As we’ve domesticated dogs they’ve come to excel in various tasks, from herding to pulling. One of the most successful herding breeds is the Canaan. Considered to be the national dog of Israel, it’s believed the Canaan was used by Hebrews to herd and guard their flocks in biblical times. Due to their nature as scavenger dogs they have a strong survival instinct and are quick to react to strangers. They make excellent watchdogs because of their tendency to bark at disturbances.
Dr Rudolphina Menzel is responsible for starting a major breeding program in the 1930s. She was asked by the Haganah, a Jewish parliamentary organisation to build a dog service. She captured semi-wild individuals and found them easy to train. The selective breeding program produced the Canaan dogs as we know them today.
Canaans have a defensive temperament but they aren’t aggressive and are wonderful with children. Their intelligence helps them adapt quickly and work well in a team. However, they can think independently and are likely to become bored with repetitive commands. Canaans will respond to positive, motivational training and become protective, gentle companions.
The breed should be well socialised when young, especially around other dogs. As a working breed, your Canaan should be exercised regularly. This can be achieved through long walks, daily jogs or herding tasks.
With an average life-span of 12-15 years, the breed is generally healthy and doesn’t suffer from any hereditary diseases. However, they can be vulnerable to hip dysplasia and epilepsy. Keeping them healthy through exercise is essential. Canaans are able to live in an apartment so long as they can be active outdoors. Their dense undercoat protects them from cold and heat. It’s smooth and glossy and doesn’t require much grooming. Comb and brush once and week and be sure to prepare for heavy shedding.
An organisation that promotes the welfare of the breed is The Canaan Dog Club based in the UK. They offer breeding and contest information, as well as how best to look after your dog.