Description: The Canaan Dog is a medium-size, robustly made, spitz-type dog. They have been indigenous to the region encompassed by modern Israel for centuries. Canaan Dogs are reserved with strangers but makes a good companion dog that is loyal and affectionate to their family. Soft and eager to please, they also need to know the rules of the house or they can become manipulative. Canaan Dogs have been used as a guide dog for the blind and as a search and rescue dog. They are known to be aloof of people and animals that they don’t know, and are known to run away when a large change affects them, such as a new house or new person. This is how they coped when they were feral dogs in Israel. But such characteristics can be overcome with training, as these are highly intelligent and trainable dogs. They are known for their service as messenger and sentry dogs, and were once trained to detect mines. They can be barky, which makes them excellent watch dogs. Their endurance, reactability, and agility make them a popular breed in Israel.
Other Names: Kalef K’naani (Dog of Canaan)
Height: Females: 19 – 23 inches; Males: 20 – 24 inches.
Weight: Females: 35 – 45 lbs.; Males: 45 – 55 lbs.
Colors: Sandy to reddish brown, white or black; harlequin. White with large markings in either black, brown or red; brown and black, with or without white markings. If there is a mask, it should completely cover the eyes and ears and be completely symmetrical.
Coat: Medium to long, straight, harsh and flat; close lying undercoat visible in winter. Tail is plumed.
Temperament: Canaan Dogs are intelligent, resourceful, and easily trained. They can survive on their own, and sometimes try to when situations at home change. If they are confronted with a big change such as a different house or different people, they tend to bolt. They do not adapt well to new situations, and a fence is necessary. They are very obedient, alert and vigilant. They are wary of strangers, including children and animals, but devoted to their families and friends. They are protective and are not afraid of a fight. They are said to be a joy to watch as they play. They bark and will guard their humans as long as necessary.
With Children: Yes, as long as the dog knows them. With child strangers, however, the Canaan Dog is wary.
With Pets: Yes, as long as the dog knows them. With strange animals and dogs, the Canaan may be aggressive or aloof.
Watch-dog: High. Canaans are a natural watch-dog. They remain alert and protective.
Guard-dog: High. They will faithfully guard humans and animals who have been entrusted in their care, and will not back down if told to do so.
Care and Training: A Canaan Dog needs regular, but minimal bathing, brushing and combing. Keep nails trimmed, ears cleaned and whiskers trimmed. Regular vigorous daily exercise on a lead is required. Canaan dogs are very active and need somewhat of a job to do. They will not be content with lazing around the house. Although there are benefits from early socialization with people and animals as young puppies, they still retain an instinctive wildness and defensiveness.
Special Needs: Socialization, training, exercise, and supervision with animals and children.
Learning Rate: High. Very intelligent and easy to train.
Activity: High. Canaan Dogs need a lot of exercise and activity.
Living Environment: City or country; house, apartment or condo. Rural or suburban environments would probably be best, however, as this dog likes to run when it is scared. In a city environment this breed could be injured if it is scared and runs into traffic. The best owner for this breed would be a dog-experienced person or family in a suburban or rural habitat.
Health Issues: Naturally healthy breed, there are no known particular health issues to this breed.
Life Span: 10 – 12 years.
Litter Size: 4 – 6 puppies.
Country of Origin: Israel
History: Canaan Dogs are a distinct breed which has survived in the desert since Biblical times. Their name “Canaan Dog” identifies this breed as the dogs of the ancient inhabitants of Israel, the Canaanites, who lived some 3,000 years ago. Cave drawings dated to 2200 BC show dogs resembling the Kalef K’naani. It is said that even Queen Jezebel kept one of these fine dogs attached to her throne with a golden chain, and the Bedouins used these dogs for herding and guarding. After the Israelites were wandering in the desert, they left behind these dogs, which soon became feral. Surviving on their own for hundreds of years, they developed through the selective breeding of the semi-wild Pariah dogs of the Middle East. A dog authority named Dr. Rudolphino Menzel from Germany decided to capture this breed and put it to use; she was asked to develop a dog for guarding the community settlement, or ‘kibbutz’. In the 1930s, it took 6 months to capture the dogs, but once they were domesticated, training came easily. The dogs were prized for their intelligence and easy training abilities. Used to guard and protect livestock, they were also a messenger dog in the Israeli army. They were used often as sentry dogs and messenger dogs. Many were trained for mine detection during WWII, and some also served in the Red Cross. This breed entered the U.S. in 1965, and maintained AKC status in 1997.
First Registered by the AKC: 1997
AKC Group: Herding
Registries: AKC, CKC, FCI (Group 5), KC (GB)