering or Spaying||$50 – $500|
|Microchipping||$40 – $60|
|Dog License||$10 – $20|
|Other Essentials||$20 – $50|
|Total Initial Cost||$495 – $2,470|
So, the average initial costs of owning a toy Australian Shepherd range from $495 to $2,470. You can check this article If you’re interested to know more about the costs and expenses of owning an Aussie.
Places to Find Toy Australian Shepherds for Sale and Adoption
When searching for your toy Australian Shepherd puppy, you should only deal with reputable breeders. Asking critical questions from breeders will help you become more knowledgeable about the puppy you are interested in, including its health and its quality.
To save you a hassle of time, we’ve come up with a list of reputable sources where you can find healthy and well-bred Toy Aussie puppies for sale.
- AKC Marketplace – The American Kennel Club (AKC) is the country’s premier breeding organization. Though the AKC only recognizes standard-sized Australian Shepherds, you can check with breeders of Aussies if they also have toy Aussies available. You can also get reliable referrals from them.
- United States Australian Shepherd Association (USASA) Breeder Directory – As the AKC’s parent club for the Australian Shepherd breed, expect that breeders listed in its directory apply ethical breeding practices. You may check with these breeders if they have toy Aussies along with standard ones.
- Keystone Puppies – Keystone Puppies is a credible online advertising source that implements a strict accreditation program for its breeders. This ensures that each pup advertised on its site is well-socialized and has a health guarantee.
You can also opt to adopt a toy Australian Shepherd. Through adoption, you’ll be saving a fair amount of money, and you are also giving a dog another chance of finding a loving home.
The first step to finding a healthy toy Australian Shepherd is to check credible animal shelters or rescue organizations. Below are a few of the most credible sources where you can find a toy Aussie to adopt:
- Aussie Rescue & Placement Helpline, Inc. (ARPH) – Established in 1993, ARPH is the official rescue arm of the Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) and the USASA. Aside from rescuing and rehoming, ARPH also educates the public about responsible Aussie ownership. You can check with ARPH if they have toy Aussies available for rehoming.
- Australian Shepherds Furever (ASF) – Founded in 2013, ASF is a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing and rehoming Aussies and their mixes. It has successfully rehomed over 4,000 dogs. The adoption fee is Their adoption fee is $430 to $460 for puppies and $360 to $390 for adults, which may include toy Aussies as well.
- Aussie Rescue SoCal (ARSC) – ARSC networks with other groups and individuals to help rehome abandoned Aussies in the Southern California area. Their adoption fee is around $300 to $450 and is inclusive of vaccinations, microchipping, spaying or neutering, and other veterinary expenses for the rescued dog, which may include toy Aussies.
Pros and Cons of Owning a Toy Australian Shepherd
While Toy Australian Shepherds make outstanding and loveable dogs, they also have their own shortcomings.
Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of owning a toy Aussie.
To start, here are some of the benefits of having a toy Aussie at home:
- Obedient and intelligent dogs: Typical of the Aussie breed, toy Aussies are also expected to be smart dogs who are happy to please their owners. This makes them very trainable as well.
- Devoted and protective of their families: As herding dogs, toy Aussies have natural protective instincts that also apply to their humans. They are very wary of strangers, making them effective watch and guard dogs.
- Fits most homes: Despite their active nature, the small size of toy Aussies makes them perfect for any size of home, such as apartments, condominiums, and even large spaces.
Meanwhile, here are some challenges to owning a toy Aussie:
- Requires a lot of grooming: Given the heavy shedding of the toy Aussie, daily brushing is most recommended to manage its coat effectively. During the heavy shedding season, expect fur to be all over the place, so heavy vacuuming is also required.
- They are high-energy dogs: Toy Aussies are not recommended for busy owners or those who prefer a laid-back lifestyle. These dogs require a lot of physical and mental activities for them to be satisfied and keep their behavior manageable.
- High prey drive: The toy Aussie also inherits the high prey drive of the standard Aussie. Hence, to ensure that it does not dash off smaller animals, keep it on a leash, especially if it has not undergone socialization training with other animals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Toy Australian Shepherds Bark a Lot?
The Australian Shepherd is a vocal breed, which is something that is expected of the toy Aussie as well. Therefore, it will bark at strangers and other animals.
It is also reactive to loud noises, as well. Hence, if you like a silent environment, you may need to think twice about the toy Aussie.
Can a Toy Australian Shepherd Be Left Alone?
These dogs do not like being left alone. If left alone for too long, they may suffer from separation anxiety. They tend to develop destructive and obnoxious behavior or even barking.
The good news is this can be managed with crate training. Otherwise, it is best to always have someone accompany these dogs.
Should You Get a Male or Female Toy Australian Shepherd?
Both male and female toy Aussies are equally excellent dogs. Male or female choice is often a personal preference.
On the other hand, males are usually slightly larger than females. Male toy Aussies are also more affectionate and clingy, while females are more independent and territorial.
Absolutely, Australian Shepherds are one of the most loyal and reliable dogs in the world. They become more adorable even in a smaller size, which is what the toy Aussie is. They are also obedient, intelligent, and devoted to their owners.
If you’ve decided to get this cute pooch, you should also do everything you can to give them the attention they need, including a good diet, regular grooming, constant veterinary checkup, and physical and mental stimulation.
If you can do all this, you will never regret welcoming the Toy Australian Shepherd into your house. What are your thoughts about the toy Aussie? We would love to hear about it in the comments below!