Complete Guide To The Canaan Dog: Personality, Health, Feeding and More

As ancient as the Old Testament, Canaan Dogs still patrol the lands of Israel, Lebanon and Jordan today. Alert, inquisitive and self-reliant, they’re vigilant guardians and devoted family friends. Let’s dig into this beautiful breed of dog and learn more.

How Big Does A Canaan Dog Get?

Male20″ – 24″ at the shoulder45-55 lbs
Female19″ – 23″ at the shoulder35-45 lbs

What Does The Canaan Dog Look Like?

The Canaan Dog is a herding dog but they have surprisingly few physical traits associated with droving breeds. Long-necked and long-legged with a wedge-shaped head and tall, erect ears, they strike a confident pose.

Their medium-short coats come in two patterns — mostly white with patches of color and solid, with or without white markings.

Shades include:

• Black
• White
• Cream
• Golden
• Liver
• Tan
• Red

Graceful and lean, they move with a fox-like trot. A high-set bushy tail curls over their backs. Eye color ranges from hazel to brown.

Canaan Dogs are unique enough in appearance to earn double-takes from passers-by who might mistake them for terrier cross-breeds. The closest pure breeds in comparison are the Basenji and the not-yet AKC-recognized Taiwan Dog.

What Is The Personality Of A Canaan Dog?

A busy Canaan Dog is a happy Canaan Dog. Not only do they excel as herders — they thrive at any task, including canine sports. Intelligent and eager to please, they enjoy family adventures and form unbreakable bonds with their families.

Energetic, they need a daily dose of exercise but can adapt to any living space as long as their activity needs are met — no pasture necessary. Aloof with strangers but rarely aggressive, they’re venerable watchdogs and gentle with children. A natural guardian, they’ll bark when concerned, so be a good neighbor — early socialization and training are the keys to taming nuisance barking.

How Much Grooming Is Needed For A Canaan Dog?

Canaan Dogs have thick double coats — a short, soft layer close to the skin and a harsh outer coat with a substantial ruff around the neck and chest. They shed year-round and at least once seasonally depending on the climate. Brushing twice per week with a slicker thins the undercoats and decreases shedding — the more you brush, the less you’ll vacuum.

Though not particularly prone to matting, fine tangles may occur where hair is longest over the chest, hindquarters and tail. A monthly go-over with a metal comb teases out a stubborn undercoat and gives fur in those areas a cleaner, healthier look.

Bathing requirements depend on the types of activities Canaan Dogs do. They’re not known for doggy odor, so twice a year is a good goal unless they get visibly dirty.

What Kind of Dog Food Is Good For A Canaan Dog?

Personally I believe that most foods are fine for most dogs. Some dogs may not do well on some foods. However, as a rule I don’t blanket-prohibit any dietary ingredient from any breed at this time.

Best Puppy Food For Canaan Dogs:

Best Adult Food For Canaan Dogs:

Please don’t listen to the folks at the pet store trying to convince you to buy a grain-free diet for your dog. There’s zero science behind that and vets are actually seeing diseases now related to feeding grain-free foods.

It’s very important they remain at their optimal weight throughout their life. Have your vet go over with you exactly where to feel to know when your dog is too big.

How Long Does A Canaan Dog Live?

12-15 years based on information from the AKC

What Health Problems Can A Canaan Dog Have?

The Canaan is usually a very healthy dog compared to many other dogs. It’s rarity has allowed a dedicated group of breeders to keep the Canaan’s lines largely free of many health conditions common in other lines.

That being said, I always counsel my owners that any dog can end up with an ACL tear, dental disease, or even allergies.

Where Can I Find Out More About The Canaan Dog?

Canaan Dog Club of America

AKC Breed Page

Where Can I Find A Canaan Dog ?

Breeder Listings from the Canaan Dog Club of America

AKC Puppy Marketplace

Looking for a Rescue? Start with the Canaan Dog Rescue Network

Interesting Facts About Canaan Dogs

Canaan Dogs are ancient, yet breed awareness is low.

Did you know?

• Canaan Dogs Are a Basal Breed

Ancestors of the Canaan Dog are depicted in artwork dating back 4,000 years. Known as the Kelev Kanani, the Dog of Canaan, they’ve known their share of hardship, surviving occupations and near-extinction. Today, they’re one of fourteen so-called basal breeds that retain most of the same physical characteristics as they did when they first originated.

• They’re Dimorphic

It’s not unusual for male dogs to be larger than females of the same breed, but Canaan Dogs are dimorphic, meaning that females have a distinctly lithe, feminine look while males have a square, masculine build. Males outweigh females by up to 40-percent.

• Necessity Is the Mother Of Invention

When the Israeli Defense Force wanted service dogs in the early 1930s, imported European breeds couldn’t adapt to the harsh desert climate. Dr. Rudolphina Menzel, a noted animal behaviorist, identified the Canaan Dog as an alternative, leading to a search for then-feral specimens that were captured and bred.

• They’re Heroes

Multi-talented, Canaan Dogs in the Israeli military served in a wide range of roles from sentry dog to messenger. Their powerful noses earned them praise as mine detectors. Helping the Red Cross, they found wounded soldiers in the field during World War II.

Attempts to train them as individual service dogs in the 1950s, however, failed. Despite their trainability and affectionate nature, Canaan Dogs are too independent to focus on one person’s needs, though they continue to work as search and rescue dogs.

• Canaan Dogs Are Rare in the US and Globally

Canaan Dogs were first recognized by the Palestine Kennel Club in 1948 with only 150 specimens registered in their stud book. It wasn’t until 1965 that the US saw its first imports — four dogs purchased by California resident, Ursula Berkowitz, to establish the breed. Under the care of their parent club, the Canaan Dog Club of America, their numbers slowly grew.

The AKC formally recognized the Canaan Dog in 1996 as its 141rst breed. Only 1600 Canaan dogs are thought to exist worldwide with just a dozen or so breeders in the United States. It can take a year to find a Canaan Dog puppy.