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Canaan Dog Breed

If you’re reading this article within the United States, and you’ve never traveled abroad to the Middle East or Israel, it would be understandable why you may not be totally familiar with this particular dog breed.

That said however…

There is a reason why this dog breed has been able to survive for 1000’s of years and why they still continue to find a role in many individuals lives today.  Which is why, we wanted to take a moment and try to make familiarize those who may not have had the pleasure of meeting one of these animals.

Origins of the Species: the Canaan Dog

As we’ve already alluded to, the Canaan Breed has been around for a very long time (think biblical times).  In fact, the breed itself is surrounded in biblical history and has actually had biblical events alter the way in which the breed has developed over the centuries.

You see…

The Canaan dog is believed to have originated out of the biblical land of Canaan, ( think, modern day Israel over 2000 years ago).  At or around this time, the Israelites had to abandon the land of Canaan due to severe droughts that were affecting their land. As a result, many Canaan dogs were abandoned and forced for fend for themselves within the Negev desert.

During which time…

Many of these domesticated animals became feral animals, thus honing their skills at becoming independent hunters, capable of not only surviving in a very inhospitable but also thriving.

This is why…

They ultimately became highly valued animals to the Bedouin people (nomadic people of the desert) as both guard dogs and assistance animals helping them with their livestock.

Then fast forward…

Several thousand years to the early 1930’s when a breeding program was introduced to “officaly” tame the now feral desert dogs, by Dr Rudolphina Menzel.  The program produced many working dogs that were given to the military to work as mobility dogs after she set up her institution.


It is believed that there are an estimated 2-3 thousand of these dogs scattered across the world since they became a desirable breed known for being highly adaptable.

Canaan Dog Characteristics

If you’re looking for a great “watch dog” or “guard dog”, the Canaan dog breed could very well be the perfect dog for you.

Inherently watchful by nature, one won’t really need to do much at all to encourage your Canaan puppy to begin keeping a “eye” on everything and be wary of strangers.

But be warned…

Canaan dogs are also likely to bark a lot.  And by a lot, we mean that they’re likely to bark at anyone who walks past your house day or night.


You’re going to want to take this into consideration before purchasing a Canaan puppy, or better yet, adopting a Canaan dog from a Canaan dog rescue center.

They’re also going to…

Be wary of anyone who has not been “officially welcomed” by their owner, so be sure to keep that in mind when walking your Canaan or having someone enter into your home for the first time.


If you’re the type of person that wants to be the center of your dog’s world and have him or her with you every second of the day, then a Canaan dog probably isn’t going the be the right dog for you.

You see, Canaan dogs are very loyal companions but they are just far too busy patrolling the house and making sure everything is secure, safe and in order, rather than following you around all day!

That said, however…

These dogs do need early socialization to keep them happy and reliable. And it should be noted that, because the dogs have a very acute sense of sight and smell, don’t be surprised if they have a tendency to try and bolt while on a leash (at least until properly trained) because at their core, these are herding dogs that are always ready and eager to work!

Canaan Dog Care and Maintenance..

Because at it’s core, the Canaan dog breed is a “herder”, you’re going to want to make sure that he or she gets plenty of time to exercise properly.  For those not super familiar with the Canaan breed, one might compare them with Border Collie with regards to temperament, intelligence and exercise requirements.

And like a Border Collie…

Your Canaan will love being trained to do tasks around the house – but be careful not to repeat yourself too much in training because they know. They tend to do well in any athletic training, and excel at things like agility courses. Canaan’s are said to be at their “happiest” when kept entertained and “challenged”.

This means that…

They’re going to require quite a lot of stimulation and if they’re left alone too much or allow to get too bored, they will find “fun” on their own which doesn’t always produce the results an owner is looking for (think torn up shoes)!

Puzzle balls…

And other interactive type toys are a great way to keep your Canaan busy in between active play sessions.

Are Canaan dogs good with children?

You bet they are, but beware.   Canaan dogs have excellent herding and survival instincts, and will be gentle with your children and with other dogs who are in their pack (and can be part of their herding group).

But outside of this – be wary.

If your child is playing with another child and they accidentally get a little rough with one another, there is a high chance your Canaan will go into defense mode and try to protect your child from the aggressive play of the “stranger”. This is where their defensive instinct might be a hindrance, so keep it in mind at all times.

Canaan Dog Traits

Classified by the American Kennel Club as the national breed of Israel, these dogs have a “rugged” beauty to them. Medium in size, the Canaan breed belongs to a class known as ‘Pariah’ dogs.

Pariah Breeds are dogs that are often part feral due to their ‘outcast’ nature. They are square chested and are built for endurance (rather than beauty). They’ll typically have low but pointed ears and usually come in “desert colors” – tans and browns and yellows.

Your Canaan will also have a double coat – a short and wiry outer coat with a soft and fluffy undercoat – often with white trim. Both will fall out biannually and make a mess of your house without solid brushing. The rest of the year you can brush him weekly to keep him looking trim. They also have a bushy tail that curls forward a little when they are happy.

For more information about the care and maintenance of the Canaan dog breed, we would highly recommend that you check out the Canaan Dog Club of America as they can often be an invaluable source of information about Canaan clubs in your area as well as for information about quality and reputable breeders.

Is the Canaan dog breed a healthy one?

You bet!  They’re actually one of the healthiest purebred breeds out there! This is because the breed itself was only properly established in 1977, and therefore they have not suffered from over-breeding that many other breeds have (at least for now).

That said however…

Health problems you may want to be on the lookout for should include: luxating patella (or floating kneecap), Hip Dysplasia and Osteochondritis Dissecans (cracks in the joint muscles and bones.)

Where can I find a Canaan puppy?

As usual, be wary of bad breeders. Puppy farms are a huge problem in the States today, and there are ways to tell if your breeder or pet store is using puppy farmers to stock their wares.

In general…
  • If a pet store or breeder has several breeds under one roof then turn around and walk out.
  • If they do not or cannot provide you with proper documentation then do not buy.
  • If they will not let you meet at least one of the parents then shop elsewhere.

A genuine Canaan puppy breeder will be able to provide you with documentation for both parents if you ask. They will also have healthy, happy dogs that have been raised in a safe and comfortable environment, with no risk of loss of life to the mother.

If you would like further guidance on where to buy your Canaan puppy specifically then go to the Kennel Club website, where you will be able to find a list of properly screened and reputable breeders to buy from.

Our final verdict is..

… the Canaan dog breed is a excellent dog breed, it’s just a matter of whether or not you’ll be an excellent owner for one of these fabulous animals.

And unfortunately, this is something that we here at IndulgeYourPet simply can’t answer but we would suggest that you take the time to reach out to a Canaan dog owner in your area and get to know one of these dogs before you do decide to purchase a Canaan puppy, or better yet, adopt a Canaan dog rescue.

This way, you’ll be able to know for sure if getting a Canaan is right for you!

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