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The unsung hero of New Zealand's high country - the huntaway - has been officially acknowledged as our first home-grown dog breed.
The highly intelligent, barrel-chested, black and tan dog whose deep, loud voice rings out throughout a mustering day, has been declared the 223rd breed on the New Zealand Kennel Club (NZKC) register, and its first ''native'' New Zealand breed.
New Zealand Sheep Dog Trial Association (NZSDTA) president John Harvey told Courier Country the two organisations had worked together on the project to get the breed recognised.
''It is quite a big deal and honour for the breed.''
Importantly, the international body - Federation Cynologique Internationale, in Belgium - had acknowledged the registration.
Initially, NZSDTA had its reservations because it wanted the huntaway's status as first and foremost a working dog to be protected, he said.
But it was able to stipulate in the NZKC documentation the breed was never to be ''shown'' and should not be kept solely as a pet.