The Canaan Dog in the UK

The first known Canaan Dog in the UK was Sheba, a bitch taken as a puppy from a wild born litter in 1964 in Damascus. Sheba was brought to the UK in 1965, but her owner could not cope with her, and in 1966 she went to live with Mrs Connie Higgins. Connie called her Shebaba (often shortening it to Baba) as she already had a GSD bitch called Sheba. Connie quickly became intrigued by Shebaba and began to try and learn about the breed. With her interest aroused, Connie contacted The Kennel Club in an attempt to register Shebaba, and there started the long hard fight for the Canaan Dog in England.

After reading many books and speaking to many people, Connie was finally put in touch with Professor Menzel in Israel. They corresponded frequently, with Professor Menzel asking many, many questions, and Connie sent her many photos of Shebaba, as well as hair and nail clippings. Finally Professor Menzel wrote back and stated that if Shebaba had been in Israel she would be accepted for registration and qualified at least “Very Good”. Armed with this evidence, Connie once again approached The Kennel Club and once again hit a brick wall.

In the meantime, Professor Menzel offered to send Connie a male dog, in the hope that he and Shebaba mate, and that by producing typical Canaan puppies The Kennel Club would register them. So, on 22nd April 1969, Tiron, a black and white male, came to the UK. For Tiron and Shebaba it was love at first sight, and on 28th December 1969 the first known litter of Canaan Dogs was born in the UK.

Finally the Kennel Club recognised the Canaan Dog, and the first registrations were issued for both Tiron Me B’nei HaBitachon and Saffra Shebaba, both dated 31st December 1970. Sadly, Shebaba’s first litter was born prior to registration, but she and Tiron had another litter born on 20th July 1971, and these were duly registered. Unfortunately, Connie was unable to generate any interest in the breed and, after a serious accident and illness which put her in a wheelchair, Connie was unable to continue promoting the breed. Sadly there are no dogs today that are descended from Tiron and Shebaba.

In 1986 the Canaan Dog was reintroduced into the UK when Ruth Corner returned after living in Israel for several years and spending time at the Shaar Hagai Kennels. Ruth imported Isr.Ch. Rotem Me Shaar Hagai, who had been mated to Shimshon Me Shaar Hagai and produced 6 dogs and 2 bitches on 29th June 1986 in quarantine before returning to Israel. A few months later, Ruth imported Tehiyah Me Shaar Hagai, who had been mated to Isr Ch Yitzhar Me Shaar Hagai and produced 1 dog and 6 bitches on 15th October 1986. Tehiyah also returned to Israel.

From these litters, several puppies were successfully shown. Sadly, Ruth suffered from ill-health and could not carry on with her Canaan Dogs.

Today still sees less than a handful of people regularly exhibiting in the show ring.

As yet, the Canaan Dog is still classified as a rare breed by The Kennel Club. This means that although we can enter all levels of competition, we are not allocated Challenge Certificates and therefore cannot as yet earn the title of Champion or Junior Warrant, nor can Canaan Dogs be entered into the Stud Book.