The Canaan Dog is an ancient breed that has existed for thousands of years. It has all the qualities of an alert guard dog and that was the main purpose behind its breeding in its country of origin – Israel. Thanks to their other qualities, Canaani dogs soon found acceptance as household pets and even as show ring participants around the world.
Let us study the breed’s temperament, physical characteristics, and training and exercise needs which potential Canaan owners need to know.
Cool facts about the Canaan Dog
- The Canaan is a member of the Spitz family. In Israel, the breed was mainly developed to perform the roles of guarding and herding and it still does these tasks today.
- Another name for the breed is Kelev K’naani.
- Dr. Rudolphina Menzel, a canine expert, is responsible for the breed’s development and is even considered as the ‘founder’ of the breed.
- It is believed that the Canaan dog breed is one of the oldest breeds and they might have existed even during Biblical times, nearly 4000 years ago.
- When Israelites were dispersed by Romans about 2000 years ago, the numbers of these dogs decreased significantly. Those that were left sought refuge in the Negev Desert on the brink of civilization. Here they were considered as feral, pariah dogs. Some of them followed the nomadic Bedouins who used them for herding and flock-guarding duties. That is why the Canaan is also known as the Bedouin Sheepdog. It was later, in the early 1930s when Dr. Menzel took an interest in the breed’s development and that brought about a tremendous change in the way the breed started to be perceived. By the early 20th century, the Canaan was domesticated again.
- During the Second World War, the Canaani were used as military dogs in the Middle East. The Israelites also used them for detecting mines, as messenger dogs, and even in search and rescue operations.
There are two distinct varieties of the Canaan; one is similar to the Border Collie while the other is a feral, dingo-like, and less-developed variety. Both types are medium-sized dogs with strong, square-built. They have a wedge-shaped head, broad muzzles, and almond-shaped dark eyes with a black nose. Canaani have short ears, catlike feet, and a thick, brushy tail. Common colors are black and white, although other colors like tan, golden, red, red-brown, and cream also exist. Some Canaani have a black mask or white markings.
Measurements and size
- Weight – between 37-57 lb or 16-25 kilograms.
- Height – between 19 to 24 inches or 48 to 61 cm
This is a valued companion dog that makes an excellent family pet. Blessed with a keen sense of hearing and a sharp sense of smell, Canaani make excellent guard dogs and have even been utilized for search and rescue missions. Canaani make loving and loyal family pets and they are extremely attached to their family members. However, towards strangers, they can come across as guarded, wary, and even aloof.
They usually do well in households with pets and small children but you must socialize them from an early age to these. Remember that these dogs have a high prey drive; so never let them unsupervised around small animals like guinea pigs, squirrels, hamsters, etc. An un-socialized Canaan can show aggression towards other dogs, especially those of the same sex. So always socialize your puppy right from the time he comes home.
Although all dogs are possessive and territorial, the Canaan is especially so. He will instantly alert you to an intruder and will bark and circle around when something seems ‘off’ to him. Their keen sense of hearing also helps them know about someone’s approach long before their arrival.
The Canaani are extremely intelligent and creative. They are also the Houdini of the dog world and many a Canaan has escaped easily from its pen or fenced-in areas. So, for your pet’s safety, ensure that your yard is secure and, where needed, keep your pet leashed.
Training a Canaan is fairly easy since this intelligent breed that learns quickly. They have a very good understanding of commands and you will find that you won’t have to spend too much time or energy on training your Canaan. However, training should be started early on; right from the time your puppy comes home. You can get him started with crate training and house training. As your puppy grows older, you can train him to follow certain commands like Come, Sit, Stay, etc.
Some Canaani are also known to have a stubborn streak and although they are quick learners, they are also quick thinkers. This could pose problems during training, but with persistence and consistency, most Canaani respond well. They also want to please their owners and often go to extremes to do so. Their high intelligence could sometimes lead to boredom, so you may want to ensure that your training programs are both creative and stimulating.
Canaani do well in sanctioned stock-dog events due to their excellent tracking and herding ability.
This is an active dog that needs an active owner. Remember he was bred for a reason: to herd and guard stock. So he will get bored if he is left cooped up indoors. Make sure you exercise him twice a day for at least 30-45 minutes. Walking, hiking and a game of fetch are some good activities to do with your Canaan. Canaani can also keep busy in the yard but make sure you secure it and make it escape-proof.
If you do not have the time to take your dog for daily walks, hire a professional dog walker. This will give your pet a chance to expend that excess energy. Failure to exercise your Canaan could lead him to indulge in bad behaviors like chewing furniture, excess barking, or even tearing up your sheets and papers.
The type of Canaan dog breed that exists in the US has a thinner coat as compared to its Israeli counterparts. These do not need any fancy trimming or clipping. However, the double coat still sheds twice a year. To brush a Canaan, invest in a boar bristle brush or a sturdy steel comb that will help remove debris. Regularly brushing your pet will ensure fewer hair deposits on your rugs, furniture, and clothes.
You can also dry-bathe your pet by sprinkling some baby powder and brushing it out. Bathe your pet with soap and warm water about once in two months or as and when necessary. Over-bathing can lead to skin dryness and itching.
Accustom your puppy to a regular dental care regimen. Also, clean your pet’s outer ear with a soft cloth. Never enter the ear canal. You can also use these grooming sessions to trim his toenails and examine his paws.
Common health issues in Canaani are usually of the ophthalmic, neurologic, or musculoskeletal types. They are known to be at a risk for hypothyroidism, elbow dysplasia, and hip dysplasia. Patellar luxation is also common. Many Canaani are known to suffer from seizures stemming from epilepsy. Deafness has also been reported in older dogs. The average life span of Canaan dog breed is about 12-14 years.
Where to find a Canaan Dog
Once you have decided that a Canaan puppy is a good fit for your household, you may want to check out some reputed breeders on the Canaan Dog Club of America website. Speak to several breeders before zeroing on one. If possible, visit their kennels. Get an idea about their breeding program, about the cleanliness of their facility and the health of their dogs. Meet the litter and especially the parents of your potential puppy. Only if you are completely satisfied, go ahead with the purchase. The average cost of a Canaan is between $800 and $1200. The price depends on the breeder.