The Canaan Dog or Kelef K’naani (Dog of Canaan) is a Primitive type working dog originating from Middle East, Israel. It can be said that this breed is relatively new since it was first time mentioned during the 1930s, but that is actually quite misleading. The fact is it was developed at that time from semi-wild, scavenger dogs, which were redomesticated through a selective breeding programme by Dr. Rudolphina Menzel. She and her husband Rudolph were appointed for this task by the Haganah (Jewish paramilitary organization) with the goal to create a super efficient service and working dogs. However, these semi-wild dogs were actually an ancient pariah breed, which was estimated to be more than 2.000 years old based on some anatomically similar dog remains excavated in Ashkelon. It is believed that this breed originated in the biblical land of Canaan, hence such name. For centuries, these dogs have been mainly kept by Bedouins and Druse, who have primarily used them as guard and herding dogs in the desert. So, yeah, the Canaan Dog is indeed a very, very old breed. By the FCI, it belongs to the Primitive Types group (Basenji, Pharaoh Hound, Mexican Hairless Dog) in the class of primitive dogs.
About Canaan Dog Breed
The Canaan Dog is very intelligent, strong, athletic, responsive, resourceful, and eager to please, although it can be very stubborn at times. This is a working dog in the first place, used for herding, watching, guarding, tracking, but can be as well an wonderful family companion. He can be equally affectionate with all family members, but will only fully submit to his primary owner. Kelef K’naani is a pack-oriented dog. As such, he will periodically put to test your position as a pack leader. So, you will always have to prove your status with a dominant and firm attitude while working with this dog. Otherwise, he will challenge you for sure. When it comes to children, this dog is usually good, playful and tolerant, especially, if they were raised together. However, he might be quite unpredictable with the children outside his pack (family), which is why it’s necessary that you supervise them while playing. In any case, it is recommended that you socialize your Canaan Dog with kids as soon as possible. And, not just with kids, but with adults, pets, places, etc.
Main Canaan Dog characteristics are high intelligence, resourcefulness, agility, strength, endurance, loyalty, boldness, stubbornness, independence, alertness, and adaptability. The Canaans are quite wary, territorial, and protective of their human families. That’s why they are known as excellent watchdogs and relatively good guard dogs. Usually, they are aloof and suspicious towards strangers. Whether they will act aggressively depends on dog’s treatment. Kelef K’naani will warn you with loud bark whenever somebody comes near your property. However, he will usually bark at anything suspicious or strange around the owner’s property. Considering this, it comes as no surprise that this breed is prone to excessive barking. So, make sure you teach your dog how to control this annoying habit. This super sensitive response to all changes in his environment is the reason Canaan Dog can be sometimes indecisive as to who is actually the real treat. That’s why this breed cannot be included in the group of excellent guard dogs, although it might seem otherwise.
The life expectancy of a Canaan Dog is around 12-13 years. This is generally a healthy breed, which is rarely susceptible to some common dog diseases, such as hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, luxating patella, elbow dysplasia, cryptorchidism, etc. Although athletic and agile, this is not an over-the-top active dog, but nonetheless he demands a regular daily exercise that will challenge him mentally and physically. The long walk is always a welcome thing, but it would be best if you combine it with some games, like throwing a frisbee. This is particularly important if you keep your dog indoors. Yeah, Israeli Pariah can easily adapt to life indoors, plus, he’s relatively easy to housebreak and has no doggy odour. However, it certainly isn’t his favorite place to be. It is recommended that you have, at least, some kind of yard – the larger the better. The Canaan Dog is not an escape artist and won’t stray far away from an owner’s property, but nonetheless he will get out to mark his territory and deal with every dog intruder that comes near. So, make sure that your yard is securely fenced.
Canaani With Other Pets And Training
The Canaan Dog has a natural prey drive of a typical canine predator. This means that he will gladly chase, attack or even kill small animals, including cats, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, etc. Also, these dogs tend to be very dominant and often aggressive with other dogs, especially those of the same sex. Canaani will usually try to bully them in order to establish an ALPHA position in the pack, which is, of course, unacceptable. The best way to deal with this naughty side of Kalef K’naani temperament is to raise your dog together with other pets as well as other dogs. This way he can get used to them and establish an affinity with them. Take note that even this method, unfortunately, won’t work with those small rodent pets. They simply cannot be safe in proximity of this dog. So, if you have such pets, I think it is better that you avoid this breed. The other way round is, like I wrote above, that you put your dog through extensive socialization with other dogs and pets. But, how well does a Canaan Dog reacts to socialization and training in obedience?
Apparently, the Canaan Dog is rather a mixed bag in this case. On one hand, he is very intelligent and capable to easily understand and remember even the most complex commands. However, on the other hand, he can be very stubborn and hard to motivate for the training. This makes things a lot harder than they actually seem considering its intelligence. This is the reason Israeli Pariah is not recommended for the first time dog owners. Also, you must know that this dog won’t always happily respond to learned commands, especially, if he doesn’t see any purpose in it or if he feels you’re not a true pack leader. So, you can clearly see that this dog demands a dominant and experienced owner, who can recognize certain signs in the dog’s behavior. When training your Canaan Dog definitely prepare some tasty treats and stay focused. Lessons should be short and harsh treatment should be avoided in any case! Even when you’ve done with the training, you will have to correct his behavior from time to time. Remember, it will be an endless struggle for dominance between you and your Canaan.
Israeli Pariah Physical Characteristics
The Kelef K’naani is a larger medium-sized dog of square shape – the height at the shoulders is equal to its length. Its body is compact and well-defined, covered with a smooth double coat of short to medium length. The undercoat is dense and soft and the outer coat is harsh and straight. The coat can vary in length and density depending on the type of climate where the dog is living. Such adjustable coat was developed under the influence of the natural habitats in which this breed had evolved. The Canaani strain has been living for centuries in the desert environment with hot days and cold nights, which means that these dogs can equally well adapt to cold and hot weather conditions. Canaans shed abundantly twice a year, but are relatively easy to groom. Usually, brushing once a week will suffice, but during shedding periods, you will have to brush your dog, at least, once a day. The usual color patterns of a Canaan Dog are white with colored patches (black, red, brown, tan, and sandy, which can vary in shades) or vice versa. Also, they can be a solid color of any of mentioned colors. The black and white masks are also quite common.
The Canaan Dog has a wedge-shaped head with a wide forehead. The tapering muzzle with scissor-bite jaws is pointed at the nose, which is well rounded and broad. The reddish-brown color of the nose varies in shades depending on the coat color. The slightly angled, almond-shaped eyes occur in different shades of brown. The low-set and very mobile ears are pricked, triangular, and relatively large. You should inspect and clean his ears and eyes, at least, twice a month. The neck is thick and slightly arched. The chest is moderately deep and narrow. The bushy, moderate tail is pointed and is often carried curled upon the straight and strong back. The Kelef K’naani‘s front legs are straight and firm. The hind legs are well-defined, muscular and very powerful. The cat-like feet have arched toes and hard pads. The nails should be trimmed once or twice a month and dewclaws can be removed. As you can see, this is a really athletic and graceful dog. He moves at a quick and light trot, which allows him to change directions rapidly in a blink of an eye.
Canaan Dog Size And Weight
– Height between 20 and 24 inches (51-61 cm)
– Weight between 40 and 55 pounds (18-25 kg)
– Height between 18 and 22 inches (46-56 cm)
– Weight between 35 and 50 pounds (16-22,5 kg)
Versatile Worker And Helper
The Canaan Dog was actually developed as a service and military dog, but it turned out he is a lot more than that. After all, the base for this breed were ancient pariah dogs, who have already proven themselves as reliable herders, guardians, and watchdogs. Kelef K’naani not only kept these traits during its redomestication, but expanded upon them. As it turned out, these newly developed dogs were highly intelligent, resourceful, agile, devoted, alert, protective, persistent, with keen senses of smell and hearing. Their skills were immediately put to test during the World War II, when Canaans were successfully used as patrol dogs, mine detectors, messengers, and guard dogs. These duties served as a testament to their efficiency. Since then, they have been used as guide dogs for the blind, search and rescue dogs, livestock guarding and herding dogs, watchdogs, and tracking dogs. So, as you can see, the Canaan Dog is indeed an versatile worker and helper, who can be of great use if treated skillfully.
Excellent Sporting Dog
Considering how highly intelligent this breed really is, it comes as no surprise that Canaan Dog can be successfully trained to compete in various dog sports. Now, in this case intelligence is only valuable if a dog has other required skills to be a successful competitor. Fortunately, Kelef K’naani has it all – agility, speed, strength, endurance, keen senses, and persistency. The usual sports disciplines in which Canaans compete are agility and obedience trials, but they can as well compete in tracking, flyball, showmanship, conformation, and herding trials. All this just proves how these dogs, although stubborn and independent, can excel in various sports and duties in the hands of an experienced owner. I’m sure some of you reading this are already thinking, where to buy one? Unfortunately, the Canaan Dog is one of those rare breeds (there are approximately 1.500 Canaans in the world), so they are really hard to come by (price around 900$). But, if you are looking for a good working dog and companion, it’ll certainly be worth your effort.