Miniature American Shepherds are small herding dogs that are known for their intelligence, loyalty and hard working nature, much like the Australian Shepherd from which they originate.
How much do they shed? Miniature American Shepherds have a medium-length double coat that sheds a moderate-to-high amount year round, and even heavier during shedding season in spring and fall. To maintain his coat and keep shedding under control, brush regularly with a slicker brush and metal comb.
Read on to learn more about the Mini American, how much hair you can expect to see around the home, and what you can do to keep the molting to an absolute minimum.
About Miniature American Shepherds
According to the American Kennel Club, Miniature American Shepherds were selectively bred from Australian Shepherds during the 1960’s to produce what essentially became a smaller version of the Aussie. Which is why they were once called Miniature Australian Shepherds.
However, over time, they became more and more popular in the United States, especially with travelling equestrians. And it’s easy to see why, since they have the loyalty and intelligence of the Aussie Shepherd, but they’re smaller and easier to travel with.
Whatever the reason, their popularity grew in leaps and bounds. And in 1990, the first Miniature American Shepherd (MAS) club was formed, known as MASCUSA. And 21 years later, in 2011, they were introduced into the AKC Foundation Stock Service as the Miniature American Shepherd.
Since then, they’ve continued to grow in popularity. And not just among people who want a working dog, but among those who live in a more suburban setting and want a good-natured companion.
What’s the difference between a Miniature Australian Shepherd and Miniature American Shepherd?
A “Miniature Australian Shepherd” is simply the old name for a Miniature American Shepherd, so there is no difference other than in name. But because they were developed from an Australian Shepherd, and are basically a mini version of it, some still refer to them as the Miniature Australian Shepherd.
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How Much Do They Shed?
Miniature American Shepherds shed a moderate-to-high amount year-round, and even more during periods of seasonal shedding.
It does depend on the individual breed, but overall they shed a similar amount to the Aussie Shepherd and Border Collie. But not as much as large, heavy shedding dogs like the German Shepherd.
Either way, they’re not the most suitable breed if you don’t like seeing dog hair in your home, and plan on having him inside your home a lot. Because even the most well executed anti-shedding campaign won’t completely eliminate the dog hair.
And depending on the individual dog, and their local climate, the shedding can be a lot more noticeable during shedding season. Which is a time of year when dogs “blow their coat” for about 2-4 weeks, once or twice per year, typically during spring and fall.
Related: What Is Seasonal Shedding?
This is normal for thick, double coated dogs like the Mini. They grow a thicker coat for the winter months, and shed this in the lead up to summer. And in the lead up to winter, they shed their lighter summer coat. This is a natural process that helps them adapt to the changing seasons.
Most dogs do this, but some more than others. The Mini American is not the most extreme example though, the Alaskan Malamute wins that competition, hands down! But don’t be surprised if you notice an increase in molting once or twice a year.
Aside from the breed, the individual dog, and the time of year, there are other factors that can cause shedding. For example, a less than ideal diet, stressful conditions, pregnancy, or fleas. And if you are concerned the shedding isn’t normal, it may be worth contacting a veterinarian.
Grooming Your Mini American
The Mini American is a fairly low maintenance breed.
They have a double coat, which means instead of having just one layer of fur, they have two. The outer coat is made up of medium-length, straight to wavy weatherproof hair that comes in black, red, blue merle or red merle. The undercoat varies in length but is typically shorter, soft and woolly.
For general coat maintenance, brushing him with a slicker brush and metal comb once a week should suffice. A slicker brush is a brush made of fine wire bristles with rubber or plastic tips on the end. And this is ideal for medium to long-haired dogs.
However, given the type of coat he has and that they love to play outside, it is normal to see mats and tangles appear on their coat from time to time. So it’s worth checking his coat after he has been outside, and carefully brushing these out. Because if you leave mats and tangles in his coat, they can become quite painful.
Also, while weekly brushing is about all he needs, daily brushing can be beneficial during times of heavier than usual shedding. And during these times, an undercoat rake or deshedding tool may be worth using too, as these tend to reach the undercoat better than a slicker, and remove more dead fur. But a metal comb is a simpler, less expensive alternative.
Other than brushing, the occasional bath helps maintain his coat. And regularly trimming his nails is important, so that overgrown nails don’t hurt his paws when he’s out running around. And that’s something they love to do – a lot!
How to Reduce MAS Shedding
There’s no way to make the shedding stop completely. Almost all dogs shed at least some hair, so it’s really just something you need to come to terms with and learn to manage.
And thankfully, managing the shedding isn’t very difficult or time consuming with a MAS. It’s really about proper and consistent grooming, as well as ensuring his diet is optimal.
Daily brushing is your first line of defence. This goes a long way to keeping as much of his hair off your floors, furniture and clothes as possible. And it massages him, and spreads the oils of his skin, which helps promote a healthy, well moisturized coat.
You can also bathe him more frequently during shedding season, provided you use a good quality dog shampoo that doesn’t dry out his skin. And provided you don’t bathe too often.
The reason bathing can help is because it’s a good way to remove the old, dead fur in the bath and help loosen it up for a subsequent brush. So, bathing and brushing together can make a big difference.
A quality dog food that is rich in vitamins, minerals and fatty acids like Omega 3 can also help with shedding. And your vet should be able to help you select an optimal dog food for your Mini.
There are some great supplements out there too. And some people with heavy shedding dogs swear by home shedding remedies, like adding a small amount of oil (like coconut, olive oil or fish oil for example) to their food on occasion. But ultimately, there’s no substitute for a healthy, balanced diet.
What about shaving him? You can trim your MAS, but you shouldn’t shave him down to the skin, unless your vet specifically recommends doing so. Because dogs need their undercoat to insulate them against hot and cold weather extremes. Not to mention, shaving can cause skin irritation, which can actually cause excessive shedding.
There are some other great ways of reducing shedding, beyond brushing, bathing and proper diet. But these are among the simplest and most effective ways to get it under control. And with consistency, you can enjoy the company of this bright, energetic and loyal companion without spending day after day behind a vacuum!