Jill & Ian Terry
All rights reserved
Frequently Asked Questions
Where does the Canaan Dog come from?
The Canaan Dog is a pariah (free-living) dog found in Israel and its
surrounding area. Nobody really knows the exact truth about their
origins. Some say that he is an originally domesticated dog turned
feral, while others believe they may in fact be a separate species
to the wolf and domestic breeds of today. The reality is that there
is no evidence to prove, or disprove, either theory. However, it is
understood that the Canaan Dog is an ancient breed, or to use a more
correct term, land-race. Pre-biblical drawings and carvings have been
found depicting dogs very similar to the Canaan Dog we know today
and there is a rock carving from the first to third century BC mid
Sinai that depicts a dog which is very like a Canaan type dog. In
ancient Ashkelon, a graveyard was discovered, which is believed to
be Phoenician from the middle of the fifth century BC. It contained
700 dogs, all carefully buried in the same position, on their sides
with legs flexed and tail tucked in around the hind legs. According
to the archaeologists, there was a strong similarity between these
dogs and the "Bedouin pariah dogs", in other words, the Canaan Dog.
A sarcophagus dated from the end of the fourth century BC, was found
in Sidon, on which Alexander the Great and the King of Sidon are painted
hunting a lion with the help of a hunting dog which is similar in
build to the dogs of Ashkelon and similar in appearance to the Canaan
What are their temperaments like?
The Canaan Dog is quite unique to other breeds, retaining many characteristics
which have enabled them to survive in the harsh environment of the
desert. As a breed, they tend to be very suspicious of anyone or anything
they do not know. Many Canaans, when reaching adolescence, go through
an insecure period where this wariness is increased, but as they mature
and gain confidence this disappears. Because of this wariness of strangers,
early socialising is essential. Those Canaans that have had good socialising
at a young age, with a lot of exposure to different people and different
situations, tend to be far less suspicious and able to cope with strange
situations much better than those who receive little or no socialising.
Although Canaans are independent by nature they are also very affectionate
and extremely loyal to their family. Being a breed that is highly
territorial, Canaans are by nature aggressive to other dogs of the
same sex, particularly the males. However, good socialising and training
helps and this behaviour is often only seen when they are guarding
their own territory.
What were they originally bred for?
For a very long time, the Bedouins and Druse people used, and indeed
still use, Pariah Dogs of the Canaan Dog type to guard their flocks
and camps. However, they have never bred them, and merely take males
from the free-living and semi-free litters when they need one. It
wasn't until 1934 that the Canaan Dog was domestically bred, when
Professor Rudolphina Menzel, together with her husband, began a domesticated
breeding programme for the purpose of supplying dogs to the Haganah
(Jewish Defence Forces). After looking at various breeds of dogs,
Menzel soon turned her attention to the local pariah dog in which
she found a dog with all the traits that would make them a good service
dog an alert and agile dog, being territorial and with highly
developed senses, and capable of surviving the harsh terrain and climate.
Menzel began by capturing free-living pariah dogs and litters of puppies,
naming the type of pariah Canaan Dog after the land where she found
them most abundant. For more details on their history, click
Do they make good guard dogs?
Canaan Dogs are extremely alert at all times, and their senses are
highly developed, with even their eyesight being very keen. This,
together with their strong territorial sense, means that they make
excellent watch dogs. We say watch, rather than guard, as they are
not an "attack" dog but give warning of anything different by barking
to alert you, the "pack leader". When strangers approach the Canaan
will bark a warning, but stay out of reach, often circling the intruder.
Do they make good family pets?
Canaans can make marvellous family pets, although they are not suited
to everyone. They are excellent with children, always showing a great
tolerance being very gentle and protective of them. They are extraordinarily
loyal and devoted to their whole family.
Do they get on well with cats and other pets?
Whilst Canaans can tend to be aggressive to other dogs, particularly
on or near their territory, they rarely show aggression to defenseless
animals, especially if raised with other pets. Indeed the Bedouin
keep Canaan Dogs in order to protect their livestock. Many owners
of Canaan Dogs in the UK have either cats or other small dogs who
live quite happily alongside their Canaan.
Do they need much exercise?
Like all dogs, the Canaan will benefit from daily exercise. However,
they are very adaptable and while they love to run and play in fields,
and will be able to keep up with any sort of exercise you are willing
to give them, they are just as happy to curl up on a comfy chair.
Just a couple of short walks a day should keep a Canaan in a fit condition.
What about grooming?
tend to be very clean dogs and need little grooming, but, like all
dogs, will benefit by a good brush about once a week. Canaans moult
seasonally and will shed their thick, woolly undercoat in huge amounts
(see photo!). At this time they should be brushed at least once every
day to remove the dead hair. This keeps them comfortable and encourages
the new coat to come in quicker. To remove the dead undercoat, you
can use a "rake", purchased from any good pet shop. This
gently removes the dead undercoat, while not damaging the harsh outer-coat.we
use a brush called a slicker, which has fine, flexible, metal teeth
that can rake the hair out.
Do they bark a lot?
It is natural for a Canaan Dog to bark at anything that is different
or strange or that they are unsure of or when they feel it necessary
to defend their territory. So, yes, they can bark quite a lot. However,
they usually bark to get your attention, as pack leader, so that you
can come and deal with the problem. Because of this they can be taught,
through patience and reassurance, to stop barking when told.
Are they easy to train?
Well, yes and no! Being very intelligent dogs they learn things very
quickly. However, because they tend to be independent and often "laid-back"
in their characters, there will be many times when you ask them to
do something, and they will look at you as though to say "why?" They
can also quickly become bored and, with their independent nature,
may not reliably perform a command after they have learnt it! To keep
their interest, training exercises should be kept short and varied,
giving them new challenges as often as possible. Canaans often appear
to be distracted, which is simply due to their natural alertness and
being fully aware of their surroundings, constantly watching and listening
for any possible threat. Remember that your Canaan is your partner,
the easiest way to train is knowing what motivates him. Whilst discipline
is important, particularly with a dominant Canaan, cruel, harsh methods
of training should never be used. Instead the Canaan will respond
much better by reward and praise.
Are they healthy dogs?
The Canaan is naturally a healthy dog and does not require any special
care. If cared for properly and fed a good, well-balanced diet, they
will very rarely need to see a vet. Currently, there are no known
hereditary problems within the breed, however, many breeders around
the world perform health tests, such as
checking for hip dysplasia or eye testing, on breeding stock to try
and ensure no problems are likely to occur today or in the future.
The average lifespan of a Canaan can be between fifteen and twenty
How easy is it to get a Canaan Dog?
There are in fact very few Canaan Dog breeders worldwide, and only
a few litters are born each year. Because of this it is often necessary
for people interested in purchasing a Canaan to be placed on a waiting
list and have to wait! As this situation is world-wide, we do tend
to sell our puppies overseas as well as in the UK. Visit our
puppies page to find out the next litters due to be born.
Any more questions?
Then just email us! We are
always pleased to offer advice and help whenever we can.
End of the Tour!