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  • Writer's pictureSteve Rigden

The Huntaway

The Huntaway dog is a breed originating from New Zealand, specifically bred for herding and driving sheep. Known for its intelligence, strength, and loud, distinctive bark, the Huntaway has become an essential tool for sheep farmers in New Zealand and beyond.The history of the Huntaway can be traced back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries when New Zealand farmers needed a versatile and capable herding dog to manage large flocks of sheep in the rugged terrain of the country's hills and mountains. To meet this demand, various breeds were crossed, including Border Collies, Old English Sheepdogs, Labrador Retrievers, and other working breeds.The result was the Huntaway, a breed uniquely suited to the task of herding and controlling sheep.


Unlike other herding dogs that rely on "eye" (staring down and controlling sheep), the Huntaway uses its powerful bark to move and direct the flock. This bark, often described as a loud, deep, and commanding sound, is used to communicate with the sheep over long distances and to exert control when necessary.In addition to its vocal abilities, the Huntaway is prized for its intelligence and problem-solving skills. It is known for its ability to assess a situation quickly and make independent decisions, making it an invaluable asset to farmers working in challenging conditions.


The breed is also highly trainable, responsive to commands, and eager to please its owner, making it relatively easy to work with.Physically, the Huntaway is a medium to large-sized dog, typically weighing between 40 to 80 pounds (18 to 36 kilograms). It has a muscular build, a broad chest, and a strong, agile frame that allows it to navigate rough terrain with ease. The breed's coat can vary in length and texture, but it is generally dense and weather-resistant, providing protection from the elements during long days of work outdoors.In terms of temperament, the Huntaway is known for its friendly and outgoing nature. It is loyal to its family and bonds closely with its owner, but it also tends to be social and accepting of strangers. While it has a strong herding instinct, it can coexist peacefully with other pets and animals if properly socialized from a young age.Today, the Huntaway remains primarily a working dog, valued for its contributions to the agricultural industry.



However, it has also gained popularity as a companion animal and is recognized by various kennel clubs around the world. As more people discover its intelligence, loyalty, and versatility, the Huntaway's reputation as an exceptional breed continues to grow. Whether herding sheep on a remote farm or relaxing at home with its family, the Huntaway embodies the spirit of the hardworking, adaptable, and beloved working dogs of New Zealand.

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