There are about 200,000 working farm dogs in New Zealand. Without them, the costs of farming sheep and beef cattle would be much higher, because it would be difficult to muster extensive areas of hill and high country. ‘Heading’ or ‘casting’ means going around a flock of sheep. Huntaways are big, strongly-built dogs used for everything – heading, hunting, forcing sheep into pens and backing (jumping on their backs), as well as working them in yards and woolsheds. All huntaways are bred to bark, and are selected for a loud, deep bark rather than yapping. Their size and shape varies widely. Coats may be long and shaggy or smooth-haired, and are usually black and tan.
Almost all sheepdogs imported into New Zealand between 1910 and 1930 have a dog known as Old Hemp somewhere in their pedigree. Born in 1893, he was bred in Northumberland, England. His sire was Roy – good tempered, easy moving and not crouching too much. His dam, Meg, was extremely strong-eyed. With these combined traits the dog became an outstanding worker and trials dog. His talents were passed on to over 200 pups, and all major British dog trial winners had his genes. These provided a source of sheepdogs for New Zealand.
We spotted piglets in a huge paddock running free, we stopped and asked Brian if we could take some photos… Brian, whom we had never met before greeted us with a huge smile and then went out of his way to make us feel very welcome even though he was busy on his farm. He put his spade down, showed us his property and beautiful gardens, then got his working dog to round up the pigs & piglets so he could feed them while we took photos. I am not sure if this is a huntaway dog…
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 Southland New Zealand September 2011
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