From the Beagle to the Boxer, Retrievers to Rottweilers, there’s a dog breed to suit just about everyone. But what are the top dog breeds in New Zealand? We already know that Kiwis are a nation of animal lovers, and we wanted to find out exactly what dogs are our most-adored friends.
That’s not to say we won’t happily accept a cuddle from just about any dog we come across (yep, we’re saps). However, some people are confirmed lovers of certain breeds. And some breeds are reeeeeally well loved.
Here are New Zealand’s most popular dog breeds and why they’re such adored choices.
5 top dog breeds in New Zealand
According to sources like the New Zealand Herald, Kiwis are serious dog-lovers. In fact, our own Love Your Pet Day research found that although 46% of New Zealanders favoured cats and dogs equally, 38% preferred dogs.
There’s been research into the most popular breeds of dogs locally for years, and while you won’t be surprised at some of the favourite dogs, maybe others will open your eyes to a world of new possibilities.
So, what are the five top dog breeds in New Zealand? In reverse order, here we go!
5. Jack Russell Terrier
Aaaah, who doesn’t love a good JRT? The only small dog to make the cut and fifth in our list of top dog breeds in New Zealand, Jack Russells can be amazing pets.
They’ve been a firm favourite of equestrians and farmers for years, partly because they’re high-energy and require plenty of exercise and space. However, Jack Russells are quite often seen in suburban and city homes nowadays, and make seriously loyal and loving companions.
JRT’s are generally good-natured dogs, but might not be suitable for families with young children as they can snap if they’re provoked. If you’re looking for a dog for your kids, why not check out our article on the kindest dog breeds.
Have a small living space? JRT’s could still be a good choice if you’re able to dedicate plenty of time to walking and playing. If not, know that they might get hyperactive and start barking. If you’re really keen to know the best pets for apartments, read this.
4. Heading Dogs
Heading Dogs are one of our proudly local top dog breeds in New Zealand. Originating from Scottish Border Collies, these dogs tend to be long-legged and tall with a smooth coat.
They do bear a resemblance to a Border Collie, but don’t look exactly the same. There are variations in the dogs’ exact physical characteristics. They’re often black and white but can be brown and white, and some are even red.
Heading Dogs are designed for herding and farm work. They’re quick and agile, and have fast reactions. They’re particularly good working in close quarters with tasks like splitting up herds of sheep. Heading Dogs are smart, willing, and affectionate.
They do well as family dogs, as long as you give them enough exercise and stimulation. Otherwise, like Border Collies, they can become highly strung without an outlet for all that energy.
3. New Zealand Huntaway
It’s good to see Kiwis supporting Kiwis! The New Zealand Huntaway dog is, as you might imagine, unique to New Zealand. They’re recognised by Dogs New Zealand as an indigenous breed.
Huntaways originated by mixing the Border Collie with other breeds like Dobermans, Fox Hounds, and Labradors. The idea was to create a herding dog which, unlike the others, uses its voice to herd.
Because of the variation in terms of what Border Collies were crossed with, Huntaways still have quite varied appearances. Typically they’re medium to large, and are often black and brown. What they do have in common is an amazing attitude to work and an ability to cover long distances even over rugged terrain.
If this sounds similar to the Heading Dogs above, that’s because they are. Both were bred from Border Collies for the purpose of being working dogs. However, one of the differences is the Huntaway uses their bark to herd.
Plus, they say that Huntaways chase the sheep away while Heading Dogs bring them back. They’re only small differences, so people love them enough to include both in the five best dog breeds in New Zealand!
2. Border Collie
Border Collies were New Zealand’s second top dog breed by a good margin. Although they missed out on the top spot, these little fluffballs are still a firm favourite with us.
Presumably, part of the reason for this is that they’re just such perfect rural and farming dogs. Border Collies are great at sheep herding and farm work. Plus they’re genius-level intelligent, super-friendly, and have loads of stamina. Sounds like a perfect match for a busy, hard-working family, rural or not.
If you’ve a Border Collie, put the kids to work by getting them to teach it one (or all) of our five easy dog training tricks. They’re known to learn very quickly, so you’ll have a performing dog in no time.
Read about this Kiwi fave here: Border Collie – A Profile.
1. Labrador – pick of the top dog breeds in New Zealand
The quintessential Labrador has been New Zealand’s top dog breeds for years. Nowadays, they apparently account for a staggering one in eight of New Zealand’s purebred dogs. There’s over 40,000 purebred Labradors registered in New Zealand alone.
It’s not hard to see why the Lab is so loved. Not only are they pretty to look at, but they’re good with kids and other pets. They have great temperaments and typically enjoy a bit of everything; whether you live rurally and love to walk or are a city-dweller who enjoys regular beach trips.
Need to know more about this tippy toppest of top dogs? Read our Labrador Personality and Profile here.
Top dog breeds in New Zealand or not, insure them
Thinking of getting a loyal companion in the form of one of these five dog breeds?
Whether you get a purebred or a crossbreed, pet insurance can give you a soft landing when your pup (or old-timer) gets a bit too adventurous. Or even when they don’t – illnesses and other mishaps can crop up at any time and costs thousands to diagnose and treat.
Check out our dog insurance plans here and consider bounding into cover before any pre-existing conditions emerge (insurers don’t cover those). You might be further convinced by our 8 weeks of free puppy insurance for fur kids aged 6 to 30 weeks old, or our one-month-free insurance for older dogs if you buy online.
Is it time to explore tops cover for your tops dog? Get a quick quote now.