A squarely proportioned, medium-sized, sturdy dog with high set, rounded tipped ears that have a broad base, the Canaan Dog carries his curled bushy tail over his back. He has a blunt wedge shaped head with a defined, shallow stop. Canaan Dogs have a dark nose and dark brown almond shaped eyes that make the dog look like he has an inquisitive, alert expression.
Canaan Dogs have cat like feet on perfectly straight legs, a fairly deep chest and strong body, covered by a harsh, straight flat fur approximately one half to two inches in length.
Native to Israel, they believe the Canaan Dogs have existed well over a thousand years. Extremely intelligent, hardy, trainable dogs that learn extremely quickly, they sometimes try to outsmart their master making training difficult at times.
The double insulating, straight coat of the Canaan Dog, which protects the dog from harsh temperatures, is less than two inches in length, lays flat against the dogs body, and feels harsh to touch. The Canaan Dog has a soft, short undercoat that varies in thickness depending upon the climate and a pointed, tapered bushy tail.
Most U.S. Canaan Dogs have black patches and a black face on a white coat while other imports are white and brown or white and black dogs with a symmetrical mask matching their patch color. Some dogs lighten after being born a dark reddish brown while others darken after being born a creamy white.
Believed to be one of the oldest breeds of dog in the world, the Canaan Dog was a pariah dog that survived in the desert in ancient Israel times. There were dog drawings in tombs from 2200 BC that looked very similar to Canaan Dogs. Believed to be guard and herding dogs of ancient Israelites, these alert dogs protected their masters or shepherds while they slept, let them know if danger was close by, and protected flocks of sheep and other animals from predators, from straying, or from thieves. The Canaan Dogs retreated to southern Israel’s hilly Negev desert when the Romans drove out the Israelites during the second century. Roaming free, they lived a feral, nomadic lifestyle, surviving on their fitness and wits. In 1935, Dr. Rudolphina Menzel acquired and began breeding several desert dogs, refining and recording their bloodlines until they became the same dog know as the ‘Canaan’ today. They trained these dogs for working during World War II to detect mines, sentry work, and message delivery.
The medium sized Canaan Dogs excel as herders and enjoy using their intelligence to learn new things and complete tasks without a lot of supervision from their masters, as they enjoy being independent. They are affectionate, loyal companion dogs that love their family but do not mind staying home on their own for extended periods, unlike many dog breeds. Canaan Dogs do very well in obedience training, responding well to motivational, positive training, but become bored quickly if the training sessions are overly repetitive. They require training that is challenging, fun, and interesting.
A one family or one-person dog, Canaan Dogs are naturally cautious and wary around strangers. They require socialization at an early age to children, dogs, and other people. Natural guard dogs and watchdogs, Canaan Dogs are territorial and let their family’s know if a stranger is on their property or someone is at the door. Although docile, devoted, and gentle, they are also protective, alert, and lively. The Canaan Dogs excel in herding, tracking and agility.
An extremely healthy breed of dog, the hardy Canaan Dogs have no known hereditary problems or health issues. Hip or elbow dysplasia, which makes movements difficult and painful for dogs because of joint breakdown, is very rare in Canaan Dogs.
Canaan Dogs require minimal grooming as they have no doggie odor and are relatively clean animals. Their coat is very easy to brush, clean and maintain. Brush your dog weekly using a stiff bristle brush and comb to remove any dead or loose hair and dander. During the Canaan Dogs seasonal shedding periods, brushing the dog three or more times a week is necessary so their hair does not become a problem in the house. Only bathe your dog if he gets into something and becomes smelly. A Canaan Dog that has an odor even after a bath requires a trip to the veterinarian as he could have an ear, nose, or skin infection.
Never happy just sitting around, the Canaan Dog is a working animal that requires many physical and mental challenges and needs to keep busy. They require plenty of exercise such as long daily walks, strenuous game sessions, herding exercises or a daily jog.
Canaan Dogs need to be with a busy active person or family that, along with playing retrieval and fetch games, will get them involved in intense, physical training challenges or tasks that helps strengthen both the dogs’ mental and physical fitness. Running loose in a large fenced yard, playing, and fetching helps burn off some energy. A Canaan Dog that does not get plenty of exercise often becomes cranky and upset.
Canaan Dogs are easy to train because they are very intelligent so have no problem learning new tricks and tasks. These devoted, vigilant, alert family dogs need to understand whom the ‘herder’ or ‘top dog’ is because, once your position is established, the dog will obey and follow your lead. The Canaan Dog becomes bored very quickly during training if you do not keep the sessions stimulating or interesting enough for them. Some dogs will become difficult to train, ignoring commands if they feel that the activities are not challenging enough. Socialization at an early age is important to keep from ending up with a dog that is overly aggressive or too shy. When you expose your Canaan puppy to new sights, places, sounds, people, experiences, and situations, they are less likely to overreact, or become stressed as adults. If you want to involve your Canaan in any type of sport, training and socialization is essential.