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Canaan Dog

Other names: Palestinian Pariah Dog, Bedouin Sheepdog

Canaan Dog

The Canaan was bred from wild pariah dogs and has been in existence for thousands of years. They were semi-domesticated by the ancient Israelites, who used the breed as watchdogs and herd dogs. In the 1930s, Dr Rudolphina Menzel set up a breeding programme which tamed this semi-wild dog. After that, they were used as police and military dogs. Some dog lovers adopted the Canaan as a domestic pet, although this was rare. Experts believe the Canaan’s domestic population is around 2,000-3,000, with the majority living in Europe and North America.

Key facts about the Canaan Dog

Life expectancy :





Temperament :

Playful Intelligent

Size :

Origins and history

The Canaan is a very ancient breed. Their remains have been uncovered by archeologists in and around Israel, and many believe that the Canaan was revered as a sacred animal. This was common for many desert dwelling tribes, as such animals helped them hunt and herd livestock that sustained the wider community. The first Western breeding programmes didn’t start until 1934 and by 1953 the Canaan was being used as a guide dog, a police dog, and a companion dog. Although they can make excellent pets, they’re still relatively unknown outside of the dog breeding community. 

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 5 - Spitz and primitive types


Section 6 : Primitive type

Physical characteristics of the Canaan Dog

    Adult size

    Female : Between 20 and 24 in

    Male : Between 20 and 24 in


    Female : Between 40 and 55 lb

    Male : Between 40 and 55 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    Medium size. Strong and square body. Thick coat with a large plumed tail. Short, pricked ears and long muzzle. Bears a close resemblance to wild dogs like the Dingo and Pariah dog. 

    Good to know

    Waiting lists for Canaan puppies can be very long, as they are a rare breed.

    Same-sex aggression can be a real problem. They must be well socialised from an early age. They need a confident handler. 


    • 66%


      The Canaan is not known for being an affectionate dog, although they do form strong bonds with their family members. These dogs have strong survival instincts, which makes them defensive and independent. 

    • 100%


      In the right circumstances, these dogs can be very playful. But games need to be fun, high-energy, and varied. The Canaan will quickly get bored of repetitive games or activities. 

    • 66%


      A high-energy, alert dog. Constantly on the move. Extremely curious. Will keep any owner on their toes.

    • 100%


      They are highly intelligent animals and, in the right hands, easy to train. They need plenty of mental stimulation to feel satisfied.

    • 66%


      More of a scavenger than a hunter, but they still have a relatively high prey-drive.

    • 100%

      Fearful / wary of strangers

      This dog gets very nervous around strangers. Such behaviour is what helped them survive for thousands of years. It takes them quite a long time to feel comfortable around new people. 

    • 100%


      Fiercely independent animal. Unless handled correctly, they will become very stubborn. This can lead to disobedient behaviour. It’s important that these dogs respect their owner.

      Behaviour of the Canaan Dog

      • 66%

        Tolerates solitude

        They don’t need as much human as other breeds. However, the Canaan is a real pack animal. They need “doggy” friends. 

      • 100%

        Easy to train / obedience

        In the right hands, these dogs are easy to train. The Canaan is an intelligent animal that thrives on having a firm but fair handler. 

      • 100%


        The Canaan is very territorial and will bark at any perceived “intruders.” They also have a tendency to bark at strangers and other dogs.

      • 100%