Huntaway Breed Information and Buying advice


Are You Looking to Buy or Adopt a Huntaway?

Quick Huntaway Facts

Average Size of Adult
Medium (3/5)
Puppy Puppy Puppy Puppy Puppy
Grooming Requirement
Low (1/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
High (3/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Average Life Span
12-14 years (5/8)
Exercise Requirements
High (3/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
High (3/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Medium (2/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Child friendly
Yes (1/2)
High (3/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Breed Group
Pastoral (3/8)
No (2/2)

Huntaway (New Zealand Huntaway, New Zealand Sheepdog)


The Huntaway is a New Zealand sheepdog breed that was originally bred to work sheep without a shepherd. The Huntaway breed is intelligent, reliable and no-nonsense. Huntaways like to have jobs to do and take their work seriously. The Huntaway is known for being excellent around children and can happily live in a family environment as well as a working environment. This breed is athletic, good-natured and has an independent streak. The Huntaway breed is incredibly athletic and has impressive stamina and determination. The appearance of the Huntaway varies from dog to dog with different coat types but most Huntaways are medium-sized black and tan dogs.

Physical Appearance 

The Huntaway is a well-balanced, robust dog that has an athletic build. This is a breed that is built for stamina and endurance. Huntaways have flat skulls, broad heads and long muzzles. Huntaways always have black noses and their medium eyes are brown and almond shaped. Huntaways have wide ears that are set at the top of the head and carried forward and semi-erect when the dog is alert. Huntaway's ears fold over forwards but tend to be carried back when the dog is resting.

Huntaways are powerful and well-muscled with deep chests and strong legs. The breed has well-padded feet and arched toes; their tails are long and carried low when relaxed and high when working. The coat of the Huntaway can be short, medium or long in length and can be glossy or rough. The coat type depends on the individual but Huntaways tend to be low maintenance when it comes to coat care and grooming. Huntaways are typically black and tan or tricolour.

How big do Huntaway dogs get?

  • Height - Males: 61 - 66cm. Females: 56 - 61cm.

  • Weight - Males: 30 - 40kg. Females: 25 - 35kg.

Character Traits

The Huntaway is an intelligent breed that learns quickly and enjoys training sessions. Although serious when doing a job, Huntaways do have a playful side and can be very entertaining when in a playful mood. The breed enjoys interactive games such as fetch and is easy to train. Huntaways have been bred to work but their affectionate, reliable and loyal nature makes them a wonderful family pet too. Huntaways have a huge amount of stamina and energy so they need plenty of exercise each day to keep them happy. This hunting breed has a strong prey and herding drive so are excellent working dogs but they are too social and friendly to be good guard dogs.

Are Huntaway dogs intelligent? Yes.

Are Huntaway dogs affectionate? Yes.

Do Huntaway dogs have high or low energy levels?  High energy levels. 

Are Huntaway dogs loyal? Yes.

Are Huntaway dogs playful? Yes.

Are Huntaway dogs aggressive? No.

Are Huntaway dogs easy to train? Yes.

Are Huntaway dogs good guard dogs? No, they are too friendly.

Ability to Socialise 

The Huntaway is a social breed that loves to be around their family. They enjoy the company of other dogs and can even get along with a family cat if they have grown up together. With that said, the Huntaway will not think twice about chasing unfamiliar cats and other animals. This means care must be taken when around other smaller animals and it is best to keep a Huntaway on a lead unless in a secure area. Huntaways are very friendly with people and will have no problem saying hello to a stranger. They are also excellent with children, a trait that makes them wonderful in family environments. Although Huntaways are not aggressive, they can be protective of their families.

Do Huntaway dogs get along with other pets? Yes, they will get on with animals they have grown up with.

Do Huntaway dogs get along with other dogs? Yes.

Are Huntaway dogs good with kids? Yes (5/5).

Are Huntaway dogs good with strangers? Yes, they are very friendly. 

Lifestyle Suitability

This breed is a good choice for first time owners as long as they have enough time to train and exercise the Huntaway as required. Huntaways need plenty of space and should have access to a secure garden where they can safely roam, burn off energy and express themselves. Thanks to the independent nature of the Huntaway, they don't mind being left on their own for a portion of the day. The breed can be sensitive to loud noises and has a tendency to bark so may not be the best choice if you have neighbours in close proximity or live in a loud environment. 

Are Huntaway dogs good for first-time owners? Yes.

Are Huntaway dogs hypoallergenic? No.

Are Huntaway dogs prone to drooling? No.

Are Huntaway dogs a good breed for apartment living? No.

Do  Huntaway dogs shed a lot? They shed moderately.

Do  Huntaway dogs bark a lot? Yes.

Can Huntaway dogs be left alone at home? Yes.

Can Huntaway dogs handle the heat? Yes.

Can Huntaway dogs handle cold temperatures? Yes.

Are Huntaway dogs sensitive to loud noises? They can be.

General Health & Health Issues

The Huntaway breed has an average life expectancy of 12 - 14 years. Huntaways are known for being healthy and hardy but they can suffer from the following conditions: 

  • Hip dysplasia - This is a painful condition that is common in larger dog breeds. The condition causes the hip joints to develop abnormally causing swelling and arthritis. Hip dysplasia can be treated with weight control, careful exercise, pain relief and in severe cases, surgery. 

  • Cancer -  There are a number of different cancers dogs can suffer from. The symptoms can include a lump, low energy, reduced appetite, weight loss, drinking more, vomiting, coughing and diarrhoea. Diagnosis is often possible through testing and diagnostics and treatment is available.

How long do Huntaway dogs live?  12 - 14 years

Exercise & Play Time

Huntaways have a lot of energy and need to be exercised for at least 60 minutes each day. Huntaways benefit from having a secure garden where they can run, play and use up their energy during the day. These active dogs are good escape artists so the garden fence needs to be extremely secure to keep them in. As the Huntaway is a herding dog they have impressive stamina and endurance so they are well suited to active families who enjoy hikes and long walks. Huntaways can benefit from participating in sports and activities such as herding, obedience and agility. The Huntaway should only be let off lead in safe areas where there are no other animals or livestock around. 

How much exercise does a Huntaway dog need?  At least 60 minutes per day.

Do Huntaway dogs like water play? Yes.

Nutrition & Feeding

Huntaways can vary greatly in size and activity levels meaning they can have different dietary requirements. Huntaways enjoy food and should be fed high-quality dry food. A Huntaway puppy needs between 195 - 400g per day depending on their age and build. This should be split into 3 - 4 portions and offered throughout the day. This is only a rough estimate, every dog is unique so it is important to have a personal dietary plan made based on the Huntaways age, build, weight and activity levels.

Are Huntaway dogs prone to weight gain? No.

How much should I feed a Huntaway puppy? Between 195g - 400g per day depending on the puppy’s age and build.

How much should I feed an adult Huntaway dog? Between 250g - 420g per day depending on the dog’s weight and activity levels.

Care & Maintenance

Grooming: Huntaways are low maintenance when it comes to grooming. Huntaways need to be brushed once or twice a week and keep their coats shiny. The short coat of the Huntaway sheds moderately all year but this can increase in Spring and Autumn. It is important to check a Huntaway’s ears regularly and clean them when needed to avoid ear infections. 

Emotional Care: A happy Huntaway is one that has enough exercise and mental stimulation each day. Huntaways don’t mind being left alone but they need a job to do to keep them busy. Huntaways quickly become bored and could become destructive as a way of relieving stress if their needs are not met. This breed is easy to train but the training sessions need to be kept short and exciting so the Huntaway doesn’t lose interest. 

History of the Huntaway

The origins of the Huntaway breed are unknown but it is thought they were developed using a range of breeds including German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Bloodhounds, Labradors and Beaucerons. However, there are no records that outline the breed development. The Huntaway is also known as the New Zealand Sheepdog and has a strong reputation for managing flocks of sheep. They can work sheep with or without a shepherd and bark to herd the flock. 

The name Huntaway comes from when handlers in New Zealand would take the dogs to sheep herding trials known as Huntaways. The development of this breed was necessary as sheep flocks became too large for collies to be able to manage. The Huntaway was developed to have incredible stamina, a shorter coat and they needed to use their voice as part of their herding technique. 

Although always popular in New Zealand, the Huntaway breed is beginning to find a larger fanbase in other parts of the world. Huntaways are difficult to find in the UK but they are wonderful, loyal dogs that can live in a family home. 

Interesting Facts About Huntaway Dogs

  • Huntaway dogs are from New Zealand. 

  • Huntaways are the first recognised breed of New Zealand origin. 

  • Huntaways can vary in size, appearance and coat type. 

  • Huntaways have a lolloping stride when running. 

Getting a Huntaway Puppy

As most puppies are now bought online, take a look at our buying guide for information on finding and buying your new puppy. This guide includes questions to ask breeders and how to avoid scams. The breeders featured on Puppies have all been vetted to ensure they are responsible. If you think this is the breed for you, check out our Huntaway Puppy page to find dogs available in your area. 

How much does a Huntaway cost to buy? - £500 - £800. 

How much does a Huntaway cost to feed? £50 per month.

How much does insurance for a Huntaway cost?  £35 per month.

An alternative option is to adopt a Huntaway. We’d recommend speaking to your local rescue centre or contacting the associations below: 

Adopt a Huntaway with the Dogs Trust

Speak to Rushdog Dog Rescue about rehoming a Huntaway

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