Canaan Dog – History, Appearance, And Beyond

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
The Canaan Dog is an ancient breed from the Middle East. They were almost extinct but found a way how to survive in a harsh desert. Read on to learn more about this breed.
Dog Breed Group:
Herding Dogs
19 to 24 inches tall at the shoulder
35 to 55 pounds
Life Span:
12 to 15 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

The Canaan Dog is one of the AKC’s oldest breeds and the national dog of Israel. This is always an alert dog, with some impressive vocal capabilities, and a strong need to guard and protect.

This is a bushy-tailed dog, with a weight of up to 55 pounds. Females are smaller in appearance than males.

Canaan Dogs come in various colors and patterns. They are agile which makes them a perfect fit for longer hikes and active outdoor time. They are intelligent, confident, and territorial.

They will try to own their owners, and definitely ‘own’ passive owners, which is why you should have a dog experience before you get this breed. They may not be the perfect match for first time dog owners.

Quick Facts

Real name: Canaan Dog
Origin: Middle East
Other Names: Bedouin Sheepdog, Palestinian Pariah Dog
Breed type: Herding Dogs
Weight: 45-55 pounds (male), 35-45 pounds (female)
Height: 20-24 inches (male), 19-23 inches (female)
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Litter Size: 4 – 6 puppies
Color: Color ranges from black to cream, with small white markings, or white color patches
Coat: Harsh, dense, straight, short to medium-lenght

Canaan Dog History

Cannan Dogs are named for the territory that is today known as Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and parts of bordering countries. This dog was bred to herd, and keep livestock safe.

At biblical times, livestock was kept for food, leather, and wool; therefore they were frequently used in the ritual sacrifices that lasted for centuries.

Artifacts going back some 4,000 years show dogs similar to Canaans, but no one can tell for sure when the breed was developed exactly. However, it’s known that the turning point for the breed was in the year 70.

That year Romans destroyed Jerusalem and scattered the Israelis across the Middle East and Mediterranean basin.

Without people to keep them and livestock to keep them busy, Canaan Dogs when to Negev Desert, where they somehow survived and lived undomesticated until the 20th century.

Canaan Dog Redomestication

Later on, during the years leading to the foundation of the State of Israel, guard dogs were needed to join the Israeli army and guard certain areas. Therefore, Canaan Dogs were used as K-9s.

In fact, this breed was proposed by Dr. Rudolphina Menzel, an Austrian cynologist living in Palestine, becuase only the fittest dogs could survive the weather and live in such an area.

As result, the redomestication of the Canaan Dog began. It turns out that these desert dogs were highly intelligent and highly trainable. In no time they got hit places as messengers, guards, service dogs, and landmine detectors.

After World War II, Menzel began breeding and training Canaans as guard dogs for the blind.

The breed that survived on its own for 2,000 must-have independent traits even today, which is why training is so crucial.

Canaan Dog Physical Appearance

The Canaan Dog is a pariah dog type that is naturally watchful and alert.

He is extremely mistrustful of strangers and varies in unfamiliar environments. However, with his humans and family, the Canaan Dog is very sensitive, loyal, and loving.

This is a square dog of medium size, with athletic agility and grace in movement.

He has low-set erect ears and a high set brushtail that curls over the back when confident. The head is elongated and the eyes are dark and almond-shaped.

Ears are erect, going from medium to large, and their motion contributes to expression and clearly shows the mood of the dog.

Lips are tight with good pigmentation. The body is well-proportioned. Overall, the body is strong, with a broad and deep chest, and tail thats are set high.

When confident the tail will always be curled over the back. Legs are straight, while shoulders are moderately angulated. Dewclaws may be removed.

Nails are strong, which is why regular trimming or grinding is mandatory because it can create a strong discomfort in dogs.

The Canaan Dog has a double coat. The outer coat is harsh and straight. The tail is brush-like and thick.

The undercoat is soft and short with density varying with climate – expect more frequent shedding during the shedding season. Color may vary, and there are two color patterns.

Canaan Dog Personality

Canaan Dogs are one of the few ‘natural’ breeds in existence today. Since they have become re-domesticated recently.

They still have strong survival instincts, which can make them seem wary and independent. They are extremely territorial, but never aggressive toward people.

They tend to be protective of their family members, adults, and children. Still, be careful with children.

Educate your children on how to behave around dogs – to respect their space, not to disturb them while eating or drinking from their bowl, or when resting in their kennel.

This is a territorial breed, so tell everyone what are the house rules for visiting your home – this is the best way to prevent any accidents, misfortunate events, and so on.

They aren’t agressive toward people but may be quarrelsome with other dogs and same-sex aggression is not unknown, which is why early socialization and training are mandatory.

Canaan Dog Training

Canaan Dogs are great family companions and loyal buddies. To get to that level where you can trust each other completely, serious training is mandatory.

Make sure that you truly understand why training your Canaan Dog (or any other dog) is so important and what it brings to your life.

People often ask when should they start training their puppies, and the right answer is right away.

Puppies can start learn basic commands as of eight weeks of life.

This is a breed more suitable for experienced dog owners, so you should know by now how training works, and how important early socialization is.

Canaan dogs are highly trainable, as long as you can adress training sessions right to them. Make training sessions frequent, short, and fun.

Dogs love to be busy, to have work to do, but if games become too repetitive it may lead to boredom, which can lead further to destructive behavior, which can cause further issues and lead to high stress.

If training your Canaan Dog sounds like too much work, think about puppy classes, a professional help can do wonders for a well-behaved puppy.

Just make sure that the puppy school has a good reputation and that they use only positive reinforcement techniques. Avoid puppy schools that are proud of using harsh training methods.

Dogs thrive on positive reinforcement and treats, never on harsh training methods, because any type of negative training could have seriously negative effects on Canaan’s sensitive nature.

Canaan Dog Grooming

Canaans tend to stay clean and they don’t need baths, at least not the frequent ones. Make sure that you bath Canaans with only dog-friendly shampoo.

Canaans have a double coat, which consists of a flat outer coat and a soft undercoat.

They do shed, but expect massive shedding at least once a year – this is why regular brushing time can save you time and vacuuming hours.

Make sure that you have the right grooming tools on hand, and that you know which brush is suitable for your dog’s coat.

Nails should be trimmed or grinned regularly because too long nails can cause discomfort in your dog.

Check ears and gums regularly, and have regular veterinarian check-ups.

Canaan Dog Health

The Canaan Dog is generally a helahty breed, and if you are dealing with responsible breeders, you cna be sure that you are getting a helahty puppy.

Responsible breeders will always present you with medical documentation on the breed, let you meet the bitch, and show you the facilities.

They will also tell you in an event of hardship, do not put the dog in a shelter, but return it to them.

If you are not given this treatment, know that you are dealing with puppy mills, and just walk away.

As with all breeds, a Canaan Dog’s ears should be checked regularly, next to gums, and skin for any sign of infection.

If you choose to brush his teeth, make sure that you are using toothpaste designed for dogs.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Thyroid Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Patella Evaluation

Canaan Dog Interesting Facts

  • Canaan Dogs survived for centuries in the desert
  • Their ears help them radiate excess heat
  • Pointy ears are the best shape for collecting sound
  • The Canaan Dog needs roughly 1.5 to 2.5 cups of food a day
  • They need a minimum of 30-minute active time

Is Canaan Dog For You?

The Canaan Dog is a medium-sized god, who is spitz-like in appearance, and with a thick coat.

This breed is suitable for experienced owners, while first time dog owners should focus on breeds that are more suitable for them.

Be sure that you can afford a dog, and that you have enough time and energy to adress his every need.

Extra training this breed is required, which is why this breed is a great choice for those who enjoy the outdoors.

If you are ready to give this breed your time, love, and proper training on how to live with other pets and children, this breed might be for you.

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