Canaan Dog

Generally considered to be the national dog of Israel, this medium-sized breed of great antiquity has a strong defensive instinct.

Indigenous to Canaan, these dogs were domesticated by the local tribes for guarding flocks of sheep and goats against predators and thieves. Now used as a watchdog and sheep dog, the Canaan dog has also served as a guard dog and messenger for the Israeli military.


The Canaan Dog is sometimes referred to as the free-living pariah of the Middle East, but it should not be confused with the mongrels and cross-breeds which will be found in towns and villages there. The Canaan is a distinct type which has survived in the desert since pre-biblical times. From ancient paintings and inscriptions, it seems very probable that a dog of similar conformation was domesticated and used for various purposes 2,000 or more years ago. In the 1930s the Israelis began re-domesticating these dogs when they realized their ability as

watchdogs and started using them to guard the early Jewish settlements. A breeding program was begun and, whenever possible, new wild stock was incorporated. Today this policy is still followed but with ever-increasing difficulty as a strict rabies control program, together with the "spread of civilization", has resulted in the true, wild Canaan becoming extremely scarce.


Centuries of natural selection in cruel desert conditions have resulted in a resourceful, almost disease-free animal of high intelligence with exceptionally keen hearing, eyesight and scenting ability. They make good companion dogs, that are loyal and affectionate to their "family".

Peaceful and faithful, the Canaan Dog is generally biddable and obedient. He loves work and does best when give a daily job. His shepherd roots manifest when he tries to herd children. The Canaan is highly protective of his family and is reserved, even suspicious, with strangers. He usually gets along well with other dogs and pets in the household. Watchful and alert, he is an ideal guardian, although some tend to bark a lot.


Medium-sized, measuring 20-24 inches/50-60 cm at the shoulder, they are remarkably strong for their size and exceedingly agile. They have a medium length double coat and come in all shades of desert colors with white markings, as well as black and white. Feathering is abundant, and a mane is preferable for males.

Introduced into America and Canada nearly thirty years ago, they are also now established, as a rare breed, in Great Britain and many other European countries. However small numbers resulted in the Canaan Dog losing its breed classes at the 1995 Cruft’s Show where it was thus forced to compete in the "Any Variety Utility Not Separately Classified" section.

General care

Leisurely resting by the fireplace or snoozing away on a rainy day is not for the Canaan Dog. He is a workaholic that requires a strenuous physical and mental workout. A long walk followed by an off-lead sprint in the open area, an ample game coupled with a challenging training session or a herding task are necessary to keep the body and mind of the Canaan in shape. Coat care includes weekly brushing or combing.

Puppies and Training

A litter consists of four to six strong puppies that retain an instinctive wildness and defensiveness, thus needing strong training from an early age.

Gallery of Canaan Dog