Is There a Miniature German Shepherd? Mystery Solved!


German Shepherds are a wonderful breed to own with many exciting traits. However, they are a large breed dog that requires lots of exercise, and their size and high-energy may not be suited to you. So, is there a miniature German Shepherd?

There is no miniature German Shepherd breed. A smaller German Shepherd does exist but it’s actually a mixed-breed, usually by cross-breeding a female German Shepherd with another smaller breed, such as a Corgi, Border Collie, Miniature Poodle, Dachshund, or even Yorkshire Terrier.

To see if this smaller version is a better fit for you, we’ll take a look at some of the more popular crossbreeds such as the Shepadoodle, Shollie, and Corman Shepherd.

We’ll look at whether they make good pets, how big they get, what they look like, the amount of shedding they do, health issues, where to find them, costs, and loads more!

We’ll also explore the controversy with some miniature German Shepherd varieties.

Is There a Miniature German Shepherd? German Shepherd Border Collie Cross (Shollie)

So, let’s dive right into the mystery of the miniature German Shepherd!

Do Miniature German Shepherds Exist?

The miniature German Shepherd has become more popular for people looking for a smaller version of the German Shepherd.

Purebred miniature German Shepherds do not exist. A smaller version of a German Shepherd is the result of mixing a female with another smaller breed. The only true miniature German Shepherd is one that is suffering from dwarfism due to a genetic deformity.

These dwarf dogs have numerous serious health issues and a short life expectancy. You can learn more about this in my article, Can German Shepherds Have Dwarfism?

Sometimes toy breeds are crossed with a German Shepherd when creating a smaller version, for example, the Yorkshire Terrier or Dachshund. However, this is controversial due to the sheer size difference of the breeds mated!

If you find it bizarre to imagine a German Shepherd mating with a very small or toy breed, it can technically be done with a little assistance or by artificial insemination. Opinions are divided as to whether this is an ethical practice due to possible health issues of the puppies, which is difficult to determine.

However, here are some of the reasons why you may find a miniature German Shepherd appealing:

  1. You would like a smaller designer dog having the appearance and intelligence of a German Shepherd.
  2. You require a dog that combines the best traits of two or more breeds.
  3. To try to avoid certain undesirable recessive traits that lead to genetic disorders in many purebred dogs.
  4. You live in a small house or apartment and therefore a smaller dog would be more suitable.
  5. You need a more manageable and less powerful dog due to its smaller size.

Do Mini German Shepherds Make Good Pets?

German Shepherds are the preferred dog for the police and military and are also used as assistance dogs or simply as loyal family pets. They are a good looking and powerful dog, but do miniature German Shepherds make good pets?

Miniature German Shepherds make good pets as they combine the best traits of two popular purebreds. They will have many positive traits of the German Shepherd, and by mixing these traits with desirable traits of the smaller breed, will produce an overall good family dog with a great temperament.

Before looking at some of the popular breeds that German Shepherds are mixed with, let’s firstly take a quick look at the mighty German Shepherd.

  • German Shepherds are one of the most popular breeds.
  • They are ranked the third breed for intelligence behind the Border Collie and the Poodle.
  • They belong to the herding group and were initially bred in Germany to herd sheep.
  • The dog was officially known as the Alsatian in the UK following World War I until 1977 when its name reverted to German Shepherd.
  • They are a large-sized breed and are typically between 22-26 inches (55-66 cms) tall and have a lifespan of between 9-13 years.
  • German Shepherds are high-energy dogs that require lots of exercise and mental stimulation. My GSD will typically require two hours of daily exercise, plus an hour of play.
  • German Shepherds are good with children and babies they live with and will show faithfulness to them.
  • They will also get along with other family pets. Like most dogs, they need socializing and training from an early age.
  • German Shepherds are wary of strangers due to their protective nature. However, once they realize you are okay with the stranger, then they will be too!
  • The herding instinct in German Shepherds is so strong that they have been known to gently herd their owners, especially the children of the family! My GSD will occasionally gently nip at my heels when I walk away from her after playing. This is her natural way of telling me that she wants to continue!
  • The GSD is generally double-coated which comes in three variants – short, medium, and long. The medium-haired German Shepherd (or plush coat) is the most common. The long-hair gene is recessive thus making the long-haired variety rarer. They are heavy-shedders.
  • The American Kennel Club breed standard for the purebred German Shepherd prefers strong, rich colors. A white dog is disqualified from showing.
German Shepherd lying with a ball
My German Shepherd “Willow!”

So, how do you know what you are going to get? The best way to determine the temperament of any crossbreed is to research both breeds in the cross, which brings me to the next section.

When crossing dogs, it’s important to understand that you can get any combination of the characteristics of both breeds. Below are some popular breeds used to make a miniature German Shepherd.

German Shepherd/Poodle Cross (Shepadoodle)

There are three types of Poodle; Standard, Miniature, and Toy. However, the Miniature variety is usually bred to create a miniature German Shepherd. Here are some Poodle facts:

  • The origin of the breed is still debated. Both the AKC and UK Kennel Club recognize the Poodles’ origin as Germany. However, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) claims the breed descends from the French Barbet (French Water Dog).
  • The Standard Poodle is the oldest of the three varieties and the Miniature and Toy Poodles were later bred as scaled-down versions. They were created by breeding small-sized Poodles – not by breeding Poodles to different smaller breeds.
  • The Standard Poodle was typically used for hunting waterfowl and the name Poodle is derived from the German word “pudel,” which means “to splash in the water.” The Miniature and Toy varieties were bred as companion dogs.
  • Miniature Poodles are small-sized dogs and come in a variety of colors. Most are in the 13-15 inch (33-38 cms) range. They have a lifespan of 12-15 years.
  • Poodles are extremely intelligent and are ranked the 2nd most intelligent breed. They are sociable, graceful, proud, loyal, alert, active, protective, and highly trainable.
  • Poodles bond well with their owners and are good with children and strangers once socialized. They are incredibly affectionate and protective.
  • They are lively and fun-loving and are also good around other animals. They adapt well to apartment living and are ideal for novice owners.
  • Poodles tend to be single coated but have high grooming needs due to their unique curly, wiry, and dense coats. However, they hardly shed and are therefore ideal for people with allergies.
  • The Poodle excels in many activities including agility, obedience, herding, and tracking. Nowadays they are often used as assistance dogs.
  • They have also won top awards in many conformation shows such as Crufts, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, and the World Dog Show.

Many of the Poodle’s characteristics are quite similar to the GSD which will give you a strong indication of the future character of your miniature German Shepherd.

German Shepherd/Border Collie Cross (Shollie)

Here are some interesting Border Collie facts:

  • The Border Collie was developed in the Scottish borders for herding livestock, hence they are often referred to as the Scottish Sheepdog. The Collie is known for his intense stare which he uses to control the flock. This is awesome to watch.
  • They rank as the number 1 breed for intelligence and are highly trainable.
  • Border Collies continue to work herding livestock throughout the world today. They are also increasingly kept as companion pets.
  • They excel in various canine sports, including tracking, obedience, agility, and of course, sheepdog trials.
  • The typical Border Collie has an overall height of between 18-22 inches (46-56 cms) and is categorized as medium-sized. They have a lifespan of between 10-17 years.
  • Collies require a tremendous amount of daily exercise and will quickly become destructive if left without it. They possess an endless amount of energy and stamina from their working traits and will need 2-3 hours of daily exercise.
  • As a herding breed, they are protective of their owner and family and therefore make good watchdogs.
  • Border Collies like to please their owners and respond well to praise. They are always alert and ready to obey commands.
  • Collies are good around children they live with however the noisy play of young children can stimulate the Border Collie’s herding instinct and may cause them to bark, nip, and nudge, and so early socialization and obedience training must be a priority.
  • They prefer living where there is plenty of open space as they love to run. However, they can adapt to living in most environments, except in small apartments.
  • Collies are mostly black with a white blaze on the face, neck, feet, legs, and tail tip, with or without some tan. Sometimes they may be any bicolor, tricolor, merle, or a solid color other than all white.
  • Border Collies are double-coated having a coarser outer coat and a soft undercoat and there are two varieties, rough and smooth. They are classed as medium shedders and regular brushing of their weather-resistant coat is required.

When this breed is crossed with the German Shepherd, there is no doubt you are going to end up with one very smart and super trainable miniature German Shepherd.

German Shepherd/Corgi Cross (Corman Shepherd)

Here are some cool Corgi facts:

  • The Corgi (also known as the Welsh Corgi) is a strong and lively small breed herding dog that was bred to move cattle and sheep. They originated in Wales and were referred to as “heelers,” meaning that they would nip at the heels of the cattle to keep them on the move.
  • They are surprisingly quick and agile despite their short legs which are strong and muscular. The combination of their low height and natural agility allowed them to avoid the hooves of cattle.
  • Two separate breeds are recognized, these being the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi. The Pembroke is the more popular of the two due to being the preferred breed of Queen Elizabeth II.
  • Corgis are sometimes still used as working dogs although they are most often seen as family pets. 
  • The name “Corgi” is Welsh for “dwarf dog” which was intended as a descriptive term due to their long bodies and short legs.
  • Both breeds are very similar in appearance however the Cardigan Welsh Corgi is the slightly larger of the two and stands between 10.5-12.5 inches (27-32 cm) tall at the withers whereas the common height of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is between 10-12 inches (25-30 cm). They have a lifespan of 12-14 years.
  • Corgis have four different coat colors (red, sable, fawn, tri-colored), and many have white markings on the legs, chest, neck, muzzle, and tummy:
  • They weigh up to 30 pounds. The head and nose of the Cardigan are larger than the Pembroke, however, both have a fox-like appearance and erect ears. The tail of the Pembroke is short or docked whereas a Cardigans’ tail is long.
  • Corgis are loyal, playful, friendly, protective, intelligent, alert, affectionate, fearless, and independent.
  • The Corgi is especially fond of children and gets along with other family pets. Due to having a bark typical of a larger breed dog, they make good watchdogs. They do tend to bark at the slightest noise which can be a problem.
  • They adapt well to apartment living and they make an excellent first choice dog. They form solid bonds with their owners and will suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods.
  • Corgis love to exercise and require at least an hour a day – you’d be surprised by their physical stamina! Many are good at agility, tracking, herding events, and obedience. They like to eat and therefore sufficient exercise is necessary to prevent them from becoming overweight.
  • As they are double-coated they can tolerate the cold. They are heavy shedders and will shed their undercoats twice a year in addition to their usual daily shedding. They are, however, easy to groom due to their short fluffy coats.

With the looks of the German Shepherd and the stature of the Corgi, these crossbreeds can make an ideal miniature German Shepherd.

Controversial Types of Mini German Shepherds

The next two hybrids are relatively rare and are somewhat controversial due to being at the opposite ends of the size spectrum. Due to the risk of possible health issues, it may be wiser to choose an alternative miniature German Shepherd, but I’ll let you decide.

German Shepherd/Yorkshire Terrier Cross (German Yorkie Shepherd)

Here are some interesting Yorkshire Terrier facts:

  • The Yorkshire Terrier or “Yorkie” (as it is often known) is a small terrier type dog that originates from the northern county of Yorkshire, England.
  • They were originally bred to catch rats in the mills. The word “terrier” comes from “terra,” which means “earth,” as terriers were bred to control the rat population by pursuing them below ground.
  • They are a very popular companion dog having a maximum weight of 7 pounds (3kg) and with a height of 8-9 inches (20-23 cms) at the shoulder. The Yorkie has a lifespan of 12-15 years and comes in various colors.
  • Yorkies are intelligent, courageous, confident, bold, affectionate, and very independent. They are known for being feisty and bossy. They are house dogs and don’t like the cold. They also don’t tolerate extreme heat well.
  • They are alert, curious, and trainable. Surprisingly, they make good watchdogs and are a favorite of owners that live in urban towns and cities. They make a good first dog and are ideal for apartment living.
  • Due to their terrier ancestry, they can be quite suspicious of strangers and will bark at intruders and unfamiliar sounds.
  • Yorkshire Terriers are not very kid-friendly. They aren’t recommended for households with noisy toddlers or very young children as they can become snappy if they are teased or startled.
  • They are good with other family pets, in particular cats. They love to play and chase.
  • Yorkies require a fair amount of both physical and mental stimulation, including long walks, training, and indoor play. As a rough guide, two 30-minute walks will usually suffice.
  • They are high maintenance dogs. Although they are a non-shedding dog, their beautiful shiny coats are similar to human hair that requires regular grooming and trimming.

German Shepherd/Dachshund Cross

Here are some cool Dachshund facts:

  • The Dachshund (also known as the Wiener Dog or Sausage Dog) belongs to the hound group of dogs. They were bred as a hunter of burrow-dwelling animals, e.g. badger and rabbit, and would be used to scent, chase, and flush them out. They are of German origin and their name means “badger-dog.”
  • They have a long muscular body with short legs and the standard size will weigh up to 32 pounds and will be 8-9 inches tall (20-23 cms) at the shoulder. Their short legs enabled them to dig and move skillfully and carefully through tunnels to trap and badgers.
  • The lifespan of the Dachshund is 12-15 years. They come in an endless variety of colors.
  • Dachshunds are intelligent, lively, playful, courageous, independent, bold, devoted, fierce, and stubborn.
  • They are good first pets and are suited to apartments. They are very affectionate and devoted and may bond more closely with one member of the household.
  • They are good around young children and other pets, however, they may be a little snappy around unfamiliar children especially if teased.
  • Dachshunds are tireless when it comes to exercise and they love to take long walks. They require two 30 minutes of exercise a day.
  • They make a good watchdog due to their “big-dog” bark. This is due to having lungs that are quite large for a dog of this size and also having a barrel-like chest. They do tend to be feisty and will bark at the slightest noise. They are also very wary of strangers and will show aggression towards them.
  • Due to their stubbornness, they are difficult to train. They can also be quite mischievous.
  • Dachshunds come in three varieties – shorthaired (smooth), longhaired and wirehaired. The smoothed variety is the most popular and their coats, which are short and shiny need little grooming whereas the long-haired variety requires frequent grooming.
  • These little characters are not suited to living outdoors and the smooth-haired variety will require a coat if the weather is cold.

How Big Do Miniature German Shepherds Get?

The idea of having a mini German Shepherd is that you want a smaller dog with the looks and temperament of the purebred. But how big do miniature German Shepherds get?

Miniature German Shepherds will usually be smaller than the purebred, depending on the breed that the female has been mated with. They will be smaller than the average height of a female German Shepherd (22-24 inches) and weigh less than the average weight (50-70 lbs.).

What Does a Miniature German Shepherd Look Like?

Miniature German Shepherd. German Shepherd Border Collie Cross, Shollie

If you are contemplating getting a miniature German Shepherd you may be wondering what he will look like.

A miniature German Shepherd will look like a combination of the German Shepherd and the other breed used in the cross. However, most tend to have the appearance of a smaller version of the GSD as they tend to keep the coat colors as well as other physical characteristics such as pointy ears.

As an example, look at the above image of the German Shepherd/Border Collie Cross (Shollie). You can see the dog keeps the main color and the pointy ears of the German Shepherd yet retain the markings of the Collie.

Nonetheless, it can be very difficult to predict how miniature German Shepherds will look as they may or may not share the appearance of both parents.

The only way to see the true appearance of the dog is if you choose to adopt one from a shelter or a re-homing center.

Do Miniature German Shepherds Shed?

If you are hoping for a smaller version of the German Shepherd that sheds less, I may have to disappoint you! So, do miniature German Shepherds shed?

Miniature German Shepherds are likely to shed as much as the purebred who are heavy shedders and molt daily. However, the amount of shedding could depend on the breed used in the cross. For example, Corgis are also heavy shedders, Collies are medium, yet Poodles are low.

If the dominant genes of the German Shepherd are taken, be prepared for frequent grooming as the dog will shed all year round and more profusely once or twice a year when they are known to “blow their coat.”

This means they will shed their undercoat twice per year, once in the spring and once in the fall, in addition to daily shedding. Don’t worry though, as you can check out my article, 7 top tips on how to reduce German Shepherd shedding.

Miniature German Shepherd Health Problems

The German Shepherd is generally a healthy dog but is susceptible to certain genetic health issues like most purebreds.

They are prone to hip dysplasia, which occurs when there’s a displacement between the hip joint and thighbone. This can cause lameness and pain. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals states that 20.5% of German Shepherds will suffer from this genetic condition.

However, hip dysplasia can be prevented by proper screening and stamping out unscrupulous breeders. To learn more about this condition, check out my article, Do All German Shepherds Have Bad Hips?

There are many misconceptions and inaccuracies as to whether mixed breeds are healthier than purebreds. This huge 15-year study by the University of California-Davis studied over 27 thousand dogs with inherited disorders and provided some answers.

They found that the theory that purebred dogs are more susceptible to inherited disease is only true for some disorders. Purebreds are no more likely to develop many serious health conditions, such as cancer and heart disorders, than mixed breeds.

Where Can I Get a Miniature German Shepherd?

It can be quite a challenge to find a good breeder that specializes in the type of miniature German Shepherd that you are looking for. Some dishonest breeders may even advertise the dog as a purebred or as a “teacup dog.”

You can get a miniature German Shepherd from a reputable breeder or by adopting from an animal shelter or rescue center. Adopting gives you a major advantage in that you can go and see the dog you will be choosing. You can also search online at sites such as Adopt a Pet or The Shelter Project.

Adopt-a-Pet.com is America’s largest non-profit pet adoption website where shelters and rescue centers can list their pets for adoption.

The Shelter Pet Project aims to make shelters the first place potential adopters look when choosing a dog.

In the UK, there are many organizations and charities to help you find a dog to adopt. Here are some popular options:

  • The RSPCA’s Find a Pet will allow you to do an online search for dogs that need a home near to where you live.
  • The Dogs Trust is the UK’s largest dog welfare charity and cares for thousands of dogs each year through a network of rehoming centers.
  • Blue Cross is another charity that helps sick, injured, abandoned, and homeless pets.

If you opt for finding an ethical breeder, make sure to do your due diligence. Here are some tips when choosing a puppy:

  • Go and meet the breeder and ask any questions to see how knowledgeable they are, e.g. ask about any likely traits. See if they appear genuine and honest and are not running a puppy farm.
  • Ask to see all the puppies in their environment to see how happy and healthy they look.
  • Get the breeder to show you the parents of the pup. A reputable breeder will do this as a matter of course as they have nothing to hide.
  • Ask to see the puppies with their parents and watch their behavior and see how they interact.
  • Get a full medical history of not only the pup you are interested in but the parents also.
  • A reputable breeder may genuinely quiz you regarding your ability to care for the dog as they care for their pups and will not sell them to anyone.

How Much is a Miniature German Shepherd?

Buying a purebred German Shepherd from a reputable breeder can be expensive. Depending on various factors such as breeder, bloodline, location, the number of puppies, etc., they can cost anywhere between $900-$4,000. So, how much is a miniature German Shepherd?

The cost of a miniature German Shepherd will depend on whether you buy from a breeder or choose to adopt a rescue. The average cost to buy a purebred is $2000, but buying a miniature German Shepherd may be less expensive. In contrast, you can adopt at a much lower price, between $100-$300.

The average price of around $2000 for a purebred German Shepherd comes from original research in my article, Cost to Buy a German Shepherd. My German Shepherd has show bloodlines and cost me around $1100 (£900).

Final Thoughts

Now the mystery has been solved! I hope this article has answered all your questions about miniature German Shepherds. Here are a few key takeaways from the article:

  • There is no such thing as a purebred miniature German Shepherd.
  • Miniature German Shepherds are the result of cross-breeding a female GSD with another smaller breed.
  • Although mini German Shepherds are bred to try and replicate the qualities of a German Shepherd in a smaller size, they can also inherit less attractive traits from the other breed used in the cross.
  • Breeding a German Shepherd with much smaller breeds such as the Yorkie or Dachshund divides opinion. Some will say that this breeding is unethical and can cause numerous health issues.

Miniature German Shepherds can make wonderful pets. I hope you have found this article helpful.

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Sharon Waddington

I am the owner of World of Dogz. I have a 6-year-old female German Shepherd named "Willow," and I've worked with dogs for almost 30 years. I love spending time with my dog, and I enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise of all things dogs on this site!

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