The Huntaway is a breed of dog used for herding livestock. It is a heavy New Zealand sheepdog used to move sheep away from the shepherd. The New Zealand Huntaway originated in the 1900’s. While most of the original British sheepdogs transported to New Zealand worked the sheep silently, an occasional dog would work them with his voice. Some shepherds were intrigued with this, liking what they saw in the voice-driving sheepdogs.
Selective breeding of the barking sheep-herding dogs and many other breeds were crossed to get the characteristics that were desired. The Black Lab, Hound, Border Collie, German Shepherd Dog are just a few. Many more breeds were included in the genetic make-up of these dogs. This breeding process proved successful, resulting in the New Zealand Huntaway, a breed that urges sheep forward with its voice.
Although it is not currently recognized by any kennel clubs, even in its land of origin, the New Zealand Huntaway breeds true for the intended purpose of sheep herding. It has been exported to Great Britain, where it participates in field trials and works as a sheepdog. It is becoming increasingly popular as a companion dog. Currently there is a NZ Huntaway Club starting in Japan.
The New Zealand Huntaway come in various shapes, sizes, and colors and hair-coats. Some of these dogs are very big and some are very small. For the New Zealand Huntaway fanciers, the looks of the dog is not as important as their working ability.
The New Zealand Huntaway is a very unique sheep-herding dog, in that it uses its voice to drive the sheep. The dog leans to gather the heard and follow behind it. Special events were developed for these dogs at sheep-herding trials. The events were referred to as “huntaways”, which eventually gave the dog its name. Usually good with children and fairly easy to obedience train, the New Zealand Huntaway is an intelligent dog. They are usually good with non-canine pets.
The New Zealand Huntaway is friendly with strangers. They are not guard dogs and some are not good watch dogs. Because they were bred as a barking-herding dog, they need to be trained when to bark and when not to bark. These dogs are very intelligent and this is not difficult to do. One owner states, “They actually only bark when they are being worked or when they want to be fed. They have been trained to keep quiet and to save their voice for working.
So this trait can be trained out of them. My husband has even come up with separate commands to send his dog on outruns with either voice or no voice. They aren’t just intelligent; they are extremely intelligent.” Another owner of the New Zealand Huntaway, who lives in Japan, states that her dog loves to bark. Not at people, but when the dog wants her to do something for it; for example, when the dog wants her to accompany her upstairs.