Interesting Facts About Huntaway Dog – New Zealand Huntaway Dog

Huntaway Dog

Meet the agile and powerfully built breed, the Huntaway Dog, also known as the New Zealand Sheepdog.

Dog lovers are always curious about different dog breeds and what characteristics they have. The huntaway dog breed is native to New Zealand. This New Zealand herding dog breed is classified among the Mammalia group and belongs to the Animalia kingdom.

This is always a good thing to learn as it will equip you with the right information when wanting to ensure that your dog gets the right care, nutrition, exercise, and insurance. As a pet owner, you can help to make sure your pooch’s wellbeing is easily sustained in this way and the New Zealand Huntaway Dog is no exception to this rule.

The huntaway dogs are very useful, especially in herding abilities. They are mainly outdoor animals with great strength and energy. They are used to herd sheep for farming activities, and to round up massive flocks of sheep in the farm terrain in New Zealand.


Huntaway Dog


Characteristically, the huntaway dogs are known for their ability to make loud and sustained barks while herding sheep. They are also known as New Zealand herding dogs or New Zealand sheepdogs.

For people unfamiliar with the huntaway dog breed, or dog enthusiastic, we bring six exciting facts you need to know about the fascinating huntaway dog.


Huntaway Dog


Historical Facts

If you’re not from New Zealand, you might not be familiar with the fact that this breed is one of the most popular ones in the country as there are 30,000 registered Huntaway dogs. They were first bred for the unique farming conditions which required hard-working dog breeds with excellent stamina and plenty of self-discipline.

As New Zealand has the densest population of sheep in the whole world, sheepdogs have always been sought-after. These dogs were mainly bred to use their loud deep bark for sheep-herding tasks and to patrol the country’s vast terrains.

We can say that the breeding goal was successful because even if the Huntaway is miles away, the steady barking can still be heard. It’s believed that the dogs that played the largest role in the Huntaway development were Old English Sheepdogs and Border Collies but it is likely that they were later interbred with some other dogs as well.

The exact origin of this breed is unknown but the first written records appeared in 1870 in Upper Waitaki where a trial of a sheepdog was shown to have Huntaway class. An interesting fact is that only in 2013 did the Huntaway dog gain recognition by the New Zealand Kennel Club.

Even though best known in New Zealand, there is an increasing trend of keeping these dogs in countries like Australia and Great Britain. In fact, even Japan has opened a Huntaway Club.


Origin and Purpose

As stated earlier, the huntaway dog originated from New Zealand. They were bred to herd a large flock of sheep for the country farming populace. Created around the 1990s, they were bred to keep track of their owners’ herds of sheep.

Huntaway dogs are incredible with their loud, barking voices. One of the primary aims of this powerful bark is to direct the herds with such barks.

They are a crossbreed between Border Collies, British sheepdogs, and Rottweilers.

Typically, their coat color is black or tan, with some having additional white markings.

The huntaway dogs are large, have beautifully floppy ears, and have been adopted as the unofficial working dogs of the country.

Other Native New Zealand dog breeds include the Kuri and New Zealand Herding Dog.

Huntaway Dog


General Health Condition

The huntaway dogs are healthy and lively animals. Bred for their working abilities, the New Zealand sheepdogs are strong and agile, dawning solid muscular bodies.

They possess incredible stamina that enables them to run after sheep on the steep slopes of New Zealand.

And because they were bred to work, they require exercises that will keep them active and agile. Hence, regular walks and games that will challenge their abilities are highly recommended.

The huntaway dogs have a long lifespan and can live up to 12 to 15 years. They can grow up to 26 inches and weigh up to 88 pounds. New Zealand’s breed male dogs are touted to weigh up to 100 pounds.

Like other dogs, the huntaway dogs also have their fair share of health challenges. Most of their health problems are inherited.

Ailments commonly afflicting the breed are bone cancer and hip and elbow dysfunction. They are also known to suffer ear and eye problems with age.


Physical Appearance

When you think of elegant black and tanned dog breeds, you probably imagine the Rottweiler, the Doberman Pinscher, and even the Dachshund. But Huntaway, which is also known as the New Zealand Sheepdog, is another dog breed that is very similar to them.

However, the Huntaway may not always have a uniform appearance and breed standard, and it mostly comes in different colors, and sizes, with smooth or rough coat textures.

The Huntaway is a talented and strong breed known for its muscular built and athletic body, hard-working personality, and beautiful black-brown fur, which sometimes has a white coat color and brindle.

These dogs are medium to large-sized, with a typical height measure of around 24 inches and their weight can vary quite a lot, depending on whether it is a female or male. Still, one can say they weigh anywhere between 55 and 100 pounds.

Even though this New Zealand Sheepdog can get certain inheritable health conditions, the most common problems are still work-related injuries, like sheep herding tasks. Therefore, it is smart to cover your huntaway dog breed with good health insurance from head to paw.

Since there are numerous insurance plans available, make sure you take a look at a reputable pet insurance marketplace that will allow you to compare and select the right insurance plan for you and your furry friend. This will put your mind at ease and prepare you for any unpredictable and unfortunate events.

The Huntaway has a deep chest with long legs, a long tail and snout, long floppy ears, and well-padded paws that cope excellently with the rough terrain that is typical for New Zealand huntaway dogs.


Personality Traits

The Huntaway dog is perfect for the farming lifestyle because of its hard-working character, obedient and driven nature, and, of course, its great endurance.

Like most herding breeds, the New Zealand Huntaway dog is extremely intelligent, easily trainable, and very loyal.

All these characteristic traits combined make it suitable for the dog to work on steep and rough terrain, guiding large herds of sheep, solving problems, and excelling at huntaway dog trials.

The disadvantage of its intelligence is that it can easily become boring and not enjoy repeating the same tasks.

In addition, the dog loves being outdoors where it can release its energy because if it is not provided with an adequate outlet for its high energy levels, it can become hyperactive and destructive.

Nowadays, the Huntaway is not used just as a working dog, but rather as a household companion as it is gentle with a soft nature. It is eager to please, loving, and friendly towards the entire family and makes the most amazing companion for children.

This friendly nature however does not make the Huntaway the best guarding dog as it can quickly become close to strangers.


Huntaway Dog


Easy To Maintain

It’s quite easy to maintain the huntaway dogs. Once you notice a doggy smell, you know it’s time to bathe your huntaway. Regular grooming is required, especially in the summer season, when they shed the most.

Fortunately, while they spend a lot of time outside, often in pastures all day, herding breeds tend to have somewhat dirt and odor-resistant coats.

The foul-smelling breath of the huntaway is an indication that it needs a dental check. To prevent this ungodly breath, you should brush their teeth regularly, clean their ears, and check for infections.

It’s best to visit a professional for vaccination, proper treatment, and further information on how to take care of your huntaway.

The quality of the diets they consume is vital to their survival. They need healthy and nutritious meals and treats for optimal performance.

At Pet Life, you can find nutritious dog foods essential for maintaining your dog’s health. High-quality dry dog food provides a well-balanced diet for your huntaway. Make sure to look for food formulated for highly active medium to large breeds.



The huntaway dog’s temperament is loving but motivated above all else. The huntaway dogs are an intelligent breed. They possess the ability to learn quickly and grasp instructions easily.

When properly handled, they can bring out their best. Easy to train, friendly to people and other dogs, the New Zealand huntaway dogs display a high level of activity and smartness.

The huntaway dogs are quick, energetic, and responsive with sharp mental alertness and sensitivity.

Aside from being quick learners, the huntaway dogs are obedient and dutiful watchdogs. Through their loud, deep barks, the owner can quickly know when danger is near or when someone is around the house.


Perfect Family Dog

The New Zealand dog breed is a home animal. They have likable personalities with great adaptability. The huntaway dogs make it easier to enjoy time with kids. You can provide the huntaway with dog coats, beds, carriers, etc.

They are friendly with everyone and note every little thing kids do and activities happening around the home.

The huntaway dogs love playing, exercising, and getting pampered. They are also an excellent travel companion.

Despite their strong barking ability, they are very loyal, gentle, and amiable creatures, making them perfect family companions.


If in the right hands, training the huntaway heading dog can be a real pleasure as it can go very smoothly and without difficulty. Since it is a very sharp dog and open to learning, it picks up commands swiftly. The downside is that it is independent so the owner must be very consistent and dedicated to the training.

Make the training varied and interesting so that you keep the dog’s attention on you which will yield flawless results in the end.

Remember to keep your eyes on the dog at all times. Create a schedule that will make it possible for the pup to settle down. As long as the plan consists of regular potty visits, feeding times, walks, and sleep hours, the dog will not get bored and misbehave.

Since Huntaways stay in packs, they naturally need a leader and therefore the first thing you should learn is to establish your dominance as this will make training easy for you and the animal will heed your commands at all times and not question your authority.

Refrain from yelling, striking, or punishing the Huntaway since the best strategy is positive training. Establish a short and easy routine, which can last in total around 10 minutes, three times a day. This is the right way since long repetitive sessions can become dull and, as we mentioned earlier, the dog can lose interest quickly.

When training the Huntaway, socialization is among the essential teaching tips. This will make it easier for the dog to coexist with other people, animals, and different surroundings.


Overall Health 

In general, the Huntaway dog is a very healthy dog breed with a long lifespan between 12 to 14 years.

However, just like other dogs, they can suffer from some health issues, most of which are hereditary. The most common inherited illnesses are bone cancer, hip and elbow dysplasia, and ear infections due to their long ears.

Mucopolysaccharidosis Type IIIA (MPS IIIA), a rare metabolic issue that can cause neurological problems, can also affect this dog.

Studies have also shown that Huntaway dogs may be predisposed to dilated cardiomyopathy, which is an enlarged heart that can cause heart failure.

Although there is significantly increased prevalence in this breed, only a small number of Huntaway dogs affected were identified.

With all this in mind, the number one health concern of a Huntaway owner is still related to injuries that can occur from playtime and hard work.

In warm weather, when exposed to mosquitoes, the Huntaway dog is at risk of developing heartworms as these mosquitoes transport heartworms from dog to dog. This is worth knowing as heartworm infestations can be dangerous and even fatal.

You can take the dog to do a heartworm screen each spring as a way to stop infections. The veterinarian might even give your Huntaway dog a monthly pill during a warm and wet period of the year for ultimate protection.


Nutrition Needs

Even though today the Huntaway is more of a companion dog, it is still a herding dog and must be given well-balanced and top-quality food. It should receive nutrition formulated for active working breeds.

It is a good idea to occasionally mix in homemade food by offering the dog simple foods such as brown rice, pasta, and boiled chicken which will do him good.

The Huntaway also enjoys fruits and veggies like carrots and spinach, eggs, and cottage cheese, but these food items should amount to less than ten percent of their daily food intake.

When giving this dog “human food,” make sure to limit it as it may cause mineral and vitamin imbalances, bone and dental problems, and in some cases, even obesity.

If the dog starts significantly putting on weight, the daily calorie intake must be well-adjusted and the amount of exercise must be increased to prevent any strain on the internal organs, especially the heart.

Just like humans, the dog should always have access to clean and fresh water.


Exercise Activities

If you want to keep your Huntaway healthy and happy, you should introduce daily exercise and lots of it and the Huntaway will not disappoint as it has plenty of energy.

If you have this dog as a family companion, daily long walks, jogs, or hikes, accompanied by regular training sessions or task-oriented playtime are essential to keep its body in good shape and its spirits high since these dogs are the happiest when kept busy.

As these dogs have been bred to work, games that can challenge their abilities are always welcomed. In this sense, it is the perfect family dog since it will adapt perfectly to an active group of people and children that are eager to play and have fun.

There are plenty of sports activities and agility classes that are attractive to this breed and they show particular talent when it comes to fly ball type of sports.

Given the huntaway dog temperament, this dog is best suited for a family that lives in a house with a large fenced yard since it has a high level of energy and needs a good deal of space to spend it, and apartments would not be the ideal environment for doing that.


Grooming Facts

It’s not difficult to groom the Huntaway as it looks after itself and this is perhaps the biggest perk when owning such a dog.

They do not need frequent bathing but since they shed a lot, especially as the seasons change, hence regular brushing is a must as it will help minimize the shedding.

When you do this 2-3 times a week, they will have a healthy and shiny appearance all year round.

Just like with all dogs, their ears, eyes, and nails should be regularly checked and cleaned properly or clipped if needed.

During the hot summer weather, the pooch should be checked for ticks and fleas, combed and any mats should be cut out from its hair. When bathing the dog, all the soap from the coat must be rinsed, or else the dirt can stick to the soap’s residue.

A good tip is to groom Huntaways from an early age so they can get accustomed to the experience and accept it as something normal as they grow older.


Spaying and Neutering 

Female Huntaway dogs are advised to be spayed, meaning to remove the ovaries and uterus.

Spaying is shown to greatly diminish the risk of breast cancer which can be fatal and a common concern among more mature females. When the dog is young, spaying can also eliminate a diseased uterus which is a serious disease affecting older females.

Male dogs, on the other hand, are neutered by 6 months of age and this can greatly reduce the appearance of prostate diseases, testicular cancer, hernias, and aggressive behavior in the Huntaway dog that can be prevented by neutering.


Final Thoughts

The New Zealand huntaway dogs are an exciting breed, as they can be used for work and serve as pets at home. They are family-friendly, brilliant, and easy to train.

It is big, strong, ideal for forcing sheep into pens, working in yards and woolsheds but it is also kind, smart, protective and the best company for all family members as it shows great desire to actively join and engage in fun physical activities.

The huntaway dogs are indigenous to New Zealand and have been acknowledged by the National Kennel Club as the country’s natural dog breed.

They are highly motivated, loved by kids, kind and protective, and are a suitable family companion. Like most dogs, when provoked, they can be offensive, but when loved, it’s not in the nature of the huntaway dog breed to be aggressive.

Last but not least, it loves to cuddle and snuggle up with you once its energy is spent. With these interesting facts, you’ll surely be fascinated by this unique dog breed and appreciate it even more.

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