NZ Huntaway


Group: Working
Size: Medium – large
Watchdog ability:
Protection ability:
Area of Origin: New Zealand
Date of Origin:
Other Names:
Original Function: Sheep herding

The NZ Huntaway was first bred around the early 1900's to work in NZ's specific sheep farming terrain and climate. As NZ's sheep population grew and the size of individual flocks increased, farmers soon realised that traditional working dogs like Border Collies were less able to cope with the mild, moist climate and the size of the farms. With the shepherd often far behind the dog, the silent working method of the collie made it difficult for the shepherd to manage the flock and keep track of the dog so they looked for a dog with a short haired coat, greater stamina and the ability to bark to control the flock. Other breeds were introduced to the collies and the desired traits in the offspring were bred on to produce the resulting Huntaway breed type. The NZ Huntaway is possibly the result of selective breeding between the Border Collie, Bearded Collie, Labrador, Rottweiler, Harrier, Gordon Setter and Smithfield Collie although the exact origins are unknown. The New Zealand Huntaway is first and foremost a working breed, selected solely for its ability to tirelessly work stock day in and day out. The only consideration when breeding should be as to their working ability and physical soundness. There should be no deviation from this when breeding.


Official Breed Standard

Generally they are well-built, robust dogs of a medium to large height and weight. Usually a short haired breed, the coat can be smooth, rough or wiry. He is a lithe active dog, his deep chest showing lung power, his neck strength, his stooping shoulders and well bent hock indicating speed and his expression of high intelligence. The New Zealand Huntaway should show great endurance, activity and intelligence with free and true action and in good hard muscular condition. A Huntaway's voice (bark when moving stock) should be deep, loud and able to be maintained all day. A Huntaway's colour, coat and size are totally irrelevant as compared to their working ability although it is accepted that a high percentage fit into the mid size, black and tan, smooth haired range.

A Huntaway's nature should be robust and not easily offended while still retaining a high degree of trainability as their requirement to do a big percentage of the work under command may be high.

Head and Skull:
The skull should be flat , moderately wide between the ears, and gradually tapering towards the eyes. The head is broad, not coarse or clumsy but in proportion to the size of the dog.

Stop Slight:
The cheeks should not be too full or prominent.

The muzzle should be of moderate length, tapering to the nose, but should not show weakness or be snipy or lippy. Whatever the colour of the dog the nose must be black.

The jaws clean cut and powerful.
The teeth should be of good size and sound. Scissor bite is required.

The eyes are a very important feature and give expression to the dog. Medium size, set somewhat obliquely, almond shaped. Dark brown in colour. Expression full of intelligence with a quick alert look when listening.

The ears should be moderately wide at the base. Not placed too close together, on top of the skull, not on the side of the head. When in repose they should be carried thrown back, but when on the alert brought forward and carried semi-erect, with the tips slightly drooping in attitude of listening.

The neck should be muscular, powerful, of fair length and somewhat arched.

The fore-legs should be straight and muscular, neither in nor out at elbow, with plenty of bone. The pasterns flexible without weakness.

The body should be strong with well sprung ribs. Chest deep. Fairly broad behind the shoulders which should be stooped. Loins very powerful.

The hind legs should be muscular at the thighs, clean and sinewy below the hock. Well bent stifles with a fair length between stifle and hock. The hocks well let down and powerful.

Oval in shape, soles well padded. Toes arched and close together. The hind feet less arched.

Moderately long. Carried low when the dog is quiet and with a slight upward 'swirl' at the end. May be carried gaily when the dog is excited but not over the back.

The coat may be smooth, medium, long, grizzly, bearded or rough, with or without undercoat.

A Huntaway's colour is totally irrelevant as compared to their working ability although it is accepted that a high percentage are black and tan.

Though any size is acceptable the mid range would likely be:
Dogs – Height at withers: 61–66 cm (24–26 in) Weight: 30–40 kg (66–88 lkbs)
Bitches – Height: 56–61 cm (22–24 in) Weight: 25–35 kg (55–77 lkbs)

Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.


  1. domed skull
  2. high peaked occipital-bone
  3. snipy muzzle
  4. full staring or light eyes
  5. crooked legs
  6. flat or hare feet
  7. cow hocks
  8. tail twisted or carried over back
  9. under or overshot mouth
Note: Male animals should have two apprarently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

Additional notes:
It is the opinion of the New Zealand Sheepdog Trial Association that a Huntaway should never be shown, due to the large variance in colour, type and size and the inability to prove in a show ring their core (and only) task of working stock.
It is the opinion of the New Zealand Sheepdog Trial Association that a New Zealand Huntaway should not be kept solely as a pet.
No changes to the official breed standard of the New Zealand Huntaway will be made without consultation with the New Zealand Sheepdog Trial Association.

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