Several factors affect the lifespan of the various dog breeds. Some are controllable, such as diet or veterinary care. Others will play out because you can’t affect the outcome, like genetics. We should preface the latter by calling it usually. Reputable sellers will invest in pre-breeding health screenings to avoid mating pups with a heightened risk of congenital defects and other heritable conditions.
It’s essential to preface our discussion with some clarification about the Mini Australian Shepherd. You may see this dog called the Mini American Shepherd. The reason is that the canine was selectively bred from Australian pups in the United States. Usually, the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Foundation Stock Service (FSS) don’t accept a variation on an existing breed.
The difference was the support of the Australian Shepherd Club of America to allow it. While the Australian Shepherd earned recognition in 1991, the Mini Aussie didn’t get it until 2015. When comparing the Australian Shepherd vs. Australian Cattle Dog, it’s essential to know that it’s a different breed altogether, although all three are in the Herding Group. AKC recognized the latter in 1980.
What’s the Average Lifespan of a Mini Australian Shepherd?
The average lifespan of the Mini Australian Shepherd is intertwined with its larger counterpart. The genetic mix exists, with both breeds showing similar health factors. The Australian Shepherd can live up to 15 years, which is respectable for a medium-sized dog. You’d expect the Mini Aussie to live longer, which we typically see with smaller pups. However, that’s not the case.
Instead, the Mini Aussie lives between 12–13 years. Remember that this dog was selectively bred to this size. It may have inadvertently set the stage for a greater propensity of heritable health conditions that could affect its lifespan. The pool of Mini Aussies is smaller than the more popular Australian Shepherd. That can heighten the chances with fewer breeding adults available.
Why Do Some Mini Australian Shepherds Live Longer Than Others?
Many things can affect a pet’s lifespan. However, it’s often a combination of factors that you can identify with all dogs. A study by the University of Helsinki goes so far as to say all dogs have unwanted behavior, some of which are inherited. We can point to the flexible elements, like diet and healthcare with a twist that looks at the Mini Aussie effect.
It’s telling that the Miniature American Shepherd Club of the USA publishes an official history of the breed on its website. Its beginnings aren’t clear considering the parent stock was unregistered pups. We don’t question the integrity of the enthusiasts who championed Mini Aussies. However, it leaves unanswered questions about the breed’s history and its lifespan due to genetic factors.
Heritable Health Conditions
We must look back to the Australian Shepherd and its health risks to assess how they may impact the Mini Aussie. Sadly, the former must contend with several conditions. Hip and elbow dysplasia top the list, which isn’t unusual for most breeds, no matter what their size. The incidence of collie eye anomaly occurs in many similar breeds. Health screenings can usually catch it early.
Other heritable health conditions associated with the Mini Aussie include other eye problems, heart issues, deafness, and Von Willebrand’s disease. Any of these things can affect the quality of life and, consequently, the lifespan of the Mini Aussie. We strongly urge you to question a seller about their pre-breeding health screenings before buying a puppy.
Veterinary care always has an effect on a pet’s lifespan. However, it’s particularly true with a breed like the Mini Aussie and its litany of heritable health conditions. It’s also worth noting that some issues may develop later in your pup’s life. That makes regular monitoring imperative for ensuring your pet lives to its full potential.
The Merle trait can affect many breeds that have this color in their genetics, such as the Shetland Sheepdog. It’s most noticeable in pups with a blue or piebald coloration with blue eyes. Health risks can occur if it’s present in one or both alleles of the gene. Its presence accounts for the high incidence of auditory or visual issues with the Mini Aussie. Luckily, a genetic test exists to screen for it.
The 3 Life Stages of a Mini Australian Shepherd
The life stages of the Mini Aussie aren’t any different from any other breed. The genetic factor creates some potential health issues early in a dog’s life, which can directly affect the pup’s quality of life and longevity.
One of the things to pay attention to with puppies is the development of sight or hearing issues. Hopefully, the screening will catch most problems. However, it’s essential to work with a veterinarian who understands the risk of this breed and can recommend the optimal schedule of testing. Remember that the breeder you bought your pup from is another valuable resource.
Continued monitoring is still vital for adult dogs, especially if something developed early in your pet’s life. They reach this life stage around 12 months. You can switch your pup to an adult diet and adjust its intake accordingly. The Mini Aussie is an active dog, so it’s essential to ensure it gets enough exercise and mental stimulation to avoid weight gain.
A decrease in activity isn’t unexpected as a dog ages. However, the Mini Aussie seems like it doesn’t lose its enthusiasm for exercise and play even as it gets older. Pay attention to your pet’s comfort level and adjust the intensity as necessary. Remember your pup’s propensity for heart issues.
How to Tell Your Mini Australian Shepherd’s Age
Your pup’s activity level isn’t a reliable indicator of age for most dogs. It’s one trait that makes the Mini Aussie such a desirable pet, especially with families with children. They will always have a willing playmate with this pooch.
Teeth wear is often a useful indication of age, particularly with pets fed a dry food throughout their lives. Your veterinarian can help you assess how old your pet is if you don’t know.
The Mini Aussie has many desirable traits that many potential owners want in a pet. It’s a happy dog that enjoys interacting with people. It’s intelligent and easy to train, making it an excellent choice for families.
This breed is relatively long-lived if you invest the time in exercise and veterinary care. You’re sure to have many years with your loving pup if you make its health a priority.
Featured Image Credit: Tanya Consaul Photography, Shutterstock