Canaan Dog


Key Breed Facts
Breed Characteristics
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Canaan Dog
Average Cost to keep/care for a Canaan Dog

Key Breed Facts

Popularity #225 out of 241 Dog Breeds.

The Canaan Dog breed is also commonly known by the names Kelef K’naani, Chien de Canaan.
12 - 15 years
Pedigree Breed ?
Yes - KC Recognised in the Utility Group
Males 50 - 60 cm
Females 40 - 50 cm at the withers
Males 50 - 60 cm
Females 40 - 50 cm at the withers
Average Price (More Info)
£0 for KC Registered (Not Enough Data)
£550 for Non KC Registered

Breed Characteristics


The Canaan Dog is Israel's national dog and although not everyone is familiar with the breed it is hardly surprising because they are among the rarest dogs on the planet. They are medium in size and boast having a distinctive wedge-shaped head. These lovely dogs only recently arrived here in the UK where they were an immediate hit, but with this said anyone hoping to share their home with a Canaan Dog might have trouble finding a puppy because fewer than 3000 dogs are known to exist in the entire world.


The Canaan Dog boasts being one of the most ancient breeds to have been developed in the Middle East where they were bred to guard and herd flocks of sheep. Over time and as the Israelites left their lands, they took their dogs with them, but only the fittest and strongest of these dogs survived the often harsh conditions they worked in. The dogs earned themselves a good reputation and were soon used by many Bedouin tribes of the desert to guard their herds and camps, a job the Canaan Dog did supremely well.

In the thirties guard dogs were needed to protect the many isolated settlements that were set up in Israel and the Canaan Dog was the perfect candidate for the job. At the time, these dogs were semi-feral which meant they could tolerate the harsh conditions of the region and today, many of them can still be seen guarding Bedouin flocks in the desert.

The breed has only just very recently been exhibited at shows here in the UK and as such, the Canaan Dog remains very much an unknown. They are still considered to be one of the rarest breeds on the planet although more interest in these dogs will ensure that with careful and selective breeding, the Canaan Dog may well become a popular choice as companion and family pet both here in the UK and elsewhere in the world.


Height at the withers: Males 50 - 60 cm, Females 40 - 50 cm

Average weight: Males 18 - 25 kg, Females 18 - 25 kg

The Canaan Dog has a very "Dingo-like" look about them and there's quite a distinct difference between males and their female counterparts. Their heads are wedged shaped and moderately long seeming broader than they really are thanks to the fact a dog's ears are set so low on their heads. The top of a dog's head is flat between their ears and dogs boast a shallow yet well-defined stop. Muzzles are longish with a nice black nose at the end. Lips are tight and nicely pigmented.

Their eyes are almond-shaped, dark in colour with black rims and set obliquely on a dog's face. Ears are moderate in size and they are broader at the base with rounded tips. Dogs carry their ears very erect which adds to their proud stance. The Canaan has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Necks are well muscled and nicely arched being moderately long with not throatiness evident. Their shoulders are well laid back and muscular with dogs boasting straight and strong front legs.

A Canaan's body is quite square with well sprung ribs and they have well developed withers with a nice level back, muscular loins and nice deep chests. Bellies are neatly tucked up adding to a dog's athletic appearance. Their hindquarters are broad, muscular and powerful with well-developed thighs and strong back legs. Feet are very cat-like, strong and round with dogs having very hard paw pads. Tails are set high being a thick brush that dogs carry curled over their backs when they are excited or on the move.

When it comes to their coat, the Canaan Dog boasts having a dense, harsh and straight outer coat that can be short to medium in length and a closer, more profuse undercoat that's thicker during the colder winter months. Accepted breed colours include the following:

  • Black
  • Black and tan
  • Black with white trim
  • Cream
  • Red
  • Red with white trim
  • Sand
  • Sand white trim
  • Tricolour
  • White
  • White with black patches
  • White with red patches
  • White with sand patches


The Canaan Dog has evolved naturally into the dogs we see today without any interference from man which in short, means these lovely, wild looking dogs are one of the most natural breeds on the planet. Having to survive in some of the harshest conditions and often having to fend for themselves, has seen the Canaan Dog evolve into an independent thinker. They are also known to be quite wary and territorial, but rarely would one of these dogs show any sort of aggressive behaviour towards people. However, they can be a little aggressive around other dogs which is especially true of the males.

They are known to be very kind and calm by nature which are just two of the reasons why they make such great family pets, liking nothing more than to be in a home environment. These dogs go through a "difficult" stage when they are around 10 months old when they tend to become rather insecure and therefore need to be handled gently, yet firmly to get them through what can only be described as an awkward stage in their lives.

These dogs take a while to fully mature which they usually do when they are around 3 to 4 years old. This has to be taken into account when training them. They are not the best choice for first time owners because they need to be with someone who understands the various needs of this particular type of dog.  Canaans are naturally suspicious of strangers and will keep their distance, but will always let their owners know when anyone is about which in short, means the Canaan makes for a very good watchdog.

Intelligence / Trainability

The Canaan is an intelligent dog, but one that is known to be an independent thinker which can make them harder to train, especially for a novice owner. However, in the right hands and given the right sort of training and socialisation from a young age, the Canaan is capable of quickly learning any new things they are taught. These dogs need to know their place in "the pack" and who they can look up to for guidance and direction to be truly happy, well-rounded, obedient and confident characters.

They are quite sensitive by nature and as such the Canaan does not respond well to any sort of harsh correction or heavy handed training. They do respond to positive reinforcement and their training has to be as diverse as possible to keep them focused. The reason being that Canaans are very smart and will quickly get bored if their training becomes too repetitive.

Children and Other Pets

The Canaan does make for a good family pet and will protect their homes and families without any hesitation if they feel they are being threatened in any way. When they grow up with the kids, they form strong bonds with the children. However, any interaction between kids a Canaan Dog does not already know, has to be supervised to make sure things stay nice and calm.

Canaan Dogs also tend to be very protective of their food which means children have to be taught to keep well clear of them when they are eating and to always stay away from their pet’s food bowl.

These dogs need to be well socialised with other pets in the household for them to tolerate being around them. However, care always needs to be taken when they first meet any animals or new pets for the first time and this includes cats because a Canaan might just see them as prey. These dogs have been known to be aggressive around other dogs so care has to be taken when out on walks even when they have been well socialised.

For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.

Canaan Dog Health

The average life expectancy of a Canaan Dog is between 12 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.

Like so many other breeds, the Canaan is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active and unique looking dogs, although it is worth noting that because there are so few of them in the world, the numbers of dogs reported with health issues remains quite low. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:

  • Hip Dysplasia - DNA test available
  • Elbow dysplasia - DNA test available
  • Epilepsy
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy - Test available
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Luxating Patellas - Test available

Caring for a Canaan Dog

As with any other breed, Canaans need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.


A Canaan has a straight, harsh and short outer coat with a much softer and profuse undercoat which is quite low maintenance when it comes to keeping them looking tidy and their skin in good condition. A weekly brush is all it takes to get rid of any shed and loose hair bearing in mind that Canaans are not known to be heavy shedders. The only time they tend to shed more is in the Spring and then again in the Autumn when their undercoats tend to come out in handfuls and therefore more frequent brushing would be necessary to keep on top of things.

These dogs are very much like the Basenji which is another breed that likes to clean themselves in much the same way cats do. If there are two Canaan Dogs in a household, they often groom each other too. It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.


The Canaan Dog is an athletic and energetic character which in short means they need to be given a ton of exercise and mental stimulation on a daily basis for them to be truly well-rounded dogs. These dogs are easily bored and if they are left to their own devices, they will find new ways to entertain and amuse themselves which typically means they develop some unwanted behavioural issues.

As such, they need to be given a minimum of 60 minutes a day and ideally this needs to be a short walk in the morning followed by a longer, more interesting walk in the afternoon. Canaan Dogs also like to roam around a back garden as often as possible throughout the day, but the fencing has to be very secure so that it keeps these dogs safe and out of trouble.

Canaans are known to excel at canine sporting activities which includes things like Flyball, agility and obedience competitions thanks to the fact they are so quick to learn new things and the fact they love interacting with their owners on a one-to-one basis.

With this said, young Canaan puppies should not be given too much exercise because their joints and bones are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in causing a dog a few problems later on in their lives. They should not be allowed to jump up or off furniture nor should they be allowed to run up and down the stairs because this puts too much pressure on their still growing joints and limbs.


If you get a Canaan puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.

Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.

Average Cost to keep/care for a Canaan Dog

If you are looking to buy a Canaan Dog, you may have to go on a waiting list because not many puppies are registered with The Kennel Club every year and you would need to pay anything from £600 upwards for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Canaan Dog in northern England would be £21.20 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.22 a month (quote as of May 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.

When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Canaan and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1000 a year.

As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Canaan Dog would be between £70 to £100 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.

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