Canaan dog
Dog Breeds

Canaan dog

Canaan dog is a breed of Spitz-like, medium-growth dogs with dense, two-layered hair formed from dog-pariahs. Canaan dog looks like its ancestors thousands of years ago – Middle Eastern pariah dogs. The wild provenance does not bother him, however, to perform well as a companion. Distrustful towards strangers, quite difficult to drive but extremely durable.


The nature and behavior of the canaan dog are largely determined by the fact that it is a primitive dog. Hence his high intelligence, independence, independence, strong herd bonds, territoriality, distrust of strangers, strong reaction to suspicious stimuli. So it’s easy to learn canaan dog commands or tricks, but it can be different with the implementation of commands. It depends on the motivation, distractions or trust in the guide.

The humorous comparison of Myrna Shiboleth best illustrates this: when you lead a German Shepherd to the edge of the abyss and make him jump, he will lick your hand and follow the instructions; if you have the canaan dog do the same, it will look at you and find you first!

Canaan dog

For a dog of this breed, relationships with the herd are extremely important – he considers isolation from the human family as one of the worst punishments. Although he likes to be with the owner, he does not follow him step by step around the house – all he needs is the awareness that he is nearby unless something interesting is happening.

These strong ties make the Canaan dog ready to sacrifice defend the rest of the herd or their belongings. He is caring for children from his own human family, as well as for small animals with whom he grew up. However, foreign children may react distrustfully and even defend against their “own” child if he does not understand the intention of a play.

This distrust of strangers and phenomena is a natural feature of the canaan dog. It must, therefore, be carefully socialized. These quadrupeds bark or snarl warning when they notice something disturbing, but most of them are not clumsy. If the dog trusts its handler, there is no problem with the acceptance of strangers met in a neutral area, or guests admitted to the house. It can even let them a stroke. However, the same people trying to enter the area in the absence of the owner will meet with an aggressive reaction.

Canaan finds it difficult to come to terms with the presence of foreign dogs in his own territory, but he also suffers if this is the will of the owner. Outwardly, he usually doesn’t show any aggression towards his brethren, although if they violate his personal space (e.g. Labrador jumps over him), they can be met with a strong reaction. You should also remember that canaan has a fairly strong hunting instinct for small animals. However, taught this from the beginning can live with cats and other small animals.

The advantage of canaan dogs is that they don’t require much traffic. They are usually satisfied with a long walk without a leash, and even the opportunity to run with another quadruped in the fenced area. In addition, they sleep most of the time – gladly on the couch.


Canaan dogs can be stacked in different directions, for example, in the United States they take part in herding, agility, obedience and tracking competitions. Above all, however, they are family dogs.

Canaan dog. Training and education

The dog from Kanaan is not as willing to carry out commands as border collie or the mentioned one. He will always first analyze whether it pays off. In addition, he is sensitive and badly tolerates hard treatment, and he senses the mood of the owner like a seismograph.

On the other hand, there is no problem with activities that are fun for themselves, such as agility or browsing. But obedience exercises can bore him. The best for this dog is short, interesting lessons with numerous awards.

Canaan dog

Although he is not blindly obedient, unlike many primitive races he has no tendency to go far or run away. It is easy to learn how to come on demand – although it will not always do it immediately.

Who is this race for?

The breed is suitable as a family dog ​​for people who on the one hand will be consistent, but on the other hand, will also respect certain innate independence of this dog.

Canaan dog. Advantages and disadvantages


  • independent and quite stubborn
  • quickly gets bored of monotonous exercises
  • distrustful of strangers
  • has a strong defensive reaction to suspicious stimuli
  • has a fairly strong hunting instinct for small animals


  • very attached to the family
  • patient with children from their own herd
  • accepts pets
  • quiet at home
  • does not require a lot of traffic
  • easy to care for


As primitive dogs, canaan dogs are extremely agile, efficient and durable. They are characterized by sensitive smell and hearing. They rarely suffer from diseases.

Canaan dog


The dog from Canaan perfectly uses food and is not fussy. You can feed him with ready food or food prepared by yourself.

Canaan dog


Care is not complicated, it is enough to brush the dog with a rubber comb with protrusions during molting.


Canaan dog, or the dog from Canaan, is the only breed bred in Israel. In Hebrew, her name is Kelev K’naani. It was created on the basis of pariah dogs from the Negev desert thanks to Dr. Rudolfina Menzel. The ancestors of these dogs lived in the ancient land of Canaan already in biblical times, as evidenced by the grave images found there before 4 thousand. years representing quadrupeds similar to modern ones.

The ancient Israelites used them to guard camps and herds. They were common in this region until over 2 thousand. years ago, the Romans drove the Hebrews out of it. Then most dogs found shelter in the Negev desert. Many have gone wild, and some have tamed the Bedouins, using them in their original role – as herdsmen and campers.

In the 1930s, Hagana (a Jewish paramilitary self-defense organization that operated in 1920-1948 and was later the basis of the Israeli Defense Forces) asked the famous cynologist Dr. Rudolfina Menzel to breed a dog suitable for guarding Jewish settlements. Dr. Menzel knew the desert pariahs and based on them decided to breed a breed perfectly adapted to the local conditions.

The trust of semi-wild dogs was gained by tempting them with food. Puppies that were found were taken away, as they were tamed just like quadrupeds raised at home.

It took half a year to tame the first caught adult dog Dugm (in Hebrew “example”), but when he did, after a few weeks you could even take a bus with him. In 1934 breeding began.

Canaan dogs proved to be very intelligent and easy to arrange, they served in the army as sentry, liaison dogs, looking for wounded and detecting mines. During World War II, over 400 animals were trained for the latter purpose and they proved to be much more effective than mechanical detectors.

In 1949, Dr. Menzel decided to help the blind and at the same time find a new occupation for dogs from Canaan. She founded the Institute of Blind Orientation and Mobility, in which breed breeding was carried out and the dogs were nicknamed B’nei Habitachon. In 1953 training of canaan dogs for blind guides began, but after some time they gave up because Dr. Menzel decided that they were too independent and too small for this role.

The dogs from the institute were then transferred to the Shaar Hagai kennel, belonging to Myrna Shiboleth, who is constantly acquiring new quadrupeds representing the correct type, mostly buying them from Bedouins from the Negev desert.

In 1948, about 150 dogs were registered in the pedigree book. The breed was recognized by the Palestinian Kennel Club (predecessor of the Israeli Kennel Club) in 1953. The FCI recognized it in 1966. The first four canaans came to the United States in 1965, when the race club was established. The AKC recognized it in 1997, and the British Kennel Club in 1970.

Currently, they are the most popular in the United States – there are over 1,000 of them living there. In the breed homeland, the population numbers several hundred, and in other countries these dogs are rare.


Canaan dog – Group V FCI, section 6, reference number 273

  • Country of origin: Israel
  • Character: calm dog, very close to the owner, gentle towards children, distrustful of strangers, alert, good guardian
  • Size: 50-60 cm, males can be much larger than bitches
  • Weight: 18-25 kg
  • Coat: short, two-layer: straight, hard and dense coat, dense undercoat; the hair can be very short or slightly longer, but never creates a feather
  • Color: from sandy to red in various shades, white, black, pied; in all colors a black mask and white markings are allowed, so-called Irish (white arrow on the head, collar, paws, belly, tail icon); gray, brindle, black, tan and tricolor are not allowed; the most typical for the breed are desert colors: sand, cream, red
  • Lifespan: about 15 years
  • Vulnerability to training: quite high; learns quickly, but as a primitive dog shows some independence
  • Activity: moderate; all he needs is a longer walk
  • Resistance/susceptibility to diseases: healthy breed, resistant to heat

Interesting facts

The breed is quite popular in the United States, but it’s worth knowing that Americans breed a slightly different type than the one bred in Israel. In America, so-called collie type with slightly lighter, slender heads and larger ears.

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