The Canaan Dog is Israel’s national breed, which has existed in the Middle East for thousands of years. It has the appearance of a wild dog combined with a medium collie-type breed, and belongs to the Spitz family.
The Canaan Dog has ears which stand straight up. It has a double coat which is short to medium in length. The undercoat is soft, and the outer coat is flat and harsh. It can be all shades of brown, red, black, or cream, usually with some white patches and sometimes masks. It slightly resembles a dingo. It can also be mistaken for a German Shepard. The breed typically stands 19 to 24 inches tall and weighs 37 to 57 pounds.
The Canaan Dog was originally a guard and herding dog in ancient Israel. Rock carvings from the Sinai Desert from the first to third century AD depict a dog that appears to be a Canaan Dog. The breed was common until the Romans dispersed the Israelites in the second century AD, and the dogs were driven to the Negev Desert. The Canaan Dog was predominantly undomesticated, although a few lived with the Bedouins and the Druze as guard dogs.
They remained this way until Dr. Rudolphina Menzel decided they should be used as guard dogs for scattered Jewish settlements in the 1930’s. She captured several dogs and began a breeding program in 1934. She produced puppies for guard dog use, as well as to be pets, and she also trained several to be guide dogs for the blind. The breed was first recognized in Israel in 1953 by their kennel club, in the UK by 1970, and in the US by 1997.
The Canaan Dog is an independent, intelligent dog. It may become bored easily with repetitive training. It can be territorial and cautious with strangers, thus making a wonderful watchdog.
The breed does not suffer from many hereditary problems; however some dogs are known to have hypothyroidism, epilepsy, progressive retinal atrophy, cryptorchidism, hip dysplasia, or osteochondritis dissecans.