Canaan Dog

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The Canaan is a medium-sized, well-balanced, square dog, being sturdy, agile, adaptable and able to survive in the difficult climate and terrain of the deserts of Israel. There is a strong distinction between the sexes, with the males looking masculine and bitches feminine. They are a typical spitz, with a well proportioned, wedge shaped head of medium length with medium sized, erect ears.IntelligenceHighly intelligent learning new things very quickly. Because of this training sessions should be short and varied. They become bored with repetitive tasks. Canaan Dogs tend to think for themselves, if they don?t see a reason for doing something then they won?t do it.CharacterThe Canaan Dog is quite unique to other breeds, retaining many characteristics that have enabled them to survive in the harsh environment of the desert. As a breed, they tend to be very suspicious of anyone or anything they do not know. Many Canaans, when reaching adolescence, go through an insecure period where this wariness is increased, but as they mature and gain confidence this should disappear. Because of this wariness of strangers, early socialising is essential. Those Canaans that have had good socialising at a young age, with a lot of exposure to different people and different situations, tend to be far less suspicious and able to cope with strange situations much better than those who receive little or no socialising.Although Canaans are independent by nature they are also very affectionate and extremely loyal to their family and excellent with children. They are extremely alert at all times, their senses highly developed, even their eyesight being very keen. This, together with their strong territorial sense, means that they make excellent watchdogs. We say watch, rather than guard, as they are not an ?attack? dog but give warning of anything different by barking to alert you, the ?pack leader?. When strangers approach, the Canaan will bark a warning, but stay out of reach, often circling the intruder.EnergyComing from a very hot country, Canaan Dogs tend to conserve energy and never waste it. Whilst they have stamina to take any amount of exercise you wish to give them, they are also quite happy with just an average walk a day in order to keep them fit and healthy.


Canaan Dogs are just one type of pariah dog found specifically in the deserts in and around Israel. Nobody knows for sure how they evolved, but pre-biblical drawings and artefacts depict dogs that look like the Canaan Dog of today. The Bedouin have used them for guarding their flocks and camps for centuries. However, they have never bred them, but merely take a male puppy from the freeborn litters when they require a dog.It wasn?t until 1934 that the Canaan Dog was domestically bred, when Professor Rudolphina Menzel, together with her husband, began a breeding programme for the purpose of supplying dogs to the Haganah (Jewish Defence Forces). After looking at various breeds of dogs, Menzel soon turned her attention to the local pariah dog in which she found a dog with all the traits that would make them a good service dog ? an alert and agile dog, being territorial and with highly developed senses, and capable of surviving the harsh terrain and climate. Menzel began by capturing free-living pariah dogs and litters of puppies, naming the type of pariah Canaan Dog after the land where she found them most abundant.

Country of origin: 
Height 50 - 60 cm. (20 - 24 in.), males may be larger than females. Weight 18 - 25 kg. (40 - 55 lb.)

Type: A double coat with a dense, harsh straight outer coat and profuse undercoat.Colour: Sand to red-brown, white, black, or spotted, with or without mask. If masked, mask must be symmetrical. Black mask permitted on all colours. White markings are permitted on all colours. Grey, brindle, black-and-tan, or tricolour are unacceptable.Grooming: Canaans tend to be very clean dogs and need little grooming. They moult seasonally and will shed their thick, woolly undercoat in huge amounts. At this time they should be brushed at least once every day to remove the dead hair. This keeps them comfortable and encourages the new coat to come in quicker.

Common ailments: 

The Canaan is a naturally healthy dog and does not generally require any special care. If cared for properly and fed a good, well-balanced diet, they will very rarely need to see a vet.At this time, there are no known hereditary problems within the breed. However, breeders should test for hip dysplasia and eye problems to try to ensure no problems arise in the future. The average lifespan of a Canaan can be up to fifteen years.

Drawings on the tombs at Beni-Hassan, dating from 2200-2000 BC, depict dogs that remarkably resemble the Canaan Dogs of today. (Credit:ÿ<a href="" target="_blank"></a>)
Information supplied by: 

Jill Terry - Babrees Canaan Dogs