About the Breed

History of the Breed:

The Canaan Dog is an ancient breed resembling the wild dog type which has survived in Israel through at least 4000 years of history. Canaan Dogs are pariah dogs which live on the fringes of civilization and are frequently used by the Bedouin as flock and camp guardians or performing guard duty for the Druze people on Mount Carmel.   Until recently, wild Canaans were still being brought into captivity, and added to the gene pool under the  process of “Miyun”.  However, we now believe that civilization has encroached to a degree  there are no longer any true wild Canaans.  Any feral, free roaming dogs are now a product of crossbreedings with unknown domesticated breeds.  This makes our existing gene pool and breeding lines most important to the continuation of the Canaan breed.

In 1934, Dr. Rudolf and Prof. Rudolphina Menzel emigrated to Israel, then known as Palestine. They undertook the study of pariah dogs and the Canaan Dog in particular, becoming the driving force behind its preservation. During World War II the dogs were re-domesticated by Prof. Menzel who then bred and trained Canaan Dogs primarily for military work. After the war, they were trained to be guide dogs.

Dugma, was the first redomesticated Canaan

In 1965, Prof. Menzel exported four Canaan Dogs to the United States where they became the foundation stock for American and Canadian Canaan Dogs.
The Canaan Dog was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1992 and by the American Kennel Club in 1997.

They have many excellent qualities, but being a still somewhat primitive breed, they have certain quirks that can make them difficult to live with unless they are placed with just the right people. Here’s what you need to know if you’re interested in acquiring a Canaan Dog.

 Is the Canaan Dog the Right Dog for You?

This medium-size herding dog is an intelligent, independent thinker with natural watchdog instincts. He patrols his property and barks at intruders.  He is generally not an indiscriminate barker, giving voice only when he thinks it’s necessary. However, there may be many things that make your Canaan think the alert cry is needed.  Consider whether this will be a problem in your neighborhood.

The Canaan Dog is affectionate but not needy. He’ll check in with you occasionally, and then go about his business of keeping an eye on things. He’s good with children, deeply loyal to his family and reserved with strangers. Early and ongoing socialization is critical to ensure that a Canaan becomes comfortable in many situations.

Canaan Dogs are highly trainable with positive reinforcement techniques, but if you’re not consistent, he will take advantage of you. He gets bored easily, so avoid repetition. Once you find out what motivates him, though, he’s an enthusiastic worker in whatever dog sport or activity you train him. Canaan Dogs can do well in almost any activity, including agility, obedience, rally and tracking. They are also found doing search and rescue and therapy dog work. And, of course, he’s a natural herder.

Because of their desert dwelling background, Canaans practice energy conservation.  Since the environment can become extreme, all energy must be used for survival: digging dens, finding food, evading predators, and reproducing.   In our world this translates to a dog who does not waste energy pacing as some breeds are known to do.  Canaans can typically be found curled up under the desk or lounging in the sun spot. They prefer enclosed den like areas, and are generally fond of their crates  They do require daily exercise, and easily endure long hikes and extended outings, but require less exercise than would be expected on a routine basis.  They are considered “easy keepers”.   However, don’t be surprised when this natural breed digs a hole big enough for two in your backyard!

Digging 089





Because of his independent and adventurous spirit, the Canaan Dog is rarely reliable off leash. He has a superb sense of smell and excellent eyesight and is likely to take off if he senses something interesting.  Because of their high natural prey drive the breed is not suited to invisible or electric fence.  A secure physical fence of at least 5′ tall is needed to keep your Canaan at home.  There are many inventive escape artists within the breed.

The Canaan Dog has a short double coat that sheds heavily twice a year. During this time, he’ll need frequent brushing to remove dead hair. The rest of the year, brush the coat weekly to keep it clean, and trim his nails as needed.

Last but not least, it should go without saying that a loyal and protective breed such as the Canaan Dog needs to live in the house. It’s an unhappy Canaan Dog who is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship.