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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Canaan Dog


Canaan Dog Facts

  • Group
  • Working
  • Affiliations
  • Height
  • 19" - 24"
  • Weight
  • 35-55 lbs.
  • Lifespan
  • 14 years | Add yours

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  • Exercise Requirement
  • Moderate - This breed enjoys typical daily activity
  • Training Requirement
  • Average Training Time
  • Grooming Requirement
  • Easy
  • Colors
    • White
    • Black
    • Fawn
    • Brown
  • Breed Characteristics
    • Guide dog for the blind
    • Should sleep indoors

True Cost Of Ownership

Alternate Names

Kelef K'naani,


This dog originated in Canaan, Israel.

Date Of Origin

This dog has been in existence since antiquity. There are drawings of this dog on tombs at Beni-Hassan that date back to 2200 B.C.


This ancient breed is descended from a wild dog that has lived in the area that makes up Israel, the land of Canaan, for over four thousand years, where it was used as a heard and guard dog. When the Israelites were dispersed two thousand years ago, most Canaan dogs became feral, living as pariah dogs on the fringes of civilization, while others followed the nomadic Bedouins, who used them as flock and camp guardians. In the early twentieth century, the breed began to be domesticated again. During WW II, the Canaan dog was used as a military dog in the Middle East, and it has been used by the Israeli military as a mine detector, messenger, and search and rescue dog.


The Canaan dog is a medium to large, strong, and squarely built dog. The head is wedge shaped and the skull is broad and equal in length to the muzzle. It has almond shaped, black eyes and a black nose. The ears are short, naturally prick, and set far apart; they are mobile and extremely sensitive to sound. The feet are cat-like and the tail is a thick brush carried in a curl over the back. It is double coated with a profuse, soft undercoat and straight, harsh, medium-length outer coat. The neck has a ruff and the rump is feathered.


The Canaan dog is an alert and vigilant dog. It is devoted and affectionate with family but wary with strangers, both animal and human, including children. It reacts to provocation and is very protective. It matures slowly. It tends to be most active in the mornings and evenings.


It is primarily used as a watchdog for herds or houses, as a guide dog for the blind, and as a test dog in mines. During the conflicts in Israel it was used to carry messages over the rocky desert and to find the wounded. It has an extremely high capacity for learning, and it is therefore likely that other uses will be found for it in the future. It is also an outstanding companion dog.

Health Concerns

Hip dysplasia

Additional Information

The Israel Canaan Dog club of America says " The Canaan dog is a survivor because of his self-reliance and his adaptability. He is not a dog for everyone. His independence requires his owner to be loving but firmly in charge.

Show Sources & Contributors +


The Howell Book Of Dogs

Publisher: Wiley Publishing Inc, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Author: Liz Palika

Dog Bible

Publisher: BowTie Press, 2005

Website: http://www.bowtiepress.com/bowtie/

Authors: Kristin Meuh-Roe, Jarelle S. Stein

Simon & Schusters Guide to Dogs

Publisher: Simon & Schuster inc, 1980

Website: http://www.simonandschuster.com

Author: Elizabeth Meriwether Schuler

The New Encyclopedia of the Dog

Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Publishing, 2000

Website: http://www.dk.com

Author: Bruce Fogle

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