German Shepherds are considered the second most popular dog in the United States, according to the American Kennel Club. With that in mind, who wouldn’t adore a German Shepherd that stays an eternal puppy for his entire life?
Introducing the Miniature German Shepherd!
While we do love the idea of this adorable mini GSD, we have to remember that there are some pros and cons to this type of dog.
Not only are Miniature German Shepherds at risk for some serious health issues, they can also be unpredictable when it comes to temperament and appearance. But why?
Well, that’s what we’re here to find out. Join us today as we learn all about the adorable yet controversial Miniature German Shepherd dog.
Table of Contents
What Is A Miniature German Shepherd?
There is no such thing as a true miniature German Shepherd.
Before we begin, it’s important to point out that there is truly no such thing as a Miniature German Shepherd, at least according to the breed standard.
A Miniature German Shepherd is going to be a German Shepherd that has either been mixed with another, smaller breed, a German Shepherd with dwarfism, or a German Shepherd that has been bred down through the breeding of runts.
Most of these methods for creating a smaller German Shepherd are quite controversial, and they can even lead to serious health issues for your dog down the road.
For this reason, it’s important to understand which method has gone into producing the Miniature German Shepherd you are interested in, and to try and avoid methods which involve breeding health issues into a dog simply to make him smaller.
The term “runt” is not widely accepted by most professionals when it comes to discussing dogs and dog breeds. That said, society does recognize the term to mean a puppy that is the smallest, weakest or most unhealthy in the litter.
Whatever you call them, these puppies do exist and they are typically smaller, sicker and weaker for a reason. Most commonly, runts are runts due to underlying health issues. Sometimes they did not get adequate nutrition from their mother, or they were born with birth defects, or even have heart issues.
When breeders breed two runts in an effort to create a smaller dog like the miniature German Shepherd, they are potentially breeding these health issues into the next generation. This could spell disaster and heartbreak for future owners and is generally a practice that is frowned upon by experts.
Breeding dwarfism in dogs that otherwise are not predisposed to the gene could also be problematic for a number of reasons. German Shepherd dogs can naturally inherit dwarfism, though this is typically rare.
When a German Shepherd does inherit dwarfism, it typically also inherits a number of other serious health issues including digestive issues, bone and joint problems, muscle issues, heart issues and respiratory issues.
If you do wish to obtain a Miniature German Shepherd that was bred with dwarfism, you should prepare for a dog that is likely going to come with a variety of special needs.
If you want a Miniature German Shepherd, most experts would agree that the healthiest and most ethical way to go about it is to search for a dog that has been crossbreed. Miniature German Shepherd dogs are typically going to be German Shepherds that have been mixed with either Corgis, Border Collies, or Miniature Poodles.
Although crossbreeding is still considered a controversial practice, the controversy comes more from the fact that a hybrid dog is less predictable than a purebred dog when it comes to temperament, appearance and health.
That said, many crossbreed dogs are considered healthier than purebreds thanks to what is known as hybrid vigor. Hybrid vigor is the idea that crossbreed dogs have a wider gene pool than purebred dogs, which can mean they may have a less likely chance of inheriting certain genetic health issues.
With that in mind, let’s take a moment to look more closely at the three most common crossbreed dogs that make a Miniature German Shepherd.
The Shepherd Collie – The Border Collie German Shepherd Mix
Also known as a Shepherd Collie, the German Shepherd Border Collie is a hybrid combination designed to create a smaller German Shepherd.
Height: 24 to 26 Inches
Weight: 50 to 70 Pounds
Temperament: Active, Intelligent, Gentle, Affectionate, Work-Oriented
LIfespan: 13 to 15 Years
Health Issues: Hip Dysplasia, BLoat, Elbow Dysplasia, Epilepsy, Diabetes, Cataracts, Degenerative Disc Disease, Hemophilia, Seizures, Collie Eye Anomaly, Osteochondritis Dissecans, And Central Progressive Retinal Apathy
The German Shepherd Collie mix is a common mix people seek when looking for a Miniature German Shepherd. This is a dog that is intelligent, affectionate, people oriented and active. As such, the German Shepherd Collie Mix, sometimes known as the Shepherd Collie, is best suited for active, experienced dog owners.
While many German Shepherd Collie mix dogs are smaller than the standard German Shepherd, there are times when the Shepherd Collie can be just as large as a German Shepherd, which defeats the purpose if you’re looking for a Miniature german Shepherd.
Getting a smaller Shepherd Collie will depend on the sources in which you go through, the breeding process used, and the generation of your German Shepherd Collie mix dog.
The Shepadoodle – The Miniature Poodle German Shepherd Mix
The Shepadoodle is typically a German Shepherd bred with a miniature Poodle, especially if you’re looking for a miniature German Shepherd.
Height: 15 to 20 Inches
Weight: Under 50 Pounds
Temperament: Intelligent, Active, Trainable, Devoted
LIfespan: 12 to 15 Years
Health Issues: Elbow Dysplasia, Hip Dysplasia, Degenerative Myelopathy, Epilepsy, Eye problems, Dwarfism, Skin Issues, Eczema and Bloat.
The Shepadoodle, also sometimes known as a Shepapoo, is a mix between the Miniature Poodle and the German Shepherd. This is an ideal option of Miniature German Shepherd for allergy sufferers, as this mix can sometimes be hypoallergenic.
Shepadoodle dogs are great dogs for families, though they can be quite energetic. They do best in homes with backyards where they can run and play freely and owners who are able to commit to training, socialization, exercise and mental stimulation.
The Corman Shepherd – The Corgi German Shepherd Mix
The German Shepherd Corgi combines the small Corgi with the energetic German Shepherd.
Height: 12 to 15 Inches
Weight: 20 to 50 Pounds
Temperament: Friendly, Intelligent, Active, Work-Oriented
LIfespan: 10 to 12 Years
Health Issues: Hip and Elbow Dysplasia, Spinal Issues, Back PRoblems, Cataracts, Allergies, Obesity and Bloat
The German Shepherd Corgi mix, also known as the Corman Shepherd, is an active, friendly and family-oriented dog that gets along well with children and pets he is raised with. Without proper training, this dog can be wary of strangers and needs plenty of time and commitment to ensure he grows up happy and well-rounded.
Unfortunately, mixing a German Shepherd and a Corgi does implement the dwarfism gene into a German Shepherd mix dog.
This could lead to a number of health issues including bone and joint problems as well as spinal issues.
The Average Miniature German Shepherd Temperament
The Miniature German Shepherd is typically an energetic, intelligent dog.
The average temperament of your Miniature German Shepherd dog will depend on a few factors, including whether or not your dog is a crossbreed.
That said, there are some general temperamental traits you can expect in a Miniature German Shepherd and that can help you determine if this type of dog is right for you and your family.
In general, Miniature German Shepherd dogs are intelligent, family-oriented, trainable and devoted. They bond closely with their families and do well in homes with owners who have a general understanding of working breeds.
This could mean that the Miniature German Shepherd does best in homes with more experienced dog owners, though an owner who is committed and willing to do plenty of research could do well with this dog as well.
Miniature German Shepherds are energetic, and they’ll need plenty of activity to help keep them both mentally and physically stimulated.
They can also do well in homes with children and other pets so long as they are properly raised, trained and socialized.
Without proper socialization, the Miniature German Shepherd can be prone to wariness of strangers and may be territorial and even protective of his home, family and belongings.
A Miniature German Shepherd that is not properly exercised may also be prone to destructive behaviors.
So, just how much exercise does a miniature German Shepherd need? Let’s find out.
The Miniature German Shepherd Exercise Requirements
Exercise is very important for a clever, work-oriented dog like the Miniature German Shepherd.
Regardless of if your Miniature German Shepherd is a crossbreed or purebred, he is going to need plenty of routine exercise and mental stimulation.
This is a dog with working origins and a breed that is highly intelligent. When these traits are harnessed the correct way, it can make for an impeccable canine companion. However, if not harnessed correctly, this energy and intelligence can lead to a dog that struggles with a number of behavioral issues including anxiety, depression, stress, and destructive behavior.
The right exercise for a Miniature German Shepherd would include a good walk that is 30 to 40 minutes a day. He will also enjoy routine play time in the backyard or some free playtime at a dog park so long as he is properly socialized around other pets.
If your dog is a crossbreed, or bred front runts or dwarfism, it’s important to remember that these exercise routines will need to be adjusted based on his abilities and needs.
When it comes to mental socialization, the Miniature German Shepherd will enjoy having puzzle toys to play with and KONG toys to chew on.
KONG Chew For Medium Sized Dogs
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We often say a Kong toy is a staple for your dog’s toy box, regardless of his breed or mix. This is true for the Miniature German Shepherd, especially if you are considering crate training or if you need to be gone for a few hours at a time during the day.
The Miniature German Shepherd will need toys that help to keep him busy and active, and the KONG can do that. Fill your dog’s KONG toy with dog-safe treats like peanut butter that is free of Xylitol or a Kong filler you get at your local pet supply store.
You can also invest in puzzle toys to help keep your Miniature German Shepherd happy and mentally stimulated.
Nina Ottosson Puzzle Toy
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The Nina Ottosson Puzzle Toys come in a few different varieties and levels, which is great for dogs like the Miniature German Shepherd. The above puzzle toy is free of dyes and is made with dog-safe material, and we especially like that it utilizes treats to help keep your Miniature German Shepherd happy and engaged.
That said, we don’t recommend leaving your dog alone with puzzle toys, especially if he is a heavy chewer. The toys will help keep him engaged but he could also chew it if he becomes bored, and this could lead to a choking hazard.
The Importance Of Socialization And Training For A Miniature German Shepherd
All dogs require socialization and training at an early age in order to develop properly.
Like all dogs, the Miniature German Shepherd is going to need consistent training and socialization beginning at an early age. Without proper training and socialization, the Miniature German Shepherd can develop a number of behavioral issues similar to those we noted above.
When it comes to training, you’re in luck with a Miniature German Shepherd. These dogs are highly intelligent and people oriented, and they will enjoy learning new tricks and cues. However, it’s very important to keep training light, game-like and fun. Refrain from using punishments and stick with positive reinforcement training using treats and praise.
Punishment during training has been shown to actually hinder a dog’s ability to learn and may even harm the bond built between you and your dog. The good news is that if you keep training consistent and utilize treats, praise and patience, a Miniature German Shepherd will be a joy to work with.
Along with training at an early age, you should also work to properly socialize your Miniature German Shepherd. Without proper socialization, the Miniature German Shepherd could easily exhibit fearful behaviors that could lead to aggressive tendencies.
It’s important to get him used to all kinds of people and environments, including sounds, sights, animals and children.
Try and help your Miniature German Shepherd recognize the world as a safe and happy place by ensuring first impressions are positive for him.
Of course, try and refrain from forcing your Miniature German Shepherd into a situation that is clearly frightening for him, as this can exacerbate fears and lead to future behavioral issues down the road.
How To Groom A Miniature German Shepherd
Most Miniature German Shepherds are going to be shedding dogs, but if you have a German Shepherd Poodle mix, you may wind up with a dog that is hypoallergenic.
The grooming maintenance of a Miniature German Shepherd can depend on whether or not he is a crossbreed or purebred, with the biggest difference in grooming being if your dog is a mix with Poodle.
The Shepadoodle Miniature German Shepherd could potentially be hypoallergenic depending on his generation, though this is not always the case and will depend on the breeder and source you go through.
If your dog is hypoallergenic, he will still require routine brushing to help reduce matting and tangles.
If your dog is not hypoallergenic, he will need to be brushed at least two times a week using a quality deshedding brush and undercoat rake.
Miniature German Shepherd dogs have double-layered coats that are weather resistant and dense. It’s important not to shave this coat, as this can put your Miniature German Shepherd at risk of heat stroke or sunburn.
Instead, keep your dog’s coat brushed and bathe him once every six weeks or so. Do not overbathe your Miniature German Shepherd, as doing so can strip his coat and skin of the natural oils he produces that keep him healthy.
The Furminator Deshedding Comb
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We like the Furminator deshedding brush for dogs like the Miniature German Shepherd. This brush is specifically designed for dogs with a dense undercoat like German Shepherds and German Shepherd mixes.
The Furminator Deshedding Comb also has a release button so you can clean the brush by automatically removing the collected hair so you can easily keep brushing. This helps to make the grooming process easier and more efficient for everyone.
Along with brushing and bathing, your Miniature German Shepherd will also need his ears cleaned and checked regularly to keep them clear of debris, moisture, and waxy buildup that can lead to ear infections.
His nails should also be ground or trimmed down regularly to keep them from cracking or splitting during play or exercise, and his teeth should be brushed with a dog-safe toothbrush and a toothpaste specified for canine use.
Tips On Combating Health Issues In A Miniature German Shepherd
Crossbreed German Shepherds, like the German Shepherd Collie mix above, are likely to be healthier than dogs bred from runts or those with bred dwarfism.
Like all dogs,the Miniature German Shepherd can be prone to a number of genetic health issues. Though we did discuss hybrid vigor in Miniature German Shepherds that are mixed breeds, it’s still important to note that this dog can be susceptible to any of the same ailments as both of his purebred parents.
It can be difficult to determine exactly what the Miniature German Shepherd can be susceptible to, especially considering there are a few different hybrids that can make a Miniature German Shepherd, as well as the fact that a Miniature German Shepherd may be bred from runts or bred with dwarfism.
As we did discuss above, if your Miniature German Shepherd dog is bred from runts or dwarfism, he could be at a higher risk of suffering from more severe health issues.
With that noted, let’s take a look at some common health issues seen in the Miniature German Shepherd dog.
Average Lifespan – 9 to 13 Years
Common Health Issues
- Hip Dysplasia
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Ear Infections
- And Bloat
You can help combat certain health issues in the Miniature German Shepherd by following the below tips from experts.
Get A Crossbreed
As we previously discussed, there is no such thing as a true Miniature German Shepherd. Smaller German Shepherds that are purebred have likely been bred down from runts or have dwarfism, which can lead to them suffering from major health issues.
To prevent dealing with more health issues in a Mini German Shepherd, we recommend choosing a crossbreed dog like those listed above. A crossbreed Miniature GSD not only reduces the chances of genetic health problems caused by dwarfism or breeding from runts, but can also give your dog the added benefit of hybrid vigor.
Choose A Quality Diet
A quality dog food can help ensure your Miniature German Shepherd is healthy both physically and mentally. The best dog food for a Miniature German Shepherd is going to be a dog food that is specified for medium sized dogs and that is made with real meat protelm.
This dog food should be free of any additives like corn, soy, wheat or gluten and should instead contain fatty acids, carbohydrates, vitminies, minerals and be a good source of water.
Remember, the Miniature German Shepherd can also be predisposed to a few health issues that can be exasperated by diet. These health issues include bone and joint problems, skin issues, and a disorder known as Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus or Bloat.
Bloat is a life threatening condition that can come on suddenly and be caused by an improper diet, or by a dog eating or drinking too much too quickly.
A slow feeder can help combat bloat and even encourage healthy eating habits in your Mini GSD.
A Slow Feeder
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The above slow feeder, sometimes called a puzzle feeder or fun feeder, is designed with maze-like rings or patterns on the inside to make mealtime a challenge for your four-legged friend. This type of feeder also helps reduce the amount of air swallowed by your dog by forcing him to eat more slowly.
Not only can this help combat Bloat in at risk dogs like the Miniature German Shepherd, but it can also help combat obesity and keep your dog engaged during meal time.
Consider Health Screening
If you’re not sure of your Miniature German Shepehrd’s exact origins, you might consider health screening through a dog DNA kit. A dog DNA kit can provide you with loads of information about your dog, including his lineage and any potential genetic health issues he may be predisposed to.
Keep Routine Vet Visits
Keeping up with yearly wellness checks for your Miniature German Shepherd dog can help catch any potential health issues early before they become too expensive or difficult to treat. Most vets recommend that dogs under the age of seven be seen at least once a year while Miniature German Shepherd dogs over the age of seven be seen twice annually.
Is The Miniature German Shepherd Right For You?
Remember, there is no such thing as a true Mini German Shepherd, and the ones you do find will come with their fair share of pros and cons.
Are you still wondering if the Miniature German Shepherd dog is right for you? While this is an adorable little dog that can make a wonderful companion to the right owner or household, he is certainly not right for everyone.
Let’s take a look at the Miniature German Shepherd at a glance.
Though smaller than the average sized German Shepherd, the Miniature German Shepherd is still an active, intelligent and outgoing dog that requires routine exercise, mental stimulation, training and socialization.
He does best in homes with active families and those who are experienced dog owners or, at the very least, willing to commit some time to research.
The Miniature German Shepherd is also a dog that would do best in homes with a securely fenced in backyard. Though he can be hypoallergenic if he is mixed with Poodle, most Miniature German Shepherd dogs are shedding dogs that may not be ideal for those who suffer from allergies.
When Properly trained and socialized, the Miniature German Shepherd can be a good dog for homes with children and other pets. However, if owners are not committed to their dog’s needs, Mini GSDs can suffer from behavioral issues including destructive behaviors, anxiety and even fear-based aggression.
Tips On Picking A Healthy Miniature German Shepherd Puppy Or Rescue Dog
Try and choose reputable breeders or sources who understand the importance of responsible breeding practices.
Have you decided that the Miniature German Shepherd is right for you? Congratulations! This means you are ready to commit to an incredibly affectionate, intelligent, devoted and energetic little dog.
In order to ensure you and your Miniature German Shepherd start off on the right foot, we have some tips from experts on how you can pick the healthiest puppy or rescue dog possible.
When Going Through A Breeder
On average, the Miniature German Shepherd puppy through a reputable breeder will cost between $1,000 to $2,000.
This cost for a German Shepherd can seem pricey, but it’s important to avoid trying to cut costs by going through irresponsible sources like backyard breeders, unqualified online sellers, or those who do not have a strong understanding of responsible breeding practices.
Remember, we also suggest you steer clear of Miniature German Shepherd dogs who were produced through dwarfism or by breeding runts.
Instead, choose a quality breeder who can provide you with paperwork and health certificates proving their puppies have been screened and cleared of any serious health issues.
When Going Through A Rescue or Shelter
It may be more difficult to find a Miniature German Shepherd through a rescue or shelter, but it’s not impossible. You may need to look into shelters or rescues that specialize in the German Shepherd breed and its mixes.
On average, a Miniature German Shepherd through a rescue or shelter will cost between $250 and $500. This fee typically covers an initial vet exam.
If you rescue an older Miniature German Shepherd dog, you may even be able to find a dog that has already been spayed or neutered and even microchipped, which allots for extra savings.
Should I Rescue Or Buy A Miniature German Shepherd?
The road you choose to take when deciding to obtain a Miniature German Shepherd dog is totally up to you, and will depend on your unique situation and lifestyle.
The most important thing is that you’ve taken your time and done plenty of research, and that you are prepared to take on the commitment of this adorable, intelligent dog.
Best of luck and thanks for reading!