Canaan Dog

The Canaan Dog was recognized as purebred by the AKC in 1997, and she holds the title of National Dog of Israel. She originated in the Middle East and has lived there for many thousands of years. During Biblical times, she served as a herder and guard dog for nomadic peoples.

pure canaan dog

Although purebred, the Canaan Dog also belongs to a canine subset called Pariah Dogs. More than just a stray, a pariah dog is genetically unique. They are free-ranging and sometimes feral dogs that exist by following human encampments, usually in developing countries, and living on anything left behind.

For some years, experts have sought to capture, recognize, register and breed these beautiful outsiders, before interbreeding with purebred and other mixed-breed dogs causes their extinction.

Fun fact: Archaeologists in Israel unearthed some 700 specimens of a dog very likely to be the Canaan of today. They speculate that the dogs were held sacred by their people.



History

Fast-forward to the early 1930s, in what was then Palestine. A Jewish defense organization, the Haganah, approached canine authority Dr. Rudolphina Menzel with a request to develop a dog that could both guard settlements and serve in battle. Dr. Menzel immediately thought of the strong, intelligent ferals she had seen across the desert, and she began to gather up both adults and puppies and introduce them to a more domestic existence. She knew that because these dogs had survived as ferals, they would be smart, strong, fast, and supremely intelligent.

Dr. Menzel was right. The Canaan Dog proved not only highly intelligent but also easy to train. In addition to serving the military and acting as guard dogs, Canaan dogs became herders, messengers, and service dogs for the Red Cross. During World War II, the dogs were used as mine detectors, outperforming the traditional methods used to locate and neutralize mines.

Dr. Menzel established a kennel where she collected and trained about 400 Canaan Dogs, then selectively bred them. The lines she established are examples of the Canaan Dog of today.

Later in her life, while working with the Institute for Orientation and Mobility of the Blind in the Middle East, Dr. Menzel again called on her Canaan Dogs to serve as guides for blind children. In addition, Canaan Dogs assisted as police dogs and in search-and-rescue operations. Dr. Menzel’s successors continue to search the desert for examples of the ancient dog that can contribute to the gene pool.

The Canaan Dog was recognized by the Palestine Kennel Club in the 1940s; by the Israel Kennel Club in 1953; by the Kennel Club of London in 1971; and by the American Kennel Club in 1997.


Size

Male Canaan Dogs can range in height from 20 to 24 pounds and weigh 45 to 55 pounds. Females are slightly smaller, at 19 to 23 inches and 35 to 45 pounds.

Coat colors can include black, brown, sandy, red or liver, as well as white with mask or white with patches of color.


Personality

What would you expect from a majestic dog that ruled the desert with little to no human interaction for thousands of years? This: a dog who will love your children, but be very suspicious of other people’s; a dog that will inform you of anything amiss on your property; a dog who’s agile and energetic, capable of competing in herding trials, but also able to sleep at your feet at day’s end.

Canaans sometimes have aggression issues with other dogs in the home. For this reason, if you’re thinking of adopting or purchasing a Canaan, it would be a good idea to have her as your only dog. They can also be aloof or even antagonistic toward with strangers, which is called fear aggression and can be kept in check with proper training. The breed is so intelligent that repetitive training programs will not hold her attention. For variety, after your pup has been socialized, you might try any of the following activities to keep her energy in check: dog agility trials, obedience, showmanship, flyball, tracking and herding events.


Health

What would you expect from a majestic dog that ruled the desert with little to no human interaction for thousands of years? This: a dog who will love your children, but be very suspicious of other people’s; a dog that will inform you of anything amiss on your property; a dog who’s agile and energetic, capable of competing in herding trials, but also able to sleep at your feet at day’s end.

Canaans sometimes have aggression issues with other dogs in the home. For this reason, if you’re thinking of adopting or purchasing a Canaan, it would be a good idea to have her as your only dog. They can also be aloof or even antagonistic toward with strangers, which is called fear aggression and can be kept in check with proper training. The breed is so intelligent that repetitive training programs will not hold her attention. For variety, after your pup has been socialized, you might try any of the following activities to keep her energy in check: dog agility trials, obedience, showmanship, flyball, tracking and herding events.


Care

Canaans have two coats: a flat, straight, rough outer coat and and soft, short undercoat. They don’t shed much to begin with, but weekly brushing helps keep shedding to an absolute minimum. There are two seasons during the year when shedding will become more noticeable and brushing more helpful. Two to three baths a year are usually sufficient, as the Canaan Dog is known for her cleanliness.


Rescue

If you’re looking to rescue or surrender a Canaan Dog, you have a number of options:

  • Canaan Dog Rescue Network (canaandogrescue.com)
  • The Texas Canaan Dog Rescue (canaandog.rescueme.org/Texas)
  • The Israel Canaan Dog Club of America (icdca.com)

Pictures