New Zealand Heading Dog

55-66 lbs
20-24"
New Zealand
New Zealand Collie, New Zealand Eye Dog

The New Zealand Heading Dog is bred from the Border Collie, which is why you might also hear them referred to as the New Zealand Collie. Much like their ancestor, they’re a herding dog primarily used to control sheep.

While they’re used to life on the farm, they can also make wonderful family pets. They get along well with both young children and other dogs but require pet parents that can help them work off their energy so they don’t become bored, and potentially destructive as a result. 

In this guide to the New Zealand Heading Dog, you’ll learn:

  • The New Zealand Heading Dog was bred from the British Border Collie 
  • This breed excels at controlling flocks of sheep and is best suited to living on a farm 
  • They’re very intelligent and love to please, which makes them easy to train 
  • New Zealand Heading dogs have a huge amount of energy so will benefit from active pet parents

New Zealand Heading Dog breed overview


The New Zealand Heading Dog has an abundance of energy and stamina. They were born to work and use their eyes and fast movements to control large flocks of sheep. If they aren’t working, this is a breed that must be provided with plenty of mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy and content. 

If you’ve been looking at the no-doubt adorable puppies, then you should know the New Zealand Heading Dog price can be as much as $2,000. Although, while they’re very popular in New Zealand, you may find they’re not as easy to come by as other dog breeds in the USA. There’s also a chance you could adopt this breed, which will be significantly cheaper and give a rescue dog a second chance of becoming a loved family pet. 

This is a healthy and robust breed that suffers from very few health issues and can live upwards of 14 years, which is very similar to the Border Collie.  

Although the New Zealand Heading Dog is a very healthy and hardy breed, they are still at risk of illness or injury. Browse and compare the best pet insurance plans today you’ll have peace of mind that you are covered should anything unexpected happen.
purpose Purpose
Herding
history Date of Origin
1860s
ancestry Ancestry
Border Collie

New Zealand Heading Dog Health

Average Size
Male New Zealand Heading Dog size stats
Height: 20-24 inches Weight: 55-66 lbs
Female New Zealand Heading Dog size stats
Height: 20-24 inches Weight: 55-66 lbs

New Zealand Heading Dog Breed History


The New Zealand Heading Dog was bred from the Border Collie that was first imported from the Scottish Borders by shepherds. This breed became a vital part of the country’s farming system and is still used by farmers to herd sheep in the hilly terrain today. 

The Border Collie’s habit of crawling along while stalking the sheep proved to be difficult for the shepherds to see the dog. The terrain was full of rough pasture and scrub which made it difficult to control the dog. The New Zealand Heading Dog uses a different approach. They still eyeball the sheep but they move and stand upright and are easier to see, both for the farmer and the sheep.

They rarely bark and rely on lightning-quick responses to head off the sheep that want to bolt. They’re also good at catching and separating the sheep without causing the sheep to panic.

There’s a monument at Lake Tekapo that honors the working dog's contribution to the development of the Mackenzie Country.

However, the New Zealand Heading Dog has never been registered with the New Zealand Kennel Club. But, as farm dogs do well in obedience tests, since 1968 they have been allowed to register as a non-pedigree or a spayed/castrated working dog. 

Likewise, they’re also not registered with the American Kennel Club. 


New Zealand Heading Dog Breed Appearance


This is a breed that’s been bred for its workability rather than looks. However, the New Zealand Heading Dog is still a very attractive looking breed, blessed with a gentle and friendly expression. While they’ll have that in common, the overall look of this dog can vary, even between pups from the same litter. 

The New Zealand Heading Dog size is medium; they can weigh up to 66 pounds and reach heights of 24 inches. 

They’re very fast on their feet, which is no surprise as they’re a long-legged canine. Their body is also long and lean with a deep chest and strong neck. The face is long and pointed with a black nose, teeth that meet in a scissor bite and ears that are set high on their head and hang down close to their face. 

Their coats are short to help them cope with the heat in New Zealand. Colors tend to be black and white but they can also be tan. They often have some feathering around the neck area but this can vary between dogs.

Similar breeds to the New Zealand Heading Dog

If the New Zealand Heading Dog  isn’t right for you but you’d like a similar breed, you might like to consider: 

Whether you choose a New Zealand Heading Dog or a similar breed, caring for their health is one of the most important things you can do for them. 

Once you have chosen the pet insurance plan for you, why not sign up to a wellness plan too? This covers their routine appointments including annual shots and boosters.

New Zealand Heading Dog Breed Maintenance


The New Zealand Heading Dog is a fairly low-maintenance breed. You’ll just need to brush them weekly to remove any loose hairs. They’ll only need a bath a few times a year.

When you do bathe them it’s best to use a mild dog shampoo that will protect the natural oils in their coat. This is particularly important for this breed as the oils help them withstand the variety of weather they could be working in. If they do get muddy, you can just wipe them down with a damp cloth. 

You’ll also need to brush their teeth around three times a week. You should check and clean their ears regularly. Their nails will need trimming when needed. Plus, as this is a breed that can spend a lot of time in the countryside, you should keep an eye on their coat for any fleas and parasites. 

New Zealand Heading Dog health risks 

The New Zealand Heading Dog is generally quite a healthy and hardy breed that doesn't have many health issues.

While there are no major health concerns with this breed, there are minor issues to be aware of, and to monitor in your dog.

There’s a chance of eye infections. You also need to be aware of their ear health and potential ear infection. But, these are only minor concerns. They can also occasionally be diagnosed with bloat

Although the New Zealand Heading Dog is a very healthy breed, you should always have a good insurance policy for peace of mind that you are covered should anything happen. Browse and compare top pet insurance providers to ensure you have the best cover for your dog.

Feeding a New Zealand Heading Dog — what’s the best diet?

This breed is an active dog with lots of energy, so you want to feed them high-quality food with protein as the main ingredient. This will help support healthy bones and strong muscles. Look for food with ‘active’ or ‘working’ on the packaging.

Puppies should be fed four times a day, then once they are an adult this can then be reduced to three times a day. Although there is only a small risk of bloat, it’s better to serve several smaller meals rather than a couple of larger meals, to help prevent it. 

As well as this, you should avoid dry food that is high in fat and oil. A slow feeder will also help prevent bloat as they will be unable to eat too fast and you could elevate this off the floor. You also shouldn’t let them exercise straight after eating. 

Although they are highly intelligent dogs, a few treats won’t hurt when training — just keep an eye on how much you’re giving them and take this into account when serving up their meals. 

Inevitably, you’ll want your New Zealand Heading Dog to have the best possible diet. We have some guidance here on how to choose the best food for your dog and recommendations for the best dog food for working breeds, like the New Zealand Heading Dog.

There’s further advice from our friends at Dog Food Advisor, including guides to the best wet dog food and the best dry dog food.

New Zealand Heading Dog Temperament


The New Zealand Heading Dog was born to work and excels at controlling flocks of sheep. So, it’s unsurprising that this breed is incredibly smart and intelligent as well as alert and very energetic with seemingly never-ending stamina. 

This, coupled with their willingness to please, means they can be trained to a very high standard.

That said, be aware that they do need a strong and consistent leader who is firm but fair. Otherwise, they can try to dominate their owner, which can lead to problems.

The New Zealand Heading Dog temperament is very affectionate. This pooch loves your company and thrives on human interaction. They get on well with small children and other dogs. They can also live with cats although it does help if they are raised together. They’re not suited to living with smaller pets, however, as they’re likely to consider them prey. For this reason, you may need to keep them on a leash when out hiking or running

They can be quite sound sensitive and react to loud noises, so they aren’t best suited to noisy families as they may find this environment stressful. As youngsters, they can be quite shy. So, as with all dogs, it’s important that they are well socialized as a puppy, and properly trained

You need to be able to fulfill this breed's needs. A bored New Zealand Heading Dog can develop behavioral problems and you may find that they try to escape or even start herding children or strangers


New Zealand Heading Dog Activity Requirements

These dogs were bred to work and so will require owners that can spend plenty of time with them and give them more than just a short walk which won’t be enough for their abundance of energy. 

A New Zealand Heading Dog is best suited to the country lifestyle. If they can live on a farm, ideally with sheep to herd, they’ll thrive. What they will definitely not be suited to is living in an apartment, in an urban area or a home with a small yard. 

They’ll benefit from active owners and make a wonderful running companion. They also excel at agility and trial events because they are fast on their feet with the ability to change direction instantly. 

This is a breed that needs mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy. When they are not working, they love being with their family and playing games. They aren’t known as dogs that will spend much time relaxing or sleeping. But, plenty of work — or exercise — will ensure this active dog is content to come home and rest. 

New Zealand Heading Dog Owner Experiences

Diesel
2 Years
2 People
House
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Diesel is one HUGE ball of energy. Constantly on the go. He still wants to play after a ten km run and swim!! Fantastic with kids, adults and other dogs. Great guard dog. Knows the names of his toys and will retrieve the correct one when you ask him. Brilliant and strong swimmer. The best at catching a ball. Definitely not a breed for couch potatoes! The smartest dog with the biggest personality.
1 month, 2 weeks ago
Toffee-Wafer
9 Weeks
2 People
House
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Most beautiful dogs on the planet. just an explosion of personality
2 months, 1 week ago
Tyke
15 Years
3 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
I love Heading Dogs I’ve worked with them and have a house Heading dog currently he is 15 and I saved him from being put down for being a lazy runner at 12 months old 😞 , I told my mate I’d take him as a pet as I lived in town now and he turned out to be a awesome all rounder hunting and mustering and living on the couch . Now he is a old man and blind but still playing and happy walking at least a hour a day he is a very sweet special boy, one of 4 NZ Heading Dogs I have owned.
2 years, 2 months ago
Jess
10 Years
4 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
She has lived a great life so far
2 years, 3 months ago
Taiko
6 Months
4 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Running
Commands and tricks
Waterplay
skateboarding
Fetch
Taiko is Very curious and always wants to be included, she’s like a toddler and needs a lot of attention and praise. If she’s left alone she’s a sook and will sit in her bed until you come back to her and occasionally howl like a wolf. She’s happy to laze around the house while I do house keeping, but she is an exaggerator and will yawn loudly, stretch often to make it obvious she’s bored and wants me to hurry up as soon as there is a ball in sight she’s fixated on it. Skateboard she wants to chase it. She’s 6 months old and bigger than a border collie…. Her mum was little but she’s over take. Her size in just 6 months. She’s great with other animals, pigs chicken, peacocks, cats and babie humans .
2 years, 4 months ago
Floyd
7 Months
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
tramping
Fetch
Hunting
Walking
needs lots of exercise and attention. very shy but gets better with socialising
4 years, 6 months ago
Kahu
6 Years
6 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walking
Playing
Running
So far, so good. Very friendly and loving
4 years, 5 months ago
Jess
4 Months
3 People
House
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
long
Needs lots of exercise and attention. Very loving and eager to please
3 years, 9 months ago
Boston
2 Years
1 People
House
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walks on a long lead in open spaces.
Basic tricks.
Was a rough start getting him as a 14 month old, I think he was pretty much left to raise himself. He loves to learn and is very excitable, very affectionate.
3 years, 9 months ago
Zephyr
1 Year
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Loving and affectionate with the "pack" biggest challenge is socializing with people and other dogs. Hard to do with restrictions during these times.
3 years, 8 months ago
Arki
3 Months
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
So far he is a treasure, plays constantly with our 2 year old schnauzer. Has very quickly crate-trained for nights and is very well behaved off leash. Loves other dogs and people
3 years, 6 months ago
Mate
3 Years
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Hunting
Listens to the dog whistle
3 years, 5 months ago
Sprinkles
10 Years
4 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Playing with the children
Runs
Fetching balls
Walks
Sprinkles was a gift to our 4year old son they have grown up together they are best friends best rugby league opponent for him so funny to watch. Excellent guard dog very loud consistent woofer. My son named him
3 years, 1 month ago
Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd