Meet the Breed: The Canaan Dog



  • Height: 19"- 24”
  • Weight: 35-55 pounds
  • Historical function: Herding, guarding
  • Modern function: Herding, guarding, mine detection, companion
  • AKC classification: Herding

Physical Characteristics:

The Canaan dog is a medium-sized, squarely built dog that moves with athletic agility and grace in a quick, brisk, ground-covering trot. Like other members of the Spitz family, the Canaan dog has a wedge-shaped head with low-set erect ears, a bushy tail that curls over the back when excited. The coat is double, straight, and lies flat. Coat color can range from black to cream with all colors in between, ranging from reds to brown, often with spots. 

History of the Breed:

The Canaan Dog was developed in the 1930s from the stock of feral dogs in Israel that have survived as herding and guard dog companions since pre-bibilical times. With the decline in Israeli human populations, the dogs settled in the dessert becoming mostly undomesticated except for a few semi-wild dogs that would stay near Bedouin nomads earning their keep guarding the herds and camps. Because of their high intelligence and adaptivity, they gained the notice of Dr. Rudolphina Menzel in the 1930s. She captured, bred, and trained more than 400 Canaan Dogs to use in mine detection work for the Middle East forces. The dogs were employed to guard scattered Israeli settlements. Even recently, a Canaan Dog is credited with saving the life of its owner in Israel when a rocket hit his apartment by directing him away from the stairwell. The Canaan Dog was accepted into the American Kennel Club in September of 1996.


The Canaan Dog is a highly intelligent working dog that gives us clues about early domesticated dog behaviors. This dog is very sensitive to the needs of his pack, and an experienced dog owner will do best to bring out the best in this dog. Because of this breed's intelligence, a trainer must keep lessons interesting and varied or the dog may lose interest. As a dog with a strong survivalist instinct, this companion will alert you to anything unusual, which makes them excellent watchdogs. They are excellent with children.

  • Best suited for: Active families that can incorporate this dog into their pack activities. Socialize this dog to many situations to ensure they do not become too protective of family members or its territory.
  • Preferred living conditions: These dogs do not do well away from their people. Do best with dogs of different genders.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Easy care short coat sheds seasonally. Very clean with no odor.
  • Exercise needs: Daily walk.
  • Life expectancy: 12-15 years.
  • Health concerns: A very healthy breed.

Breed Club Links: The Canaan Dog Club of America Perfect Pairings: Dog Agility Starter Kit,

Have any stories about a Canaan Dog? Please share!

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia creative commons

This entry was posted by Mary.
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