All About the Canaan Dog

This dog is is very loving with its family but does not like strangers.
By: PawCulture Editors
Canaan Dog

About This Breed

The Canaan dog is an ancient breed, originating about four thousand years ago. They were bred to be watchdogs and herders for the Israelites. The Canaan is a popular breed used today by the military for search and rescue and in mine detection.

Physical Characteristics

The Canaan dog is a medium built dog with erect ears and a tail that curls over the back.


The Canaan dog is usually white with color markings. It can also be seen in solid black, red, and tan.


The coat of the Canaan dog is medium in length and coarse to the touch. The Canaan has an undercoat that will vary in thickness depending on the weather.

Personality and Temperament




The Canaan dog is very alert to their surroundings and to what is going on around it. The Canaan dog is very loving with its family and likes to have a job to do.


The Canaan dog does not like strangers and does not respond well to being teased.



The Canaan dog would do well in the country or city.


The Canaan needs regular grooming and attention.


The following conditions are commonly seen in Canaans:

  •         Epilepsy

History and Background

There is evidence to suggest that this breed developed centuries ago in Canaan, the land of the Israelites. At the time, there were referred to as the Dog of Canaan or Kelev Kanani. 

However, many of these Israeli dogs would become isolated in the Negec Desert and Sebulon Coastal Plain when the Romans drove the Israelites from their land about 2,000 years ago. On the brink of extinction, some wild Canaan Dogs were captured by local Bedouins to assist them in guarding and herding. 

Dr. Rudolphina Menzel, who was asked by the Haganah (a Jewish self-defense organization) to develop a dog that was capable of guarding the isolated Jewish settlements and withstanding the harsh climate, was instrumental in developing the modern Canaan Dog breed. 

Her breeding and training program consisted of only the best native, untamed dogs, which were then developed to serve as messengers, sentry dogs, Red Cross helpers, mine detectors, helpers in locating wounded soldiers during World War II, and as guide dogs for visually handicapped people after the War. This is perhaps the only breed to rise from its feral roots and become such a dedicated and useful companion in such a short time span. 

The first Canaan Dog entered the United States in 1965. But given that its appearance was understated, the breed did not quickly garner admiration. The American Kennel Club registered the breed under the Herding Group in 1997, and today it is considered a popular show dog and an excellent, well-behaved house pet.