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9 Interesting Facts About Huntaway Dog – New Zealand Huntaway Dog

Dog lovers are always curious about different dog breeds and what characteristics they have.

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.

One of the key responsibilities when being a dog owner and wanting to stay on top of things is to obtain proper pet insurance.

It will provide your pet with the best care possible and ensure their wellbeing if an accident or illness befalls them.

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.  

As we mentioned above, true dog enthusiasts want to hear everything they possibly can about different breeds and in this article, we will list interesting facts about the Huntaway breed, as it is one of the most fascinating dog breeds out there.


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.


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, 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



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 with 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

When you think about it, the New Zealand Huntaway dog is the perfect household companion as it can play so many awesome roles.

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.

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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