Vying for top dog: South Island sheepdog champs underway

Some of the country's best farm dogs are battling it out this week in the South Island Sheep Dog Championships.

The event is at Lochiel Station at Hanmer Springs, with competitors vying for spots in the New Zealand championships later in May.

Organiser Rick Orr told Rural Today's Dominic George the event attracts a huge number of  entries.

"We have around 280 huntaway dogs, and 240 heading dogs, so around 1060 runs over the week" he said.

He said dogs still play a vital role for farmers.

"Dogs are an integral part of farming and everyone likes gathering for these sorts of competitions, and having a crack, there's fierce competition."

He said while there are favourites every year, everything has to come together on the day.

"There's a lot to get right, sometimes there's a little bit of luck involved, and there are no guarantees when you are working with stock."

Orr said some farm dogs seem to have the X-factor.

"They have the ability to get on with sheep, and just know what is required."

The South Island Championship event is expected to run until Friday, depending on weather conditions.

The North Island and New Zealand Sheepdog Championships are being held from Monday 27th May at Ohaeawai in Northland.