Huntaway Breed Profile

Have you been watching Lambing Live and interested to know more about the Huntaway? Francesca from Pet365 talks about this special breed, and why it is so special.


The huntaway is a type of sheep herding dog from New Zealand. This breed is also known as the New Zealand huntaway and the New Zealand sheepdog. Huntaways were bred by New Zealand sheep ranchers for use in the unique circumstances found in New Zealand sheep ranching. In New Zealand, the sheep herds can be quite massive numbering in the thousands, and the sheep range over large distances while grazing. The shepherd needed a dog that was capable of rounding up these large herds and driving them away from the shepherd toward the sheep folds.

The huntaway differs from many of the more well-known herding dogs such as border collies that use eye to control the sheep. The huntaway utilizes its deep, strong bark to round up and drive the sheep. In order to develop the right type of sheep herding dog, the bloodhound, beuceron, rottweiler, and German shepherd were used to help create the huntaway breed.

Physical Attributes

Because huntaways are more prized for their working abilities than for their appearance, the breed has quite a variation in its physical attributes. Most huntaways are black with tan markings on the face and legs. Some members of the breed are as small as 40 pounds, but some members of the breed weigh in at over 80 pounds. In height, huntaways on the small side stand about 20 inches at the shoulder. Larger huntaways top out at around 27 inches in height at the shoulder. Huntaways have either tip ears or ears that hang completely down like a hound. Most of these dogs have short hair, but there are long-haired huntaways that are called “beardies.”

This breed is known for its rugged endurance. They can work sheep all day, and they never seem to tire out. After driving the flock to the fold, they still have enough energy to walk across the backs of sheep and keep the flock moving into the pens or through the sheep dip troughs.

Huntaways make great working dogs. They are not really suitable as guard dogs. Most huntaways have a friendly personality with people, and they are not considered to be an aggressive breed. Many members of this breed can become what are known as “one man dogs.” These dogs will only respond to commands from one person, and they are only affectionate towards that one person.

The huntaway’s short-length coat makes for easy grooming. They need to be brushed out a couple of times each week. They should be bathed as necessary.


This is a very hardy breed of dog. They have very few of the congenital health problems that are often found in pedigreed dogs. One of the major health concerns of owner’s of these dogs is related to injuries that may occur as a result of hard work and play.

For their size, huntaways enjoy a slightly longer than average lifespan. Huntaways often live to be between 12 and 14 years of age. As with most dogs, cancer is the number one killer of older huntaways.