The Eukanuba Shepherds’ Shemozzle
Upcoming Event Notification: The Eukanuba Shepherds’ Shemozzle at Hunterville Huntaway Festival, Saturday 29 October 2016
Once a year working NZ Sheep dogs (Huntaways) right across the North Island get a day off to compete in a fun race with their Shepherd - The Eukanuba Shepherds’ Shemozzle – think adventure racing meets mud run meets top town. A uniquely Kiwi event celebrating one of NZ’s special treasures - the Huntaway.
The Eukanuba Shepherds’ Shemozzle is a highlight for eventgoers of the annual Hunterville Huntaway Festival held in the Rangitikei district. Around 5,000 people, and their dogs, enjoy the races and entertainment - last year’s contestants carried bull’s testicles in their mouths, scrambled through mud and pushed their Huntaways in wheelbarrows!
“The Shemozzle course is fast paced with a series of obstacles, so the dogs need plenty of energy to have a chance of winning,” said Emma Prideaux, Eukanuba Brand Manager.
“In a normal working day, some Huntaways could cover over 100km on a large farm - they need high quality protein for fewer injuries, tailored energy for both endurance and sprints, and overall health support to keep them in the field for longer. Shepherds can see the difference in their dog’s performance when they feed them high quality food like Eukanuba,” said Prideaux.
The Huntaway – a Kiwi innovation
This New Zealand sheep dog was bred during the 19th century by Shepherds in the High Country across NZ who bred select desirable traits from their British sheep dogs.
Due to the hilly terrain and large farms in the High Country they needed a dog with a big, deep chested, noisy bark (and plenty of it) combined with intelligence and stamina to move large numbers of sheep in these types of farms - versus the heading dog who work quietly and stealthily to move smaller mobs of sheep.
They selectively bred such dogs as Border Collies, Black Labs and Hounds along with other British Sheep dogs to achieve the Huntaway. Now generally recognised in New Zealand and around the world on its ability, not just appearance. However, they generally appear; medium to large, floppy eared with a silky, wiry or grizzly coat which can be black, black and tan (with a hint of white) or brindle.
John Gordon, in his book Three Sheep and a Dog refers to the Huntaway as “one of the most distinctive dogs in the world. It is also the only breed of dog to be developed in New Zealand.” He goes on to say “The end result of 140 years of breeding is the most exciting working dog you will see anywhere.”
As the dog gained popularity special herding events known as ‘Huntaways’ were created specifically for this new breed - eventually ‘Huntaway’ stuck as the name of the dog.
Dog trainer, trialist and national title holder Lloyd Smith said “Shepherds today on average might have 2-3 heading dogs and 4-6 Huntaways depending on the farm needs and work requirements. A team of dogs is much like a rugby team, they all have their own role to play and must complement each other to share the workload. The duties they perform are determined by their capabilities and competence with the Huntaway providing the grunt and power to move large numbers of stock.”
The New Zealand Kennel Club officially recognised ‘Huntaway’ as a breed of dog in 2013.
The popularity of the Huntaway continues to grow – with even Japan having their own Huntaway Club.