In an attempt to understand the temperament of this breed, it is important to remember that this is a breed that has lived free in a harsh country for centuries, think what affect that would have on him. Obviously he is alert to everything that is going on around him, if he wasn’t then he would not survive very long! He has to be intelligent, to be able to think for himself and outwit others that might put him in danger – he is, after all, first and foremost a survivor!
In Pariahunde, the Menzels wrote, “The greater the drive for self preservation of an individual the greater is his mistrust.” The Canaan Dog still retains this drive, and therefore the mistrust and alertness, which are traits of self-preservation, are developed above average. The Menzels go on to say, “They determine the character image of the pariah. Courage is less developed because it depends upon the ability to overcome the drive for self-preservation.”
In a standard written in 1960, Menzel describes the various drives that make up the character of the Canaan Dog.
There have been quite a few discussions recently in the UK on guarding and aggression in Canaans. A leaflet produced by The Canaan Dog Club clearly describes them simply as wonderful WATCHdogs, looking fierce and barking to alert, but dancing just out of reach, and that the dog would have to feel that there was a very serious threat to them or their family in order for it to attack.
In summary, it can be said that the Canaan Dog is very alert, wary of strangers and unknown situations, yet he is extremely loyal to his friends and family. Although lacking in courage, he is not a fear biter nor aggressive towards people, although he can be dog aggressive. Bearing in mind all the above, you may very well ask why The KC standard calls for a dog that is confident!
Because of their character, the Canaan Dog is not the easiest of breeds to show and can be quite a challenge! Whilst we all wish for the dog to stand still whilst being handled, a dog of good structure should perhaps not be penalised for backing off slightly. Adolescents can be particularly insecure and will often behave submissively in the ring. When faced with this, many judges are unsure of how to approach the dog and often hesitate, which usually has the opposite required affect on the dog, which backs of even more! The best way is to try to avoid direct eye contact and approach slightly from the side, handle the dog in a confident and matter of fact manner. Once the judge has hands-on the dog should stand firm.