Dog breeds: The Canaan Dog temperament and personality

Dog breeds: The Canaan Dog temperament and personality

The Canaan Dog

The Canaan Dog is a breed of pariah dog thought to be the one Hebrews used in biblical times to guard their flock. Today, the Bedouins and the Druse still use it for this purpose. This is the national dog breed of Israel and has survived in the wilderness for thousands of years. 


The bible says in the book of exodus about the land of Canaan (Palestine and Phoenicia from about 3,000 BCE) that it was “a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey” -Exodus 3:8. This land prospered with goats and sheep. If these were the flocks, then there were dogs. This dogs were known as Kelef Halani, Hebrew for Canaan dog.  

In 1934, Dr. Rudolphina Menzel (1891-1973) started a breeding program where he tamed, trained and domesticated the feral dog. This selective breeding program gave origin to the modern Canaan dog.  It is pretty difficult to collect wild Canaan dogs. The American Kennel Club officially recognized him a breed in 1997, but he still remains rare as he is ranked 175 out of 202 in the AKC’s popularity rank. 

Physical characteristics

The Canaan dog is a medium-sized dog with the looks of a primitive dog. He has a square built and a dense outer coat. His inner coat is profuse, which helps him overcome harsh weather.  

The color of the coat ranges from black to cream. Spots and marks of all kind are allowed.  The male dogs are 20 to 24 inches tall and females stand at 19 to 23 inches. Males usually weigh 45 to 55 pounds whereas females are 35 to 45 pounds.   


This dog is alert, devoted, docile, and always vigilant. He is especially territorial and aloof with strangers. However, he is never aggressive.  

Caring for a Canaan dog

The Canaan dog loves to dig and they can make a deep hole in a matter of minutes if left on his own. Provide him with a space where he can dig.  He is a housedog but also provide him a secure fence to protect him against traffic and rumbles with other dogs.  

He does not really require that much exercise. A couple of short walks and some yard playtime should be enough for this dog. 


This dog is a great alarm dog. Whenever someone is at the door he will bark. He will stop his aversion when he sees you have it under control if he sees you as the pack leader. Otherwise, he will take the place and decide who is welcome home and who is not.  

These are very intelligent dogs so they are fairly easy to train. With a consistent schedule, you can housetrain them.  

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