Toy Australian Shepherd Breed Information, Traits, & Characteristics

The toy Australian shepherd is a toy-sized companion dog of American origin. Toy Australian shepherds are also commonly referred to as the Spanish shepherd, the New Mexican shepherd, and the California shepherd.

Toy Australian shepherds are bigger than teacup Aussies, but smaller than miniature Australian shepherds. Toy varieties have a maximum height of 14 inches and weight of up to 17 pounds.

Because of this breed’s affectionate, playful nature and long lifespan of up to 15 years, the toy Aussie is good with children and makes a great family pet. However, this little dog needs a lot of exercise and isn’t suitable for a busy or inactive owner who doesn’t have time to walk their dog frequently.

Toy Australian shepherds typically cost from $1,800 to $2,500

Toy Australian Shepherd Characteristics and Overview

Common names:Toy Aussie Shepherd, California Shepherd
Breed group:Companion dog
Height:11–14 inches
Weight:12–17 pounds
Colors:Red merle, blue merle, red tri-color, black tri-color, solid black, solid blue merle, solid red merle
Coat:Double coat, longer outer coat, wooly inner coat
Life expectancy:12–15 years
Temperament:Affectionate, playful, friendly
Shedding:Moderate/heavy shedders
Barking tendency:Minimal, only to alert owners

Origin and Purpose

Breeders in California created the toy Australian Shepherd by importing other herding dogs — like sheepdogs and Collies from New Zealand and Australia — and crossbreeding smaller and smaller varieties of these dogs.

Although the toy Australian shepherd’s ancestors were herding dogs, the toy Aussie is too small to be useful and is instead bred as a companion dog.


Toy Australian shepherds typically have a 12 to 15 year lifespan. Certain medical conditions may shorten the average lifespan, while good care can lead to a longer life.

Toy Australian Shepherd Appearance

Toy Australian shepherds are small dogs that come in various colors. Many toy Aussies have distinctive facial markings. These dogs have triangular ears and an athletic, sturdy frame with short, well-built legs.

Height and Weight

Toy Australian shepherds are considered toy-sized dogs with a height at the withers of 11–14 inches, and a weight of 12–17 pounds. Females are usually smaller and lighter than males.

Irresponsible breeders continually try to create even smaller versions of the breed by crossbreeding and breeding with the runts. These exceptionally tiny toy Aussies should be avoided because they may have serious genetic defects.


Toy Australian shepherds are typically red merle, blue merle, red tri-color, black tri-color, or solid black. The presence of the merle gene is responsible for the patterns on the dog’s coat, with darker patches against a lighter background. Most toy Aussies have a white patch on the chest.

There are some tri-colored toy Australian shepherds, with different combinations of colors, but these are fairly uncommon. The solid blue merle isn’t a true blue and is the rarest of the toy Aussie colors.


Toy Australian shepherds have a double medium-length coat consisting of a longer, smooth outer coat and a shorter, wooly inner coat. These dogs are moderate to heavy shedders and need frequent brushing and grooming to keep the coat in good condition.


Most toy Australian shepherds have brown eyes or blue eyes. The merle gene occasionally causes a dog to have one blue eye and one brown eye, or even sometimes two different colors in one eye.


Toy Australian shepherds have short, stocky, muscular legs. Despite the fact that their legs seem short for their bodies, these little dogs are fast runners.

Toy Australian Shepherd Personality and Temperament

Although the toy Australian shepherd is considered a companion dog, it has a similar temperament to its herding dog ancestors. Like the Australian shepherd, toy Aussies are intelligent, active, and energetic, according to the AKC temperament guide. The dogs’ friendly nature and playful personality make them ideal pets for families with children.

Because toy Aussies are so intelligent, they can get bored easily when left alone for long periods without any stimulation. These dogs may not be suitable for people who are out of the house for most of the day.

Separation anxiety is a common problem with this breed, causing the dog to chew anything, it can, even sometimes chewing its own paws.


Toy Australian shepherds don’t bark excessively. These dogs usually only bark to alert their owner if something is wrong, or if they’re unhappy or uncomfortable. These little dogs make good watchdogs, alerting their owner to the presence of any potential intruder.

It’s possible to train a toy Aussie not to bark unnecessarily by offering treats and praise when it obeys your command to be quiet.

Toy Australian Shepherd Care

Toy Australian shepherds are easy to care for and don’t have any special care requirements. Basic needs include food, water, exercise, and medical checkups and vaccinations. These dogs also need love and attention from their owner.

Food Needs

Feeding your toy Australian shepherd high-quality dry kibble takes care of all of the dog’s nutritional needs. Buy dog food that provides a well-balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and fats, enriched with minerals and vitamins.

A toy Australian shepherd puppy needs 20 grams of food per 1 kg of the puppy’s weight per day, divided into three feeds per day. A fully grown adult toy Aussie needs 1¼ cups per day, split into a morning and an evening meal. A bowl of clean, fresh water should be available constantly.

Grooming Needs

Toy Australian shepherds shed fairly heavily and should be brushed weekly with a stiff bristle brush to avoid a trail of fur around the house. Regular brushing keeps the coat in good condition and prevents matting.

Brushing loosens and removes any trapped dirt that could cause skin infections. Bathe your toy Aussie when it looks dirty by using a proper dog shampoo. Trim the area around the lower back and tail to prevent toilet issues.

Exercise Needs

The toy Australian shepherd is an active dog that needs regular exercise to stay happy and healthy. Because of its small size and minimal barking, this dog is highly suitable for apartment living. The breed needs to be walked at least twice a day for half an hour at a time, or longer if possible.

Despite its short legs, this breed is able to run fast and enjoys a gentle jog or an energetic run. Toy Aussies are also good swimmers and will benefit from exercise in a pool.

Mental Needs

Toy Australian shepherds are intelligent dogs that need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom — which can lead to destructive behavior. These dogs enjoy toys like balls and rubber bones and love playing a game of fetch or tug-of-war.

When leaving the dog alone for a few hours, make sure that it has some toys to play with to prevent your furniture and possessions from being chewed and destroyed.

Common Health Concerns

Toy Australian shepherds are generally healthy dogs, but they are prone to the same health problems as their bigger standard Australian shepherd counterparts. The most common health concerns are:

  • Eye problems — Collie eye anomaly is a condition caused by a genetic defect that affects the development of the eyes. This breed is also prone to cataracts and detached retinas
  • Dysplasia — Hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia are congenital problems affecting the joints, restricting movement, and causing pain. Puppies can undergo genetic testing to check for dysplasia\
  • Epilepsy — Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that usually first shows signs at about six months old, and causes the dog to have seizures. The disease can be treated successfully with long-term medication
  • MDR1 Gene — The MDR1 gene is a genetic mutation that can cause drug sensitivity, resulting in an allergic reaction to certain drugs. Toy Aussies should be tested for this mutation so that the vet can prescribe appropriate medications

Toy Australian Shepherd Training

Because toy Aussies are such intelligent dogs, they are easy to train using positive reinforcement and rewards for compliant behavior. Consistency is the most important element of training. Start training as early as possible because breaking bad habits is easiest when the dog is a puppy.

Train a toy Aussie to obey commands by using a firm, assertive tone of voice and offering treats for obedience. Separation anxiety is a common problem that can be conquered with regular training — like leaving the dog alone with a variety of toys for longer and longer periods.

Toy Australian Shepherd Price

The toy Australian shepherd is an expensive dog. Buying from a reputable breeder raises the price, but also ensures that you’re getting a healthy pup. Adopting from the local shelter is cheaper than buying from a breeder, but comes with the risk of not knowing the dog’s lineage and possible associated health problems.

How Much Is a Toy Australian Shepherd?

A toy Australian shepherd typically costs $1,800 to $2,500, depending on the breeder. Commercial breeders that mass-produce these dogs will be cheaper than smaller, more exclusive breeders that limit the number of litters from each set of parents.

Merle-coated toy Aussies are more popular than single-colored specimens and come with a higher price tag. A pedigreed and registered toy Aussie puppy costs more than an adult dog whose lineage may be uncertain. Buying from a breeder is more expensive than adopting from a shelter.

How Much Does it Cost to Own a Toy Australian Shepherd?

Owning a toy Aussie costs around $1,500 per year for food, toys, grooming, and medical expenses. In the first year expect to pay an extra $200–$300 for initial expenses. Vet bills may increase as the dog ages.

Is a Toy Australian Shepherd Right for You?

The toy Australian shepherd is a great dog that makes an ideal house pet. However, because of certain characteristics, this dog may not be suitable for some people or certain lifestyles.

Toy Australian Shepherds Are Suitable for:

The toy Australian shepherd is suitable for families with children because this breed is a sociable and very friendly dog. These dogs bond closely with their owners and enjoy human interaction, so they’ll benefit from the attention that children can give them.

Toy Aussies make good apartment dogs because they are so small, but these dogs are extremely active and need a lot of exercise. This breed is a good dog for an active owner who enjoys long walks or a jog around the neighborhood at least twice a day.

Toy Australian Shepherds Are NOT Suitable for:

Toy Australian shepherds aren’t suitable for owners who don’t have time or energy to devote to their dog. Because this breed is prone to separation anxiety when left alone for long periods, the toy Aussie needs a lot of attention and stimulation to prevent boredom. Toy Aussies are active little dogs that aren’t suitable for owners who are unable to walk their dogs regularly.

About Thomas Woods 224 Articles
Thomas has been a dog lover since he was 6 years old when his parents got him a rescue Labrador. Since then his love for dogs has lead him to study Animal Behavior & Welfare. He now keeps a six year old English Bullmastiff and educates pet parents through his online publication Perfect Dog Breeds.

1 Comment

  1. My Toy Aussie is already 15 1/2 years old. I think she’ll last 1 or more year. She’s the best I ever have in my life.

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