The Miniature German Shepherd, much to many owners’ disbelief, is not a pure German Shepherd.
These cute, active, intelligent dogs are actually German Shepherd and Poodle/Border Collie mixes and aren’t just German Shepherds with a condition such as dwarfism, which they are often mistaken for.
A Miniature German Shepherd will still act in much the same way as a regular German Shepherd, but won’t be quite so ‘in your face’ at first glance.
This makes them ideal, house-sized pets, whilst retaining the active, working dog nature that some owners desire.
Thankfully, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to the breed, so you know what you’re letting yourself in for if you choose to own a Miniature German Shepherd!
Miniature German Shepherd Breed Information
The Miniature German Shepherd is, first and foremost, a working guard dog.
This brings with it a whole host of personality traits, such as strong loyalty to their owner, an active, hard-working nature, and athleticism that would rival Olympic sprinters!
Miniature German Shepherds are extremely intelligent dogs – more so than full-sized German Shepherds.
This is purely because of their mix with the uber-intelligent Border Collie, and the runner-up-dog-brainiac, the Poodle.
Similarly, the German Shepherd itself is a clever breed.
As we’ve talked about above, we have to remember that German Shepherds are bred to work and are often used as service dogs in the military and police.
This means that, alongside their intelligence, Miniature German Shepherds can be very obedient dogs if trained correctly.
Miniature German Shepherds can often make great support dogs for those with impairments or disabilities and will love to be around the family, as long as the bonds between owner and dog are strong.
Furthermore, for those who struggle with mental health issues, the Miniature German Shepherd can be used as therapy dogs.
The downside of the Miniature German Shepherd’s protective, guardian nature is that this inherent trait can become compulsive and, in some cases destructive IF they are not properly socialized early on in their lives.
Even though the Miniature German Shepherd has the appearance of its larger breed counterpart, owners must not neglect the fact that they are crossbreeds and will inherit the traits of the other breed in the mix.
It’s better to research both halves of your dog and prepare yourself for the demands of both breeds.
Stating the obvious, the Miniature German Shepherd is smaller than a regular German Shepherd.
The mini version measures up at around 15-20 inches, depending on the breed mix, compared to 25+ inches for the regular German Shepherd.
Weight-wise, the Miniature German Shepherd doesn’t normally get above the 50lb mark, whilst the regular German Shepherd can weigh up to a hefty 100lbs.
Again, both breeds in the mix will influence this.
The Miniature German Shepherd has a traditional black and tan double coat, which keeps the dog warm in the winter months.
However, this double coat will require brushing, which is covered below in the ‘Grooming Needs’ section.
The long hair gene in German Shepherds is generally recessive, so it is unlikely that your Miniature German Shepherd will grow a long-haired coat.
It’s impossible to know exactly which traits your Miniature German Shepherd will take from which parent, but it is likely that the puppy will inherit the pointy, alert ears of the German Shepherd as well as its low hanging, bushy tail.
Muzzle shapes may vary depending on the mix, but should your puppy take after its German Shepherd mother, the muzzle will be long.
German Shepherds are renowned for their sloping toplines (back).
This is a physical characteristic that is disputed by the Kennel Club in the UK and is generally only found in show Shepherd families.
Therefore, it is likely your puppy will show a straighter topline.
The Miniature German Shepherd offers a few more options when it comes to colors, compared to its larger sibling.
You can find black and tan, white, black sable, and black red, and silver
History of the breed
Although the German Shepherd is the second most popular breed in the U.S., many people feel they are too big to have as pets and would prefer a smaller, more manageable dog.
The Miniature German Shepherd fulfills the need for a strong and intelligent dog that is easy to train, is very loyal, and has the same drive as the larger German Shepherd but in a smaller, cuter package!
The Miniature German Shepherd is a fairly modern mix and originated from the USA in an unknown period. There isn’t too much to say about the mini version of the GSD, but its larger sibling has quite a history!
The history of the German Shepherd – also known as the Alsatian in the UK from World War 1 before the name was changed back to German Shepherd.
This breed dates back to late 1890s Germany where it was originally bred by ex-military captain Max von Stephanitz who very much admired working sheepdogs and wanted a skilled, powerful, and intelligent herding and guard dog of his own.
At a dog show in 1899, von Stephanitz was shown a dog called Hektor Linksrhein, and, being struck by his “intelligence, loyalty, and beauty”, purchased him immediately.
After renaming the dog Horand von Grafrath, Von Stephanitz named the breed Deutscher Schäferhund which translates as “German Shepherd Dog” and set up the ‘Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde’ (Society for the German Shepherd Dog).
Horand thus became the first German Shepherd dog listed on the society’s breed register.
At the end of World War 1, the UK Kennel Club renamed the breed Alsatian, a reference to the French region of Alsace which borders Germany, believing that the inclusion of the word ‘German’ would harm the breed’s popularity.
However, in 1977, following several campaigns, the Kennel Club recognized German Shepherd as the official name and changed it back to German Shepherd.
Fun Fact About A Famous German Shepherd
Probably the most famous German Shepherd of all time is the iconic Rin Tin Tin.
Born on a battlefield in eastern France during World War 1 and rescued as a newborn puppy along with his siblings and their mother in 1918 from a bombed German kennel by an American soldier called Lee Duncan.
When the war ended, Duncan took Rin Tin Tin back home to Los Angeles where he enrolled his pet as an actor in several films. Over the years, Rin Tin Tin starred in no fewer than 27 Hollywood films!
How easy is it to train a Miniature German Shepherd?
The Miniature German Shepherd is an intelligent dog and will, therefore, respond well to training. Both training and socialization need to start early, to correct any behavioral problems as a puppy.
However, this can also be said of any dog. Positive reinforcement-based training is preferred for this breed, so remember to keep some treats handy!
On the topic of socialization, it is vital for the Miniature German Shepherd to be introduced to a variety of different animals and people early on.
As we touched on earlier, the Miniature German Shepherd, like its larger sibling, is inherently protective.
Therefore, they must be taught that other animals and the majority of new people they meet are not threats that they need to ‘guard’.
Due to their intelligence, the Miniature German Shepherd can become easily bored.
They love to be on the go, and when they’re doing the same trick over and over again, they will switch off.
Therefore, it’s important to keep training engaging and vary what you’re teaching your Miniature German Shepherd.
Remember, training can be a bonding session between you and your dog.
Critics of the German Shepherd argue that the dog is inherently aggressive, and whilst this may be true to an extent, love, respect, and reward-based training will eradicate these tendencies from your dog.
It may be wise to train this breed in 15 to 20-minute bursts, rather than hour-long training sessions.
Despite its size, the Miniature German Shepherd is a strong dog.
Leash training/teaching not to pull suddenly are traits that you should hardwire into your dog. Similarly, heel walking may be a good trait to prioritize training-wise.
Even though your Miniature German Shepherd won’t be a massive dog, it will be active, and an unsuspecting stranger may not welcome your dog into their picnic lunch!
Same thing, same time, every day…
As with any puppy, a rigid daily schedule must be in place.
The puppy must be waking up at virtually the same time daily, being fed and toileted at the same time every day, and has to be played with at consistent intervals.
With a Miniature German Shepherd, two walks a day of a good length (one hour at least) should suffice, although it should be noted that any puppy should not be walked excessively, due to their developing bone structure.
Without a routine, your Miniature German Shepherd puppy may start to think that they’re the king of the castle, causing disruptive behavior.
At home, ensure that they experience plenty of different sights, smells, and sounds.
You don’t want to scare your Miniature German Shepherd puppy, but they need to become accustomed to everyday sounds such as the vacuum cleaner.
Grooming your Miniature German Shepherd is much like grooming a full-sized GSD.
The Miniature German Shepherd, like many other breeds, will have seasonal coat ‘blowouts’, which is where the undercoat is fully shed twice a year in response to a seasonal change.
During this season, your Miniature German Shepherd will need to be brushed at least once a day.
When your dog isn’t experiencing a blowout, then it’s recommended that you brush him or her twice or three times a week with a wire slicker brush, to get rid of any surface hair that will inconveniently find its way onto your furniture.
When Miniature German Shepherds are mixed with other double-coated dogs, such as Border Collies, you’re going to have a heavy shedder on your hands.
Brushing prevents your Miniature German Shepherd’s coat from matting.
Matting can be painful for a dog, and the best way to avoid putting your dog in unnecessary discomfort is by brushing him or her regularly.
Brushing at home will also save money in the long run, as you will not have to hire a professional groomer to weed out the tougher tangles in your dog’s coat.
Ensure you introduce your Miniature German Shepherd to grooming early, as it is both a good bonding technique and shows your puppy that the brush is neither a threat nor a toy.
Of course, when your dog is dirty you don’t really want him cuddling up on the sofa with you.
However, you must be aware that full bathing strips away the coat’s natural oils.
Remember, you can always dry shampoo your Miniature German Shepherd from time to time, and the old hose down in the back yard is still an effective mud-removal method!
Relationship with the family
Despite its many admirable qualities, the Miniature German Shepherd is not a dog for every family.
It has many of the same traits as the regular German Shepherd, and you will have to commit to a good amount of exercise and training from the get-go.
However, its loyalty to its owners, playful, energetic nature, and obedience and intelligence does mean that the Miniature German Shepherd is generally good around children.
As we’ve mentioned earlier in this article, the Miniature German Shepherd is designed for those who love the looks and behaviors of the German Shepherd but want a smaller version of it.
Hence, the breed will be a good dog for those who can commit to the regime that the dog will require, even if you’re living in an apartment building or small house.
Always remember to check with the building manager to see if dogs are allowed in your block!
Dogs are not just for Christmas, and the Miniature German Shepherd most definitely fits that saying.
Miniature German Shepherd Tendencies
The miniature German Shepherd is prone to a few tendencies, both physical and mental.
Firstly, the Miniature German Shepherd is prone to boredom.
Due to their intelligence and energy, they do not react well to being left without exercise for long periods, and therefore will not make good dogs for people who are out of the house for extended periods.
They need to be physically and mentally stimulated.
This doesn’t mean that you need to take your mini-GSD on four long walks per day, but rather that you need to play with them or teach them new tricks to keep your Miniature German Shepherd stimulated.
As we’ve already mentioned, the Miniature German Shepherd is a shedder!
Brushing can help combat this, but you will find hair around your house, especially during the summer months.
As the Miniature German Shepherd is a crossbreed, you need to take into account that your dog may display tendencies from the other breed in the mix.
This will be personal to your dog, and what it’s mixed with.
In terms of physical health, the Miniature German Shepherd is prone to a few conditions.
These include hip dysplasia, bloat (this can be aided by purchasing a slow feeder bowl for your dog), and hemophilia, which is a genetic trait that can be found in the German Shepherd.
A Miniature German Shepherd will require approximately 30 calories per pound of body weight per day.
This may change depending on their age, size, maturity, and whether or not they’re in season.
Puppies usually require lunch at noon, but adult dogs normally skip this meal.
Make sure you consult your vet before changing your pet’s diet.
Are you the right person to own a Miniature German Shepherd?
So, you’ve read all about them, and now it’s time to decide if the Miniature German Shepherd is the dog for you.
If you are looking for an intelligent, loyal, and active dog, and you can commit to their grooming, training, and exercise requirements – but may not have space for a large German Shepherd – then the Miniature German Shepherd may well be the dog for you!