Chris Gurney
The Three Cattle Dogs Gruff

Old Farmer Gruff had a big herd of cattle. They mooed and they bellowed and made his bones rattle. "Get in behind!" hollered old Farmer Gruff to his three cattle dogs, named Scruff, Wuff and Tuff. When the work's done, the three cattle dogs scamper off to play. But TROUBLE lurks under the bridge ... look out for greedy monster Marakihau! A lively New Zealand retelling of The Three Billy Goats Gruff.

The Three Cattle Dogs Gruff was listed at No. 8 on the NZ Children and Teens best-selling list in July 2015

The Story Behind the Book and Interesting Facts



Once again, I needed to research Maori mythology to find out if there was a particular type of taniwha which may lurk in water under bridges. I discovered the marakihau.

The legend of the marakihau is that they were mythical sea monsters, who had long tube like tongues which they sucked up their prey. They would harass and swallow shore-living people or sea travellers and their canoes, as well as fish.

The marakihau is often seen in Maori carvings, particularly found in the northern and eastern parts of the North Island of New Zealand. Marakihau carvings often decorated the porches of carved houses. You can see an example of a marakihau carving.

Cattle Dogs

Sheep Dogs

There are about 200,000 working farm dogs in New Zealand. These valuable working dogs muster thousands of sheep and cattle across hill and high country – a tough job that can't be done any other way. Check out this website to find out more about working farm dogs. Do some research and see if you can figure out what breeds of dogs Scruff, Wuff and Tuff are.

Old Farmer Gruff calls out “Get in Behind” to his dogs. What exactly does this mean? (You will find the answer on this website)

If you had three cattle dogs, what would you name them?

FUN FACT - Dogs can hear things that we cannot. Most of us can hear a sound that is about 25 yards from us ... But dogs can hear sounds that are 10 times as far, 250 yards away!
Read more fun facts about dogs and make a list of your favourite ones.

Dairy Cows

Dairy Cows

Farmer Gruff was a dairy farmer.
'Old Farmer Gruff had a big herd of cattle,
They mooed and the bellowed and made his bones rattle.'

Dairy farming is New Zealand's most important economic activity. In 2015 there were over 5 million cows being milked in NZ. Here is a great little video which shows how a cow turns grass into milk.

'The cows had been herded, the milking was done, So Scruff Wuff and Tuff scooted off to have fun.' What happens after the cows have been milked? How does the milk from the cows get turned into the bottles of milk we buy at the supermarket?

The two most popular cow breeds in New Zealand are Jersey and Friesian.

What breed does Farmer Gruff keep?
Check out this video about different breeds of cows around the world.

Life on a dairy farm changes with each season.
Here you can find out more information about a dairy cow's year.
In what season do you think 'The Three Cattle Dogs Gruff' story takes place? Source - DairyNZ

What's that bird?

Throughout the book, can you spot the NZ native bird which appears on many pages?
What is the name of that bird? How many times can you count it appearing in the book?

CThe Three Cattle Dogs Gruff - Page 2-3
The Three Cattle Dogs Gruff - Page 4-5


Yet another story in the kiwi corker range this story is a kiwi take on the Three Billy Goats gruff. I love reading these books to my son as they introduce him to a common story but with things that he can relate to. He always makes me find the traditional story to also read to him which makes a trip tot he library exciting... read more

We don’t need any hints about which story inspired this New Zealand version – you just need to look at the title, and the cover which shows something nasty lurking under a bridge… Chris’s bouncy rhyming text takes us through the traditional format, providing a local version of the chorus... read more
Kids Books NZ

Following the traditions of the Three Billy Goats Gruff upon which the story is based, the dogs outwit him with clever words and the taniwha returns to the sea. This is fun to share with a group and the rhythm makes it easy to read aloud... read more
Around the Bookshops - Barbara Murison


Draw a picture of your own marakihau, with its long tube like tongue. Draw what it is your marakihau is sucking up.

Print this page and make a 3D cow (or herd of them!)

Here are three dog masks for you to colour in and make. Dog Mask 1, Dog Mask 2, Dog Mask 3. Maybe you could make them look like Wuff, Scruff and Gruff.

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The Three Cattle Dogs Gruff
The Three Cattle Dogs Gruff
Illustrated by Myles Lawford
Publisher Scholastic New Zealand, 2015
ISBN Paperback - 9781775433408
ISBN Kiwi Corkers Bag of Books - 9781775434269
Age 3-7
Year Level Pre-School, Foundation, Year 1, Year 2
RRP Hardback $15.00

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