The Canaan Dog is a recent breed developed from ancient Middle Eastern Pariah Dog stock. It is one of the Spitz family and is regarded as the national dog of Israel. Artefacts from over 2,000 years ago depict dogs of a very similar type and the Bedouin of the Negev Desert have used such dogs as livestock herders and guards for hundreds of years. In the 1930s Dr. Rudolphina Menzel initiated a breeding programme using the indigenous feral dogs of the area to produce for the Israeli military a working dog that would withstand the harsh desert conditions and which would retain its natural traits of adaptation to climate, resistance to disease, and low maintenance requirements as well as its singular personality. She succeeded in fixing type and breeding dogs capable of serving as mine detectors, guards and messengers and later as guide dogs for the blind. Their highly developed sense of smell also enables them to excel at tracking and Search and Rescue. The Canaan Dog, also known as the Kelev K’naani, was recognized as a rare breed by the Kennel Club in 1970.
Being of such recent development from wild and semi-wild dogs, of which only the fittest and most self-reliant could survive the inhospitable conditions of their homeland, the Canaan Dog is very much a ‘natural’ dog whose instincts, despite some modification, lie close to the surface. He is inquisitive, vigilant, possessed of extremely keen senses, especially those of smell and hearing, has a tendency to dig dens and to carry his prey drive to its natural conclusion. He can also be very vocal. His attachment to his family is absolute and his territorial instinct and distrust of strangers make him a most effective guard dog. He is very courageous but, if faced with an intruder, he is unlikely to attack, his preferred method being to circle the person staying out of reach until assistance arrives. His innate intelligence and self-confidence require an owner who can firmly but fairly command respect. A weak or passive owner will inevitably end up being walked over by this confident and quick-witted dog. This breed is not recommended for the novice owner.
While the Canaan does not require excessive exercise he does need regular daily walks to keep him fit and to provide stimulation for his active brain. The opportunity to run and play off-lead in a secure area will help to avoid boredom and its associated problems. Games and exercises that require the dog to think are ideal to keep his mind busy. Sports such as tracking will allow him to use his exceptional scenting ability to the full and agility will provide an outlet for his natural athleticism. As with all large breed care must be taken not to over-exercise the growing pup and risk damage to vulnerable joints and bones.
The Canaan Dog is highly intelligent and very easily trained, quickly obeying commands once he understands what is required of him. As with many inherently smart dogs repetitive training can cause boredom and unwillingness to comply. Training sessions should be as varied as possible and present new challenges for the dog. Instinctively alert to all that is going on around him distraction can be one of the major stumbling blocks to training. It is recommended that positive reinforcement, which rewards correct behaviour with treats or praise, is the best method to achieve desired goals. Harsh methods serve no purpose and will severely weaken any bond of affection and respect between dog and owner. Extensive socialization from an early age is necessary in order that the dog becomes accustomed to all manner of persons, situations, and other dogs. Lack of adequate socialization may result in a dog who lacks confidence and may be fearful of new experiences and inclined to be dog-aggressive.
- No known hereditary problems
Some photographs of the Canaan Dog...