Canaan Dog Guide

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The Canaan dog resembles none of the other herding breeds, arising from a completely different background. nonetheless, it shares similar traits needed in any dog that must herd for hours. It is a medium-sized, square-proportioned dog of moderate substance that combines strength, agility and endurance. It is not exaggerated in any way. Its movement is athletic and graceful, with a brisk, ground-covering trot. It is able to change directions instantly. It has a double coat, with a short, soft undercoat that varies in density according to climate, and a straight, flat-lying, harsh outer coat, with a slight ruff. This breed must adapt to great extremes in weather ranging from hot days to cold nights.

Not only does the Canaan dog excel as a herder, but it has also proven itself in a variety of tasks involving dependability and obedience. This is an intelligent, devoted, docile dog that is quite tractable and willing to please. It is aloof toward strangers and protective of its family. The Canaan dog is generally good with other household pets and dogs, but it may be aggressive toward strange dogs. It is a natural guardian and tends to bark a lot.


FAMILY livestock, herding, primitive, Southern (pariah)


DATE OF ORIGIN ancient times

ORIGINAL FUNCTION sentry, messenger, and assistance

TODAY'S FUNCTION herding trials

AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 20-24 Weight: 45-55

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 19-23 Weight: 35-45

OTHER NAME kalef K'naani

Energy level Medium energy

Exercise needs High

Playfullness Moderately playful

Affection level Moderately affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly

Friendliness toward other pets Very friendly

Friendliness toward strangers Shy

Ease of training Hard to train

Watchdog ability High

Protection ability Moderately protective

Grooming needs Low maintenance

Cold tolerance Medium tolerance

Heat tolerance Medium tolerance

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Few breeds can claim as pure a working heritage as the Canaan dog. This dog will not be happy just sitting around. It needs lots of exercise and mental and physical challenges. These needs can be met with herding exercise, a long jog, or a strenuous game session along with a challenging training session. It can live outdoors in warm to cool climates, but it also makes an excellent house dog. Its coat needs brushing about once a week to remove dead hairs.
• Major concerns: none
• Minor concerns: none
• Occasionally seen: none
• Suggested tests: none
• Life span: 12 – 13 years
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Canaan dogs have evolved through hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of years of hardship. It is thought that the breed originated in the biblical land of Canaan and were known as kelev Kanani ("dog of Canaan"). When the Israelites were dispersed from their homeland by the Romans 2,000 years ago, most of the Israeli dogs were left to fend for themselves in the Sebulon coastal plain and Negev desert. Bedouins captured male puppies from the wild to raise as guard and livestock dogs. When the Israeli Defense Force tried to develop service dogs in the 1930s, the traditional European service breeds weren't able to adapt to the harsh climate. The Canaan dog owes its existence primarily to the efforts of one woman, Dr. Rudolphina Menzel. Her search for a more suitable dog led her to the native feral dogs. Several dogs were captured, and a breeding and training program was begun. The dogs quickly proved their worth, serving as sentry dogs, messengers, mine detectors, Red Cross helpers and even locators of wounded soldiers during World War II and as guide dogs for the blind after the war. Perhaps no other breed of dog has ever risen from feral roots to become such a useful and dedicated companion in so short a time. The first Canaan dog came to America in 1965. Not the flashiest of breeds, the Canaan's understated good looks may have made many people overlook it, despite its companionship credentials. Nonetheless, it slowly attracted admirers, and the AKC finally admitted it into the herding group in 1997. Now beginning a new era as a show dog, the increased exposure is sure to attract many more people looking for a loyal and hardy pet.
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