Huntaway may get unique place

ON THE HUNT: A huntaway works shifting cattle in the Feilding saleyards.
ON THE HUNT: A huntaway works shifting cattle in the Feilding saleyards.

New Zealand's leading dog federations have made a joint bid to officially make the huntaway the country's first dog breed.

The New Zealand Kennel Club (NZKC) and the New Zealand Sheep Dog Trial Association (NZSDTA) are concerned about the dog's health and another dog taking over its title.

Owen Dance, NZKC president, said concerns about the huntaway's future prompted paperwork to be filed to the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI).

"One is that some other dog will be bred in another country and called the same thing," he said.

Dance said a lot of dogs are bred for their looks instead of their function which can cause health issues.

"We don't want that to happen to the huntaway if people decide to start showing," Dance said.

The NZKC believe the huntaway should not participate in dog shows or be promoted as a pet.

The huntaway was bred in the early 1900s for New Zealand's climate and sheep farming terrain.

As sheep numbers grew, working dogs such as the border collie were less able to cope with the moist climate and the size of farms.

Because the shepherd was often a long distance from the dog, the silent working method of the border collie made it difficult for the shepherd to manage the flock and keep track of the dog.

As a result farmers wanted a dog with a short-haired coat, greater stamina and the ability to bark control the flock.

It is thought the huntaway may be the result of selective breeding between the border collie, bearded collie, labrador, rottweiler, harrier, gordon setter, and smithfield collie.

President of NZSDTA and farm owner John Harvey said the huntaway becoming an official New Zealand dog breed was great.

"There's nothing like them in the world," he said.

* Mereana Austin is a Wintec journalism student.

Waikato Times