Breed Group: Herding
Temperament and Behavior
The Canaan Dog (CAY-nen) has been formed by his wild dog heritage. Only domesticated since 1935, he survived in the Negev desert with only his instincts to rely on for two thousand years. His combination of being ever alert and vigilant, his wariness toward strangers, and a strong urge to be territorial, makes the Canaan Dog a first-class watchdog. But he is not an aggressive dog. He retreats just out of reach barking continuously to warn of an intruder. Terrier-like in a number of ways, they are a self-reliant, independent breed that neither expects nor wants constant attention. He is happy to curl up on the couch with you, but he may be at the other end. Brought up with children or other animals, they accept them as part of the pack. Otherwise, they can be dog aggressive and they have a prey drive that may endanger other small household pets. No more than moderately active both inside and out, this intelligent, crafty breed does need a little more exercise than most dogs, and a mental challenge to prevent boredom. If he doesn’t get both, he can become destructive or bark incessantly. They can be left outside but must be well confined, a thinking breed, they may dig or even climb out of an enclosure.
Physical CharacteristicsThe breed standard calls for a height at the withers of between 19″ and 24″. Weight ranges from 35 to 55 pounds with females at the smaller end of the range. Their coat varies from flat and rough to thick and powder-puff like with the flat, rough coat usually having longer, softer hair on the back of the legs, the underbelly and tail. Acceptable coat colors are black or brown with some or no white markings. A mostly white dog must have a colored mask. While their coat does not need more than weekly brushing most of the year, they will need daily brushing during their seasonal shed, which is average in volume.
Trainer's NotesSocialization should start early and training must be reinforced throughout their lives. Remember, these dogs are at most two dozen generations from their wild ancestors. While Canaan Dogs are highly intelligent and trainable, their independent nature is a hindrance. After 2,000 years of thinking for themselves, they see no reason to respond to repetitive training. Jerking on their lease will result in resistance. Praise, food, and variety will keep them motivated. Don’t be surprised if they test your leadership. They need a consistent, confident owner. A bark collar may be needed to control their barking. Canaan Dogs are not a good choice for a first-time owner.
HealthOne of the most natural dogs in the world, The Canaan Dog, is free from genetic health problems of any significance.
PopularityThe Canaan Dog is 147th on the list of most popular breeds of the American Kennel Club. A rare breed, there are only between 100 and 200 dogs registered in a typical year.
Breed HistoryThe Canaan Dog can be traced back over 2000 years. A native of Israel, the dog was used as a livestock herder and camp guardian until the Romans invaded and destroyed Israel over 2000 years ago. While some of the dogs turned feral and managed to survive in the Negev desert, others were taken in by Bedouin tribesmen as shepherds and guardians, while still others found their way to Mount Carmel where they became guardians of the religious sect known as the Druze. In 1935, Dr. Rudolphina Menzel, an animal and comparative psychology professor at the University of Tel Aviv in Palenstine, was asked to help the Israeli Defense Force develop a strong, vigorous service dog able to withstand the harsh desert conditions, for use during the War of Independence. After considering many dogs, Dr. Menzel finally settled on the native wild dogs of the desert who impressed her with their remarkable survival skills. The Canaani have proven themselves over and over as mine detectors, searchers for wounded soldiers and as sentries, duties that they still perform today. After the War of Independence, more dogs were trained as service dogs, becoming the first seeing eye dogs in Israel. The first Canaan Dog was brought to the United States in 1965 and was subsequently recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1997 for inclusion in the Herding group.
Additional InformationThe Canaan Dog is the official dog of the State of Israel. You can find out more about the breed at the National (US) Breed Club which is the Canaan Dog Club of America.