Canaan Dog

Country of origin:
Height (cm):
Weight (kg):
Life span (years):
sand to red-brown, white, black, or spotted, with or without mask
Hair length:
average, short
Recognized by:
FCI code:
Good with kids:
Download standard:
Pros Cons

  • can be kept in an apartment

  • intelligent

  • needs very little grooming

  • great watcher and fearless guardian

  • shows aggressiveness to other dogs and street animals

  • sheds heavily twice a year

  • independent-minded

  • not for a novice owner


The Canaan Dog is a pye-dog that has lived in the desert area of Israel for more than millennia. It may have been used as a herder and livestock guardian during biblical era and it’s still highly valued by Bedouins and Druse in the above-mentioned roles. In European countries and North America this independent and smart breed with naturally strong protective instinct is mainly kept as a companion animal.


The beginning of the Canaan Dog ‘s history dates back as far as to 2000 to B.C. It operated as a herding dog and sentry for its Israeli owners and discharged the same duties for nomadic Bedouins. This dog was a common sight in this terrain until the Romans forced the Israeli folk out of the Holy Land approximately 2 000 years ago. During the war time the breed escaped complete disappearance by fleeing in the Negev Desert where it survived and reproduced in a feral form for centuries.

In the 30s of XX century Dr. Rudolph Mendel and his spouse, famous Israeli canine experts, migrated from Europe to the then Palestine. Upon the request of a Jewish defence organisation they began creating a sentry and watchdog for distant Jewish villages that would be able to carry out functions of a war service canine. They immediately recalled hardy and wild desert dogs and understood that only the most tenacious and robust specimens could have outlived all hardships of dwelling in such severe conditions. The couple started choosing pups and adult dogs for the purpose of re-domestication. Gradually they developed a truly versatile breed whose docility and intelligence made it a perfect messenger, sentry, livestock guardian and property watcher.

During the Second World War deliberately selected specimens of the Canaan Dog worked as live mine detectors for the Middle East forces and usually achieved much greater results than most mechanic detection machines. When the war was over the dog was retrained to become an excellent assistant for the blind. Over time it established fine reputation as a police dog and was frequently used in search-and-rescue operations.

The Israel Kennel Club began registering the breeds’ members in 1953. The first Canaan Dogs found their way to America in 1965 and in 1997 the American Kennel Club (AKC) gave the breed its full recognition. It was officially accepted by the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1992. Today’s dogs are treasured not only for their exceptional work ethic but also for their excellent trainability and intelligence, which make them wonderful family pets.


The Canaan Dog is a primitive breed, which has been re-domesticated fairly lately and therefore retains some of its wild habits. For instance, although it prefers to keep close to its masters it rarely fawns upon them. Furthermore it wants to be on a par with all members of its human family and periodically tries to take away the status of a pack leader from the owner, especially from an irresolute or a passive one. This dog usually finds mutual understanding with family kids but it just can’t bear any type of rough-housing, even in the heat of the game.

The Canaan Dog strikes cautious and suspicious attitude towards all unfamiliar people. It must be socialised in an early age if you plan to make this dog a part of your family. Be aware that some of its specimens live through a fear state that begins at 9 to 12 months of age and may continue up to a year. During this period the dog exhibits extreme fearfulness of unknown people and obviously innocuous objects. This peculiar behaviour goes back to the times when the ancestors of the Canaan Dog had to survive in a precarious dessert. The dog possesses great sensitiveness and always remains on alert so it can be turned into a fabulous watcher. It’s also quite ready to use essential aggression to drive away any unwelcome guest from its homestead and usually makes a highly effective guardian.

Canine aggressiveness can be frequently found in the members of the Canaan Dog. It’s imprudent to introduce it into a household with one or several pre-existing canines (especially of the same sex). It also can respond hostilely to the presence of strange dogs on its territory and generally doesn’t seek to make friends with each and every canine. It’s also prone to chase street cats and therefore should be always kept securely leashed in public places. However this breed can get on successfully with individual pets (cats included) if it has had an opportunity to interact with them since a young age.

Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include:

· canine hip dysplasia;

· elbow dysplasia;

· von Willebrand’s disease;

· thrombopathia;

· lymphosarcoma.


The Canaan Dog needs very ordinary grooming. The rough and short coat of this breed should be brushed with a coarse brush once a week to prevent dead hair from accumulating on your clothing, furniture and carpets. It’s a seasonal heavy shedder that will lose most of its fur twice a year. More careful and frequent brushing during these times will provide necessary control over the amount of loose hair in the house.

It’s also important to pay proper attention to such standard care procedures as nails trimming, teeth brushing and ears cleaning. The Canaan Dog requires only rare bathing since it’s mostly deprived of the specific doggie smell.


The Canaan Dog can be trained with acceptable investments of time and efforts. This docile and clever dog can master very advanced tricks with surprisingly insignificant amount of repetition. Nonetheless its training commonly becomes complicated because of its tendency to independent thinking and the dog may occasionally simply refuse to follow your orders. The latter happens especially often if the handler lacks experience or he/she couldn’t win the dog’s respect.

It’s absolutely inadmissible to resort to harsh discipline during lessons since it commonly leads opposite results. Encourage the interest of your pet with its favourite food and you will get a well-bred and obedient Canaan Dog in no time.


Being a very strong and hardy breed, the Canaan Dog demands average amount of daily physical activity. Long and vigorous walk is usually sufficient to satisfy its primal need for exploring and roaming. Of course, it will never refuse an opportunity to run freely in a safely secured area.

This dog loves to dig so expect to find multipleholes in the lawn and flowerbed if you left your pet for a few hours in theyard unattended. Serious behavioural issues (unreasonable barking, aggressiveness,nervousness, etc.) usually manifest in those breed members that don’t receiveenough chances to expand the surpluses of energy.