The origin of the Huntaway, also known as the New Zealand Sheepdog, is hazy. What is certain, though, is that it is native to New Zealand. It is the favoured canine for driving huge masses of sheep in the country.
The NZ Huntaway was developed in response to the different demands of herding livestock across the nation’s high country stations. Earlier canines—British sheepdogs—tended to drive the sheep silently. However, sometimes it would bark at the herd—a characteristic that NZ farmers find desirable in the hilly terrain of the countryside. Sight-driven dogs would be less effective in such terrain as it may lose sight of the herd as it treads down inclines.
As such, shepherds got into breeding the ideal canine herder. It should be able to manage bigger flocks, which were too large for Collies, and have a lot of stamina. It also should not rely on sight herding. The Huntaway later emerged.
It has been said that the Rottweiler, Beauceron, Labrador, Bloodhound, and German Shepherd were added to the Huntaway mix. This is difficult to confirm as this breed’s development was not documented. However, the Huntaway dog is said to have existed at least a century ago.
This pooch got its name from the herding trial that this type of dog was usually brought to by its handlers. To this day, it has not yet been acknowledged as a distinct breed. Despite this, the Huntaway has gained popularity among farmers in various parts of the world.