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A Guide to Judging the Miniature American Shepherd

Miniature American Shepherd judging


A Guide to Judging the Miniature American Shepherd

With your first look at a Miniature American Shepherd entering the ring, the word MODERATE should come to mind. A small-sized Herding dog, he should not be overdone with bone or underdone without enough bone. He should be slightly longer than tall at about a 9:10 ratio, with equal distance from the withers to the elbow and from the elbow to the ground.

Structure in the dog should reflect masculinity without coarseness or extra bulk. Bitches appear feminine without being slight of bone. You can also look to the head for evidence of masculinity and femininity.

Movement should be effortless and well-balanced, exhibiting a ground-covering stride, although not to be confused with the type of ground-covering stride of a German Shepherd Dog. The purpose is to use the stride as an energy-saving tool in order for him to work all day at the task at hand, not to get to his destination quickly. He will converge toward the centerline of gravity as his speed increases at the trot, while the back remains firm and level.

When traveling at a trot, the head is carried in a natural position, with the neck extended forward and the head nearly level or slightly above the topline. He is to be presented on a somewhat loose lead so that he can display his natural movement without being strung up. You should see a smooth topline, with the back firm and level from the withers to the hip joint when standing or moving.

The head is clean-cut, dry, and in proportion to the body. Viewed from the side, the muzzle and the top line of the crown are slightly oblique to each other, with the front of the crown on a slight angle downward toward the nose.

The male should have a stronger head than the female, demonstrating some distinction between a male and female head, so when you look at them you can easily tell which gender they are.

The eyes must be almond in shape. We do not want round or bulging eyes.

Height for dogs is 14 inches up to and including 18 inches at the top of the withers. Height for bitches is 13 inches up to and including 17 inches at the top of withers. The minimum heights do not apply to dogs or bitches under six months of age. When in doubt, please wicket. We would rather you measure to be sure of any questionable height rather than not put a dog up due to it. This breed is to be judged on the table.

Do not take the “Miniature” in our name to mean that they must be quite small or close to Toy size. As you can see, the males can be up to 18 inches tall. It can be a challenge to compare this wide of a range in the ring. Try to judge each on its own merit rather than comparing them to each other. Can the 14-inch dog move with a stride described in the Breed Standard with respect to his size?

One of the problems we run across in downsizing is lack of loin; this in turn drastically reduces the ability of the dogs to reach up underneath themselves and drive from behind. If the smaller dog has sufficient loin and angulation, therefore drive, and has a good front and layback of shoulder to help ensure reach, then he should mirror a larger dog with the same assets when moving. They should cover ground correctly and at the speed that best suits that particular dog. We don’t want the smaller dogs racing around the ring, trying to compete with the speed of the larger dogs that can cover more linear feet in a shorter amount of time.

Moderate is the overall impression of the coat. Hair is of medium texture, from straight to wavy, and of medium length. Hair may be trimmed on the ears, feet, back of hocks, pasterns, and tail. Otherwise, he is to be shown in a natural coat. Untrimmed whiskers are preferred. We do not want a sculpted presentation.

The Miniature American Shepherd comes in four colors: Blue Merle, Red Merle, Black Tri, and Red Tri with or without white and/or tan points. A solid-colored dog is just as acceptable as a flashy tri-colored dog. The emphasis should always be on the structure and movement, since color does not get the job done. Some merle patterns can easily deceive the eye; a critique of the bone structure without considering the color can be challenging.

As you assess a Miniature American Shepherd, the chest should be full and deep, reaching to the elbow, with well-sprung ribs, and the underline shows a moderate tuck-up. The shoulder blades (scapula) are long, flat, fairly close set at the withers, and well laid-back. The hocks are short, approximately one-third the total height of the dog; perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other when viewed from the rear at the stand. The loin should be strong and broad when viewed from the top, and the croup is moderately sloped. The angulation of the pelvis and upper thigh (femur) should mirror the angulation of the shoulder blade and upper arm.

A docked tail is not to exceed three (3) inches. The undocked tail, when at rest, may hang in a slight curve. When excited or in motion, the tail may be carried raised, with the curve accentuated. A docked tail is preferred, but a full tail
is accepted.

Dogs of this breed are extremely devoted to their owners/handlers and this is reflected in their focus towards them. Do not expect him to look at you with a little cock of the head if you make some kind of noise to get a reaction from him. He will likely keep focused on his handler.


  • Under 14 inches and over 18 inches for dogs; under 13 inches and over 17 inches for bitches
  • Over 50 percent un-pigmented nose leather
  • Undershot or overshot bite
  • Other than recognized colors
  • White body splashes, which means any conspicuous, isolated spot or patch of white on the area between withers and tail, on back, or sides between elbows and back of hindquarters.

For more information, please go to:

For the Breed Standard, go to: