3 New Zealand Dog Breeds That Are Farmers’ Best Friend

Many New Zealand Dog Breeds are farm dogs that work on the land herding sheep and other cattle and going into the bush with their farmer masters to hunt animals such as pigs, possums and birds.

A famous New Zealand dog is featured in the famous Footrot Flats cartoon created by renowned Kiwi author Murray Ball. This character was inspired by farming life and was affectionately named simply “Dog.”

Farmers usually use short names for their furry farm workers so it’s easy for them to hear when they are out in the fields.

Let’s look at the three New Zealand dog breeds that work hard on the farmland and are a valuable asset to farmers who work hard every single day of the year.

Let’s jump right in.

1. The New Zealand Huntaway

New Zealand huntaway dog at the farm with its owner

The New Zealand Huntaway is is a dog originally from NZ that was bred for the purpose of farm life. (image source)

The breed was created from mixing cattle dogs including the Border Collie and Doberman.

The strong, large farm dog is mainly used to herd sheep and can round up sheep quickly and efficiently with the help of it’s deep, loud bark.

The black or tan-colored dog is perfect for life on the farm. It’s hard work in a climate that is hot in the summer, cold in the winter, and rugged landscapes with vast areas of hilly terrain.

The Huntaway dog is extremely smart and can think independently to achieve the task his master wants it to do.

An experienced farmer will train the dog to its full potential and be strict so the dog follows the rules and creative so its mind is kept active and challenged.

If the dog doesn’t have enough work to do or activities involving exercise it will become restless and destructive. It needs to be used for the reasons it was bred or will likely cause havoc.

Just because the intelligent Huntaway breed is a working dog doesn’t mean they are not part of the family and a much-loved pet also.


New Zealand farmers are known to be very fond of their farm dogs which are often working alongside them for a dog’s long lifetime which is usually 12 to 14 years on average.

Man’s best friend is defiantly a fit term for the farmer and his working Huntaway. The Huntaway is also used to herd cows and other cattle and has a lot of energy so are happy to work long days.

They generally have a nice, friendly nature and are easy to train to work alone on small farms or as a team of dogs on larger farms.

Other countries, especially Australia and Japan, recognize the Huntaway breed as a very useful farm animal.

The Huntaway is a classic Kiwi farm dog and much loved all over the country for the work it achieves and it’s friendly and lovable nature.

Let’s take a closer look at the 2nd New Zealand dog breeds:

2. The New Zealand Heading Dog

New Zealand Heading dog close up photo

The New Zealand Heading dog is originally from New Zealand and was bred to work in one of the country’s biggest industries – farming.

It is used to herd sheep and is well-known for its speed and sharp eyesight. Rounding up sheep isn’t easy, but the New Zealand Heading Dog is the perfect canine for the job.

Unlike the Huntaway, they rarely bark and instead use eye contact with the sheet and their speed to quickly block any sheep attempting to go in the wrong direction.

The dog is descended from the black and white Border Collie which arrived in the Land of the Long White Cloud with Scottish settlers.

In New Zealand, it was bred to be used to herd cattle and quickly became an asset to the farm it was working on every day.

In New Zealand farming, culture competitive sheepdog trials are a major event on the farming calendar and this breed is often on the winner’s board.

Herding is instinctual for this bred and if they are not kept busy rounding up sheep they will attempt to chase other animals and even people.

Here’s the thing…

They don’t make good pets.

But farmers are very fond of their heading dogs nevertheless and working hours are long so they are spending all day long together.

So the dog is also offering companionship to the farmer which is valued also since farming can be a career of solitude.


3. The Border Collie

Border Collie standing on white background

One of the most popular dogs in New Zealand is the Border Collie.

It arrived in New Zealand by sea in the late 1800s with Scottish settlers. Kiwi farmers quickly saw the dog had massive potential to help them with farming tasks and was ideal for their farming needs.

This black and white, long-haired pooch, is very flexible and versatile.

It can be a farm dog or loyal family pet as long as it’s given ample exercise every day (and it needs several long walks each day without fail).

It is a very affectionate dog with a lot of energy and level temperament.

The Border Collie is an excellent sheepherder and hard-working farm dog and lives to please its owner.

Border Collies are also used in other industries such as police work and border control.

While you will see many other breeds of dog in New Zealand, others mostly are domestic pets, the majority are farm dogs.

There is an estimated 200,000 faithful farm dogs working the land with their owners.

In New Zealand, there are more sheep than people, and farming is one of the main industries for the country, so there will never be a shortage of work for the furry cattle workers.

It’s not an easy life being a farm dog, but they were bred for the purpose to love the work they do.

It’s your turn.

Have you owned one of these hardworking dogs?

Please leave a comment.

Check Out Other Oceania Dog Breeds in the links below:










About the author: Driven by his lifelong passion for dogs and an insatiable curiosity about their diverse breeds, Pablo Pascua founded dogbreedsfaq.com. Through this website, he seeks to expand his knowledge and share his findings with fellow dog enthusiasts. Having owned several dogs throughout his life, Pablo’s experiences have fueled his interest in learning more about these beloved animals. His mission is to provide accurate and comprehensive information to help pet owners make informed decisions about their furry companion.