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Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Canaan Dog
Average Cost to keep/care for a Canaan Dog
Breed Specific Buying Advice
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 is thought to be 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 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.
There are some people who believe that the breed could be a descendant of the Indian Wolf with drawings having been discovered in tombs in Beni-Hassan that date back to 2200-200 BC. What is known is that the Canaan Dog is part of the Spitz family which are found in many regions of the world although the Canaan is mostly seen in Israel.
A lady called Dr Rudolphina Menzel was a big fan of the breed and was instrumental in promoting the Canaan Dog in 1934 as a service dog that guarded Hebrew settlements during the War of Independence. As such, during the thirties, they were used as guard dogs that were needed to protect the many isolated settlements that were set up in Israel. 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 Canaan Dog was recognised by the Kennel Club in 1970 thanks to the efforts of another breed enthusiast, Connie Higgins. 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 and finding well-bred puppies can prove challenging with waiting lists being very long. 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 for Kennel Club registration are as follows:
It is worth noting that the accepted breed colours for Kennel Club registration can differ from those set out in the breed standard which are as follows:
White markings in a dog’s coat is permitted in all colours. The colours that are highly undesirable in the breed under the Kennel Club breed standard are as follows:
When a Canaan Dog moves, they do so with an energetic gait showing very natural movements when they trot.
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and would judge the faults on how much they affect a dog's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform.
Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that a dog can be a little lighter or heavier as well as slightly taller or shorter than set out in the Kennel Club breed standard which is only given as a guideline.
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 must be considered 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 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.
Canaan Dogs are not the best choice for first time dog owners even though they are so amenable and people-oriented because as previously mentioned they must be socialised, handled and trained by people who are familiar with their specific needs.
Canaan Dogs although social by nature have a very high prey drive and will happily chase anything that moves or tries to run away from them. As such, care must always be taken as to where and when a dog can run off the lead more especially if there is wildlife and/or livestock close by. They should not be trusted around smaller pets and animals they don’t already know and any introductions must be carried out carefully.
Canaans have a very playful side to their natures and love to entertain and be entertained. They are known to be a little mischievous when the mood takes them and being so clever, they quickly learn what pleases an owner and how to get their own way when they want something.
Canaan Dogs are highly adaptable and providing they are given adequate daily exercise and mental stimulation, they are just as happy living in an apartment in town as they would be living in a house in the country.
Although Canaan Dogs form strong ties with their families, they are not generally known to suffer from separation anxiety, providing they are never left on their own for too long that is. Any dog that is left to their own devices for longer periods of time would develop unwanted and destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving any stress they are feeling and a way to keep themselves entertained.
Because Canaan Dogs have such good hearing, they tend to bark at any unfamiliar sound they hear which means that it could be a problem with neighbours. Some dogs can be trained to be quieter when they are young providing this is done gently yet firmly. However, most Canaan Dogs just can’t help themselves and will voice an opinion anyway.
Most Canaans love swimming and will take to the water whenever they can more especially when the weather is hot. However, if anyone who owns a dog that does not like water should never force them to go in because it would just end up scaring them. With this said, care should always be taken when walking a dog off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case a dog decides to leap in and then needs rescuing because they cannot get out of the water on their own.
Canaan Dogs are always on the “alert” and boast having a very keen sense of hearing which in short means that they are excellent watchdogs. However, unless a dog feels they or their families are being threatened in any way, rarely would a Canaan show any sort of aggression preferring to stand their ground and bark.
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 must 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.
Like all puppies, Canaan Dogs are incredibly cute when young and it is all too easy to spoil them when they first arrive in new homes. As soon as a puppy is nicely settled owners must start out as they mean to go on by laying down ground rules and boundaries so that a puppy understands what is expected of them. It helps establish a pecking order and who the alpha dog is in the household. The first commands a puppy should be taught are as follows:
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, must be supervised to make sure things stay nice and calm.
Canaan Dogs also tend to be very protective of their food which means children must 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 must 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.
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:
It is worth noting that the UK Kennel Club breed average COI for the Canaan Dog currently stands at 1.5%.
Canaan Dog puppies would have been given their initial vaccinations before being sold, but it is up to their new owners to make sure they have their follow-up shots in a timely manner with the vaccination schedule for puppies being as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets these days recommend waiting until dogs are slightly older before spaying and neutering them which means they are more mature before undergoing the procedures. As such they advise neutering males and spaying females when they are between the ages of 6 to 9 months old and sometimes even when a dog is 12 months old.
Other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old, but never any earlier unless for medical reasons. With this said, many breeds are different, and it is always advisable to discuss things with a vet and then follow their advice on when a dog should be spayed or neutered.
Like other breeds, some Canaans gain weight after they have been spayed or neutered and it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline just in case they do. If a dog starts to put on weight, it's important to adjust their daily calorie intake and to up the amount of exercise they are given. Older dogs too are more prone to gaining weight and again it's essential they be fed and exercised accordingly because obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years. The reason being that it puts a lot of extra strain on a dog's internal organs including the heart which could prove fatal.
Canaan Dogs are not known to suffer from allergies but it's important for a dog to see a vet sooner rather than later if one flares up. Allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers can be challenging. With this said, a vet would be able to make a dog with an allergy more comfortable while they try to find out the triggers which could include the following:
All responsible Canaan Dog breeders would ensure that their stud dogs are tested for known hereditary and congenital health issues known to affect the breed by using the following schemes:
Apart from the standard breeding restrictions that are in place for all Kennel Club registered breeds, there are no other breed specific breeding restrictions in place for the Canaan Dog but breeders should always follow the Kennel Club’s breeding guidelines.
The Kennel Club strongly recommends that all breeders use the following tests on their stud dogs:
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.
Canaan puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing, confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said, any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to pick a puppy up when people are going to be around for the first week or, so which is the time needed for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping. It's also a good idea to keep "playtime" nice and calm inside the house and to have a more active "playtime" outside in the garden which means puppies quickly learn to be less boisterous when they are inside.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Canaan puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out making them withdrawn, timid and shy.
As previously mentioned, Canaan puppies would have been given their first vaccinations by the breeders, but they must have their follow up shots which is up to their new owners to organise. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be fully up to date.
Older Canaan Dogs need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a dog's muzzle may start to go grey, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Living with a Canaan Dog in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include looking at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older Canaan Dogs need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older dogs is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older Canaans don't need the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
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 builds 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 daily exercise and mental stimulation 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 must 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 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.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, a Canaan Dog puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 12 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature, an adult Canaan Dog should be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult dog can be fed the following amounts every day:
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 £23.43 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £43.89 a month (quote as of April 2018). 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 they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
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 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 well-bred, healthy Kennel Club registered pedigree Canaan Dog puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
Canaan Dogs are rarely seen in the UK with very few puppies being registered with the Kennel Club every year which means that well-bred puppies can often command a lot of money. As such, with Canaan Dogs there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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