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  • Temperament: Confident, Alert, Vigilant
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 181 of 192
  • Height: 20-24 inches (male), 19-23 inches (female)
  • Weight: 45-55 pounds (male), 35-45 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
  • Group: Herding Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Canaan Dog standing sideways facing left, head turned right
Canaan Dog lying down facing left
Canaan Dog head facing left
Canaan Dog coat detail
Canaan Dog

Find a Puppy: Canaan Dog

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GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Canaan Dog is a pariah dog type that is naturally alert, inquisitive and watchful. He is mistrustful of strangers and unfamiliar environments, yet loyal and loving with his family. A square dog of medium size, moderate and balanced without extremes, showing a clean outline. The moderately angulated Canaan Dog moves with athletic agility and grace in an efficient, ground-covering endurance trot. He has a wedge-shaped head with low-set erect ears, a high set brush tail that curls over the back when confident, and a straight, harsh, flat-lying double coat. There is a marked distinction between the sexes.

HEAD

Elongated, the length exceeding the breadth and depth considerably. Wedge-shaped, when viewed from above. Slightly arched when viewed from the side, tapering to stop. The region of the forehead is of medium width, but appearing broader through ears set low to complete an alert expression, with a slight furrow between the eyes. Muzzle-Tapering to complete the wedge shape of the head. Length equal to or slightly longer than the length of the skull from the occiput to stop. Whisker trimming optional. Nose – Darkly pigmented or varying shades of liver, harmonizing with coat color. Lips – Tight with good pigmentation. Bite – Scissors.

BODY

Neck – well arched. Balance to body and head and free from throatiness. Topline – Level with slight arch over the loins. Body – Strong, displaying athletic agility and trimness. Chest – Moderately broad and deep, extending to the elbows, with well-sprung ribs. Loin – Well-tucked up. Short, muscled flanks.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders moderately angulated. Legs straight. Pasterns flexible with very slight slope when viewed from the side. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet – Catlike, pads hard, pigmentation harmonizing with nose and eye rims. Nails strong, hard, pigmentation harmonizing with either nose and eye rims or coat.

TAIL

Set high. When confident tail will be carried curled over the back, either in a curl or sickle, with one full curl being the ideal. When extended, the bone shall reach to the hocks.

COAT

Double coat. Outer coat-straight, harsh, flat-lying. Outer coat of medium length on body, shorter on front part of the legs and head; longer on ruff, tail, top of withers and back of thigh. Ruff more pronounced on males. Thick brush tail tapering to a pointed tip. Undercoat – soft and short with density varying with climate. Excessively long outer coat that masks the clean outline of the dog is undesirable as is any trimming that alters the natural appearance of the dog.

EXPRESSION, EYES & EARS

Expression– Alert, watchful and inquisitive. Dignified. Eyes-Dark, almond-shaped, slightly slanted. Varying shades of hazel with liver-pointed dogs. Eye rims darkly pigmented or of varying shades of liver harmonizing with coat color. Fault – Unpigmented eye rims. Ears– Erect, medium to large, set moderately low, broad at the base, tapering to a very slightly rounded tip. Ears angled very slightly forward when excited. A straight line from the inner corner of the ear to the tip of the nose should just touch the inner corner of the eye and a line drawn from the tip of the ear to the tip of the nose should just touch the outer corner of the eye. Ear motion contributes to expression and clearly defines the mood of the dog. Major Fault – In the adult dog, other than erect ears. Stop – Slightly accentuated.

HINDQUARTERS

Moderately angulated. In balance with forequarters. Straight when viewed from the rear. Thigh musculature well-developed, moderately broad. Hocks well-let-down. Dewclaws must be removed. Feet and nails as in fore-quarters.

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About the Canaan Dog

Canaan Dogs are lean, bushy-tailed dogs standing 19 to 24 inches at the shoulder. The coat is straight and harsh, and comes in various colors and patterns. Erect, expressive ears and dark almond eyes convey an inquisitive expression. Canaans move at a brisk, natural trot. They are rugged, agile, and apparently tireless, making them a nice fit for hikers and runners.

Canaans are clever, confident, and territorial. They will end up “owning” passive owners who haven’t establish themselves as top dog in the family pack. Early training and socialization are key. When positive methods are applied, these ancient wonder-dogs train beautifully. Agility, obedience, herding trials, and sentry duty are a few outlets for their work ethic.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Canaan Dog

Find a Puppy: Canaan Dog

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Canaan Dog Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Canaan Dog should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

Canaans tend to stay clean and normally require less frequent baths than other moderately active breeds. They have a double coat, consisting of a harsh, flat outer coat and a softer undercoat. They will have a shedding season at least once a year—frequent brushing during this time will help to remove loose hair and keep the dog looking his best. The nails should be trimmed regularly if they don’t wear down naturally, as overly long nails can cause discomfort and structural issues.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Frequent

EXERCISE

Canaans require a moderate amount of exercise and can adapt well various living situations when given daily outings. Training for dog sports provides an ideal outlet for their energy. The breed exercises mind and body by participating in obedience, tracking, herding, agility, nose work, carting, coursing ability tests, and other activities that dog and owner can enjoy together.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

Wonderfully sensitive, affectionate, and responsive, Canaan Dogs make devoted family companions. They are highly intelligent and readily trained. Although the dogs are adaptable to most climates and living situations, their natural drive for self-preservation and a well-developed sense of territory make them mistrustful of strange people, strange dogs, and new environments; early socialization and puppy training classes are a must. This is a process that should begin with the breeder and continue with the new owner and helps to ensure a well-mannered and well-adjusted dog both at home and in public. Training sessions should always be positive; harsh training methods will have a negative effect on the Canaan’s sensitive nature.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Independent

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Reserved with Strangers

HEALTH

The Canaan Dog is generally healthy and has a small group of dedicated breeders who communicate with each other regularly and work together for the betterment of the breed. As with all breeds, a Canaan Dog’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Thyroid Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Patella Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Canaan Dog
Canaan Dog
Canaan Dog
Canaan Dog
Canaan Dog
Canaan Dog
Canaan Dog

History

Canaan Dogs are named for the territory that is today Israel, Lebanon, and parts of bordering countries. For Israelites of biblical times, herds and flocks were at the heart of daily existence. Livestock was kept for food, leather, and wool, but also for use in the ritual sacrifices that were solemn custom for centuries. The many references to sheep and shepherds in Christian, Hebrew, and Muslim scripture attest to the centrality of pastoral life to ancient Semitic cultures.

Artifacts going back some 4,000 years bear inscriptions of dogs that look much like Canaans, but exactly when the breed was developed is one of those canine milestones that has vanished in the rearview mirror of history. We can assume that for thousands of years these dogs were shepherd’s assistants whose tasks included herding, droving, and guarding.

The turning point of the breed’s known history occurred in the year 70. It was then that the Romans, after decades of their uneasy occupation of Judea, destroyed Jerusalem and dispersed the Israelites across the Middle East and Mediterranean basin. With their owners gone and their flocks scattered, Canaan Dogs sought refuge in the Negev Desert, where they survived and, for the most part, lived undomesticated until the 20th century.

During the years leading to the foundation of the State of Israel, sentry dogs were needed to patrol isolated Jewish settlements and to train as K-9s for the fledgling Israeli army. Dr. Rudolphina Menzel, an Austrian cynologist living in Palestine, proposed the semi-wild dogs of the desert, on the assumption that only the fittest could survive such a hardscrabble existence. So began the redomestication of the Canaan Dog.

The desert dogs proved bright and highly trainable, and they were soon earning their feed as sentries, messengers, service dogs, and landmine detectors. After World War II, Menzel began the peacetime pursuit of breeding and training Canaans as guide dogs for the blind.

A breed that fended for itself for nearly 2,000 years, Canaan Dogs still retain the rugged self-reliance of desert dogs untouched by changing fashion since Abraham first led his flock into the land of Canaan.

Did You Know?

The Canaan Dog began competing in conformation in 1997 after a brief stay in the Miscellaneous class during the '90s.
Drawings on the tombs at Beni-Hassan, dating from 2200-2000 BC, depict dogs that remarkably resemble the Canaan Dogs of today.
The Canaan Dog is AKC's 141st breed.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Canaan Dog is a pariah dog type that is naturally alert, inquisitive and watchful. He is mistrustful of strangers and unfamiliar environments, yet loyal and loving with his family. A square dog of medium size, moderate and balanced without extremes, showing a clean outline. The moderately angulated Canaan Dog moves with athletic agility and grace in an efficient, ground-covering endurance trot. He has a wedge-shaped head with low-set erect ears, a high set brush tail that curls over the back when confident, and a straight, harsh, flat-lying double coat. There is a marked distinction between the sexes.

HEAD

Elongated, the length exceeding the breadth and depth considerably. Wedge-shaped, when viewed from above. Slightly arched when viewed from the side, tapering to stop. The region of the forehead is of medium width, but appearing broader through ears set low to complete an alert expression, with a slight furrow between the eyes. Muzzle-Tapering to complete the wedge shape of the head. Length equal to or slightly longer than the length of the skull from the occiput to stop. Whisker trimming optional. Nose – Darkly pigmented or varying shades of liver, harmonizing with coat color. Lips – Tight with good pigmentation. Bite – Scissors.

BODY

Neck – well arched. Balance to body and head and free from throatiness. Topline – Level with slight arch over the loins. Body – Strong, displaying athletic agility and trimness. Chest – Moderately broad and deep, extending to the elbows, with well-sprung ribs. Loin – Well-tucked up. Short, muscled flanks.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders moderately angulated. Legs straight. Pasterns flexible with very slight slope when viewed from the side. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet – Catlike, pads hard, pigmentation harmonizing with nose and eye rims. Nails strong, hard, pigmentation harmonizing with either nose and eye rims or coat.

TAIL

Set high. When confident tail will be carried curled over the back, either in a curl or sickle, with one full curl being the ideal. When extended, the bone shall reach to the hocks.

COAT

Double coat. Outer coat-straight, harsh, flat-lying. Outer coat of medium length on body, shorter on front part of the legs and head; longer on ruff, tail, top of withers and back of thigh. Ruff more pronounced on males. Thick brush tail tapering to a pointed tip. Undercoat – soft and short with density varying with climate. Excessively long outer coat that masks the clean outline of the dog is undesirable as is any trimming that alters the natural appearance of the dog.

EXPRESSION, EYES & EARS

Expression– Alert, watchful and inquisitive. Dignified. Eyes-Dark, almond-shaped, slightly slanted. Varying shades of hazel with liver-pointed dogs. Eye rims darkly pigmented or of varying shades of liver harmonizing with coat color. Fault – Unpigmented eye rims. Ears– Erect, medium to large, set moderately low, broad at the base, tapering to a very slightly rounded tip. Ears angled very slightly forward when excited. A straight line from the inner corner of the ear to the tip of the nose should just touch the inner corner of the eye and a line drawn from the tip of the ear to the tip of the nose should just touch the outer corner of the eye. Ear motion contributes to expression and clearly defines the mood of the dog. Major Fault – In the adult dog, other than erect ears. Stop – Slightly accentuated.

HINDQUARTERS

Moderately angulated. In balance with forequarters. Straight when viewed from the rear. Thigh musculature well-developed, moderately broad. Hocks well-let-down. Dewclaws must be removed. Feet and nails as in fore-quarters.

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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Black Check Mark For Standard Color 007
Cream Check Mark For Standard Color 076
Golden Check Mark For Standard Color 093
Liver Check Mark For Standard Color 123
Red Check Mark For Standard Color 140
Tan Check Mark For Standard Color 195
White Check Mark For Standard Color 199

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Black Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 002
Cream Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 044
Gold Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 097
Liver Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 010
Red Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 023
Tan Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 012
White Trim Check Mark For Standard Mark 101

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