How to Choose a Canaan Dog

Choosing a Canaan Dog

The Canaan is an ancient breed from the Middle East admired for his guarding ability. This dog is still used by the Israeli army and Bedouins as a guard dog and a companion.

History and Origin

The Canaan dog is a very old breed originating in the land of Canaan in the Middle East and thought to have been developed from the Indian wolf. The breed was developed as a guard and herd dog for the Israelites. When the Israelites dispersed about 2000 years ago, so did the Canaan dog. Most were then found in the Negev Desert as a wild dog but some lived and worked with the Bedouin as guard dogs.

In the 1930s, Dr. Rudolphina Menzel was asked to develop a dog to guard Jewish settlements and help in Israel’s War of Independence. She chose to develop the Canaan, a semi-wild and tough desert dog. The dog turned out to be very intelligent and readily learned to be guard dog and even locate land mines. Today the dog is still used by the Bedouins to herd and guard their sheep. The people of Israel admire the qualities of the Canaan and he is a popular guard dog in his native land. The Israeli army still uses the Canaan as a guard dog.

In 1965, the first Canaan dogs arrived in the United States and were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1997 as a member of the herding group.

Appearance and Size

The Canaan is a medium sized dog with low set erect ears with a rounded tip. The head is wedge shaped and the feet are cat-like. The chest is deep set with a strong body and the tail is bushy and curled when the dog is excited. The coat is straight and flat and up to 1 1/2 inches long. Colors range from solid black, brown or white or in a pattern with black or brown with white. Predominantly white dogs have a mask the same color as the patches on the body. The mask should be symmetrical and cover the ears and eyes. Sometimes the mask completely covers the head.

The adult Canaan stands around 19 to 24 inches at the shoulder and weighs about 35 to 55 pounds.


The Canaan is a devoted family pet that is very protective. Aloof with strangers, he is highly territorial and a good guard dog. Some may be aggressive with other dogs.

Home and Family Relations

The Canaan dog is a devoted family pet that enjoys children but tends to bond strongly with one family member, which may lead to some problems. Somewhat territorial, he is wary of strangers and readily protects the family, especially the person to whom he is most bonded. Some may show herding instincts. The Canaan is good for active families that enjoy outdoor activities.

The Canaan is a naturally clean dog. He can do well in an apartment if taken on long daily walks but prefers to live in a home with a fenced yard. He can live outdoors as long as adequate shelter is provided.


The Canaan is very intelligent and can be readily trained in obedience, agility and guard work. He has even been trained for search and rescue and as an assistance dog.

Special Concerns

The Canaan can be rather territorial and tends to bond with one family member more than others. This can lead to aggression when a stranger attempts to approach.

Common Diseases and Disorders

The Canaan is a hardy breed that has few known diseases. Epilepsy has been reported.

The average life span of the Canaan is 12 to 15 years.

We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.