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Noted to be the national dog of Israel, the Canaan Dog is a type of Pariah Dog (Feral Dog) and may have descended from Dingoes.
The exact roots of this dog are unknown. Are they a domestic dog descended from Dingoes, or a feral dog turned domestic? There is no decisive evidence either way, so no one knows for sure but ancient pre biblical drawings have been found which depict dogs which look similar to this breed. The Bedouin, nomadic people of this area, still use Pariah Dogs of the Canaan type as guarding dogs today.
A leading authority of Pariah Dogs, Professor Rudolphina Menzel emigrated from Vienna to Israel in the 1930's and her attention was soon turned to the local dogs. She found that they were remarkably adaptable to domestication and had innate abilities to guard and track as well a coping well with the harsh and dry climate. Thinking they would make good service dogs, she started a domestic breeding programme in 1934. They excelled as service dogs and became one of the first breeds to be trained to detect land mines. Overall, the breeding programme was intended to preserve the breed and its natural traits.
The first recorded Canaan Dog in the UK was a dog named 'Sheba' bought into the country in 1965 by a Mrs Connie Higgins. Such was Mrs Higgins interest in this breed, she started a long campaign with the Kennel Club for its recognition and the early 1970's they won their battle with a litter of pups from Sheba and a male dog named Tiron, donated to Mrs Higgins from Professor Menzel, were the first registered under the UK KC.
Average height to withers: Males up to inches, females up to 20 inches.
Average weight: Both males and females up to 25kg, with females usually being much smaller than males.
The Canaan Dog is often called 'Mongrel' in appearance due to its unknown history and origin. This dog is usually medium in size, with 'wedge' shaped head and erect ears. The medium length outer coat is dense, straight and harsh, with a softer under coat which sheds profusely. This breed comes in many colours, from black to white with anything in between! It is commonly found in creams and sandy red solid colours, but may also display a variety of patterns and patches over its body. The tail is usually curled over its straight back slightly, although on occasion, it may be straight.
This breed of dog is very adaptable and seems to have retained its 'survival' instincts from being a Pariah Dog living in harsh climates. As a result, the Canaan Dog is intelligent and has a large capacity to learn, react to its surroundings and striving to stay one step ahead to survive. This dog can therefore learn new instructions and commands readily, but whether it chooses to or not is another thing! It can be stubborn on occasion, but this is simply down to the innate independence it has developed over the years. They can have a tendency to be suspicious of people and surrounding of which they are unfamiliar, but again, this is simply its reactive state to its surroundings. However, once it is familiar with a person, the Canaan Dog will be one of the friendliest dogs you could meet. Its need for a 'pack' structure is well developed and as such, can live comfortably within a family unit so long as it has strong leadership. The Canaan Dog depends on its place in the pack, and respects a leader who can provide the direction it needs. In this respect, the Canaan Dog is probably more suited to an experienced dog owner who can provide this as it may challenge a weak leader, which in turn could lead to misdemeanours within the family. They are fine to live with children and other animals so long as they receive early socialisation. They can be territorial and will loyally defend their pack to the end, if intruders are present, whether animal or human.
There is very little data available to give an accurate reflection of conditions which may affect this breed of dog, although owners usually consider them to be hardy and very healthy with few issues. This could be due to its mixed lineage and wide genetic breeding pool. On average, Canaan Dogs live up until around 15 years of age.
The Canaan Dog requires grooming each week and probably more in the seasons when it is shedding its softer under coat to manage and rid it of dead hairs. If this is not done, it can quickly build up and will blow in tumbleweeds around your home! This dog is reasonably active and will require at least one good walk per day, but preferably two.