Miniature American Shepherd: Personality and Health

Are you surprised when you come across abnormally small Australian Shepherds? No, you don’t have a vision problem. This is the miniature American Shepherd (Pam), the little brother of the charming Australian. A lively and cuddly dog, he is as comfortable on the sofa in the living room as he is on the lawns. In general, the American Shepherd can be prone to some of the better known diseases, such as coxo-femoral dysplasia or drug sensitivity related to the mutation of the MDR1 gene.

Have you fallen in love with the Miniature American Shepherd? You shouldn’t be disappointed. Are you looking for a companion who is as beautiful as he is smart and doesn’t impose too much on you? BAM is made for you! Indeed, from a small size (maximum 45 cm at the withers with an average weight of 10-14 kg), this lovely little dog has everything to seduce city dwellers … who love to move, and all the others.

Miniature American Shepherd: Fun Fellow

The similarity is no coincidence: the American Shepherd, a modern breed (recognized by the FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) on a provisional basis in 2019), comes from the well-known Australian Shepherd. As early as the 1960s, breeders crossed young Australian Shepherds with each other in order to obtain smaller individuals. The character has been fixed and now only BAM is reproduced in between.

Logically speaking, the American Shepherd is very similar to its older brother: it’s a cheerful little dog, and it’s easy to train. He retains his herding skills but adapts well to family life if properly socialized from an early age. He is an athletic dog that is perfectly capable of following his jogging or long walks.

BAM is a gentle dog with an excellent healthy capital provided that it leads a healthy lifestyle; This means a good diet and regular walks to strengthen joints and avoid weight gain.

However, the breed is prone to some diseases that serious breeders try to eradicate by testing their breeding stock.

Miniature American Shepherd: Personality and Health
Lyudmila Bohosh / Shutterstock

Hip dysplasia in the miniature American Shepherd

Coxo-femoral dysplasia is a congenital malformation of the hip. It is often complicated by osteoporosis. It is manifested in a variable age by lameness of the hind limbs and difficulty in getting up. This disease affects many breeds including BAM, but dogs with heavy breeds are the most disabling for this disease (Labrador, German Shepherd…).

The AFBAM (Association Française du Berger Américain Miniature) recommends x-rays for parents from 1 year of age. The dogs are then rated excellent (A) to E (animals should not be bred). However, it should be noted that since hip dysplasia is a multifactorial disease (i.e. caused by several factors such as genetics, but also environmental factors such as diet, exercise, etc.), it is not entirely excluded that a puppy is caused by both parents devoid of Coxo-femoral dysplasia develops the same disease.

Genetic Diseases of the American Miniature Shepherd

BAM can suffer from genetic diseases that come directly from its collie ancestor! In fact, Australian and American Shepherds are distant descendants of the Scottish Shepherd.

genetic eye disease

  • Collie eye anomaly
  • progressive retinal atrophy
  • Hereditary cataracts

These three diseases can lead to blindness. It is genetically recessive, which means that the dog must have two mutated genes to develop the disease (one from its mother and the other from its father), hence the interest in testing breeding animals to prevent transmission of these genetic diseases.

drug allergy related Gene MDR1

It is responsible for neurotoxicity that can lead to death after taking certain medications. Anomaly is also a recessive trait. About 25% of BAMs carry the mutation. To avoid the risk, owners can test their animals (this is a simple saliva sample or blood sample):

  • The dog has two mutated genes: be careful, it is at high risk of poisoning. Some medicines such as loperamide or ivermectin are strictly prohibited.
  • The dog has a mutated gene and a healthy gene: it is at low risk.
  • The dog has two healthy genes: no danger.

Watch out for the double blackbird!

Miniature American Shepherd: Personality and Health
Vanessa DS/Shutterstock

What makes the Miniature American Shepherd so charming is its silky coat and beautiful coats, mostly black or red. The dilution gene also makes it possible to obtain from these primary colors highly desirable coats of merle: blue merle (blue background layer with black spots) or red merle (red layer with brown spots). This gene is dominant, that is, it is sufficient for the dog to have a copy of the gene to be a merle. If we cross merle dogs together, we get 1 in 4 dogs with a double copy of the merle gene, but this formation (giving animals a dominant white coat) is associated with serious abnormalities such as blindness and/or deafness. That is why it is forbidden to breed merle puppies with each other.

Do not hesitate to ask to meet with the parents when visiting a breeder with the goal of obtaining a young American Shepherd puppy.

Isabel Fixig


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