The New Zealand Huntaway is a large, strong breed of dog from New Zealand, generally used for herding and sheep herding tasks. The breed in itself is unique in so much as that there is no specifically set breed standard in terms of appearance and temperament traits, but dogs of this type can be registered in the New Zealand Sheep Dog Trial Association Studbook if they have a proven history of ability and prowess in herding and working roles.
As a breed or type in its own right, the New Zealand Huntaway is relatively modern, first being recognised as a distinct breed or type rather than a crossbreed during the 1900’s.
The farming environment and conditions within New Zealand is unique and distinctive, with huge swathes of land used for the rearing and breeding of sheep, often distantly located from their owning farms and farming stations. This necessitates that dogs working with farmers and shepherds in this environment be capable of working in large teams over large geographical areas, often being out working on the plain for several days at a time.
The first types of dogs used to work with shepherds in New Zealand were sheepdogs imported from Britain, but these dogs had a tendency to be overly excitable, and bark too much when working. Collies, such as the Border Collie, were one of the British dog breeds first used in the creation of the New Zealand Huntaway breed, as well as other component working dog breeds with desirable traits, such as endurance, less propensity to bark, and a suitable physical conformation for the work.
There can be a significant amount of variation in terms of the appearance of different New Zealand Huntaway dogs, because as mentioned, the breed is not based on specific appearance traits in the way that most other breeds of dog are. However, there are a reasonable range of shared traits between dogs of the breed, due to their shared ancestries in most cases.
The general Huntaway appearance is of a fairly large, muscular but lithe dog, with long legs and an extended, smooth running gait.
The New Zealand Huntaway normally weighs between 55 and 88lb, and stands up to around 55-65cm tall at the withers. The coat texture of the New Zealand Huntaway can be either smooth, rough or grizzled, and they usually come in colours including black, tan and white or tricolour, although there is some variation and other colours can be seen too.
The New Zealand Huntaway temperament is by virtue of their working role, always highly intelligent, as well as being very tenacious and good at problem solving. They tend to be easily bored and can be unruly if incorrectly trained, and are used to being able to run and stretch their legs for long periods of time every day. They can also be rather challenging to keep within a domestic environment, being used to being active, outdoor dogs that are used to living and working as part of a pack.
They are also friendly, outgoing and personable, generally because they are used to working closely with their handlers.
The average lifespan of the Huntaway is 12-14 years, and they are a fairly robust and healthy breed, benefiting from the hybrid vigour of the combination of their component breeds.
They are active and fit, and generally not prone to contracting minor ills or injuries. However, they can be affected by some of the genetically inherited health issues that also affect their component breed ancestry, such as epilepsy and hip dysplasia, although no figures currently exist to show the occurrence rate of any of these conditions within the breed.
While the New Zealand Huntaway can live within a suburban, family home environment, it is important to remember that they require significant amounts of exercise and lots of physical and mental stimulation. Living with a family or handler that spends a lot of time outdoors and is very active is the ideal living situation for the Huntaway, as is having a confident and experienced handler and trainer.
They are very quick to learn commands, and can follow complex chain commands, often after only a couple of repetitions to instil the command into their memories. They are good at all outdoor, active activities, including sports such as agility and obedience.
Within the home, the Huntaway will soon become bored and potentially destructive if they do not have enough to do, and require plenty of attention to be devoted to their need for mental stimulation. They are outgoing, personable and very loving dogs, who are generally good with both adults and children of all ages, and more than happy to be involved in games and play.
Their coats are relatively low maintenance, but do require some brushing and grooming in order to keep them in good condition.
If your looking for a Huntaway dog, you can look in the Pets4Homes Huntaway Dogs for Sale section.